With the release of AirPlay 2 earlier this year and the follow-up addition of Dolby Atmos support for Apple TV with tvOS 12, there have been significant improvements in the home entertainment experience for Apple users.

While AirPlay 2 support initially launched for HomePod with other speaker and receiver brands to come, the rollout has taken a bit of a time, and in fact there are still only a few brands that support the standard. Sound United's Denon and Marantz brands were the first standalone receivers to gain AirPlay 2 support back in August, and I've had a chance to test out the setup using a Denon AVR-X3500H receiver.

denon avrx3500h

Denon AVR-X3500H

For those unfamiliar with component home theater systems, the AV receiver acts as the center of your entire system, managing both audio and video to connect all of your various content sources to outputs like your television and speakers.

They've become increasingly packed with technology over time depending on how much you're willing to spend, offering support for such features as decoding various surround sound formats, driving an ever larger number of speakers, accepting direct wireless audio streaming via Bluetooth or AirPlay, connecting to Internet services via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and more.

I've paired the Denon receiver with Focal's Sib Evo 5.1.2 system that includes Dolby Atmos support, giving me the opportunity to check out both of the recent technological additions to the Apple ecosystem for a quick overview.

focal sib evo 5 1 2

Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 speaker system with Cub Evo subwoofer

The Sib Evo 5.1.2 includes two front loudspeakers with upward-firing Dolby Atmos speaker drivers, three satellite speakers with one intended to be turned on its side and used as a center speaker, and a Cub Evo active subwoofer.

denon focal setup
Denon's AVR-X3500H can handle eight HDMI inputs and up to three HDMI outputs. With support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS Virtual:X, all of the top surround sound formats are included. Add in AirPlay 2 and Alexa voice control, and you've got a powerful and flexible centerpiece for your home entertainment system.

AirPlay 2

If you're an Apple fan, you likely already have an Apple TV hooked up to your home entertainment system, so you can stream multi-room audio to the system via the Apple TV. But built-in support for AirPlay 2 on the AVR-X3500H and other Denon receivers gives you another option for direct delivery of audio to what in some cases may be the best speakers in your house.

denon network setup

Denon AVR-X3500H Wi-Fi and AirPlay setup

When you set up the Denon receiver for the first time, it walks you through a network setup process that can grab your Wi-Fi network details from an iOS device, getting your receiver online so that it can directly access content and serve as an AirPlay 2 destination. As is pretty typical for electronics like this, the on-screen setup process isn't particularly pretty, but it makes each step clear and relatively easy to navigate through using the receiver's remote.

Once you have the receiver online and set up for AirPlay 2, you'll see it pop up in your list of speakers in the music widget on your iOS device. With AirPlay 2, you can send synchronized audio to multiple speakers located throughout your home and control all of it right from your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or iTunes on Mac.

airplay 2 mac ios home

Denon receiver showing up in AirPlay 2 in iTunes for Mac, iOS Music widget, and iOS Home app

Setting up the receiver in the Home app lets you assign it to a room and zone, allowing it to integrate with other speakers in various areas around the house.

When sending audio to multiple speakers via AirPlay 2, you'll see several sliders for controlling volume, allowing you to control either individual speakers or the entire set. If you have different speakers set at different volume levels, adjusting the master volume slider will change the individual speaker volume levels proportionally.

denon airplay 2

Now Playing screen displayed when audio is being sent to Denon AVR-X3500H via AirPlay

You can use AirPlay 2 to route audio directly to an Apple TV hooked up to a home audio system, so I wouldn't run out and buy a whole new receiver just for AirPlay 2 support, but it's nice to have the extra option for direct AirPlay 2 streaming to a receiver if you don't have an Apple TV on that setup or just want to cut out the middleman and stream directly to your high-quality speakers.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos takes advantage of three-dimensional space to offer a more immersive sound experience for your home theater system, typically using either downward-firing speakers mounted in the ceiling or upward-firing speaker drivers to reflect sound off of the ceiling, and when combined with the rest of the traditional speakers in your system, you'll find sounds coming at you from all angles.

Focal's Sib Evo system uses upward-firing drivers built into the main front left and right speakers. The Atmos drivers use their own speaker wire connections and connect to their own terminals on the receiver, and the Denon manual walks you through exactly which terminals to use for which speakers, as a host of speaker configurations are supported.

atmos closeup

Close-up of front speaker with upward-firing Dolby Atmos driver (left) and dual speaker wire connections on rear (right)

A key component of the Dolby Atmos experience is speaker calibration, which ensures that output from the receiver is properly adjusted for optimal sound quality. With different sizes and shapes of rooms, sound can bounce around in unpredictable ways, and it's important that your home audio system be configured for your unique environment. That's particularly true with the Dolby Atmos speakers, which in this setup will project sound upward and off the ceiling before hitting your ears. Everything needs to reach your ears at the proper time and in the proper balance, and calibration will make sure that happens.

denon atmos
Receivers like the Denon AVR-X3500H include a wired microphone to be used in the calibration process, and a setup wizard will walk you through the process of situating the microphone in as many as eight closely-spaced locations where the viewers will be sitting, and at each position the system will rotate one by one through each of the eight speakers in the Sib Evo 5.1.2 system, generating loud tones to be picked up by the microphone. Once each speaker has been assessed at each calibration location, the receiver will configure its output to optimize the sound field.

With tvOS 12, the Apple TV now supports Dolby Atmos, although content must be specifically made available in the format to support it. The number of Dolby Atmos titles on the iTunes Store is growing, but it's still a small portion of the overall library.

tvos atmos settings

tvOS audio format settings

So if you've already got a Dolby Atmos system hooked up to your TV or are looking to add one (and they're getting even simpler and cheaper with more sound bar options available), make sure to keep an eye on your current titles to see if they get upgraded with Dolby Atmos and look for the Dolby Atmos icon when browsing the iTunes movie selections on your Apple TV.

apple tv atmos

Dolby Atmos icon on tvOS iTunes movie listings

For those titles that do include Dolby Atmos, you can definitely tell the difference. The soundscape is more encompassing and it really does feel like you're truly immersed in the movie.

Wrap-up

It's still early for AirPlay 2 and Dolby Atmos support in the Apple ecosystem, but they're setting the stage for making Apple's products a more important part of your home entertainment system. In this age where we have our portable devices on us at all times, it's nice to be able to directly beam audio all around our homes, including to what are in many cases the highest-quality audio systems we own hooked up to our TVs.

And for when we sit down in front of those TVs to watch movies, it's great to have the Apple ecosystem starting to support technologies like Dolby Atmos that improve the experience. Yes, support is still limited and it will take time for all studios to get on board and update much of their back catalogs, but the list of Atmos-compatible movies on the iTunes Store is getting longer and is rapidly becoming an expected feature for new releases.

There are plenty of Dolby Atmos-compatible home theater systems on the market already, whether they be component systems, theater-in-a-box systems, or sound bars, so there are lots of options if you're looking to upgrade your television experience.

AirPlay 2 support is rolling out to a number of wireless speakers, but support in separate receiver components remains rare, led by Sound United's Denon and Marantz brands.

Denon's AVR-X3500H carries an MSRP of $999, but can frequently be found discounted by as much as $200 at third-party retailers including those selling through Amazon.

Focal's Sib Evo 5.1.2 is priced at $1299 from a variety of retailers including Amazon sellers.

Note: Sound United loaned MacRumors the Denon receiver and Focal loaned MacRumors the Sib Evo 5.1.2 system to assist with this article. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

Top Rated Comments

vipergts2207 Avatar
37 months ago
"For those unfamiliar with component home theater systems, the AV receiver acts as the center of your entire system, managing both audio and video to connect all of your various content sources to outputs like your television and speakers."

I get a kick out of the fact that we've advanced to a point in tech where the home theater receiver is no longer THE de facto piece of equipment that everyone needs to have sound in their home, so much so that the author feels it necessary to explain what it is. Kind of like saying "for those of you who have never heard of Betamax..."

Back in college (I'm pushing 50 now) it was a complete given that if one wanted a stereo, one needed a receiver, speakers, and a whole lot of RCA cables and speaker wire. Nowadays, not so much. And with my current 10-year-old Pioneer Elite receiver, if I ever want to make a setting change that involves an onscreen interface, I need to pull out an old LCD monitor that accepts an S-Video connection so I can step through the interface, because my current TV doesn't handle S-video and my receiver doesn't handle HDMI. But I digress.
It still is if you want quality sound.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Medic Avatar
37 months ago
Does AirPlay 2 fix the issue that if I receive a message or a call whilst playing music the speakers will blow up with the notification and music will be interrupted? I don’t understand that Apple can’t conceive of a user case where people wouldn’t want notifications whilst streaming music...or perhaps this is an option that I just can’t find in Settings?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erinsarah Avatar
37 months ago
"For those unfamiliar with component home theater systems, the AV receiver acts as the center of your entire system, managing both audio and video to connect all of your various content sources to outputs like your television and speakers."

I get a kick out of the fact that we've advanced to a point in tech where the home theater receiver is no longer THE de facto piece of equipment that everyone needs to have sound in their home, so much so that the author feels it necessary to explain what it is. Kind of like saying "for those of you who have never heard of Betamax..."

Back in college (I'm pushing 50 now) it was a complete given that if one wanted a stereo, one needed a receiver, speakers, and a whole lot of RCA cables and speaker wire. Nowadays, not so much. And with my current 10-year-old Pioneer Elite receiver, if I ever want to make a setting change that involves an onscreen interface, I need to pull out an old LCD monitor that accepts an S-Video connection so I can step through the interface, because my current TV doesn't handle S-video and my receiver doesn't handle HDMI. But I digress.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vipergts2207 Avatar
37 months ago
Yes, but don't you also need the $800, gold-filled, Monster cables? :rolleyes:

/S - for those not remembering that fiasco :D
You only need the $800 cables if you lack a fundamental understanding of how electricity works.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vipergts2207 Avatar
37 months ago
Wonder when manufactures will give up the inconvenient wired microphone and use the phone application to do the speaker calibration ....
Is it really that inconvenient? It’s plugged in for about 10 minutes. Also, different phones will have different mics and probably won’t pick up frequencies exactly the same which would likely render the calibration inaccurate.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Weaselboy Avatar
34 months ago
Old thread, but I just bought a Denon S model for a small spare room setup and with the firmware update airplay 2 was supported. Pretty great what Denon packed into the receiver in terms of an internet enabled home theater receiver.
Denon has been pretty good about firmware updates. I have a Denon AVRX4200W receiver I bought in 2016 and a couple months ago they pushed out a firmware update that added Dolby Vision support.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
m1 imac orange

New iMac Tidbits: Headphone Jack on Side, Ethernet Port on Power Adapter, Spatial Audio and WiFi 6 Support, No SD Card Slot

Wednesday April 21, 2021 6:38 am PDT by
Apple yesterday announced a completely redesigned 24-inch iMac with the M1 Apple silicon chip. The new iMac, the first major redesign of the Mac desktop computer since 2012, has several changes compared to the previous generation. In the aftermath of the event, a few new features and tidbits may have slipped under the radar, so we’ve compiled this list of some of the less-talked-about...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...