The perks of having an Android powered smartphone is the number of customization, tweaks and hacks that you get for the device. Moreover, you can have features of more expensive phones right in your budget smartphone with just some hacks or tweaks. For instance, consider Dolby ATMOS – a set of sound effects from Dolby – can be installed on your Android phone without having to root it.
What is Dolby Atmos?
Dolby Atmos is a new technology from Dolby that enhances sounds. The sound can be processed using software on your phone or PC, or it can be baked right into the media that is being played. For instance, cinemas use the Dolby Atmos technology to deliver more realistic audio for music and movies. Moreover, it has better support for directional audio. On paper, Dolby Atmos audio can support up to 128 tracks. It provides enhanced clarity to audio, provides more spatial details and surrounds you with the sound.
Atmos comes with a variety of implementations. For instance, the implementation in theatres is quite different than the implementation in smartphones and headphones. You can purchase the Dolby Atmos add-on even on Windows 10 devices that will give 7.1 channel over your headphones and requires no special hardware. In theatres, to recreate the effects, specialized hardware is needed.
Dolby Atmos is also available for smartphones that provide enhanced audio. The technology is available as a form of audio filter software for phones that is often baked right into the ROM. This means that the program is a system app that is baked right into the phone software by manufacturers, and hence is available on certain phones.
Luckily, some modders have been able to extract this program from the firmware of the phones and has made them available to all. This means that you can get the same effects of Dolby Atmos on your phone without having to purchase a Dolby Atmos enabled phone with a premium price.
Before you begin
In this article, we cover how to install Dolby Atmos on both rooted and non-rooted phones. Installation and uninstallation in non-rooted phones is simple, but may not work perfectly. On rooted phones, the installation and uninstallation is quite complicated, but it should work properly.
Method 1 – Installation on Phones without Root Access
Without root access, the installation is simple. It is just like having to install any app on your phones. However, Dolby Atmos works only with Google Play music on phones that does not have root access. This can be a deal-breaker for some, especially those who use third party players, such as VLC to play more advanced audio codecs.
For phones without root access, Dolby Atmos is available as an APK file. An APK file is used to install apps on your phone from external sources. For security, most phones do not allow installation of programs from APK files right out of the box since that is not secure. However, it can be changed by modifying a single setting.
To install APK files that you download from the internet, you need to enable installation from unknown sources. For that, go to Settings of your phone, go to security and look for “Allow installation from unknown sources”. Set this to “on”. On different devices, on different versions on Android, this setting may present differently. You need to locate it and change it before you proceed with the installation.
Next, you will need to download the APK file for Dolby Atmos. It is recommended that you download it directly to your phone. By default, it will be in the Downloads folder. Open the APK file and tap on “install”. It will take a few seconds to install. Once complete, do not open the app. Tap on “done” and then reboot your phone.
In the next step, you need to install Google Play Music. Google Play Music is present in a lot of phones by default. However, if you are using a phone where it is not there on your device out of the box, then you need to download and install it. You can get Google Play Music directly from the Play Store.
Once it is installed, you need to disable the built-in equalizer of your phone. Most phones come with some equalizer or audio enhancement program that is provided by the manufacturer. You need to disable that. You can do that from the settings of the phone, or you can do it from Google Play music.
Open Google Play Music and on the top left of the screen, you will find the hamburger menu, which is three horizontal lines. Tap on it and the menu will fly out from the left of the screen. From there, you need to tap on settings and go to Equalizer. Here, you will be given the option to select what processing you want. In the list, you can find Dolby Atmos. You can enable Dolby Atmos and from the next time onwards, it will be available automatically.
Now, you can go back to the home page and play music you like. You can hear a notable difference. Now, depending on the audio hardware, the sound will be different and you may not like the effect provided. Hence you may want to uninstall the app, the guide to which is provided at the end of the article.
To enjoy Dolby Atmos, you will need a decent pair of headphones. Moreover, by installing the Dolby Atmos APK, you will not get the true effects of Dolby Atmos. It will work only with Google Play Music and may be buggy on some devices. Plus, you will have to disable the default equalizer on your system. Hence, if you have a rooted phone, then read the second method.
Method 2 – Installation on Phones with Root Access
On android phones, root access allows you to change a lot of settings that is otherwise locked down by the manufacturer. It allows you to install and uninstall system apps. You can also get rid of bloatware that your manufacturer may have added in the phone.
The process of acquiring root access can be quite a risky process. It voids the warranty, can even completely brick your phone. Hence, rooting is not recommended for novice users, especially when the phone is still covered by the company warranty. Alternatively, if you have already rooted your phone, you can install Dolby Atmos in a few steps. For the installation, you need to have proper knowhow of bootloaders, root access and custom recovery.
A few words of caution
If you are planning to root your phone just to install Dolby Atmos, then do take your time and do some research regarding rooting. Rooting is relatively easy if you have an old Android phone that runs on Android 5 or 6. There are apps that you can install which will root your phone. On newer versions of Android, rooting is quite difficult. You need to have PC along with some other programs that will be used to root your device. If not done carefully enough, rooting you phone can damage it permanently, inject malware in your phone and voids warranty. If your phone has been rooted successfully, even then you will have issues with automatic updates that is pushed by your phone manufacturer. You will have to update your phone manually, after which root access will be revoked.
Before you root your phone, please weigh the pros and cons before you proceed. It is a complicated procedure with a failure rate that is not negligible.
However, if you already have a rooted phone and you know what you are doing, then proceed with the following steps.
Step 1: Download the zip file
In this case, you do not get an APK, but you get a zip file from which you will have to install the app manually. The advantage is that you get the app installed as a system app, much like the built in equalizer on your phone. This ensures Dolby Atmos works with all apps on your phone and can enhance audio streams from all apps – Google Play, Spotify, YouTube, VLC, or anything else.
This zip file will work with TWRP Custom Recovery. You can use other recovery too, however, those have not been tested and the instructions that follow are aligned with the TWRP custom recovery.
Put the zip file on your phone memory.
Step 2: Make a backup
It is recommended that you back up all your data to your PC. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong, you can still have access to the data. Alternatively, you can even use backup apps available for Android to back up your phone completely, including game progresses and app settings. You can copy the backup file to your PC and then restore it after you reset your phone. Having root access allows you to take complete phone backups, so make use of that.
Step 3: Reboot into recovery mode
Next, you need to reboot your phone into recovery mode. Different phones have different ways to boot into recovery mode. Recovery mode allows you to make system wide changes, such as installation of a custom version of Android, or making changes to system apps of the operating system. In most phones, by default, the recovery mode allows reinstalling (or, flashing) the default Android OS that the manufacturer intended to run on the device when the device is bricked and will not boot.
However, if you have a custom recovery program installed, you can do many other things, such as install or remove system programs, backup and restore data, use a file manager to delete certain files that you cannot access through Android and more. This is similar to the BIOS on your PC. Using the TWRP, also known as the TeamWin Recovery Project recovery mode program, we can install the Dolby Atmos app.
Now, going into the recovery mode is different for different phones. You can search online about booting into the recovery mode on your phone and you will get the details. Here are details on how you can access recovery mode on some models. However, if these do not work, please search online for your specific model.
First turn on your phone. You can press and hold the power button and the phone will shut down automatically after a while. When the phone is powered off, you need to press the power button and the volume down key together. On some Samsung devices, you need to press the physical home button and the power button together.
The phone will vibrate and the Android logo will show up on the screen. Keep holding the power button and the volume down/home button till a menu appears. On this menu, you can navigate using the volume buttons and select using the power button. On the menu, select recovery mode and hit the power button. If you installed a custom recovery program on your phone, you can access that now. If it was the TWRP custom recovery, you will be presented with all the options of it at this point.
Step 4: Prepare the installation
On TWRP page, click on install. It is the first option in the TWRP tool. You will be presented with a file manager where you need to locate the Zip file.
If you downloaded the Zip on your phone, it will be in the Downloads folder. Some browsers use their own download location. If you copied it to your phone from your PC, then navigate to the location where the zip file is located.
Select the zip file. A new screen will appear.
Step 5: Do the install
The next step is performing the install. You will have to swipe on the bottom of the screen to begin with the installation. It will take a few seconds for the installation to complete. Once completed, proceed to the next step.
If there is any error during installation, try re-downloading the zip file, verifying the contents of the zip file and try again from the first step.
Step 6: Wipe Cache
Once the install in complete, you get two buttons – Wipe cache and Reboot system.
Next, you need to wipe the device cache and Dalvik cache. This ensures that redundant cache data is removed.
Step 7: Reboot and enjoy
The final step is to reboot your phone. Tap on the reboot system and the phone will reboot into Android automatically. Once android loads up, you will get a access to Dolby Atmos from your phone, as if it was installed by the manufacturer as an integral part of your phone.
There are multiple ways in which you can now access the Dolby Atmos app. One way is to access it from media players. On media players, such as Google Play or Shuttle, you can access the system equalizer from settings. Here, instead of the system equalizer, you will get Dolby Atmos. Alternatively, you can go into settings of your phone and look into sound settings.
Tweak the settings until you find the perfect settings for your device. The difference in quality over the loudspeakers may not be that pronounced, but on headphones, you will get mind blowing audio. For better audio, you can now use a more expensive pair of headphones that has a better frequency range.
Uninstalling Dolby Atmos
Now, your phone may come with audio enhancement that’s better than what Dolby Atmos has to offer on your device. Hence the need for uninstallation.
On devices without root
Uninstalling the app on devices without root is just as simple as installing the app. Go to settings > Apps > Dolby Atmos. Tap on uninstall and the app will be uninstalled in a few seconds. Alternatively, you can also uninstall the app from the home screen or launcher. Tap and hold on the app icon till you see the pop up menu. From here, you can select uninstall, if your launcher provides that option, or go into app options and select uninstall. You do not need to perform any extra operations. If needed, you can clear the system cache and reboot your phone to avoid any complications, but that is not required.
On devices with root
If you installed the phone using the zip file on a rooted phone, then you need to get another zip file and install it using the same process. This zip file removes the Dolby Atmos app once you install it. So, first, get the Dolby Atmos uninstaller first.
Download and put it in your phone memory. Power down your phone and reboot into recovery mode by pressing the power and volume down button or power and the home button. Then use the menu to get into recovery mode.
Here, select install and then locate the Dolby Atmos unistaller zip file. Again, wipe the cache and reboot your phone. You now will no longer have Dolby Atmos installed on your phone.
Installing Dolby Atmos is easy when you are installing it from the APK. However, it only works with Goolge Play Music and is unlikely to work on a lot of devices. Alternatively, if you have rooted your device, you can use the zip file to install Dolby Atmos and get access to mind-blowing audio quality.