Chances are, whether or not you’ve seen “Hamilton,” you know about it. Lin Manuel Miranda changed how history is taught with a hip-hop-infused musical about America’s first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton. The show opened on Broadway five years ago and it’s been quite the ticket to scoop. Broadway is dark for the rest of this year because of the pandemic. But as of Friday, you can watch “Hamilton” from the comfort of your home on Disney+.
And you don’t want to throw away your shot at watching it the best way possible, right? Well, that’s where Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos comes in. These two standards of video and audio enhance the content, and “Hamilton” supports both. Dolby offers over thousands of movies and TV episodes in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos — and a growing library of games, music and live sports in these technologies. It’s an ever-expanding list.
So not only can you watch it in 4K HDR, but you can take advantage of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. “Hamilton” in Dolby Vision should result in deeper blacks, brighter whites and additional vibrancy that all mixes together for a more lifelike experience, akin to being in the theater.
On the audio front, it’s not just a classic stereo mix; Atmos can place different elements of the track all around. You’ll clearly hear vocals versus the beat versus environmental sounds coming from different places in your room. It creates a fully immersive experience.
There’s a good chance that your TV might already have Vision and Atmos built-in, but if not, we’ve got three different setups for you to consider: budget, mid-range and high-end builds, all of which include a TV capable of Dolby Vision, and a soundbar or home theater setup capable of Atmos.
First, though, let’s talk about the service — and there’s a big positive right off the bat with Disney+. It offers just one plan, for $6.99 a month, that gives you access to content in any format, including the premium ones that require a more expensive plan on some other services. You’ll be able to stream “Hamilton” on Disney+ out of the box from any of these TVs, but you can also opt for an Apple TV 4K, Fire TV Cube, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Fire TV Stick 4K, or NVIDIA Shield TV if you prefer a streaming box.
We spoke with Giles Baker, the senior vice president of consumer entertainment at Dolby Labs, and he made an important point: “When you watch a show like ‘Hamilton’ in Dolby, it will look and sound amazing whether you are watching on a $200 device or a premium high-end system — that’s the Dolby magic. Dolby Vision will reveal details that you would only notice if you were seeing ‘Hamilton’ live on Broadway and sitting in the front row. The same goes for Dolby Atmos: the sound will immerse you in the experience and make it feel more like you’re actually there. This intersection of technology and creative expression is what makes a Dolby experience different.”
Whether you opt for a $400 setup or a $1,400 home theater experience, you’ll get access to Dolby, which can upgrade the quality. As long as the content you’re watching is certified in Vision or Atmos, you can get an immersive experience. And watching “Hamilton” with Atmos and Vision will be the best way possible.
Dolby Vision is a form of high-dynamic-range imaging: It’s metadata that comes along with the content and tells the TV how to adjust for the best picture. Its main goal is to be more immersive. It delivers brighter highlights, starker contrast and more vibrant colors, essentially delivering you visuals that are more accurate to what you’d see in real life, and that makes the content more engaging.
When we watched “Captain Marvel” streamed via Disney+ in Vision and Atmos, we found the visuals to be more immersive through stronger colors and more engaging shadows. It’s especially evident in the first few minutes of the movie, as you’re in a dark background with purples and oranges sprinkled on top.
Dolby Vision IQ takes this a step further by tapping into the ambient light sensor of the television. Dolby then adjusts the visuals for the room you are in and the lighting conditions. Currently, Vision IQ is only supported on select 2020 LG TV models.
And how does “Hamilton” look and sound? Stunning. Colors look more realistic and are a bit more saturated over a non-Vision capable screen. The result: When the camera zooms in on Hamilton, you see an immense amount of detail, especially when it’s a black background with a spotlight on him. His face does not get washed out and you can make out specific details. On the audio front, it presents the score, main vocals, background vocals and effects on a wide soundstage with clear lines for each. It’s also lovely to hear the crowds’ reactions in time. You’ll hear those elements that comprise the track move around you — since you’re not limited to left and right channels. It’s evident even on an Atmos capable TV but is even better with a home theater setup.
One last note. We especially loved the messages from the King. You’ll start with a rear view of him walking out on stage and then flip to the front. Either way, you see details of his crown and full outfit. An extensive amount of detail is captured, which aids in understanding his facials cues and witnessing the now-iconic walk.
Safe to say, you’ll be satisfied.
We debated calling this budget, low-end or even mainstream. At the end of the day, you’re getting a lot of value for less change. In our budget pick, we’re pairing a 43-inch TCL 5-Series with a Vizio 36-inch 5.1.2 Home Theater Sound System. Here’s the price breakdown:
Either way, you’re looking at around $630 to revamp your home theater system. The TCL 5-Series features a Roku-powered experience, which is equivalent to having a Roku streaming box inside your TV. It supports Dolby Vision out of the box, so you’ll get a more vibrant and richer experience.
This Vizio soundbar offers tremendous value with a full 36-inch soundbar, a left and right speaker and a subwoofer. It will provide a full 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos surround experience.
Moving into the middle of the spectrum, we’re upgrading from a basic LED screen to a QLED — in fact, it’s a familiar panel to Underscored readers, TCL’s 6-Series, available in a 55-inch for $549. This TV supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision out of the box. For the full Atmos experience, we’d recommend pairing it with Sony’s 3.1ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar. Let’s break down the pricing:
You’ll be able to watch “Hamilton” and any other Vision title in full 4K with the Dolby improvements. We found in our full review that it offered a deeply immersive experience with sweet sound. Pairing this TV with Sony’s soundbar and woofer will give you an equally immersive audio experience.
On the high end, we’re opting for an OLED panel. Rather than lighting pixels to form the image, these pixels illuminate themselves to create the picture. For that reason, you’ll get rich colors and incredibly deep blacks. We recommend the LG CX55. It supports Atmos and Vision out of the box and even has a secret weapon: it supports Dolby Vision IQ. This takes Vision to the next level by customizing it for whatever room you’re watching in, through the TV’s ambient light sensor.
For audio, we’re recommending Samsung’s 7.1.4ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos. This home theater setup includes a soundbar, left and right rear speakers and a subwoofer. It goes a step further than the Vizio set above by offering a full 7.1.4 channel setup. Let’s break down the pricing:
This setup delivers the ultimate Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision experience. Just imagine watching the world turn upside down on an OLED.
Don’t throw away your shot!
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.