Originally Posted by bkeeler10
There are two ways to do speakers for Atmos overhead sound. The first is to use a speaker is placed on or near the front left and right speakers and aimed to the ceiling so that its sound reflects off the ceiling and down to the listening position. Such speakers are referred to as Dolby Atmos Enabled. They are designed to produce sound with a specific frequency response profile that helps remove the sense that any of their sound is coming from their actual location. Most are also designed physically to direct the higher frequencies only toward the ceiling. A conventional speaker such as the A1 would not be a good candidate for this. You will want speakers designed specifically for the purpose if you intend to go this route - they will be more effective.
The second way to do Atmos overhead sounds is to place an actual speaker on or in the ceiling. If you do it this way, the signals going to these speakers have the potential to be full range. Of course, as with all the other speakers in the system, bass management can be used to redirect the lowest two octaves or so to your subwoofer(s). The A1 would do well here I think, but I do not think that the A1 would be overkill at all. The speakers you use in this situation should probably be every bit as capable as your other surround speakers for the best effect. True, the Atmos soundtracks releases thus far are such that not very much is demanded of the overhead speakers. But that was the case with surround speakers many years ago, and look where we are now. Many action movies can give those surround speakers a good workout, and I expect that the same will be able to be said of overhead speakers as mixers learn how to use them more effectively over the coming years.
To sum up, a conventional speaker won't work as well as a Dolby Atmos Enabled speaker designed for that purpose, if you're going the upfiring route. But if you're going with actual speakers on or in ceiling, I think they should be as capable as your side and rear surrounds, which would mean that the A1 would work great and not be overkill at all.
My $0.02, FWIW.
I disagree with the part I have bolded above. Most Dolby Atmos enabled speakers are very poorly constructed and they use an arcane HRTF crossover/passive EQ network that is the textbook definition of absurd.
Read about HRTF here:
Dolby Atmos speaker design discussion:
And the Atmos Elevation Speaker patent:
Further, I've heard Atmos setups wherein a dedicated A-E speaker was employed and then swapped for a quality bookshelf (in this case, the bookshelf was an older NHT Super Zero)....and the bookshelf absolutely blew away the dedicated Atmos speaker. However, the bass output of the bookshelf had to be curtailed inside the AVR in order to prevent localization and corresponding reduction of the effect. I've also heard in-ceiling setups (which are superior, in my opinion) and those, too had to have the bass knee elevated to the 250hz setting for greatest Atmos effect over the widest listening area. Lowering the knee detracted from the effect and shrank the sweet spot.
Based on the Dolby Patent, it is not their intent to direct any amount of bass energy to those speakers, that (in fact) the lack of bass and midbass signal is what helps create the Atmos Effect in the first place (which is increased ambience). From the patent itself (emphasis mine):
"10. A system for rendering sound using reflected sound elements, comprising: a speaker placed at a speaker location and comprising a housing enclosing a plurality of drivers, wherein a first driver of the plurality of drivers is a front-firing driver configured to transmit sound waves along a first axis proximately corresponding to the ground plane, and a second driver of the plurality of drivers is an upward-firing driver oriented at an inclination angle relative to the ground plane and configured to reflect sound off an upper surface of a listening environment to produce a reflected speaker location; and
a virtual height filter applying a frequency response curve to an audio signal generated by a renderer and transmitted to the upward-firing driver, wherein the virtual height filter at least partially removes directional cues from the speaker location and at least partially inserts the directional cues from the reflected speaker location.
11. The system of claim 10 wherein the audio signal comprises a full bandwidth signal, the system further comprising a crossover coupled to the speaker, the crossover having a low- pass section configured to transmit low frequency signals below a threshold frequency to the front-firing driver, and a high-pass section configured to transmit high frequency signals above the threshold frequency to the upward firing driver.
12. The system of claim 11 wherein the virtual height filter is integrated with the crossover as part of an integrated crossover/filter circuit.
13. The system of claim 12 wherein the crossover/filter circuit is one of: a digital component implemented as a digital signal processor (DSP) device or a logic gate circuit, and an analog circuit, and wherein the crossover/filter circuit is one of a: passive device network and an active device network."
Also from the patent:
"BRIEF SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS  Embodiments are directed to speakers and circuits that reflect sound off a ceiling or upper surface to a listening location at a distance from a speaker. The reflected sound provides height cues to reproduce audio objects that have overhead audio components. The speaker comprises one or more upward firing drivers to reflect sound off of the upper surface and represents a virtual height speaker. A virtual height filter based on a directional hearing model is applied to the upward-firing driver signal to improve the perception of height for audio signals transmitted by the virtual height speaker to provide optimum reproduction of the overhead reflected sound. Additionally, the virtual height filter may be incorporated as part of a crossover circuit that separates the full band and sends high frequency sound to the upward-firing driver. Room correction processes are also used to provide calibration and maintain virtual height filtering in systems that perform automatic room equalization and other anomaly negating processes."
Gene D. over at Audioholics demonstrates, correctly, that a HRTF filter network is not only not a necessary component of an Atmos system, but can actually introduce artifacts into the signal that serve to degrade the Atmos effect itself. Focusing on obtaining a quality speaker that works within the listening environment is a better solution....and one that I have already recommended. Lastly, based on the patent itself, there are not going to be bass frequencies directed to any Atmos speakers. Ever.
EDIT: Also from the patent:
" As shown in FIGS. 4 A and 4B, the renderer outputs separate height and direct signals to directly the respective upward firing and direct speakers. Alternatively, the renderer could output a single audio signal that is separated into height and direct components by a discrete separation or crossover circuit. In this case, the audio output from the renderer would be separated into its constituent height and direct components by a separate circuit. In certain cases the height and direct components are not frequency dependent and an external separation circuit is used to separate the audio into height and direct sound components and route these signals to the appropriate respective drivers, where virtual height filtering would be applied to the upward firing speaker signal.  In most common cases, however, the height and direct components may be frequency dependent, and the separation circuit comprises crossover circuit that separates the full-bandwidth signal into low and high (or bandpass) components for transmission to the appropriate drivers. This is often the most useful case since height cues are typically more prevalent in high frequency signals rather than low frequency signals, and for this application, a crossover circuit may be used in conjunction with or integrated in the virtual height filter component to route high frequency signals to the upward firing driver(s) and lower frequency signals to the direct firing driver(s). FIG. 7 is a diagram illustrating a virtual height filter system including crossover circuit, under an embodiment. As shown in system 700, output from the renderer 702 through an amp (not shown) is a full bandwidth signal and a virtual height speaker filter 708 is used to impart the desired height filter transfer function for signals sent to the upward firing speaker 712. A crossover circuit 706 separates the full bandwidth signal from renderer 702 into high (upper) and low (direct) frequency components for transmission to the appropriate speakers 712 (upward firing) and 714 (direct). The crossover 706 may be integrated with or separate from the height filter 708, and these separate or combined circuits may be provided anywhere within the signal processing chain, such as between the renderer and speaker system (as shown), as part of an amp or pre-amp in the chain, within the speaker system itself, or as components closely coupled or integrated within the renderer 702. The crossover function may be implemented prior to or after the virtual height filtering function."