Dolby Dimension wireless headphones review

Dolby makes the most comfortable headphones ever, and that's only the start

Dolby’s Dimension offer great sound, magical features, and unparalleled comfort.
Dolby’s Dimension offer great sound, magical features, and unparalleled comfort.
Dolby’s Dimension offer great sound, magical features, and unparalleled comfort.


  • Ridiculously comfortable
  • Sleek, stylish design
  • Loaded with features
  • Balanced, accessible sound
  • Impressive virtual surround


  • Middling battery life
  • Noise canceling just OK
  • No USB-C

We’ve all seen the iconic Dolby brand plastered on everything from speakers to movie theaters. But in 2018, more than 50 years since Ray Dolby first made his name in tape technology, Dolby is finally ready to strike out with a consumer product of its own.

Dolby Dimension, a pair of $600 (yes, $600) luxury wireless headphones are, unsurprisingly for Dolby, meant first and foremost for home use. They’re designed to bounce between screens, enhance movies when you don’t want to wake the neighbors, and moonlight as a pair of travel cans. While they fall a tad short of a total home run, these new cans are a very promising step into products for Dolby. And if you’re a certain kind of listener, they may just be the headphones you’ve been searching for. Say hello to Dolby Dimension.

Out of the box

Dolby makes the impression you’d expect from a pair of $600 headphones with a chic package that exudes luxury. Opening the box reveals no plastic tethers or twist ties, just the sleek black headphones sitting on a grey bed of wooly fabric, which doubles as the soft travel case.

And these might just be the coolest looking pair of wireless headphones we’ve encountered. Layered in supple leather — which covers not only the ample pads, but also the earcups themselves — the onyx chassis recalls a minimalist, utilitarian Nordic style. A column of four onboard keys on the right earcup are matched by a slat of gleaming LEDs along the disc-shaped exterior cap.

Inside the box, you’ll find a flat-coiled charging cable, as well as a disc-shaped charging pad that connects with terminals on the headphones. Dolby didn’t opt for USB-C here, meaning a full charge takes up to two hours, though Dolby claims you can get about 2.5 hours of battery life on a 20-minute quick charge. The lack of USB-C is less of an issue for headphones made for the home, but at this price we expected the latest tech. A wall adapter and the aforementioned soft case round out the accessories.

Features up the wazoo

Dolby absolutely loaded the Dimension with features. That includes Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), transparency to let ambient sound in (Dolby calls it LifeMix), as well as unique features like Virtualization, which can mimic surround sound for your favorite movies and TV shows. Dolby says Virtualization is so advanced it can read the sound source and adjust how much digital enhancement is needed on the fly.

The Dimension rank among the coolest looking cans we’ve encountered.

There’s also a head-tracking feature, designed to keep your audio source stable at the front view when you turn your head, presumably so that, even when you’re fully immersed in the sound, if you hear something or someone ring the doorbell or shout while using the transparency feature, you can turn your head and know it’s not coming from the TV or iPad.

Onboard keys let you easily switch between three Bluetooth sources, but if your TV doesn’t support Bluetooth, keep in mind that you’ll need to rely on a streaming box or gaming console. A fourth, circular key sleeps and wakes the cans, and also powers them off and on with a three-second hold.

A touchpad on the right earcap controls volume with up and down swipes, plays and pauses with a tap, and switches between noise-canceling and transparency mode with a double tap. Like most touch controls we’ve encountered, they can be finnicky, and we found ourselves initiating an errant control about every fourth or fifth swipe or tap.

Slick little app

While onboard keys are convenient for quick changes, a major part of the Dimension experience is handled by the app. Layered in eye-catching animations, the app is key to everything from setup, to connecting devices, to setting hot keys. Bluetooth LE — with which the headphones supplement traditional Bluetooth to communicate with the app — can be tricky, occasionally attempting to connect your audio source. As such, you’ll want to make sure the app is open and connected to your cans before pairing to your source device for the first time.

Other key app features include turning Virtualization and head tracking on or off, controlling the transparency level, and monitoring battery life. Enabling low power mode here can also help save juice by turning off Virtualization features. That’s key, as the Dimension offer a somewhat middling 14 hours of battery life.

One cool advantage to Dolby’s design: Since audio is fully controlled through the app, we were able to do some things we can’t with many other Bluetooth headphones, such as raising the volume on our Macbook.

A different Dimension

We’ve worn a lot of headphones, but the Dolby Dimension are the most comfortable pair we’ve ever worn. Even when wearing glasses for hours at a time, these super-padded cans just disappear on your head. This is key to their charm if you plan on binging your favorite show or watching a full movie.

Though we occasionally got frustrated with the touch controls, we also marveled at how convenient they are when they work. You can be fully immersed in your content and then, with a quick double tap, reenter the world to respond to a question or just say “hi.” Two more taps, and you’re right back in your own zone.

Dolby Dimension
Riley Young/Digital Trends

It’s also fun to pause content on your TV screen with your headphones — which we were able to do via the Apple TV 4K Dolby provided for our testing — and jump seamlessly to a quick YouTube video on an iPad. There’s no need to pair the headphones again — just click the button on the headphones, and go.

That said, there are a few minor misses that stand out, especially when you consider the price tag. For one thing, unlike top headphones like Sony’s 1000xm line, there are no touch sensors to stop content when you pull off an ear or put the headphones down. We’d love to see that added with the next pair. There’s also no control over EQ or noise cancellation modes.

They’re the most comfortable pair of headphones we’ve ever worn.

Other features like head tracking give the Dimension a leg up, but it’s just not as useful in everyday life. What’s more, it really drains the battery. hen we first put the cans on, we marveled at the feature’s ability to adjust on the fly to whatever we stared at for more than a few seconds. After about an hour, however, the battery went from 14 hours to 9.5.

Speaking of battery, at this price, we would have liked to see at least 20, if not 30 hours total, like Sony’s latest 1000 mx3. We realize there’s a lot going on here — the Dimension uses so much processing it requires a Snapdragon processor — but we still expect a premium price tag to come with premium functionality across the board.

Can’t cancel it all

Dolby’s noise canceling does an excellent job suppressing low rumbles like jet engines or bus engines, and it does so with a remarkable lack of audible white noise. But higher frequencies are still pretty audible. You’ll hear some voices around you, and we could even hear the bus speakers chiming out stops on our ride home, which makes the Dimension less effective than top noise cancellers like Bose’s QC35 II or Sony’s 1000mx3.

Audio performance

We expected Dolby to provide impressive sound — the company helped invent impressive sound. While we weren’t wholly knocked off our feet, we were quite satisfied with what the Dimension deliver.

Virtualization is impressive, even with basic content like The Office on Netflix. While watching the episode The Fire (a personal favorite) we were amazed at how broad the soundstage expanded, to the point where the fire trucks seemed to be parked in our living room, and we even got tricked by the police radio into thinking someone was talking to us.

Dolby Dimension
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Better-produced content reaps even better results. Watching Thor: Ragnarok, the Dimension did equally well in the big, bombastic moments as they did in the subtle, simpler ones. Thor’s fight with the Hulk was thrilling. While the cans aren’t exactly bass bumpers, the booming resonance of the two titans going at it was more than enough to quicken the pulse, while the arpeggiating synths and horns were handled with equal muster, bringing it all home with Thor’s massive lightning bolt.

The sheer comfort of the cans remains the icing on the cake, allowing us to simply float into the action and forget the world around us.

Subtle nuances entranced us: A helmet rolling on the floor and past our right ear here, perfectly rendered footsteps on a stone staircase there, and taut, present dialogue all combined for a fantastic experience. The sheer comfort of the cans remains the icing on the cake, allowing us to simply float into the action and forget the world around us.

The Dimension do a fine job with music as well, with or (to our taste) without Virtualization. While we often use the word “accessible” as a somewhat mediocre experience, here it’s a real compliment. Sound is impressively balanced, with a bit of a rolloff in the midrange that manages to kill sibilance, while keeping all the papery touches and minute details. We thought we heard the cans reach just toward the edge of distortion a few times, but they never went over the top.

Vocals are always clear and well placed in the broad soundstage, while instruments like guitar, percussion, and in particular, horns are rendered with a sweet and clear touch that is quite lovely. While you won’t get the kind of clarity and closeness to the sound from even lower-priced wired headphones, aptX and AAC help preserve the resolution.


Dolby includes a one-year warranty which can be accessed by contacting Dolby support.

Our Take

Dolby’s first step into wireless headphones was worth the wait. While they aren’t without their quirks — and they certainly aren’t for the budget buyer — the Dimension are a supremely comfortable, unique pair of cans that excel in the home, and aren’t too shabby on the road, either. For a certain kind of buyer, namely those resigned to keeping their home theater volume dials turned to the left, Dolby’s Dimension should be a real draw.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re not attached to unique features like Virtualization and Head Tracking, plenty of headphones do nearly as much as the Dimension for far less cash. At just about two thirds the cost, Sony’s 1000mx3 offer a ton of features, excellent sound, and better noise canceling, though they don’t offer the Dimension’s home theater features and aren’t as comfortable.

There are also plenty of headphones designed specifically for the home, like Sennheiser’s HDR 175, which also offer more connection options, though these don’t have the same feature set as the Dimension and also aren’t mobile.

How long will it last?

With impressive design and, presumably, regular updates via the app, the Dimension should be ready as your go-to cans for the foreseeable future.

Should you buy it?

If you’re looking for the ultimate way to crank up home theater sound, without waking the kids or missing out on the household bustle, the Dimension may well be your favorite new toy. If you’re looking for headphones for your daily commute, however, you can get all you need from Sony’s 1000mx3, or even Bose’s QC35 II for a lot less cash. Either way, Dolby’s first dip into product design is an exciting one, and we can’t wait to see what the company comes up with next.

Update 11-14-2018: We’ve updated this review to note that, while there’s no USB-C, Dolby does offer a form of quick charging for a few hours of battery after around 20 minutes of charging.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Walmart abandons its plans for a streaming Netflix killer

Rumored plans for a Walmart owned, Vudu-labeled Netflix streaming killer have been shelved according to a new report from CNBC. The billions it would have needed to invest in order to compete apparently gave the mega retailer cold feet.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable spreads analog joy throughout your home

It can be tough to listen to your favorite analog tunes anywhere besides the room where your turntable is located. With its MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable, Yamaha allows you to stream your tunes throughout your home.
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

Here’s a look at the hottest 4K TV deals for January 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.

Amazon knocks $50 off the Sonos Beam soundbar and smart speaker

If you're looking to add some oomph to your home audio setup, then through February 3, the Alexa-enabled Sonos Beam is on sale for $50 off, bringing this excellent sound bar down to just $349 on Amazon.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘John Wick,’ Ghostbusters,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home and John Wick: Chapter 3.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘American Crime Story’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Terry Gilliam's Brazil, and more.
Movies & TV

The show cost how much?! The priciest original series on Netflix

Netflix has spent big bucks on original series, which might be part of the reason why its subscription pricing is going up. Here's a look at some of the priciest series from the streaming service.