Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny - Page 3 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #21 of 32 Old 04-08-13, 03:24 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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sdurani wrote: View Post
I can understand 2 speakers being swamped by a room full of reflections coming from different directions. But when you have 12 speakers located in different directions, will all that direct sound still be swamped by reflections?

IF Hass is to be believed, those reflections would have to be louder than the initial sound from the speakers in order to compete for your attention. What is the likelihood of that?
With a speaker playing in a room, there is a distance from that speaker known as critical distance. It is the distance at which the direct sound from the speaker and the combined sum total of the reflections in the room (the reverberant sound) are equal in SPL. If you are closer to the speaker than the critical distance, the SPL from the speaker is louder than the SPL from the room reverb. Conversely, if you are further away from the speaker than critical distance, you are hearing more SPL from the room than directly from the speaker.

You may be surprised how short the critical distance is, even in most small rooms with fairly low reverb time. For example, in a 3100 cu ft room with a rather short reverb time of 0.5 seconds, and with a speaker having a 100 x 60 radiation pattern, the critical distance is only 7'. This is all frequency-dependent, so I'm generalizing here.

Now, in Atmos if you're using overhead speakers they're likely to be within critical distance in our example room. But the front three speakers probably are not, and the speakers behind also may not be. So for at least some of those speakers, their direct output would be less at the listening position than the room's reverberant field.

I would argue that a system that is very specific about which speaker(s) it places sounds in would want to rely less on room reflections to achieve its desired effect. Because the location of a sound can be more precisely placed, excessive reverb would only smear that effect. That's my theory anyway.

Didn't mean to drift so far OT. I think Atmos in the home would be an improvement in most any system and I hope it shows up soon. I've yet to hear it in a theater, but it is really the only thing motivating me to go to the theater these days. I do have an Atmos theater fairly close by, so I need to find the right movie and go hear it. I wonder if Hollywood and theater companies see technology like this as a way to get more people to theaters than would otherwise come without new technology. In that sense, it may be in their best interest to keep it in the theater only for as long as possible. But I'm hoping it's available for consumer use soon.
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post #22 of 32 Old 04-08-13, 09:50 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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I would argue that a system that is very specific about which speaker(s) it places sounds in would want to rely less on room reflections to achieve its desired effect. Because the location of a sound can be more precisely placed, excessive reverb would only smear that effect. That's my theory anyway.
Understood. For me it's not a question of relying more or less on room reflections, but instead those reflections becoming less relevant as the number of speakers increases. The ratio of reflected sound to direct sound starts to skew in favour of the latter. Besides, excessive reverb is not going to be a problem in normally furnished, residential sized rooms. The listening space would have to be much larger to get true reverberation.
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I've yet to hear it in a theater, but it is really the only thing motivating me to go to the theater these days. I do have an Atmos theater fairly close by, so I need to find the right movie and go hear it.
Don't know if 'Oblivion' is the right movie to hear it, but it is right around the corner AND the director claims is first movie to be mixed in Atmos from the ground up (previous titles already had a channel-based mix but pulled out a few pans around the room and overhead elements for the object-based mix). So there's your excuse to finally catch an Atmos mix in the next couple weeks, especially since you have a theatre nearby.

One of the advantages of being in the Los Angeles area is that there are half a dozen Atmos-equipped theatres around me, so I've been able to catch most of the Atmos mixes so far. They vary just as much as channel-based mixes do. Watching 'G.I. Joe' this weekend, I wondered why they even bothered with an Atmos mix (so loud and noisy that it was difficult to appreciate the panning and overhead effects).

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post #23 of 32 Old 04-11-13, 04:58 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

I doubt I will ever expand my system beyond 7 speakers + subwoofer(s) to ever make atmos worth my time or money. I'll take five quality speakers over quantity (9) anyday.

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post #24 of 32 Old 05-06-13, 11:15 AM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

I actually see Atmos being widely adopted in home theater gear. The great thing about Atmos is its ability to down-mix to anything, 7.1, 5.1, 2.0, etc. An Atmos processor is the only thing required for a system to be considered "Dolby Atmos". Therefore, you could have 7.1 and 5.1 receivers with Atmos that simply down-mix the stream. Even a soundbar with an Atmos processor could happen. I can see it becoming a big marketing thing for A/V gear. i.e. "this home theater in a box system offers Dolby Atmos." Systems like that would probably not sound any different than a Dolby Digital 5.1 system, but its all in the marketing. Its kind of a sad use of the technology, but if it gets more systems out there, that lowers the price for everything.

As far as scalability, I could see higher range receivers that offer an add-on component that uses a digital connection but outputs additional channels with or without amplification. The main receiver would house the main Atmos processor and be set up for a standard 7.1 output with 1 to several add-ons to bring the system up to the desired number of channels. This is all very doable.

Of course, before this happens, 2 things need to happen. Blu-ray needs to add support for Atmos, which I believe is not asking too much, and the cost of the Atmos processor will need to be cheap enough.

Boy, I hope I'm right about this. I saw (or heard) Hobbit in Atmos and thought it was really great. Seeing Iron Man 3 on Wednesday, hope it uses the technology well. This will be the future of cinema audio.

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post #25 of 32 Old 05-06-13, 12:42 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

On the flip side this could be what the theaters need to keep customers going just like D-Box seating so it may be kept there and not (for several years anyhow) be seen available to home theater.

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post #26 of 32 Old 05-06-13, 04:01 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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On the flip side this could be what the theaters need to keep customers going just like D-Box seating so it may be kept there and not (for several years anyhow) be seen available to home theater.
Yeah that was my thought as well. Would love to be wrong though!

I'm thinking monoblocks x 32 or so.

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post #27 of 32 Old 05-06-13, 06:04 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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On the flip side this could be what the theaters need to keep customers going
I don't see Atmos being a big draw for the vast majority of the public. The theater near me doesn't even list Atmos with the showtimes. I think 3D and IMAX will be the thing that keeps people coming.
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post #28 of 32 Old 05-06-13, 08:37 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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On the flip side this could be what the theaters need to keep customers going just like D-Box seating so it may be kept there and not (for several years anyhow) be seen available to home theater.
1. There is already an ATMOS consumer offering in the works albeit at a price that excludes most consumers.
2. I cannot imagine that not enough of the vast unwashed will distinguish ATMOS from surround/loud to make a commercial difference.

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post #29 of 32 Old 05-07-13, 02:50 AM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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Systems like that would probably not sound any different than a Dolby Digital 5.1 system...
I'm not so sure. Even with current 5.1 or 7.1 speaker layouts, the Atmos renderer would have the advantage of knowing where your speakers are. So, for example, if the renderer notices that your side speakers are a couple of feet above ear level, then it can route height information to those speakers for overhead imaging rather than routing those sounds to three speakers at ear level in front of you.
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Blu-ray needs to add support for Atmos, which I believe is not asking too much, and the cost of the Atmos processor will need to be cheap enough.
Though it's not part of the current Blu-ray spec, it seems doable on that disc. This year at CES, Dolby demonstrated Atmos using a Blu-ray disc as the delivery media, played on a consumer BD player, connected to via HDMI to a commercial Atmos decoder.

As for cost, if the price of a typical BD player (just a few years after introduction of the format) is any indication...

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post #30 of 32 Old 05-07-13, 12:17 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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I can envision a larger theater with the typical three front channels, two pairs of overhead speakers, three pair of speakers on the side walls (one forward of the listener, one to the sides, and one behind), plus a pair of rear surrounds. That's a lot of speakers and a lot of amp channels, but if it is all discrete and specifically addressed in the encode (as opposed to somewhat arbitrary processing not specific to the mix, like with the current 9.1 and 11.1 matrixed solutions), I think it would be amazing.
I like the sound of this. But, as others have pointed out, its the scalability that Atmos could offer that is the big benefit. I'm sure a future version of Audyssey (or a proprietary Atmos tool) could detect where the speakers you have are, and by defining your seating location, you could have custom-routed x-y-z localized sound.

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