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

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post #1 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

Does the idea of Dolby Atmos at home sound appealing? It is technology that may come to the home theater sooner rather than later.

Launched about a year ago in the digital cinema arena, is the scalable surround-sound format by Dolby that has so far made its way into over 30 theatrical releases, with implementation in over 90 theaters spanning 28 countries, after being adopted by 7 major Hollywood studios.


As of right now, the technology used in the digital cinema delivers "sound objects" (i.e. individual sounds) to as many as 64 speakers (which include speakers above the crowd), covering only half of its current capability of 128 simultaneous sounds.

To illustrate the major difference between current surround technologies and Atmos, we could look at how the sounds are "described." In traditional formats, sound mixers, in a five-channel system, may assign several sounds to just one channel, which can muffle any of the "realism" of the resulting sound. In contrast, Atmos sounds will be described in 3-dimensions by attaching X, Y, and Z coordinates to define the sound's location, creating a much more realistic sound as a result.

Therefore, with Atmos, the sounds are more life-like and are heard more distinctly and clearly. This effect cannot be accomplished with the limitations of jamming multiple sounds into a limited number of channels.

Atmos surround sound pans very smoothly, and regardless of where the viewer/listener is seated, the surround experience is improved.

The scalability of the format allows Atmos playback into theaters (cinemas and at home) with even less than 64 speakers. Allegedly, "Atmos could be embedded in an active soundbar to deliver surround-sound performance that exceeds that of current soundbars with various types of virtual-surround processing," according to an unnamed source in the article at Twice.com.

Independent of room size and the acoustic characteristics of the room, Atmos can be calibrated to work in an optimal way.

The soundtrack for the movie, naturally, is coded specific for the Atmos experience. In terms of home theater availability, the soundtrack would work on current Blu-ray technology (discs and players). Existing cables (HDMI) can handle the encoding, so all that would be lacking is the decoding on the receiver's end.

In terms of A/V receivers with Atmos decoding capabilities, the jury is still out on when those may be delivered. "No one is saying when those A/V receivers will be available, but there doesn't seem to be any technical limitations that would prevent those receivers from becoming available sooner rather than later."

Manufacturers of the receivers might not make decisions on this matter until a final word comes from the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) in regards to new technologies that make it into the new Blu-ray specs. Considerations might include: 4K technology, expanded color space, frame rates, and audio codecs.

Perhaps the decoding can take place on the "Blu-disc level" leaving no need for a receiver with such a capability?

In terms of timing for the next-gen Blu-ray specification, a BDA spokesman said, "It's very difficult to say exactly (or even roughly) when something tangible will come out of the process, but I think everyone involved is motivated to keep things moving as efficiently as possible."

Image Credit:
digitaltrends.com

Last edited by keithlock; 05-08-13 at 07:27 PM.
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post #2 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 05:31 PM
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Small problem I can see if it happens WAF. Hey honey we need more speakers. Now I'm grounded again.
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post #3 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 05:56 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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Perhaps the decoding can take place on the "Blu-disc level" leaving no need for a receiver with such a capability?
Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But how can the decoding take place on the "Blu-disc level?" It is not a processing or, even, a read/write device and cannot respond to the local speaker arrangements and that is essential to the process.

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post #4 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 10:47 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

Why couldn't a person take a set of Bose 901 speakers and take all the speakers out and put them in little boxes... I am not a Bose fan but I am thinking full range speakers might be the route to go for a Atmos Home Theater on a budget. Not to mention you could flush mount the boxes in the ceiling and walls.

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post #5 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 11:12 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

This would be very nice technology in the home, but I bet it's going to stay in theaters for some time. For the home, there may just not be the 'buy-in' with the decoding needed, amount of speakers, and cost of adding to processors (think of all the amps needed). I think most are still sticking with 5.1 and only a few are going above that (7.1, 9.1 and 11.1). WAF, as mentioned above, will be a major stumblig block for many as most folks have general shared rooms, not a dedicated room. Just my opinion...

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post #6 of 32 Old 04-04-13, 11:12 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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Small problem I can see if it happens WAF. Hey honey we need more speakers.
Don't need more speakers. The advantage with Atmos is that the rendering engine will know where each of your speakers are (where = distance, elevation, azimuth). This will allow the renderer to send individual sounds (objects) to whichever speaker or combination of speakers it needs to image the sound at the intended location. So even with your current speaker layout, Atmos will get you closer to what the recording engineer intended you to hear.

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post #7 of 32 Old 04-05-13, 04:54 AM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

I just installed the last of 64 speakers,when the HT is fully ready i make some pic,s for you all
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post #8 of 32 Old 04-05-13, 06:54 AM
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Statements like "Independent of room size and the acoustic characteristics of the room, Atmos can be calibrated to work in an optimal way." seem like unnecessary hype to me. No matter what you do with encoding, decoding,calibration, and playback, if you are listening in a room the room does have a significant impact. You can only do so much with calibration no matter how many speakers and how much power you use.

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post #9 of 32 Old 04-05-13, 08:39 AM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

Another issue I see with adapting the Atmos in a home theater is space limitation. Adding more speakers that close to the others would be a nightmare to prevent all kinds of phasing and null issues. In the theaters the speakers are still probably 10ft or more apart eliminating many of those problems in the home environment this would not be the case.
I can see them adding two more channels for overhead but anything more would involve the complete redesign of Audyssey, YAPO and the others. Not to mention more amps in the receivers and where do you put the extra binding posts on the back of a receiver for those speakers (its getting crowded as it is)

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post #10 of 32 Old 04-05-13, 02:14 PM
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Re: Dolby Atmos at home - the technological hurdle is tiny

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No matter what you do with encoding, decoding,calibration, and playback, if you are listening in a room the room does have a significant impact.
The reason the room has significant impact is because of reflections. Since reflections have to take a longer/indirect path to your ears, they lose energy along the way and aren't as loud as the direct sound from your speakers. As the number of speakers go up, the impact of the room goes down (with enough speakers, direct sound ends up swamping out reflected sounds).
Quote:
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Adding more speakers that close to the others would be a nightmare to prevent all kinds of phasing and null issues.
Only if they're playing the same signal. If they're playing different signals, how can that cause cancellation nulls? And even when they're playing the same signal, it's only a problem with 2-3 speakers. Once you add more, the phasing/combing evens out (at that point you don't even need to time align them individually).

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