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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
 

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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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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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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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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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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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I just installed the last of 64 speakers,when the HT is fully ready i make some pic,s for you all :bigsmile:
 

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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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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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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).
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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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).
To a point yes but that still does not change that adding that many channels to a receiver is going to be near impossible given the space limitations and needing to redesign the room EQ systems.
 

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To a point yes but that still does not change that adding that many channels to a receiver is going to be near impossible given the space limitations and needing to redesign the room EQ systems.
More outputs will require more back-panel real estate, there's no way around that, short of those annoying DB-25 connectors and breakout cables:



However, with the analogue sunset being imposed on the industry, component and composite video connections are starting to get fewer and fewer with each new receiver line; same with stereo analogue audio inputs. A pre-pro that had 3 component inputs and one component output (not uncommon) can use that exact same space for 12 audio outputs. Do the same with composite connections and you're up to 16 output connections. And this is in addition to the 7.1 outputs already on the pre-pro. Now you're up to 24 channels, without any additional back-panel space than current pre-pros.

As for room correction, there's no need to redesign: same algorithm, more channels. If back in 2010, Denon could deliver 13 (11.2) independent channels of Audyssey's best room correction (XT32) for less than $2k, then by the time the consumer version of Atmos arrives (2015?) there shouldn't be a problem EQing way more channels.
 

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Agreed but that means you will need 32 channels or more of outboard amplification as the receivers cant power more channels due to current limitations of power supplies that are in them.
 

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Actually, Tony, the power supply should not be any more of an issue than it is now. the total power out should be about the same, just distributed over more speakers. The space to do discrete channels, connections and amplifier stages, will mean bigger components physically.
 

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But we all know that already in most receivers its the power supply that is the weak link in supplying enough to the amplifiers. Most receivers cant do all channels driven as it is without a 20% (aprox) drop in its rated output without distortion. How is more channels going to be the same?
 

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Don't know if initial implementations will be "32 channels or more", but the desire to have more than 7 or 9 amp channels in a receiver could lead to more use digitial amplification. With the kind of efficiency they have compared to regular amps, power supplies won't be a problem.I don't know if you remember those Panasonic 7.1-channel receivers from several years ago that used to only be a couple inches tall.

 

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More amp channels a problem? HT enthusiasts everywhere cannot wait to add additional channels of external amplification. High efficiency surrounds driven by relatively low wattage amps is all that should be required to achieve good results in an average room. This would not be a technology widely adopted for the masses but geared toward those with dedicated rooms and the flexibility to configure them as required. The key to success is that it has to provide a dramatic improvement over the current formats.

At a minimum it would have to be akin to going from Dolby Pro Logic to Dolby Digital and I would hope the final result would be something even more dramatic.
 

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But we all know that already in most receivers its the power supply that is the weak link in supplying enough to the amplifiers. Most receivers cant do all channels driven as it is without a 20% (aprox) drop in its rated output without distortion. How is more channels going to be the same?
Assuming you have amplification in a 7 channel system that is adequate to drive the system to the level you want, and the power supply is up to the task, going to more channels to produce the same SPL does not necessarily require more power if the speaker efficiency stays the same. The power will be distributed differently and the power supply in the amp will need to deliver the same amount of current. You don't need 64 channels of 100 watts each.
 

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Well, I for one am quite excited about the prospect of Atmos in the home. There are some obstacles to overcome obviously, and it won't be for the average guy who is casual about his home theater. But for most of us who frequent this forum and take home theater seriously, I would think it will appeal at least in concept. Especially for those who have dedicated rooms. It will of course involve an extra outlay of money. I'm sure some of us will come up with a way!

I wonder if a larger and more well-damped room would be increasingly important to the success of an Atmos roll-out in a home theater. Ostensibly the processing will make it sound essentially the way it should regardless of room size or speaker count, but I suspect a larger room with well-controlled reverb would give a better result.

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.
 

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I wonder if a larger and more well-damped room would be increasingly important to the success of an Atmos roll-out in a home theater.
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?

As counterintuitive as it may seem, adding more speakers might make dampening less necessary, since you'll be hearing more direct sound than reflections. Atmos could end up being more beneficial to normally furnished living rooms than finely tuned dedicated HTs.
 
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