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I am new to the site, and this is my first post on HTS. So thanks in advance for any and all feedback, My apologies if this is not the right area to post this topic.

I would like to conceptualize a 7.1.4 setup. However, I am on a budget. It's not crazy-restrictive, but it's not a free-for-all. I don't see myself spending $1,100 on a receiver. However, for about $500, I have found a few 9.2-channel receivers which (when used with an external 2-channel amplifier) will give me the 11 channels (plus sub) that I need. The Onkyo TX-RZ730 and Pioneer VSX-LX503 are a couple examples.

I an not a big fan of discs. I don't buy/rent blu rays. Instead, I stream most of my content. I have access to Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube TV. Do any of these services stream in a format that would allow me to make use of a 7.1.4 Atmos setup?
 

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I am new to the site, and this is my first post on HTS. So thanks in advance for any and all feedback, My apologies if this is not the right area to post this topic.



I would like to conceptualize a 7.1.4 setup. However, I am on a budget. It's not crazy-restrictive, but it's not a free-for-all. I don't see myself spending $1,100 on a receiver. However, for about $500, I have found a few 9.2-channel receivers which (when used with an external 2-channel amplifier) will give me the 11 channels (plus sub) that I need. The Onkyo TX-RZ730 and Pioneer VSX-LX503 are a couple examples.



I an not a big fan of discs. I don't buy/rent blu rays. Instead, I stream most of my content. I have access to Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube TV. Do any of these services stream in a format that would allow me to make use of a 7.1.4 Atmos setup?


Netflix does offer Atmos on its premium service but it might only utilize Atmos on Netflix studios stuff. Vudu offers Atmos and I think Hulu does. AFAIK, YouTube, despite having videos what say “surround” etc are actually only 2.0. I can’t verify that though. Apple TV4k has the capability but is source dependent.
A couple things. The upmixers, “Dolby surround” and Dts neuralX are very very good so even with 5/7.1 material, you can have a good experience(some are even better than native). So you CAN utilize the new setup with anything.

And also, the disk will always sound better.

If you don’t mind refurbs, accessories for less is a great place to buy. Also, look for close outs this time of year. Personally I’ve found Audyssey xt32 is better than mcacc and ypao. Especially for subwoofers. So I would look for a denon or Marantz. That’s just me.
 

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To access Atmos soundtracks, the audio signal must be Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 or 5.1 to begin with. Anything that's just Dolby Digital will never have Atmos encoding.

That said, Atmos is a joke for the most part. Studios are rarely paying to put a human at the helm to master Atmos (or DTS:X) soundtracks. Instead they just run the 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack through Dolby Surround (or Neural:X if the working master is DTS) to get fake immersive sound, then they encode that as Atmos (or DTS:X) so you think you're getting something good, when you aren't. There are a SMALL number of 4K UHD discs released with GOOD Atmos (or DTS:X) soundtracks. You'd waste a lot of money on finding those titles without a resource too help you focus on the discs that have GOOD Atmos or DTS:X soundtracks... a resource that scores or otherwise provides some value judgement on each immersive soundtrack. The studios know that even if they make something now, they can sell a remastered version to you in 5 years that might finally deliver on the promise of immersive sound.

One immersive sound movie I had to write a review of had EXACTLY 5 seconds of sound in the height channels over the entire 1 hour 50 minute movie! I'm not sure why this reality isn't more widely known, but I've been writing about it from the very first Atmos and DTS:X discs for thousands of subscribers. Nobody else seems to take the immersive soundtracks seriously. There is a scene in the last Star Trek movie where hundreds of small alien ships are piercing the hull of Enterprise, then prying the hull open so the occupant can get into the ship. There's gunfire (well phasers or whatever), hand to hand combat, yelling, explosions... and during all of that sound, the ONLY THING you hear in the height channels is "Red Alert" several times. NOTHING ELSE. That is just stupid... a massive fight like that would echo up and down the halls and there would be constant ambient sound above your head if you were there during the fight... but nope, all you get is "Red Alert" a few times. Use Auro-3D/AuroMatic on the same soundtrack, and there's near-constant ambient sound in the height channels that blends perfectly with the lower level speakers.

And... because there are so many BAD Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks out there, you can actually get BETTER sound from those movies by using Auro-3D on them instead of Atmos or DTS:X. Of course if your pre/pro doesn't have Auro-3D, you miss out on the best upconverter for immersive sound that exists... by a long long shot. Auro-3D now has a single setting for immersive sound. Earlier, there would be an Auro-3D option for discs with Auro-3D soundtracks (popular in Europe), and an AuroMatic option for upmixing the original 2, 4, 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 soundtracks up to 9, 11, or 12 channels. If it was a bad Atmos soundtrack, just use the Auro-3D setting on it and Atmos or DTS:X will be bypassed for the 5.1 or 7.1 lossless track that is then upmixed with AuroMatic without you having to manually select AuroMatic as you did in the past. So if you are considering a processor without Auro-3D, think hard about that, I find AuroMatic to be the FIRST AND ONLY upmixer that makes stereo music sound better than a really good stereo system can make it. AND it makes bad Atmos or DTS:X soundtracks (I'd guess 95% of discs with Atmos or DTS:X as of Nov. 2019 have horribly bad soundtracks that would be improved massively by using Auro-3D and forego-ing Atmos or DTS:X. If you rate the immersive quality of the 3 upmixers (Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X, Auro-3D/AuroMatic), I would start by giving AuroMatic a "10", not because nothing will ever be better, but because today, if I had only one immersive sound option, it would be Auro-3D/AuroMatic. Play the same content with DTS Neural:X being sure to match levels, and I would be very surprised if anybody would rate it higher than a 4 or 5. And Dolby Surround would likely get ratings of 1 or 2 for consistently making everything you use it on sound worse from stereo to 7.1.
 

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I forgot to mention, Amazon Prime and Netflix both have content with DDPlus that decodes to Atmos. I have yet to hear anything interesting from shows that have Atmos soundtracks... I mean I've watched shows with Atmos soundtracks decoded with Atmos. The results are overwhelmingly underwhelming. Most of the time there's little or nothing going on in the height channels... unlike every moment of your waking life where you hear constant sounds from above as well as 360 degrees around you, and sometimes from below you.
 

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So just so I can see where your coming from. What’s your setup like? Do you use tops or heights or modules, 5 or 7 beds, subs etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To access Atmos soundtracks, the audio signal must be Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 or 5.1 to begin with. Anything that's just Dolby Digital will never have Atmos encoding.

If you rate the immersive quality of the 3 upmixers (Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X, Auro-3D/AuroMatic), I would start by giving AuroMatic a "10", not because nothing will ever be better, but because today, if I had only one immersive sound option, it would be Auro-3D/AuroMatic. Play the same content with DTS Neural:X being sure to match levels, and I would be very surprised if anybody would rate it higher than a 4 or 5. And Dolby Surround would likely get ratings of 1 or 2.
Thank you Wiz. I think that might be the most complete and informative response I have ever seen (to a forum post). You mentioned the AuroMatic upmixer. Forgive my ignorance/lack of experience but I have never heard of this. Is this standalone software? Is it something built into some receivers? Does it utilize ACTUAL discrete channels in a surround setup, or is it a virtual sound processor for use with a pair of stereo speakers?
 

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So just so I can see where your coming from. What’s your setup like? Do you use tops or heights or modules, 5 or 7 beds, subs etc.
I don't have a setup yet. I am working from the ground...up. I don't even have the room built yet. I am finishing my basement, and I have decided to design a theater room
 

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I don't have a setup yet. I am working from the ground...up. I don't even have the room built yet. I am finishing my basement, and I have decided to design a theater room


Yeah, that was for dawiz. He’s rambled and ranted about Atmos before. Just wondering where his basis comes from.
 
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