Australia gets most of the big blockbusters, but if you look at how many cinemas we have that support Dolby’s totally immersive audio format, the number is very small. But you mightn’t have to worry about that, as Dolby’s Atmos format comes home.
We all enjoy movies, and we all enjoy them at home, with surround sound systems found in more than just the niche places these says. The first 5.1 systems rocked up in 1994, with 7.1 hitting in 2000, and since then we’ve had numerous improvements, but most of us kind of sit between the two technologies.
Many of us even go with the 2.1 option, as soundbars begin to permeate homes and work as a middle ground providing just enough stereo and home theatre sound but without the room requirements needed with a larger system.
But there’s a bigger sound coming, and it’s even been available in Australia for a while, but only in one place.
That technology is called Atmos, and it’s a technology created by Dolby aimed at delivering more sound in a way that is truly three dimensional.
Rather than rely solely on several channels, Atmos sends its sound objects to different positions around the room, allowing sound to travel from point A to point B, with several parts in between, almost as if each elements of sound was its own entity and could travel great distances to let you hear it.
The technology originally made for cinemas, but in Australia, we only saw one location with the technology, found in the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Unfortunately, the reason Atmos never made it to more cinemas apparently had to do with cost of implementation, as well as the scaffolding and installation costs associated with the technology.
But never mind that because Atmos is coming home, and provided you have enough cash and room, you can get totally immersive sound in a 3D way in your home shortly.
Tested this week at the Amber Technology showroom in NSW, Atmos was demonstrated with several speakers positioned not just in the front and back, but also on the ceiling, using a combination of the speaker positions and the Atmos engine to shift sound all around the room, making for a dynamic and very in your audio experience.
It’s almost like you’re inside the noise, and if you’re watching a movie or a clip, the sound is almost too real, coursing through your body and leaving through your eyelids.
To make this any more immersive, we’d need wall-to-wall projections, we really would.
Home setups of Dolby Atmos can be built using ceiling speakers as well as the regular floor standing gear, but to make the technology truly cost effective for most homes, Dolby has been working with companies like Onkyo to build 90 degree speakers, aimed at sitting on the tops of other speakers and bouncing the sound signals off the ceiling, with the audio engines calculating the milliseconds it takes to transmit and bounce, and spreading this audio throughout your home theatre.