Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hear what these speakers were like, and we’re very curious how they work, but the ceiling technology worked a treat, and it will be interesting to see just how many setups of Atmos there will be, with a new number brought into the picture of regular home theatre.
You’re probably used to seeing 5.1 and 7.1, but the Atmos concept will bring an extra digit, with 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.2, and 7.1.4.
Those extra “.2” and “.4” numbers are for the additional Atmos ceiling speakers or bouncing speakers, as you’ll be able to throw in more vertical speakers for a more immersive experience, encapsulating the viewer even more and improving the sound altogether.
In fact, even that “.1” is negotiable, with Amber’s people telling us that many of the amps will sport two subwoofers out, making it possible for homes to see a 5.2.2 or 5.2.4 connection (5 is the surround speakers in a traditional sense, the first 2 are subwoofers, and the remaining 2 or 4 are the Atmos higher bouncing speakers).
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of titles out there to take advantage of this technology, with four available by the end of the year, and we’re not even sure if these will be enjoyed by most people.
The four titles will include the new “Ninja Turtles” movie, the recent remake of “Hercules” with Dwayne Johnson, a new dance movie from the “Step Up” series, and the latest romp in the Michael Bay “Transformer” series (we didn’t like it, but hey, you might).
But that’s it, and even though Dolby and Onkyo are quick to point out that to date there have been over 120 Atmos-enabled titles made for movie theatres, only four will be coming to Blu-ray, and that’s the real shame in all of this.
On the upside, the Atmos systems will be able to calculate a mix from legacy content — think anything that isn’t Atmos and you have it — and provide something that a Dolby spokesperson says was “aesthetically meaningful and nice,” but that it wouldn’t be true Atmos.
So the music and sound will pass through you, but unlike the content with an actual Atmos track, it will be simulated, sending the channels to the several positions around you and making it appear as if you’re being encompassed, though not designed like the proper Atmos audio tracks.
At least it will be something, but we’re a little curious why there are so many movies supporting Atmos, and yet practically nothing to support the technology available.
You can probably expect new Blu-rays in 2015 to take advantage of the sound, but there’s also more news on the horizon, with Dolby in talks with both Netflix and Hulu for delivery of content, even though neither has a presence locally.
Gaming also seems like the other obvious place for Atmos to be, and while no games apparently support the new sound technology, Dolby is in discussions with various developers and manufacturers to make this a possibility.
With that in mind, we probably won’t see Atmos become something more than a niche product for another few years, with the target right now being people who demand the best audio and have the money to spend on it.