The future of surround sound at home has to be like what it is in the movies, and while Dolby Atmos provides a more immersive experience and soundscape, it’s not alone.
Alongside Dolby Atmos, movie makers have another sound technology they can choose to support that provides similarly immersive sound, firing not just the five or seven or nine regularly expected channels, but extra speakers that in the cinema appear above and around the viewer, making it a more complete immersion.
At home, you’re not likely to set up speakers on every section of your roof, so sound device manufacturers have come up with an interesting solution, with speakers facing upright on the front and/or rear speakers that bounce the sound on the roof, providing that immersive sound without needing to turn your entertainment room or living room into a speaker monstrosity.
But to engage with this style of sound system, you need an amp to do the job, and one that can connect with the sound technology needed to make this whole thing work.
Dolby’s Atmos technology is one of those concepts, and Onkyo has provided support in the past, but this year, it is adding the other major immersive sound technology to the support list, as DTS:X is loaded into its new amps.
Specifically, it will make its way into the TX-NR646 (above) and TX-NR747, two products that don’t have names that roll off the tongue, but will support sound seen by many as more three dimensional than standard surround sound, provided you have the movies that support it natively.
At the moment, there aren’t many of these, that said with no DTS:X Blu-ray titles available yet, and only a handful of Dolby Atmos compatible titles out there. We suspect there will be a mode that lets you emulate the 3D surround sound if you have the right speakers and recreate an immersive experience with a movie that isn’t made to use the 3D sound technology that layers sound elements around you and above you, so even if you don’t have the one or two supported movies, you’ll still be able to get some use here.
Also of note is that the amplifiers are backwards compatible with older Dolby and DTS formats, so they’ll work on those settings, too.
One thing of note, however, is that models from the 2014 range, and even recently introduced Atmos-only models will not be able to upgrade to the DTS:X technology, meaning you’re stuck with only Dolby Atmos support and not a pinch of DTS:X with it, something we confirmed with Onkyo’s people.
Beyond the 3D sound, you’ll find support for WiFi and Bluetooth, with internet streaming for Spotify and Deezer, and even support for AirPlay devices on iPhone and iPad. Power out of the amps comes in at a max of 160 watts per channel on the 646 and a max of 175 watts per channel on the 747, with both providing 7.2 (7 speakers, 2 subwoofers) sound if you have the components to plug into them.
Pricing on these bad boys comes in at $1499 for the NR646 and $1899 for the NR747 (below), with Onkyo delivering them to Australian specialist retailers from July 1.