Blown away. You’ve just watched, no, experienced, the summer’s blockbuster action film at your favorite movie theater. Your heart is pounding, your head is spinning. For the past 2.15 hours you were completely immersed in the film. Every sight, every sound, perfectly orchestrated to put you at the center of the action. So, how did they do it? And, more importantly, how can you replicate this immersive experience in your home theater?
The sharp, Ultra HD imagery was certainly a factor, providing details that would previously have gone unseen. The same holds true for the audio. Whether DTS:X technology, Auro 3D or Dolby Atmos, 3D sound systems are bringing a new dimension to movies, gaming, television and music by adding a multi-dimensional level of realism.
Hear the pin drop and pinpoint where it was dropped from
Close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you; your HVAC system, a slamming door, a barking dog or the wind whistling through an open window. You’re able to determine exactly where that sound is coming from. For a movie or game to simulate a real-life experience, it must recreate that same multi-sensory experience. Surround sound systems, having made a comeback in 1976 with the introduction of Dolby Stereo, ushered in a new era for audio. Popularity for the new technology exploded in 1977 with the release of Star Wars and its engaging rear-channel effects. By the early 90’s we were enjoying 5.1 surround systems and who could forget 1999’s famous Matrix Lobby shootout in 5.1 HDR? Eventually, the 7.1 surround sound system brought audio to the rear of the room. By 2004 we were enthralled with the breathtaking precision of the blind dancer in House of Flying Daggers as she meticulously replicates the strike of each surrounding drum with her scarves. And do you remember watching in awe as the Star Ship Enterprise navigated to the space dock in 2009 or being charmed as Wall-E catapulted himself through space using a fire extinguisher? Audio places a dimension to the event.
How 3D audio is achieved
There are distinct differences between DTS and Dolby Atmos technologies, but each accomplishes an immersive audio experience by routing sounds to their place of origin. DTS:X adds a height element to a surround sound system which improves sound accuracy. Without the need for additional speakers, and irrespective of the channel assignment or speaker placement, a compatible receiver can interpret and isolate an object’s location and direct its movement and volume.
In contract, Dolby Atmos creates the realistic effect through the use of multiple speakers. In a commercial movie theater, 64 speakers are used but the technology may be replicated in your home theater using only 14. Essentially, Dolby Atmos avoids the constraints of sounds being routed to specific channels. Instead, they are routed to particular speakers. This demo video explains it well: Dolby Atmos Demo Sound Test.
The blockbuster sensation “Bohemian Rhapsody” took full advantage of Dolby Atmos technology and, in addition to a 4K image, provides a number of scenes showcasing Atmos on its UltraHD Blu-ray. The clearly defined sounds take you in and out of a recording booth and have you feeling like you’re a part of Live Aid 1985 singing along with “We are the Champions.”
According to Dolby, manufacturers can embed Atmos in both hardware and software, so that your game console, laptop, soundbar and even your smartphone, can support the technology. Are you ready to make immersive audio part of your home theater? Call SoundVision for a demo or in-home consultation and we’ll make your theater legendary!