The attraction of going to a movie theater expands beyond the huge screen experience — or its 3D special effects — to an improvement in sound quality. For most of us, this has been a long time in the making because, over the years, it seems like picture quality has improved dramatically (with better graphics, and better animation), while the quality of sound has remained relatively stagnant. After the introduction of Dolby 5.1 sound and then 7.1 sound, it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the next step.
Well, folks, the day we have been waiting for is finally coming our way, and its name is Dolby Atmos. What makes Atmos so astounding is that the moviegoer will actually experience true, 100% pure sound. In fact, Dolby is claiming that it is as if you are hearing it first hand, in real life, and that Atmos will offer the following improvements:
- A more powerful and dramatic moviegoing listening experience
- Sound that will actually move around the theater in such a way as to create a dynamic effect for the listener
- Overhead speakers
- Reproduction of a more natural and lifelike audio experience
- Reproduction of artistic pieces that the audience can experience in an enhanced manner
- Up to 64 speakers that will be used to create a realistic sound and, as a result, will impact every movie scene
The last time I enjoyed a movie experience was when I took my grandson to see The Avengers. It was being shown at the newest theater, built within the last year, in the area where I live. My first impression of the theater was that the seats were super comfortable, with high backs and headrests, but what caught my attention during the movie was the sound. It seemed to me that, while the picture experience was excellent, and the animations and special effects were stupendous, the sound was mediocre, offering nothing more than loudness with incessant bass. In fact, at the time, I felt that the overall audio experience was not even comparable to my own inexpensive 5.1 home theater system.
I believe that this is where would-be audiophiles miss the point. Usually, it seems like those running either the Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 system erroneously believe that there needs to be a tremendous amount of bass to rock the floors. Apparently, they think that this gives the home audience the illusion that they are employing a real, grown-up home system. I am hoping that Atmos will correct this misconception and finally find the proper marriage between sight and sound..
However, I also want to note that the one concern that Dolby has is based on how theater owners will respond to the new Atmos technology. Will the theater owners balk at installing another new system? Well, it appears that Dolby has addressed this issue by ensuring that 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby systems can be incorporated into the Atmos system. Dolby has also stated that it is not just about more speakers, but about the addition of new technology that will provide for the best listening experience.
Will Atmos really enhance our audio experience? We will not know the answer to that question until we experience it in person. I do know that I do not enjoy the boom, for lack of a better description, that is currently being employed in theaters. Instead, I would like to listen to the pure sounds surrounding the theater and / or movie environment and not just hear a lot of noise.
What do you think?