back to article Dolby Atmos is coming home and it sounds amazing

Can Dolby Atmos save the beleaguered home cinema business? With sales of AV receivers tanking, makers of multichannel home theatre receivers are banking on the latest in surround sound technology to rekindle interest. Pioneer LaserDisc advertisement Remember the days when two speakers would keep movie buffs happy in the home? …

Anonymous Coward

Gonna have to give a pass on this at least for now. No doubt the special reflective speakers will cost a load of shiny, not to mention the new receiver that will probably cost a mint.

But it does pique my curiosity as to how this new audio stuff will translate to more portable areas.

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FAIL

Dont' marketing people check their names?

Oric Atmos - decent computer released too late to save a company that was already too late to the market.

Certainly not a name to recycle

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Re: Dont' marketing people check their names?

Comment posted in response to first comment purely for visibility == downvote.

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Pint

Have we achieved 'Crossover' yet?

Where the Multichannel Audio data rate (Mbps) actually, literally, exceeds the Video data rate (Mbps).

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Stop

Whatever the system.

I'll want to turn it up and the wife will want me to turn it down.

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@NoneSuch Re: Whatever the system.

I count myself lucky to have somehow miraculously ended up with an SO whose first question about any film is: "Does it have lasers and aliens? If not, I'm not watching it." and who was the first to venture the notion that we maybe need a bigger sub for movies. And no, she's not a dude.

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Re: Whatever the system.

It's the exact reverse of the central heating!

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Anonymous Coward

As our ears are basically 2 small holes, why can't all this snake oil be emulated by 2 speakers to the left and right of us and suitable processing?

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Despite them being two small holes, there's actually quite a bit of acoustics that goes into your ear. Consider the vibration of your skull as well as the reflections of sound waves down the ear canal. Ever considered how we're able to aurally perceive that something is behind us rather than in front of us, given the two sources can be an equal distance to the ears? Plus, as the article notes, we can also figure out if the sound is above us.

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Anonymous Coward

3D for your ears

because 3D for your eyes is such a roaring success right now.

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Joke

Re: @NoneSuch Whatever the system.

"....And no, she's not a dude."

Well not since the op anyway...

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Anonymous Coward

"Despite them being two small holes"

Yes, fully aware of all that, but at the end of the day it's sounds waves going into a small hole. All of the things you mention should be able to be emulated from single left and right sources.

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jib

It Can

It can, http://www.qsound.com/demos/binaural-audio.htm

but I guess most people don't wand to have to wear headphones when they are watching their home theatre.

The Binaural barber shop demo makes my neck tickle when he is using the clippers, weird.

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JDX
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re:we're able to aurally perceive that something is behind us rather than in front

Can we actually do this given no other contextual information?

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Anonymous Coward

Er ...

one of the problems with large-area surround sound (e.g. a cinema) is that there is a helluva a differential between the extremes of the listener envelope ... maybe tens of metres.

Cinema sounds is fundamentally a different challenge to home audio.

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Pass

I'm going to have to pass on this one as well.

Where would I put the crap that lives on top of the speakers?

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Re: Pass

"Where would I put the crap that lives on top of the speakers?"

Oh I am so glad I'm not the only one. My woman sees a horizontal surface and immediately thinks "Hmm, I know what would look nice on there". Me being a bit of a vinyl junkie, this means I have to find a home for the lamp/ candle holder/ stuffed warthog she's decided to adorn my turntable with before I can use it. Same goes for me 'classic' (read: old) Naim CD32. Speakers are adorned with flowers, digital photo frames, amusing terracotta stuff - anything that will rattle nicely when they're running.

Best so far was the active sub with the bowl of scented floating candles that exploded during a showing of 'The Dish' causing smoke fuelled electronic merriment for all. After that incident she vowed never to put anything on top of a device with a hinged lid or that plugged into something else.

And true to her word, she didn't. At least, not for the 10 minutes it took her to find another bowl to put the floating candles into.

I so hope she never starts reading the Reg.

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Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

So we've gone from mono, to 2.0, to 2.1, to 5.1, and now 10.1

I'm glad that the six guys who get a hard-on for this kind of thing will be able to blow their wads (of money) on corresponding equipment.

Meanwhile, could we finally get better stereo speakers on our bloody flatscreen HD TV sets ?

Don't bother - I'll just keep the TV hooked up to my 2.0 stereo.

And if you think I'm going to spend a car's worth of cash to hear Dances With Stars on 22.3 Atmos Ultima Freak sound, I've got a bridge to sell you.

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Holmes

Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

@Pascal Monett - "So we've gone from mono, to 2.0, to 2.1, to 5.1, and now 10.1"

Yeah, I read from the article that -

"Most consumers want fewer speakers in their lounge, not more."

And yet, the solution is - more speakers!

I'd be more happy if the makers of AVRs fixed the faults in delivering current technologies rather than throwing more badges on the box.

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Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

Had decent 5.1 for a while.

Front two - sure, great for stereo too.

Centre - yup, and serious quality as most of the dialogue comes from there.

Sub - sure, bit of LF great for action

Rear 2 - wouldn't bother again. Hardly ever find material that makes effective use of them.

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Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

"Rear 2 - wouldn't bother again. Hardly ever find material that makes effective use of them"

Might I respectfully guide you in the direction of Peter Gabriel's Secret World BD, with special attention to 'Shaking the Tree'?

Actually, another one, which surprised me greatly, is Antiques Road Show, where you can often hear people having an unrelated discussion behind you.

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Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

Sure, I've experienced one or two movies that had brilliant surround sound, and for those I am pleased I installed 5.1 But they are very few and far between. Most BlueRay disks that boast surround sound use the rear two speakers for a minute or so during the opening titles (or even only for the menu background music) and you never hear a peep from them again.

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Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

I'll just keep the TV hooked up to my 2.0 stereo.

I just use the speakers that are built into the TV. As far as I'm concerned, audio exists so my shows can have dialogue without subtitles. (Though I'm pretty happy with subtitles, too.) I wouldn't take one of these things for free - for me, it's not worth the time spent setting it up.

My wife's deaf in one ear, so she has no interest in fancy audio either.

(And as for the cinema experience - the last time I went to the cinema, the audio experience was LOUD LOUD LOUD idiot talking on cellphone LOUD LOUD. And that was for something mostly explosion-free. It's bad enough at home, trying to watch stuff where dialogue is mixed too low while SFX and BGM are too loud, but at least there I control the overall volume.)

Kids, lawn, etc.

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Re: Wonderful. Brilliant. Absolutely fabulous.

why are my posts not showing up?

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About time

For some time I've thought it strange that we are forced to take the mix that a sound engineer deems appropriate. With the flexibility of file formats it should be possible to deliver sounds as discrete lumps, using as many voices as necessary and combined with metadata to describe where that sound emanates from.

If you've got the master tapes then pretty much any recording could be re-encoded accordingly.

Imagine listening to a pop group, but you'd rather Ringo sounded like he was playing in the toilet down the hall - entirely possible if each master mix channel was delivered separately. Want to auto-tune Paul's latest efforts? No problem. Fancy Debbie H on your lap? Sorry, I digress too much...

As soon as XBMC can decode Atmos I'm in (as long as I can hide the extra speakers behind the sofa).

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Re: About time

Re Arnold L's comment > For some time I've thought it strange that we are forced to take the mix that a sound engineer deems appropriate.

You really think anyone apart from a music nerd is going to bother?

I spend a lot of time messing around in audio mixing DAWs, as an amateur - to do it just for the hell of it will not catch on.

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Re: About time

Of course not!

My missus is happy to watch just about anything with sound from the TV speakers but also enjoys the home cinema at full blast.

My in-laws never clean their cars but like it when I do (as payment for borrowing them).

My cat doesn't use quilted toilet paper.

However, with this it is possible for manufacturers to set up presets that would work best for the device in question rather than one mix fits all. Just as dynamic range compression allows people to use "night time" mode without worrying about what it does to how it works, devices could remove individual singers from the mix or maybe someone learning an instrument could replace the bass player in their favourite group. Think of the benefits of listening to a 1D song without any of the singers, or instruments...

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Re: About time

"As soon as XBMC can decode Atmos I'm in (as long as I can hide the extra speakers behind the sofa)."

I expect they will add some stupid DRM to make your life difficult.

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Were any Ealing comedies, possibly the last decent films ever made, ever recorded with surround sound ? I don't think so. Back to mono !!

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Anonymous Coward

"Were any Ealing comedies, possibly the last decent films ever made, ever recorded with surround sound? "

In order to satisfy current tastes - old black and white films get processed to look as if they were originally shot in colour. No doubt sound will get reprocessed to multiple channels too - if it hasn't been done already.

Just hope no one thinks that "IF..." should be in colour all the way through - although 7.1.4 sound might have a dramatic effect on the final scene.

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Yes it's been done

"No doubt sound will get reprocessed to multiple channels too - if it hasn't been done already."

Yes it's been done. Yes it's been done to things that really don't need it. Like a DVD of old 40-50s cartoons with 5.1 sound.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm am a minimalist

I only got a stereo system. But it's high end, Krell and Musical Fidelity and stuff.

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I dont want all this crap....

Just allow me to turn up the volume of the dialogue without turning up the background music.

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Re: I dont want all this crap....

You can - dialogue is mostly in the centre channel so you can boost the level.

I wonder if a lot of recent complaints about the incidental music drowning out the dialogue on TV shows are due to surround mixes being mixed down to stereo.

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Re: I dont want all this crap....

The centre speaker on a surround sound stream usually has dialogue only (or at least at a much increased level), and so if you can adjust the volume of your centre channel separately you will usually be able to achieve that.

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Re: I dont want all this crap....

Not just the background music but all the stinkin' explosions and other loud noises in movies these days. I live in a flat and have neighbours of whom I'm respectful. Generally I have to turn on subtitles so that I can tell what's being said without the whole thing being too loud.

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Re: I dont want all this crap....

I wonder if a lot of recent complaints about the incidental music drowning out the dialogue on TV shows are due to surround mixes being mixed down to stereo.

They're due to idiot sound engineers and directors. The technical details don't matter.

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I bought a surround sound system for my 360. The wires round the room were fine but just turning it on made the floor in the room above vibrate keeping she who must get her sleep awake. Now, with a not so little one running around I'd need something wireless signals and preferably wireless charing as well that won't cost more than the car.

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This will be great for listening to classical music

Particularly those performances where the cellist is perched on a step-ladder and the violinist hangs upside down from a trapeze

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be great for listening to classical music

Choirs in cathedrals will generate quite a lot of reflections from the ceilings. Probably needs no more than about 50 chorister objects plus the organist. The Atmos effect could be quite realistic.

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Re: This will be great for listening to classical music

So 50 mics & 50 recording channels just for the choristers, plus a few more for ambience. Alternatively, a single Ambisonic mic and four channels for recording

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be great for listening to classical music

"Particularly those performances where the cellist is perched on a step-ladder and the violinist hangs upside down from a trapeze"

I saw that film.

Don't remember them having musical instruments though....

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Got a wad of cash

check out Kalkmann Sound systems. If you have to ask, you can't afford it...

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JDX
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Interesting but...

I'd prefer a system which lets me hear the dialogue comfortably without being worried about the neighbours complaining every time some music or action sequence happens. Even with a sound-bar with "clear-vox" setting it's rather annoying. I actually prefer watching TV on the iPad with a set of headphones these days!

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Pirate

I've seen a couple of films with Atmos

in the cinema, that is, and I must admit I was impressed - though there is a lot more that can be done from the filmakers side with setting up the soundstage - they'll learn though, in the same way they learnt that changing the focal point of the scenes too much in 3D gave everyone a massive headache.

Though naturally, the ticket office more than made up for the positives by slapping a £10.50 charge for the privilege of seing the film whilst being able to hear overhead (and that was with student discount!)

That's a ticket price increaseof 244% over 5 years, and people wonder why piracy is so rampant...

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Re: I've seen a couple of films with Atmos

Piracy is rampant because the world of full of ppl who will happily grab stuff for free if they can, even if it means watching a movie with the same quality as an inflight TV system

Atom however, looks interesting. My Onkyo must be ooo 4 years old now, it wouldn't break me to replace it. But here's a thing.. the speakers I use are well over (and I mean WELL over) 20 years old. Missons and Solids. Who needs to replace speakers when you're happy with them? Adding a couple of Atmos speakers is only 130 quid..plus a bit of wire. Bargain

Bring on the movies and bring on the XBOX games supporting it.

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Re: I've seen a couple of films with Atmos

"My Onkyo must be ooo 4 years old now, it wouldn't break me to replace it. But here's a thing.. the speakers I use are well over (and I mean WELL over) 20 years old."

Same here, except mine's a Yamaha. I'm not usually into these new gimmicks, 3D for example doesn't interest me at all, but I'm going to be watching Dolby Atmos with interest. It'll not be expensive, you'll be seeing it in entry level amps eventually.

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Mushroom

A Sontaran-developed sound system

What could possibly go wrong with that? I hope someone has Prof. Quatermass on speed-dial.

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Anonymous Coward

Well its good timing for 4k. Now a 4k blueray player + built in Atmos should be a sweet combination.

This tech should be possible to add into a second high mount soundbar on shelf above the tv.

Along with a wireless rear soundbar installed behind the rear sofa powered by a flat-flex cord running 4 speakers.

Sonos will probably make something that ticks those boxes for me.

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Don't fall for it

In time, everyone will have an Atmos in their home. Then, one day all of the sets will turn on and start spewing white smoke, choking everyone to death. Yeah, good plan.

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