Originally Posted by Mr.G
The auditorium had 284 seats, for some reason I had expected the theater to be larger. Although I didn't do an actual speaker count there are supposedly 64 separate channels with 2 arrays of overhead speakers.
Atmos supports up to
64 discrete channels. However, not every theater installation will use that many speakers. I don't know about the theater you went to specifically, but from your description I doubt it needed all 64. Unless I'm mistaken, the Dolby (nee Kodak) Theater in Los Angeles is the only of the launch locations to use the full 64-channel array.
The beauty of an object-based sound format like Atmos is that the soundtrack will map to however many speakers the theater has, from simple stereo up to 64 channels. Sounds in the track are rendered as objects in a three-dimensional space, and will be reproduced by whatever the nearest speaker happens to be.
However I came away with the feeling that Atmos is the future of sound although I'm not sure how many theater owners will buy into an expensive retro-fit.
Depending on what sound system a theater currently has, the retrofit may actually not be that expensive. For example, Cinemark's "XD" auditoriums supposedly have a speaker layout that's a good fit for Atmos. One of those theaters would only need to install the Atmos decoder.