Dolby atmos vs IMAX?. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 05-13-2013, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok at my local theater I'm lucky to have a choice of either format. I just saw iron man 3 @ the IMAX but I was thinking the whole time, I wonder what I'm missing by not seeing it in the atmos theater next door.

Has anyone ever actually tested the difference. Which format do y'all prefer?
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post #2 of 37 Old 05-13-2013, 07:22 PM
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When you go to an Atmos based theatre, you will see long arrays of surround speakers along the side walls and across the back wall. There are usually a similar number of speakers in a couple of overhead arrays. Each of these speakers gets independent signals, allowing the Atmos mix to have smoother pans around the room as well as overhead imaging.

By comparison, IMAX theatres only use 2 surround speakers.

Having said that, 'Iron Man 3' didn't make much use of the unique features of Atmos, so you might want to see that movie on the bigger IMAX screen.

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post #3 of 37 Old 05-13-2013, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Whiting View Post

Ok at my local theater I'm lucky to have a choice of either format. I just saw iron man 3 @ the IMAX but I was thinking the whole time, I wonder what I'm missing by not seeing it in the atmos theater next door.

Has anyone ever actually tested the difference. Which format do y'all prefer?

It depends upon the film and the mix. For Iron Man 3, there isn't a huge advantage to seeing it in Dolby Atmos, it is better seen on an IMAX screen. Now for something like Oblivion, there is quite a difference between the two. The Dolby Atmos mix is much more enveloping and puts one into an audio bubble. But there is no way of knowing unless one sees it with both audio formats. Some Dolby Atmos mixes are simply a waste such as Taken 2.
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post #4 of 37 Old 05-14-2013, 04:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. I did see oblivion in atmos and I was very pleased. I wish there was a way to know which movies to see in which format
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post #8 of 37 Old 09-17-2013, 12:05 PM
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I would rather see a movie in IMAX than Atmos. While I like the idea of Atmos, there is something more enjoyable about IMAX.
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post #9 of 37 Old 09-18-2013, 03:21 PM
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Out of the three Atmos experiences I've had, only one ("A Good Day to Die Hard") was awful. The remaining two were so good it outweighed most, if not all of my IMAX experiences, in terms of audio. So Dolby Atmos is the clear winner for me. Bringing up Auro 11.1, I would also have to say my single Auro experience, including picture quality, surpassed every IMAX-digital venue I have been to, despite the fact it was a 2D showing and the sound was nearly not as on par as Atmos.
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post #10 of 37 Old 09-18-2013, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by sega3dmm View Post

The remaining two were so good it outweighed most, if not all of my IMAX experiences, in terms of audio. .

But why?
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post #11 of 37 Old 09-19-2013, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sega3dmm View Post

Out of the three Atmos experiences I've had, only one ("A Good Day to Die Hard") was awful. The remaining two were so good it outweighed most, if not all of my IMAX experiences, in terms of audio. So Dolby Atmos is the clear winner for me. Bringing up Auro 11.1, I would also have to say my single Auro experience, including picture quality, surpassed every IMAX-digital venue I have been to, despite the fact it was a 2D showing and the sound was nearly not as on par as Atmos.

Apparently you didn't see Red Tails which was the first Auro 3D 11.1 mix. I had the misfortune of a long drive on its opening only to discover that the trailers sounded better than the actual movie that would have easily passed for a made for tv movie. Whether Auro 3D can actually make a go of it versus Dolby Atmos would seem to be questionable. Auro 3D had a big jump, but clearly is trailing badly, unless one favors animation and Dream Works.
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post #12 of 37 Old 09-19-2013, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MrsMiniver View Post

But why?
The IMAX sound system is 5 speakers; not just 5 channels but 5 speakers. That layout cannot compete with the typical Atmos intallation's 30-40 independent surround speakers around, behind and above the audience. That level of precise localization and wrap-around envelopment cannot be replicated by IMAX's 2 surround speakers.

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post #13 of 37 Old 09-23-2013, 07:11 PM
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Apparently you didn't see Red Tails which was the first Auro 3D 11.1 mix. I had the misfortune of a long drive on its opening only to discover that the trailers sounded better than the actual movie that would have easily passed for a made for tv movie. Whether Auro 3D can actually make a go of it versus Dolby Atmos would seem to be questionable. Auro 3D had a big jump, but clearly is trailing badly, unless one favors animation and Dream Works.

My Auro experience was nothing like that. Turbo sounded robust and classy. Several sequences of that film shook the seats such as the lawnmower and the involuntary injection of nitrogenous oxide. Otherwise it was average compared to Pacific Rim in Dolby Atmos which shook my ribcage. It could have been a poorly optimized theater you've been to, or the mix of Red Tails was lackluster. Presumably sound mixers were still working on the kinks of Auro 11.1 at that time. You might have given up on the format because of one screening. I was considering giving up on Atmos after Die Hard 5, which was my first encounter with the format. But I didn't give up and I saw Oz the Great and Powerful in Atmos and it was eons superior. Pacific Rim topped it.
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post #14 of 37 Old 09-23-2013, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sega3dmm View Post

My Auro experience was nothing like that. Turbo sounded robust and classy. Several sequences of that film shook the seats such as the lawnmower and the involuntary injection of nitrogenous oxide. Otherwise it was average compared to Pacific Rim in Dolby Atmos which shook my ribcage. It could have been a poorly optimized theater you've been to, or the mix of Red Tails was lackluster. Presumably sound mixers were still working on the kinks of Auro 11.1 at that time. You might have given up on the format because of one screening. I was considering giving up on Atmos after Die Hard 5, which was my first encounter with the format. But I didn't give up and I saw Oz the Great and Powerful in Atmos and it was eons superior. Pacific Rim topped it.

No, I haven't given up, but there aren't that many Auro 3D equipped theaters in Los Angeles. As to subpar performance, remember all the hype about Auro 3D and this was the first publicly available movie, Red Tails, to be seen and had to have been setup by Auro's parent company - so there can be no excuses and I did see it the day that it opened. I wouldn't go any great distance to see Auro 3D or even Dolby Atmos, because the mixes just aren't that good. Sure there are some that are a lot better than others, but it is apparent from your post that you watch animation which is something that I have no interest in, audio-wise or visually. So first there is the setup via Auro or Dolby and needs to be approved/certified by the manufacturer after which the theater can then go back and monkey around with the subs. Then there are the actual mixes that mostly have not been awe inspiring. The best Dolby Atmos mix that I have heard is Oblivion which was amazing. Maybe Gravity will give it a run for the money. Auro 3D had a big jump in terms of time before Dolby Atmos showed up and that first showcase botched it. No doubt the two can be comparable, but I certainly do not favor Auro 3D when it comes to audio in a theater, given Dolby's reputation and influence when it comes to audio. So if a movie that I want to see happens to be in Dolby Atmos, fine. But the audio is not what is going to pull viewers into the theater, somewhat akin to 3D that has begun to languish because of the premium to see it in a theater.
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post #15 of 37 Old 12-29-2013, 12:11 AM
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I would rather see a movie in IMAX than Atmos. While I like the idea of Atmos, there is something more enjoyable about IMAX.

I totally agree.

There're a lot missing from Atmos' screen that i go to. For 1, the cinema I go to can't compare with the local Imax in terms of bass power. I think no matter how many speakers you throw into the mix, without also upgrading their bass units, they just sound 'weak' to me. No impact. (but this is only true in the cinema I go to that have Atmos)

Second, nothing beats the GIANT screen of an Imax theater.

Oh, just to throw into the mix, 3rd, even though Imax only have 5 main speakers (with a couple height), each speaker is far superior in sound quality compared to the dozens of atmos speakers.



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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

The IMAX sound system is 5 speakers; not just 5 channels but 5 speakers. That layout cannot compete with the typical Atmos intallation's 30-40 independent surround speakers around, behind and above the audience. That level of precise localization and wrap-around envelopment cannot be replicated by IMAX's 2 surround speakers.

This is only partially true as imax theaters aren't every deep from front to back. So, adding more side speakers won't matter that much.
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post #16 of 37 Old 12-29-2013, 01:40 AM
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This is only partially true as imax theaters aren't every deep from front to back.
What part is "only partially true"? The fact that IMAX uses only 2 surround speakers? Or that 2 surround speakers cannot localize as precisely as 30-40 independent surround speakers placed around, behind and above the audience?
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So, adding more side speakers won't matter that much.
Might not matter much to you but it does matter to the IMAX corporation, who are working on a 12-channel sound system that specifically adds side speakers.

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post #17 of 37 Old 12-29-2013, 06:27 AM
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What part is "only partially true"? The fact that IMAX uses only 2 surround speakers? Or that 2 surround speakers cannot localize as precisely as 30-40 independent surround speakers placed around, behind and above the audience?
Might not matter much to you but it does matter to the IMAX corporation, who are working on a 12-channel sound system that specifically adds side speakers.

Partially true in the sense that as the depth of your cinema decreases, the need for more speakers inbetween the front and back isn't as apparent.. that's why i said 'partially'... meaning, 'not quite as important'... perhaps my language skills isn't up to par and I am not conveying my sentiments well...

For example, if you're sitting 6 feet away from your tv, would you need a side speaker???

And yes, of course, there's always a need to 'improve'... and adding more speakers will do that for Imax... I am also saying that at my local Atmos theater vs my local Imax, the fight isn't even close.. even with 5 speakers, the Imax gives the Atmos a good spanking... this could all due to Dolby not having the type of quality control that THX or Imax have on cinemas that uses their trademark... I can imagine a properly executed Atmos theater being superior to Imax,...
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For example, if you're sitting 6 feet away from your tv, would you need a side speaker???
Only if I wanted stable localization at my sides. Speakers at that location would do a better job of that than a pair of speakers in the back corners of the room (a la IMAX) because the ability of our human hearing to phantom image is weakest at our sides.

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post #19 of 37 Old 12-29-2013, 01:52 PM
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I believe its easier to make movies sound good in IMAX as sound mixers have had time , well quite sometime, to master 5.0. On the other hand, it will take sometime for them to get "good" at mixing in ATMOS.
So far I have enjoyed my ATMOS experiences better over the IMAX counterpart. While the sound seems to be louder in the IMAX auditoriums, the panning effects in some ATMOS films I've seen were spot on.

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

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post #20 of 37 Old 01-01-2014, 04:06 AM
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This video says it all.. why Imax is still the King, even with Atmos out there...

http://gizmodo.com/how-imax-makes-movies-sound-as-big-as-their-screens-1485019177

I have witness Atmos (not impressed in the least), and Imax still stuns...

I think it's down to Superior Speakers (even if they only have 5 channels), and Superior Bass (down to 23 hz, compared to THX which mostly goes down to 40hz and Atmos too)... that extra octave of bass is what makes or break a movie...

Plus, their Superior mixing...

Anyways, just my own opinion...
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post #21 of 37 Old 01-01-2014, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolgeek View Post

This video says it all.. why Imax is still the King, even with Atmos out there...

http://gizmodo.com/how-imax-makes-movies-sound-as-big-as-their-screens-1485019177

I have witness Atmos (not impressed in the least), and Imax still stuns...

I think it's down to Superior Speakers (even if they only have 5 channels), and Superior Bass (down to 23 hz, compared to THX which mostly goes down to 40hz and Atmos too)... that extra octave of bass is what makes or break a movie...

Plus, their Superior mixing...

Anyways, just my own opinion...

Curious to what you mean about superior mixing?

I've been to all the local IMAXs here and still prefer the ATMOS theaters. The IMAX screens are nice but something about the smooth audio pans and overheads in some ATMOS mixes really got my attention.

Also the video you posted really kind of just explained theater 101s and some marketing.

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #22 of 37 Old 01-01-2014, 11:59 AM
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Not sure about THX rooms but the Dolby ATMOS specs/white paper I read awhile back speced a screen subwoofer that should have an f3 of 31hz. I can't deny though that IMAX theaters tend to have lots of bass which can be a good thing sometimes but at other times just seems to overpower everything else. Too bad they aren't consistent even with their morning calibration runs frown.gif

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #23 of 37 Old 01-01-2014, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolgeek View Post

This video says it all.. why Imax is still the King, even with Atmos out there...

http://gizmodo.com/how-imax-makes-movies-sound-as-big-as-their-screens-1485019177

I have witness Atmos (not impressed in the least), and Imax still stuns...

I think it's down to Superior Speakers (even if they only have 5 channels), and Superior Bass (down to 23 hz, compared to THX which mostly goes down to 40hz and Atmos too)... that extra octave of bass is what makes or break a movie...

Plus, their Superior mixing...

Anyways, just my own opinion...

If you want to believe their hype, that is your choice. Consider that IMAX is a 2K projection that has been sharpened versus the now almost ubiquitous 4K projections in most chain theaters. As to audio and sound, there is no comparison versus Dolby Atmos that is highly dependent upon the mixer. For example, Gravity or Oblivion in Dolby Atmos just kills IMAX audio. The so called virtual imaging in IMAX audio is baloney. Five speakers cannot favorably compare to an array of anywhere from 20 to 64 speakers in a Dolby Atmos equipped theater.
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post #24 of 37 Old 01-01-2014, 02:39 PM
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LOL!!!!

"Phantom Image Technology"

Wow.

My Dual 18" LLT subs 120dB down to 10hz

 

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LOL!!!!

"Phantom Image Technology"

Wow.

You better be close to dead center in IMAX because if one is too close to either the right or left surround speaker and towards the rear of the theater, guess what you will hear. Hint: it is highly directional. And so goes Phantom Image Technology.
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I just like the idea that a phantom image between speakers is listed as a "technology". biggrin.gif

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post #27 of 37 Old 01-02-2014, 02:41 AM
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I agree on this point:

5 Speakers can't compare to 30-60 speakers... ONLY if the 30-60 speakers are of as good a quality as the 5. Unfortunately this is not the case, at least not in the Atmost theater I go to.

No matter how fancy the sound pans left right, top bottom, etc, it's jus too thin and not as 'crystal clear' as the local Imax.

So, i guess it depends on who watches and personal preference. I like 'tactile' feel and the Bass in Imax kills... and the absolute clarity of speech...

I take it that Imax is also working on multiple speakers, and that'll take it even further away from Atmos... it'll have even more superior speakers...


Like I said, if you like your atmos, the more power to you... for me and all my friends (so far) who have experienced Atmos and Imax at my location, the Imax beats the Atmos (in it's current implementation) by a mile...

BTW: your atmos may have better speakers than mine...
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post #28 of 37 Old 01-02-2014, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolgeek View Post

I agree on this point:

5 Speakers can't compare to 30-60 speakers... ONLY if the 30-60 speakers are of as good a quality as the 5. Unfortunately this is not the case, at least not in the Atmost theater I go to.

No matter how fancy the sound pans left right, top bottom, etc, it's jus too thin and not as 'crystal clear' as the local Imax.

So, i guess it depends on who watches and personal preference. I like 'tactile' feel and the Bass in Imax kills... and the absolute clarity of speech...

I take it that Imax is also working on multiple speakers, and that'll take it even further away from Atmos... it'll have even more superior speakers...


Like I said, if you like your atmos, the more power to you... for me and all my friends (so far) who have experienced Atmos and Imax at my location, the Imax beats the Atmos (in it's current implementation) by a mile...

BTW: your atmos may have better speakers than mine...

The quality part is definitely hard to define though. Kind of reminds me of those who'd prefer 2 really good (like really good) stereo speakers vs those who would prefer a good set of 5.1 speakers. All preference I guess.

The ATMOS theater I go to uses QSC speakers. The IMAX mpx at the same theater actually sounds pretty good too. Saw MI:4 and Gravity in it and enjoyed it. The ambush scene in MI:4 really impressed me in IMAX. I could've sworn I was able to localize mid bass (like 40-50hz) in the room which really added to the immersive aspect. Gravity in ATMOS though was completely another beast in ATMOS though.

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #29 of 37 Old 01-02-2014, 05:53 AM
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The quality part is definitely hard to define though. Kind of reminds me of those who'd prefer 2 really good (like really good) stereo speakers vs those who would prefer a good set of 5.1 speakers. All preference I guess.

The ATMOS theater I go to uses QSC speakers. The IMAX mpx at the same theater actually sounds pretty good too. Saw MI:4 and Gravity in it and enjoyed it. The ambush scene in MI:4 really impressed me in IMAX. I could've sworn I was able to localize mid bass (like 40-50hz) in the room which really added to the immersive aspect. Gravity in ATMOS though was completely another beast in ATMOS though.

Sounds like your Atmos cinema have really good speakers, and bass modules. My Atmos totally lack in the Bass department. The thing that stands out most to me in Imax is how clear the sound is 'the speech even in high explossive scenes' and also the deep, powerful mid bass slam that really punches you in the chest. I have yet to experience that in another cinema (except my own home theater that is, which also surpasses the Imax in the Bass dept). biggrin.gif

I suppose that there are people who don't care much about Bass or clarity... My mom for instance can't tell the difference in any cinema or just the home tv... to her everything's the same... tongue.gif
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post #30 of 37 Old 01-02-2014, 05:56 AM
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I just like the idea that a phantom image between speakers is listed as a "technology". biggrin.gif

I think they meant that 2 surround speakers with the 2 front speakers can do a better job of pin pointing the sound than a 'row' of wall speakers can... and there's something to that effect... for instance, while watching Gravity, at the beginning when he was spinning 360 degree, i swear the sound was ultra smooth as he spins around the cinema... there's no gap... while i also watch it in regular theaters with side speakers and the sound isnt' that smooth at all...
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