Elysium in Barco Auro 11.1 and Dolby Atmos - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 66 Old 08-12-2013, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Last Friday, I did something I wouldn't normally do—I went to see a blockbuster movie on opening weekend. Not only that, I saw it twice in one day! Why would I do such a thing? The day before, I learned that Elysium was playing at some theaters in Barco Auro 11.1 and at other theaters in Dolby Atmos. Since I had never heard the Barco audio system before, I decided to experience both in the same day so I could reasonably compare them.

 

 

First up was Barco Auro 11.1 at the Pacific Theatres Glendale 16 in Glendale, CA. (Interestingly, the Pacific Theatres Stadium 14 at The Grove has a Barco Auro sound system in one of its auditoriums, but it did not get a digital file with that soundtrack for some reason.) I went at 1:00 PM, hoping that most people were planning to see the movie that night, and I was right—the theater was pretty empty, so I could sit in my favorite spot, dead center about two-thirds of the way back from the screen.

 

I got there early enough to scope out the speaker array. Each side wall had a row of surround speakers—eight from the front to the back, with two extra speakers above the fifth and sixth surround speakers from the front. I've always heard that Barco Auro has two rows of side-surround speakers, and I guess this qualified, but with only two stacked pairs, "two rows" seems a bit misleading. There was one row of rear-surround speakers, and subwoofers in the back corners near the ceiling.

 

Speaking of the ceiling, there were four clusters of three speakers each mounted on the ceiling near the four corners of the room. In each cluster, the speakers were pointing forward, backward, and inward toward the audience. All of these speakers reproduce the same overhead channel, sometimes called the "voice of God" channel. I thought it was odd that the overhead clusters were so near the corners of the space and not more centrally located.

 

As usual, I had my trusty Larson Davis 720 SPL meter, and I was very pleasantly surprised that the volume was quite reasonable, since I didn't want to wear my earplugs in order to better evaluate the performance of the sound system. I did have to put my fingers in my ears a few times, but for the most part, it was entirely tolerable—the average level over exactly two hours (including just a few trailers) was 79.4 dBA with the highest 1-second maximum at 91.2 dBA. The level remained above 83.7 dBA 10 percent of the time, 79.2 dBA 33 percent of the time, and 75.9 dBA 50 percent of the time, with a dosage of only 2.83% of the OSHA-recommended daily exposure.

 

One of the first things I noticed was how bright, even harsh, the overall sound quality was. And dialog intelligibility was not good—I could barely understand the sick, soft-spoken child Matilda (Emma Tremblay), the evil agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) with his thick Australian accent, the revolutionary/mercenary Spider (Wagner Moura), and others like him with heavy Spanish accents. As for sonic immersion, the sense of height around me was increased compared with conventional 5.1 or 7.1, but it did not extend completely overhead, even though there were plenty of opportunities for it to do so, like when aircraft fly above you or bullets fly all around.

 

That evening, I went to the AMC Century City 15, whose ETX auditorium has a Dolby Atmos sound system. (They also sell reserved seats, which is why I didn't go to the AMC Burbank 16 right up the street from my house—I didn't want to wait in a long line and risk getting a bad seat.) In this room, there was one row of side-surround speakers on each side wall and a row of rear-surround speakers on the back wall with four subwoofers at the back near the ceiling. On the ceiling were two rows of six speakers each extending from the front to the back. I was able to secure a seat close to dead center, one row closer to the screen than I had been in the Barco Auro theater that afternoon. (Both rooms were about the same size.) As expected, the theater was much more crowded for this showing.

 

Amazingly, the levels during this presentation were even lower than they had been in the Barco Auro theater—an average of 77.5 dBA over 2 hours and 6 minutes (they played a few more trailers), with the highest 1-second maximum at 90.0 dBA. The level remained above 81.8 dBA 10 percent of the time, 77.3 dBA 33 percent of the time, and 74.2 dBA 50 percent of the time with a dosage of only 1.72%. I didn't even need to plug my ears at all!

 

The difference in audio quality was obvious—the sound was much smoother and not at all harsh, and dialog intelligibility was much better. Also, the music was more detailed and better integrated with the rest of the soundtrack. And the sense of sonic envelopment was far more complete than it had been with Barco Auro, with a contiguous hemispherical soundstage and much greater localization of individual sonic objects. The sound of aircraft overhead was very convincing, as was the sound of bullets and exploding debris flying all around. Same with the sounds within the shuttle flying to Elysium and crashing into the torus.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

 

As for the movie itself, all I can say is, eh. The visuals are gorgeous, especially the shots of Elysium and its environment, and the premise is good and timely. The growing gap between the wealthiest members of society and the rest of humanity, plus the overpopulation and pollution of Earth, lead the rich to emigrate to an orbiting space station called Elysium, where all residents live in comfort, and automated "medbays" can scan for and cure any disease or disfigurement in minutes. Meanwhile, the plebes back on Earth must make due with severe overcrowding, brutal police androids, poor medical care, and terrible working conditions—if you can find a job at all.

 

However, what starts out as an interesting idea devolves into a standard shoot-em-up, good-versus-evil trope. Radiation-poisoned Max (Matt Damon) becomes an unlikely champion of the Earth's huddled masses against Elysium's evil Minister of Homeland Security Delacourt (Jodie Foster, doing a terrible French accent) and her minion, agent Kruger. Helping Max is his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga, niece of actress Sonia Braga), who is looking for a way to Elysium to cure her daughter Matilda of advanced leukemia.

 

One thing I objected to was the fairly graphic violence and gore. I had to close my eyes several times, such as when Kruger's smashed-in face gets reconstructed. No wonder this movie is rated R!

 

And there are so many technical implausibilities, I was never able to suspend my disbelief. For example, Max is equipped with an strength-enhancing exosuit, which is surgically installed over his clothes! Also, Elysium is a giant spinning torus, with the people living on the inside surface farthest from the center; centrifugal force provides artificial gravity. But the torus is not completely enclosed, yet the atmosphere doesn't escape, and aircraft behave as if they are in a gravitational field. And even though it's supposed to be the year 2154, there has been absolutely no change in fashion among the elite for the past 140 years. C'mon, show a little imagination!

 

All in all, it was an interesting adventure to compare Barco Auro 11.1, which retains a channel-based orientation with a single overhead channel, and Dolby Atmos, which implements an object-oriented approach with each speaker—including those overhead—being addressed individually. In my view, Atmos was the clear winner. While I can't recommend the movie, I can recommend that, if you decide to see it, try to do so in a Dolby Atmos theater. To find out if there's one near you, click here.

 

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post #2 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 04:42 AM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Scott. I'm surprised at the "low" volumes and the inaudible dialogue at times. Sadly there are no ATMOS theaters near me, unless I want to drive 2 hours or more. Is the difference with ATMOS that it uses more height and ceiling speakers?
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post #3 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 06:15 AM
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Interesting comparison. Thanks for the detailed write-up.

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post #4 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 06:33 AM
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Thanks for the comparison. I too was surprised to hear the about the low volumes. Who knew that a summer blockbuster could actually be at a non-traumatic volume? I have not seen this movie so his character might be an Aussie, but Sharlto Copley is South African not Australian as you stated in this write up. Thanks again for the write up.

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post #5 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

All in all, it was an interesting adventure to compare Barco Auro 11.1, which retains a channel-based orientation with a single overhead channel, and Dolby Atmos, which implements an object-oriented approach with each speaker—including those overhead—being addressed individually. In my view, Atmos was the clear winner. While I can't recommend the movie, I can recommend that, if you decide to see it, try to do so in a Dolby Atmos theater. To find out if there's one near you, click here.

Scott.. just to clarify.

Atmos allows you address the speakers in both ways.

There is a 9 channel bed (L C R Ls Rs Lsb Rsb and OHL/OHR) which functions in the same way a channel based system always has... for the speakers not behind the screen, they can be panned to as an array.

Dolby Atmos has also brought back the Left and Right Extra channels behind the screen, so in reality you actually have an 11.1 channel based system with Atmos that functions just as traditional 5.1/7.1 did.

As you mention, in addition to this channel based "bed" you can have up to 118 objects that can individually address any of the speakers in the auditorium, and pan through them.

Recently Dolby has updated the system so an object can be as small as one speaker or spread out wider as desired.
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post #6 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 07:31 AM
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I skipped the Spoiler section as I am really excited about this film.

Unfortunately there are no Atmos theaters here, I am just north of you Scott in Bakersfield.

I will have to tell my wife that we will need to drive down to Burbank to see a film one day!

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post #7 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 07:55 AM
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Looks like the mix is highly dependent upon who does it, no matter the audio package. That shouldn't be too surprising because some 7.1 or 5.1 mixes are a lot better than others. But to have a direct comparison between Atmos and Auro was very interesting and to find out that Auro is available in Glendale! Which theater number at the Americana is set up for Auro 3D?
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post #8 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 08:01 AM
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The talk is that ATMOS is going to make it into HT. I'll admit I know virtually nothing about it or Auro, are they both 11.1?
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post #9 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post

Scott.. just to clarify.

Atmos allows you address the speakers in both ways.

There is a 9 channel bed (L C R Ls Rs Lsb Rsb and OHL/OHR) which functions in the same way a channel based system always has... for the speakers not behind the screen, they can be panned to as an array.

Dolby Atmos has also brought back the Left and Right Extra channels behind the screen, so in reality you actually have an 11.1 channel based system with Atmos that functions just as traditional 5.1/7.1 did.

As you mention, in addition to this channel based "bed" you can have up to 118 objects that can individually address any of the speakers in the auditorium, and pan through them.

Recently Dolby has updated the system so an object can be as small as one speaker or spread out wider as desired.

But isn't Barco a matrixed approach? If so I'm not surprised in the least that Atmos would sound better, being a discrete/object based system.

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post #10 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by clientnumber9 View Post

Thanks for the comparison. I too was surprised to hear the about the low volumes. Who knew that a summer blockbuster could actually be at a non-traumatic volume? I have not seen this movie so his character might be an Aussie, but Sharlto Copley is South African not Australian as you stated in this write up. Thanks again for the write up.


Ah, well, Copley's character is probably South African, then. That accent sounds nearly identical to Australian to my ears. There was nothing in the story that indicated he is Australian, I just assumed so from the accent. Thanks for the correction!


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post #11 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post


Scott.. just to clarify.

Atmos allows you address the speakers in both ways.

There is a 9 channel bed (L C R Ls Rs Lsb Rsb and OHL/OHR) which functions in the same way a channel based system always has... for the speakers not behind the screen, they can be panned to as an array.

Dolby Atmos has also brought back the Left and Right Extra channels behind the screen, so in reality you actually have an 11.1 channel based system with Atmos that functions just as traditional 5.1/7.1 did.

As you mention, in addition to this channel based "bed" you can have up to 118 objects that can individually address any of the speakers in the auditorium, and pan through them.

Recently Dolby has updated the system so an object can be as small as one speaker or spread out wider as desired.


Thanks for the clarification!


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post #12 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

Looks like the mix is highly dependent upon who does it, no matter the audio package. That shouldn't be too surprising because some 7.1 or 5.1 mixes are a lot better than others. But to have a direct comparison between Atmos and Auro was very interesting and to find out that Auro is available in Glendale! Which theater number at the Americana is set up for Auro 3D?


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post #13 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

The talk is that ATMOS is going to make it into HT. I'll admit I know virtually nothing about it or Auro, are they both 11.1?


See FilmMixer's comment above; apparently, Atmos is an 11.1 "bed" plus up to 118 individual "objects" that can be panned around the space. Auro is straight-up 11.1 with a single overhead channel. I don't think we'll see Atmos in a home version for quite some time, but you never know.


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post #14 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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But isn't Barco a matrixed approach? If so I'm not surprised in the least that Atmos would sound better, being a discrete/object based system.


I don't think Barco Auro is a matrixed approach, but I don't know that for sure. I'll look into it.


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post #15 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post


See FilmMixer's comment above; apparently, Atmos is an 11.1 "bed" plus up to 118 individual "objects" that can be panned around the space. Auro is straight-up 11.1 with a single overhead channel. I don't think we'll see Atmos in a home version for quite some time, but you never know.



Yes I have to agree, I think it will take some time. That's fine I'm enjoying DTS MA very much.
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post #16 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 10:23 AM
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Scott, as always, thanks for the great write up!

I didn't see you mention where to find the Auro theaters so here's the link.

http://www.barco.com/en/StaticPages/Locators/Digitalcinema/AuroLocator

A couple things I'm curious about...

You say the ATMOS sounded better, but could it have to do w/ the level at which it was played or what about the type of speakers used and room environment (either it being filled w/ people compared to the Auro being empty or the treatment of the room in general)?

Which do you think will comeout on top or will we be seeing a format war to continue?

ATMOS seems to be winning w/ amount of movies vs Auro

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/content/movie/release/dolby-atmos-movies.html

http://www.barco.com/en/Auro11-1/moviegoers/Movies%20mixed%20in%20Auro%2011-1

According to this article written last week by Film Journal, Auro is now on top w/ number of installs and planned installs and "Blind Audience" testing.
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Barco was selected by Cinemark to deploy its immersive cinema sound solution, Auro 11.1, in more than 150 premium Extreme Digital (XD) screens worldwide. The Cinemark deal makes Auro 11.1 the worldwide market leader in immersive cinema audio systems for the movie exhibition industry.

http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/news-and-features/news/technology-and-new-products/e3i81bae05453e113af19761f589c1ba9d6

This article from earlier in the year after CinemaCON talks about the fight between the two and which way to go regarding a standardized format.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/cinemacon-issue-brewing-proposed-immersive-442120

If anyone is interested, here's the links for the official sites of ATMOS and Auro.

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/technology/movie/dolby-atmos-details.html

http://www.barco.com/en/Auro11-1

If you haven't done a show on this subject yet (I might have missed it), maybe you can get reps from each company to come on and talk about it.
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post #17 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 10:30 AM
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The closest atmos theater is in paramus, hopefully rockaway gets it in one of the large houses.
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post #18 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 10:44 AM
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Thanks for the feedback Scott. Good stuff.

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post #19 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 10:55 AM
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post #20 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 11:13 AM
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Nice write-up Scott. Had done a similar comparison when Dreamworks' 'Rise of the Guardians' had come out: Auro at the Pacific Grove vs Atmos at Arclight Sherman Oaks. There wasn't any harshness or dialogue intelligibility problems with the Auro mix (nor had there been when I saw 'Red Tails' in Auro at the Edwards Calabasas), but the height imaging and fluid movement weren't close to what I heard on the Atmos mix.

The difference was most noticeable in the scene where the Guardians confront the villain Pitch at the home of the Tooth Fairy. Pitch flies around the room while delivering dialogue, which really highlighted the smoothness of panning and overhead localization of the Atmos mix. BTW, I keep saying "mix" because I can't be sure whether the differences were due to the technologies themselves or the way they were used.

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post #21 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 01:36 PM
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The folsom theatre near sacramento has both the auro and atmos. they got the atmos for man of steel. I saw man of steel, pacific rim, and wolverine with the new atmos. they are playing Elysium in both auro and atmos.

http://www.cinemawest.com/pal.html

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post #22 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
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The talk is that ATMOS is going to make it into HT. I'll admit I know virtually nothing about it or Auro, are they both 11.1?

The Auro Technologies NEWSLETTER JUNE 2013 (link) includes the following text...
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HOME ENTERTAINMENT:
After a successful launch at Stassen HiFi, Auro-3D® will soon be available for home entertainment use. In the course of July 2013, Auro Technologies will publish a list of AV Receiver brands that will contain the Auro-3D® playback functionalities and bring the immersive sound experience to the home cinemas and living rooms.

However, it's now mid August, and I haven't seen the aforementioned list, although in the August 5, 2013, infomercial for Auro3D (link) we do hear a promise|rumor that home Auro 9.1|10.1|11.1 decoders "will appear at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014". cool.gif
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Quote:
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But isn't Barco a matrixed approach? If so I'm not surprised in the least that Atmos would sound better, being a discrete/object based system.
I don't think Barco Auro is a matrixed approach, but I don't know that for sure. I'll look into it.

In fact Auro 9.1|10.1|11.1 content encoded into 5.1 LPCM is discrete not matrixed. There is complete channel separation--the trick to fitting 12 speaker channels into 6 LPCM channels appears to involve data complexity reduction through manipulation of "unimportant" bits below the substantive noise floor of the original recordings (allowing creation of "repeating bit strings" amenable to 'zipping type' processes?) Also, see this Pro Sound News Europe article "Auro-3D: how does it work?" (link) and the Auro-3D® Octopus White Paper (link).
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post #24 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 03:08 PM
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However, it's now mid August, and I haven't seen the aforementioned list, although in the August 5, 2013, infomercial for Auro3D (link) we do hear a promise|rumor that home Auro 9.1|10.1|11.1 decoders "will appear at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014". cool.gif
With CEDIA next month, let's see if they announce something.

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post #25 of 66 Old 08-13-2013, 03:54 PM
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I keep reading that Barco and DTS are teaming up to get DTS's open-source MDA object based system into theaters to compete with Dolby Atmos. If that's still the case, then there would be two object-based systems competing against each other. It would be interesting to see what Barco and DTS recommend for speaker placement, amount of speakers, amount of objects and channel beds, etc.

Dolby's Atmos speaker array and object encoding seems to allow for better placement of sound effects and music throughout the room. I wonder if Auro3D's encoding having to be piggybacked on a standard 5.1 PCM track is limiting its capabilities. If they adopted object based rendering, then it would come down to the speaker locations, amounts, and skill of the sound mixer to use the audio tools properly.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #26 of 66 Old 08-14-2013, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

The Auro Technologies NEWSLETTER JUNE 2013 (link) includes the following text...
However, it's now mid August, and I haven't seen the aforementioned list, although in the August 5, 2013, infomercial for Auro3D (link) we do hear a promise|rumor that home Auro 9.1|10.1|11.1 decoders "will appear at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014". cool.gif
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Good info thanks. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens.
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post #27 of 66 Old 08-14-2013, 03:20 PM
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yea, me too. the sound system was extremely loud. I had to put my fingers in my ears a few times. My dad hated that. he wore ears plugs. good choice. they really to turn down the volume on those IMAX theater.
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post #28 of 66 Old 08-14-2013, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by robertev35 View Post

yea, me too. the sound system was extremely loud. I had to put my fingers in my ears a few times. My dad hated that. he wore ears plugs. good choice. they really to turn down the volume on those IMAX theater.

I remember the new star trek into darkness was a bit loud in imax.
I never had to use earplugs.

Jacob
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post #29 of 66 Old 08-14-2013, 05:36 PM
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I saw this one. good movie in 3d. I loved it but it bit too loud.
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post #30 of 66 Old 08-14-2013, 06:38 PM
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I saw this one. good movie in 3d. I loved it but it bit too loud.

That's amazing because the film isn't in 3D. Maybe you meant Auro 3D.
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