Experiencing My New Theta Casablanca IV - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 88 Old 09-11-2014, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Experiencing My New Theta Casablanca IV

Yesterday,with the help of my custom installer, I set up my Theta Casablanca IV (whichwas upgraded from a IIIHD -- which itself was a previous upgrade from a III). The process, which still may benefit from some further tweaking, took usapproximately 8-1/2 hours.

Asa frame of reference to my comments, my primary audio system is a 7.4configuration, consisting of the IV (one Extreme and two Superior DAC boards),three Krell power amps (FPB 200C, KAV-250a/3 and KAV-250a), Revel Ultima speakers(Studios-2, Voice-1, Embrace-4) and Revel subwoofers (Sub30-2)plus two Velodyne MicroVee 10s (with the SMS-1 controller). Primarycabling is Transparent Audio Ultra for the speakers and KimberKable (analog/digital) or AudioQuest (HDMI) for the interconnects. My most common sourcesare my Oppo-93 and my Wadia (Transport 8 and fully-upgraded Wadia 2000decoder).

Thisequipment is obviously first-class; the audio reproduction problem for me arises from the room in which myhome theater is situated. Its dimensions are 21'L x 20'W x 14'/15'H -- inother words, close to a cube. As a consequence, the room is rife withstanding waves, boom spots, suck outs, etc. despite having a plethora ofacoustical panels employed. As one can imagine, the biggest issues havecome from 125Hz and below. The Sub30s and the MicroVees (using theSMS-1) have enormous adjustment capabilities which I fully employed,including adjusting the phase of each of the four subwoofers to be at least 15 to 22 degrees offset from the other three -- which had thegreatest positive effect. However, sonically, the room wasmuddled and the bass was exaggerated in order to get any energy at around 28Hz and below.

Thecatalyst for my upgrading my Casablanca was to obtain the Dirac Live equalizationcapability. In prior conversations withJohn Baloff at Theta Digital, I had gotten his assurances that my listeningexperience would be improved by a Dirac implementation.

Letme come right to the bottom line: the difference pre- vs. post-Dirac is truly “night and day”.

Firstof all, I went through the procedure of ensuring all the speakers' volume levels were within 1 to 2db of each other; then, using the finely calibrated microphone whichcomes with the Dirac, I performed the nine-position process in order to get avery accurate picture of the room’s frequency response. It was a horror show; under around 160Hz, itlooked like the graphic output of a seismograph used to record the strengthof a 7.5 earthquake. For example, at70Hz, the room was +20db; at 50Hz, it was -15db. Next, I had the Dirac Live generate thecorrective filters and show me the result vs. “uncorrected”. I was astonished! My room’s frequency response became nearly flatfrom 20Hz to 15KHz and then, intentionally, tilted down to -3db at 20KHz.

Theproof of the pudding, of course, came with the initial subsequent listening tomusic and movies that I know well. Their sonicimprovements far exceeded my most hopeful wishes.

Iam still in my first day of using the CBIV, but I can make two very importantobservations. First, theDirac has enabled a whole new world of bass reproduction – very deep, even whennot very loud. Until a person hasexperienced this (I certainly hadn’t), one is unaware of its existence. It made both me and my installer literallygiddy. Two, the Dirac has enabled asignificant improvement in audio clarity. I can only equate this to breathing the air inside a house early in themorning of a cold, wintery day after a night-time snowfall and then steppingoutside. Those first breaths of the “clean”air are so much more pure than what was inside. Sonically, the difference between Dirac “on” and “off” is thatdramatic. Dialogue is more intelligible;voices are more precise; instruments sound more real. The improvement is truly palpable.

Now,a Theta Casablanca IV is an expensive piece of audio gear. For those who already have made theirinvestment through the purchase of/upgrade to the IIIHD (as I had done a couple of yearsago), this new upgrade makes such a difference that I cannot urge strongly enoughfor a current owner to make this further investment of $4,000. It truly is money well spent. For those considering the purchase of a newpreamp/processor, I seriously doubt whether there is anything on the markettoday that even comes close to providing the audio enjoyment potential of aCBIV, particularly at its admittedly premium – but justifiable – price. After all, this extraordinary component isreally three-in-one: an outstanding preamplifier; most likely the top DAC onthe market today; and an incredible active room equalizer.

Insummary, Theta Digital’s Casablanca IV is a must for any home theaterenthusiast who wants the best possible in audio reproduction.
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post #2 of 88 Old 09-11-2014, 10:52 PM
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Congrats!!! I luv my cbiv,too!!!!

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
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post #3 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 03:48 AM
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Great to hear that Dirac enabled you to get the best from your impressive system.
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post #4 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:52 AM
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DIRAC seems to work as advertised. I have ir on my SSP.

I am surprised that with alll the Theta 'luvers' here, only 2 bothered with the CB IV upgrade?! (which seems to be universally thought of as well priced).

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #5 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:49 AM
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I do already have more than 5 units upgrade to CB IV and 3 more new machine here , they all very happy with result from Dirac Live
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post #6 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 07:39 AM
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Perhaps, but few of the Theta talkers around here made the leap. Surprising, with all the fanfare after the DIRAC announcement, I thought the interest would be like an iphone release?!

As per above, it makes a 'night and day' difference... so who wouldn't buy at their asking price?

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #7 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post
Perhaps, but few of the Theta talkers around here made the leap. Surprising, with all the fanfare after the DIRAC announcement, I thought the interest would be like an iphone release?!

As per above, it makes a 'night and day' difference... so who wouldn't buy at their asking price?
I'm also a bit puzzled by the lack of reports about the merits of Dirac from CBIV users (and even the low volume of CBIV reports in general). I have been using Dirac with great results myself for a while.
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post #8 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 02:34 PM
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Aside from SB, the biggest Theta talkers are the ones with the dated models.

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #9 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 02:41 PM
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What about adding Dolby Atmos? Just a thought.
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post #10 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmeyers View Post
Asa frame of reference to my comments, my primary audio system is a 7.4configuration, consisting of the IV (one Extreme and two Superior DAC boards),three Krell power amps (FPB 200C, KAV-250a/3 and KAV-250a), Revel Ultima speakers(Studios-2, Voice-1, Embrace-4) and Revel subwoofers (Sub30-2)plus two Velodyne MicroVee 10s (with the SMS-1 controller). Primarycabling is Transparent Audio Ultra for the speakers and KimberKable (analog/digital) or AudioQuest (HDMI) for the interconnects. My most common sourcesare my Oppo-93 and my Wadia (Transport 8 and fully-upgraded Wadia 2000decoder).

Firstof all, I went through the procedure of ensuring all the speakers' volume levels were within 1 to 2db of each other; then, using the finely calibrated microphone whichcomes with the Dirac, I performed the nine-position process in order to get avery accurate picture of the room’s frequency response. It was a horror show; under around 160Hz, itlooked like the graphic output of a seismograph used to record the strengthof a 7.5 earthquake. For example, at 70Hz, the room was +20db; at 50Hz, it was -15db. Next, I had the Dirac Live generate thecorrective filters and show me the result vs. “uncorrected”. I was astonished! My room’s frequency response became nearly flatfrom 20Hz to 15KHz and then, intentionally, tilted down to -3db at 20KHz.


Congrats on your new toy. *Great* system, especially the Krell amps , and very nice report. I also especially like the Wadia gears; the mention of Wadia 2000 brings back memories. I could not afford it so had to settle for the Theta Pro Basic, which I still now have, and which still kills my more modern gears when it comes to bass and dynamics.

Question about the measurement please: +20 to -15, that seems to be really large fluctuation in bass response - is that typical of these Dirac measurements or is it just your difficult room? If you run a 50 hz signal and measure with Radioshack SPL, does it confirm the Theta measurement?

Interesting that Theta at birth in the 90's with Mike Moffat was known for the Theta Pro's great dynamics and bass; now 35 years later, it's the second generation of bass, Dirac bass.

Regards, Can
Theta: Stunning 3D soundstage, sublime details, unlimited dynamics and low end response - the processor for music lovers. My system & CBIII HD review & setup help - Post # 3913 and Diagrams & Surround Speaker Rec. Here
Give vinyl and tube gears a try - the sound from heaven :-).

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post #11 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 03:44 PM
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What about adding Dolby Atmos? Just a thought.
3 output cards x 4 outputs each = enough for a 7.1.4 layout. After the HDMI and room correction updates, immersive audio (Atmos, Auro, etc) would seem like the next logical step.

Sanjay
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post #12 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 03:54 PM
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3 output cards x 4 outputs each = enough for a 7.1.4 layout. After the HDMI and room correction updates, immersive audio (Atmos, Auro, etc) would seem like the next logical step.
I would second this; the number somehow works out perfectly! Although don't you think waiting for DTS would be a cautious move?

I hope Theta will continue to do very well in its other endeavors - commercial and OEM amps or whatever else it is. This high end processor business seems to be a money losing one; even the big gun Japanese manufacturers are in a tough environment.

Regards, Can
Theta: Stunning 3D soundstage, sublime details, unlimited dynamics and low end response - the processor for music lovers. My system & CBIII HD review & setup help - Post # 3913 and Diagrams & Surround Speaker Rec. Here
Give vinyl and tube gears a try - the sound from heaven :-).

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post #13 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:03 PM
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Although don't you think waiting for DTS would be a cautious move?
That was the "etc" in my post.

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post #14 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:16 PM
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With Theta... Waiting is a given. Likely 2-3 years in a new box is my guess.. No way in this box. HDMI took them 5 years, so think a long time - if ever. . Atmos media is coming in the next few weeks. Waiting that long seems like a drag. I bet Atmos will be in 90% of SSPs (new models or upgrades) and offered by all receiver manufacturers of consequence within a year. But certainly not Theta.

Looks like ADA has a new Atmos model.

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #15 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:18 PM
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That was the "etc" in my post.

Sanjay, if you weren't an engineer then you MUST be a lawyer. Your posts always seem to have all the angles covered.

Regards, Can
Theta: Stunning 3D soundstage, sublime details, unlimited dynamics and low end response - the processor for music lovers. My system & CBIII HD review & setup help - Post # 3913 and Diagrams & Surround Speaker Rec. Here
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post #16 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:33 PM
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Looks like ADA has a new Atmos model.
I wouldn't hold my breath. Apparently, they used a Marantz SR7009 for the CEDIA demo.
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post #17 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:34 PM
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I wouldn't hold my breath. Apparently, they used a Marantz SR7009 for the CEDIA demo.
Woah?! What about the big 'reveal' they promised??

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #18 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 04:55 PM
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That's a good question, Jeff, especially given the pre-show hyperbole.
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post #19 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
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What about adding Dolby Atmos? Just a thought.
I wonder just how many individuals will adopt Atoms in their homes. After all, it is a commercial theater standard and the cost in additional amplification, speakers and cabling, plus its impact on room décor, are significant hurdles to overcome.

Jonathan
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post #20 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Question about the measurement please: +20 to -15, that seems to be really large fluctuation in bass response - is that typical of these Dirac measurements or is it just your difficult room? If you run a 50 hz signal and measure with Radioshack SPL, does it confirm the Theta measurement?


Cannaga,


It is my room. I used that Radio Shack meter, as well as the software that comes with the Revel Sub30 [subwoofer], initially to establish those horrific db swings. For bass, my room configuration -- perhaps exacerbated by those four subwoofers -- is a disaster.

Jonathan
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post #21 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 05:38 PM
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I wonder just how many individuals will adopt Atoms in their homes. After all, it is a commercial theater standard and the cost in additional amplification, speakers and cabling, plus its impact on room décor, are significant hurdles to overcome.

THat it is but having heard the Dolby demo in NYC, the Atmos enabled speakers do work which is a help.
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post #22 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 05:55 PM
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With Theta... Waiting is a given. Likely 2-3 years in a new box is my guess.. No way in this box. HDMI took them 5 years, so think a long time - if ever. . Atmos media is coming in the next few weeks. Waiting that long seems like a drag. I bet Atmos will be in 90% of SSPs (new models or upgrades) and offered by all receiver manufacturers of consequence within a year. But certainly not Theta.

Looks like ADA has a new Atmos model.
Atmos and Aura 3d or UHD appear to be the next best thing in perfecting the sound in Home Theatre as well as sound reproduction in general. That said I agree with the poster who stated that Atmos will likely become a niche product. Yes, many of the manufacturers will 'rush' for the next greatest product but how many people are truly going to invest in additional amps, speakers, wires etc. The professional Home Theatre is one thing. The last Dolby venture in Home Theatre sound that I recall was the 96HZ with THE RIGHT STUFF. That really didn't take off. (no pun intended)

Also, the negativity shown Theta is quite astounding. How many manufacturers have been able to(or for that matter wanted to) keep the same product in their lineup for so many years? As a purchaser of the first group of Casablancas in 1996 or 1997 I am today still enjoying my Casablanca 111HD with the Extreme Dacs. Eighteen years! That must be a record of sorts. So if it took a long time for Theta to go through an ownership change and come out with HDMI so be it. It has always been a marvelous sounding machine that will stand comparison(I am sure) with any of it's competitors.
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post #23 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 05:58 PM
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I talked with my Theta dealer Craig Shumer today. He has been very, very busy and hardly ever gets to the forum these days. Theta can only handle so many upgrades to the CBIV per week - so dealers are limited in how many they can order at a time. Craig is ordering three per week. Craig has sold many hundreds of CBs these past years and he only contacts his customers to let them know about the upgrade as he has upgrade availability. Or if a customer contacts him and asks, then he gets in line. The CBIV upgrade has been a big time successful program - but there just aren't many AVSers, at least who openly post, though there probably are a good number who lurk,
even though they have Theta gear.

Also, I think at time the forum is "quiet" re the CBIV because it works so well without blurps and beeps and sounds so darn good. That sure is my experience.

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431

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post #24 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:04 PM
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Sanjay, if you weren't an engineer then you MUST be a lawyer.
Neither.

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post #25 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Just heard the following from my dealer, who is at CEDIA:


"D... talked to Theta at CEDIA. They are going to have a ATMOS upgrade for the Casablanca IV soon. D... has now heard several very good demos with ATMOS and said the surround effects were incredible."


When I built my home theater six years ago, its construction was designed for a 7.4 system -- including embedding all the speaker cables to the side and rear channels and interconnects to the powered subwoofers and the main amplifier in the walls (with individual conduits). I am no about to rip out walls and the ceiling for "height" speakers or just walls for "upward firing" speakers -- even if Revel came out with such speakers in its Ultima line.


For me, ATMOS is a bridge I shall not cross.
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post #26 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:16 PM
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I wonder just how many individuals will adopt Atoms in their homes. After all, it is a commercial theater standard and the cost in additional amplification, speakers and cabling, plus its impact on room décor, are significant hurdles to overcome.
Lets be blunt! Dolby Atmos is hardly in any theaters yet in a given area. Here in Phoenix, I am aware of only two theaters (not megaplexes, but theaters in megaplexes) with Dolby Atmos.

Remember how Quad for records/LPs didn't make it. That was only four channels?

Even us "hi-fi rollers" will be a lot faster to adopt Ultra HD for video than Atmos for audio.

Based on past history, Theta will be cautious and patient, and if they "see"
that their customer base is interested in putting their "mouth and money" to the CB upgrade to include Dolby Atmos and/or a similar DTS mode, surely they will do it.

If you were to canvass home theater buffs in a few years, I bet you'd find that 98% or more of those with Dolby Atmos systems and speakers have systems receiver based with cheapo speakers.

Now when we start seeing even 30 - 50% of the blu rays/ultra blu rays (coming 2015) with Dolby Atmos, then the Theta public may clamor for this feature.

Keep in mind that more speakers are a way to obtain better 3d imaging from theater speaker systems that are basically two dimensional. But what about the home theater enthusiast who spends some bucks and hard work to set up really good imaging and sounding speakers and electronics and say has a 5.1 or 7.1 system with real excellent and holographic 3D sound for both movies and music? Do you want to go with more, but lesser, speakers and electronics to mimic the best movie theater? In Phoenix, the Harkins Cine Capri is the best with Dolby Atmos and for a movie theater sounds great. And yes I have heard how the Dolby Atmos and ceiling speaker clearly improve the sonics. Yet at the Guardians of the Galaxy movie I noted how flat and two dimensional the music was compared to my measly 5.2 system. I'll keep mine the way it is!

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

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post #27 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:17 PM
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Just heard the following from my dealer, who is at CEDIA:


"D... talked to Theta at CEDIA. They are going to have a ATMOS upgrade for the Casablanca IV soon. D... has now heard several very good demos with ATMOS and said the surround effects were incredible."


When I built my home theater six years ago, its construction was designed for a 7.4 system -- including embedding all the speaker cables to the side and rear channels and interconnects to the powered subwoofers and the main amplifier in the walls (with individual conduits). I am no about to rip out walls and the ceiling for "height" speakers or just walls for "upward firing" speakers -- even if Revel came out with such speakers in its Ultima line.


For me, ATMOS is a bridge I shall not cross.
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My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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post #28 of 88 Old 09-12-2014, 06:27 PM
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Talking about Dolby Atmos in Theaters I'm not aware of any Long Island(huge marketplace) Theater that presently has Atmos. IMAX yes. RPX yes. Dolby Atmos(?).
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post #29 of 88 Old 09-13-2014, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky View Post
Lets be blunt! Dolby Atmos is hardly in any theaters yet in a given area. Here in Phoenix, I am aware of only two theaters (not megaplexes, but theaters in megaplexes) with Dolby Atmos.

Remember how Quad for records/LPs didn't make it. That was only four channels?

Even us "hi-fi rollers" will be a lot faster to adopt Ultra HD for video than Atmos for audio.

Based on past history, Theta will be cautious and patient, and if they "see"
that their customer base is interested in putting their "mouth and money" to the CB upgrade to include Dolby Atmos and/or a similar DTS mode, surely they will do it.

If you were to canvass home theater buffs in a few years, I bet you'd find that 98% or more of those with Dolby Atmos systems and speakers have systems receiver based with cheapo speakers.

Now when we start seeing even 30 - 50% of the blu rays/ultra blu rays (coming 2015) with Dolby Atmos, then the Theta public may clamor for this feature.

Keep in mind that more speakers are a way to obtain better 3d imaging from theater speaker systems that are basically two dimensional. But what about the home theater enthusiast who spends some bucks and hard work to set up really good imaging and sounding speakers and electronics and say has a 5.1 or 7.1 system with real excellent and holographic 3D sound for both movies and music? Do you want to go with more, but lesser, speakers and electronics to mimic the best movie theater? In Phoenix, the Harkins Cine Capri is the best with Dolby Atmos and for a movie theater sounds great. And yes I have heard how the Dolby Atmos and ceiling speaker clearly improve the sonics. Yet at the Guardians of the Galaxy movie I noted how flat and two dimensional the music was compared to my measly 5.2 system. I'll keep mine the way it is!
Well, if you have to go back 40 years to find a multi-channel format that didn't last, that's a lot of stretching to defend Theta's rejection of giving timely updates... In fact, as far as I know, every codec Dolby has released has been of significance for a long while. In fact, Atmos, unlike other codecs will not require new Blu Ray players and is easy to place. Only a decoder in the receiver or SSP is required. They are encoding many movies now and things will start trickling down to Blu Ray in a couple weeks.

As you say, more speakers is better and your local Atmos theater 'clearly improves sonics'. So why wouldn't you want the option to have it at home in a timely manner? I can tell you (and so can many at CEDIA) that upmixing to more channels (e.g. with Auro or Atmos) clearly improves on 5.1 / 7.1. Not even close... and you don't need native software to enjoy it.

Yes, Theta is 'Cautious and patient'... to a fault. Unfortunately, like every upgrade they offer, it will come years ALL other manufacturers are using it and after its full acceptance. They have new owners and a lot of cash backing.. but it seems all the same. You went to Onkyo as a stop-gap before - looks like you'll be re-investing in another soon.

If I was spending $25K on a new top-shelf SSP in the CB price range, the Altitude or Datasat comes to mind as they are already designed for upgrades, have up to 24 or 32 channels of output and their teams get out updates as fast as possible and are getting rave reviews at the show. For that kind of $$, their customers expect it. I can't imagine anyone buying a new Theta today for $25,000 given the fact that multi-channel audio is here and going to stay here and the Theta will likely never employ it. Does Theta even have a theater set up this year at CEDIA to demo DIRAC?

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #30 of 88 Old 09-13-2014, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P Ross View Post
Talking about Dolby Atmos in Theaters I'm not aware of any Long Island(huge marketplace) Theater that presently has Atmos. IMAX yes. RPX yes. Dolby Atmos(?).
Nearest are Brooklyn and Astoria (a mile or so from the LIRR station). Or, if you're going into the city, there are a couple of Atmos theatres on the same block (200 feet from each other) on 42nd street.

Sanjay
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