Originally Posted by batpig
There are some pretty key differences/corrections though...
Neo:X is primarily a surround expansion algorithm, it's not a discrete content delivery system. It's not a cinema technology either, it's just for surround expansion (matrixed) at home. So there is not a stream of Neo:X mastered content ready to be translated from cinema to home. If a studio wants to create a "discrete" Neo:X mix they have to intentionally take the time to create the matrix encoded mix for home.
Atmos on the other hand IS a cinema delivery system, and is already gaining wide acceptance in the pro film industry. The adoption rate for Atmos in cinemas has been faster for that of 5.1 digital back in the day, and many mixing studios are investing in the object based mixing hardware. There are going to be a LOT of object based film mixes in Cinema, and the scalability of an object based system like Atmos means it's relatively easy to package that for home delivery within existing Dolby Digital codecs. So the lack of "discrete content" for Neo:X really has zero bearing on the prospects for content with native Atmos soundtracks. Within a year (probably a few months really) there will be far more options for Atmos content at home then there will ever be for "native" Neo:X.
In that respect, it's much more analagous to 3D than Audyssey DSX or Neo:X in terms of how quickly adoption in cinema will spur the quick availability of content and hardware for the home user.
Also, DTS is not a "mastering" format, DTS-HD is a compression codec. Whether a studio choose to deliver a Blu-ray in DTS vs. Dolby TrueHD has no impact on the mastering or sound quality. They just use DTS because it's cheaper and easier (straight from industry pros like FilmMixer who post here). When they are already mastering the Atmos mix for theaters, encoding that particular BD in TrueHD for home delivery is mandatory and they will switch when they want to provide that content.
Finally, with respect to the "niche" aspect, that is definitely true to a degree, but remember that Dolby has thought about this and designed the upward-firing Atmos speakers which will allow anyone who has room for 5.1 to have Atmos (5.1.2 minimum) with no additional footprint. Obviously it's expensive now but within a few years it will trickle down to cheaper receivers and you can be sure companies like Onkyo are going to sell their HTIB setups with Atmos-enabled speakers packaged in. Shoot, Onkyo already has it in their new mid-priced ($500-600) 7ch receivers, it won't be long at all before an $800-1000 Onkyo or Yamaha HTIB setup at Best Buy is going to have upward firing modules built into the front L/R speakers for a simple 5.1.2 setup that will work for any "J6P" 5.1 channel living room buyer.
Whether Atmos makes any difference at all will be determined by how the discrete sound elements within the mixed soundscape, irrespective of specific playback loudspeaker configurations will work out. Its all good and fine that Dolby had made inroads into providing professional theaters another variation of recreating sound effects in a large seating area, but with a typical home theater like yours, I really doubt the differences from a movie with a energetic lossless audio track are going to be singular subpar to anything Dolby Atmos claims to reinvent.
For a long time now, the industry has been selling miniature speakers claiming they yield equivalent audio performance/dispersion to much large speakers we all grew up with. Claiming full range effects with Atmos is iffy IMHO.
Yes being able to mix discrete objects into the sound mix will be more expensive and challenging for all those re-recording mixers, sound designers, editors and sound supervisors, and there is the risk that this will equate to exactly what we all encountered with 3D visuals. But in every instance not necessary superior, more likely to be irritating. We shall see!