I was at the D&M offsite room at CES and one of the PHD's at Dolby gave a demo on Atmos with mock-up speakers. I was blown away even when they took the 2nd best method for the demo. Meaning, they had side floor speakers with a dedicated amplified driver aiming directly at the ceiling; it's a timing thing and it sounds like information coming overhead.
IMHO, a better way is to put speakers in the ceilings firing down (ESPECIALLY for vaults etc). In a perfect situation and for most rooms, the Dolby employee said to put a pair of speakers in front of the listening position and another pair slightly behind the listening position. As we get closer to release, I'm going to see if I can have a Q&A session with him to answer all my 200 questions.
To reaffirm this technology is
a game changer. It's not like we are slumming it with 7.2. But as sure as I am sitting here, passionate enthusiasts who have the means and space for more channels WILL be pleased with the end result. There is absolutely positively NO
doubt in my mind. This isn't a "more speaker is better argument". This technology is a paradigm shift. The jury is out when we will see Dolby DVD software. But nothing has to be re-coded for every movie that has already been released in Atomos at the theater. Also, D&M didn't put extra outputs for pie-in-the-sky reasons. The demo was to show off pending Atmos pure and simple. Personally, I predict they will delay the release of the 8802 longer than Christmas and into Q1. I'll also know they are working on the 8803 just as Toyota is working on the 2017 cars. DISCLAIMER: I do not know of any inside information on this 8802. They are extremely tight lipped.
Re: sharing technology (Denon and Marantz). Nothing new here. A tweaked out Toyota is called a Lexus.
The 8801 has (pseudo) balanced, the current best HDAM's (op amps versus semi's), an oversized toroidal power supply, audiophile signal caps, a low noise chassis, more real estate to lower the noise floor by separating the boards, etc. According to the designers, lower noise ==lower jitter and that's part of the sonic gain. The net-net is it sounds slightly better. With lower volume comes a higher price tag too. My next door neighbor might pay $100 for that sound quality difference while my passionate customer would pay $3000 more. What someone will pay is proportional to their level of passion, thickness of the wallet, and how much testosterone is flowing through their veins. But my next door neighbor has a theater in a box. He doesn't care about sound quality and good for him because he saves money. I diverge...