AVS-Exclusive Dolby Atmos Demo at CEDIA 2014 - AVS Forum

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Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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On Thursday evening right after the show closed, Dolby hosted an exclusive demo of Atmos in its booth for about 20 AVS members. After sharing some beer and big-ass pretzels, we went into the demo room to hear the demo that people have been lining up for throughout the show. The 7.1.4 system consisted of Triad speakers, including ceiling-mounted overheads and Atmos-enabled front and rear LRs, while the source was a computer running Atmos software that could be controlled from a tablet.

The program was designed to highlight the differences between flat 7.1, actual overhead speakers, and Atmos-enabled upfiring speakers. After the Amaze trailer and a short informational video using the overheads, we listed to a rainstorm and a music clip first in 7.1, then in 7.1.4 with the overheads, and finally in 7.1.4 with Atmos-enabled speakers. After that were clips from Transformers: Age of Extinction (Atmos-enabled), Oblivion (overheads), Star Trek Into Darkness (Atmos-enabled), and the Leaf trailer (Atmos-enabled).

That ended the demo sequence other showgoers experienced, but Dolby had some extra goodies for us. First was a recording of a single object—a helicopter flying in a circle overhead—and the operator switched between the overheads and Atmos-enabled speakers. Next was a demonstration of the Dolby Surround upmixer with two 2-channel music tracks—Madness by the group Muse and Route 66 sung by Natalie Cole—expanded to 7.1.4 while the operator switched between the 2-channel original and the overheads and Atmos-enabled speakers in the upmixed version. Finally, we heard a tune called Lies by the San Francisco bay area group Trifonic that had been natively mixed in Atmos from the original multitrack Pro Tools session and played on the Atmos-enabled speakers.

Overall, everyone seemed very pleased with the Atmos versions of everything. Many of those I spoke with after the demo preferred the upfiring speakers over the ceiling-mounted ones, especially if they were sitting directly beneath one of the ceiling speakers. Switching between the two types of height speakers during the helicopter demo, the upfiring speakers enlarged the circular path compared with the ceiling speakers, and it was impossible to hear the sound move from one speaker to the next, unlike the overheads, which were probably too close to the listeners for optimum performance.

I was amazed at how many AVS members—including myself—really liked the upmixed 2-channel music, which sounded much more expansive and immersive than the 2-channel versions. And the native Atmos-mixed tune was spectacular—the only dissenting comments I heard about that one were from Mark Henninger, who thought the vocals were too diffuse.

It was a great event, and I thank Dolby profusely for hosting it. And it was great to meet so many AVS members in person. I know that they got a real earful of what Atmos can do, and they seemed to enjoy it immensely. Now the only question is how will they upgrade their systems, with upfiring or overhead speakers?

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Aras_Volodka
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Scott did you see the Auro 3D demo? One AVS forum member said he preferred that over the Atmos Demo... I'm curious if you have a preference?
mark haflich's Avatar mark haflich
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Thanks Scott. How about a contest guys, the winner to get a large print suitable for framing. Who can identify the most names of the people in the photo. I will disqualify myself and no employee of AV Science Sales or the forum is eligible. There are some true AVS legends in that photo, including theater designers, calibrators, press and company owners.

Interesting that few, if any, are under 30 years in age and I bet the average would be over 40.
mark haflich's Avatar mark haflich
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Scott. The head count of members in the photo is about 35.
Orbitron's Avatar Orbitron
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Scott, how high above you were the overhead speakers to make you feel they were too close for optimal results?
mark haflich's Avatar mark haflich
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I suspect the dispersion pattern of the overheads would be critical in most HT applications. The upward firing ones would have a minimum of about 15 ft of travel and by then the bounce off hitting a listener would sound pretty much the same for all listeners in say a a theater of four rows, four to six feet wide. For close ceiling mount designs a wide dispersion design would be in order. I remember a design years ago that mounted a rubber ball about 6 inches in front of the coil dust cover. Now there are omni ceilings, say by Mirage, that could be used.
sage11x's Avatar sage11x
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This sounds way too complex to me. I'll be interested in hearing this in the theater but don't think this is anything I'll be pursuing for my home system-- though I can see the upgraditis already consuming many more adventurous members on this forum.
Myriad_Rocker's Avatar Myriad_Rocker
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This has me reconsidering my thought on doing ceiling speakers with a wide dispersion. The upfiring speakers seems to be getting better reviews as far as application goes. And in something like my planned design with 9 ft ceilings, upfiring may be the better way to go. Hhhmmm...
mark haflich's Avatar mark haflich
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You know there are low price transducer which make a sheet rock wall, at least between the studs, a speaker. special amp but very inexpensive and can be installed in less than 5 minutes. I wonder of you could just attach 2 to a sheet rocked ceiling?
bargervais's Avatar bargervais
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Man are we a bunch of geeks wish I was there.
Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark haflich View Post
Scott. The head count of members in the photo is about 35.
There are some Dolby people in that photo as well, plus a couple of last-minute additions.
Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aras_Volodka View Post
Scott did you see the Auro 3D demo? One AVS forum member said he preferred that over the Atmos Demo... I'm curious if you have a preference?
Not yet, later today for sure. And Mark Henninger heard both. Be sure to tune in to Home Theater Geeks this week, when Mark, Mike Heiss, Tom Norton, and I talk about CEDIA and our impressions.
Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orbitron View Post
Scott, how high above you were the overhead speakers to make you feel they were too close for optimal results?
I'll have to ask…probably around 8 feet.

UPDATE: Actually, was 11 feet. I would have thought that was enough, but apparently not, at least with these particular speakers.
Orbitron's Avatar Orbitron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
I'll have to ask…probably around 8 feet.
And maybe they can tell you the distance at which the sound is truly OPTIMAL.
krozman's Avatar krozman
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So there's an atmos enabled Star Trek into darkness eh? Someone is going to have to start an official "Atmos Enabled Movies" thread and sticky it!~
GalvatronType_R's Avatar GalvatronType_R
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Atmos is a fascinating technology but I'll wait for the inevitable dts and Audyssey versions before jumping aboard.
bargervais's Avatar bargervais
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myriad_Rocker View Post
This has me reconsidering my thought on doing ceiling speakers with a wide dispersion. The upfiring speakers seems to be getting better reviews as far as application goes. And in something like my planned design with 9 ft ceilings, upfiring may be the better way to go. Hhhmmm...
Might be I have some speakers that I can use in the ceiling if I don't get a pleasing effect which I doubt, then I'll get the up firing speakers.
cuzed2's Avatar cuzed2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark haflich View Post
Thanks Scott. How about a contest guys, the winner to get a large print suitable for framing. Who can identify the most names of the people in the photo. I will disqualify myself and no employee of AV Science Sales or the forum is eligible. There are some true AVS legends in that photo, including theater designers, calibrators, press and company owners.

Interesting that few, if any, are under 30 years in age and I bet the average would be over 40.
Speaking of legends; I believe Mark Seaton is in the photo, representing CAVE (Chicago audio video enthusiasts)
boguspomp's Avatar boguspomp
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The picture proves again that anything technical geeky is male dominated. The ladies, like my wife, like to enjoy the HT but don't want to be bothered with how the sound and picture came to this high level over the years.
No Clue's Avatar No Clue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post




Overall, everyone seemed very pleased with the Atmos versions of everything. Many of those I spoke with after the demo preferred the upfiring speakers over the ceiling-mounted ones, especially if they were sitting directly beneath one of the ceiling speakers.
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So which did you prefer? The up firing or the overhead. I am intrigued by the new format and could do either although I really like my current speakers. Adding overheads to my setup would be a piece of cake.
Snowmanick's Avatar Snowmanick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalvatronType_R View Post
Atmos is a fascinating technology but I'll wait for the inevitable dts and Audyssey versions before jumping aboard.
Audyssey will most likely never have a version of Atmos. Atmos is a discreet encoding codec. The best Audyssey will give is a derived/matrixed item overlaying Dolby or DTS.
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness
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I'm wondering: what type of dispersion pattern are the overhead atmos speakers putting out? Could the difference between the floor upfiring version and the mounted-overheads be made up to some degree by designing the in ceiling speakers for wider dispersion than is currently being used in these demos?
Disto's Avatar Disto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmanick View Post
Audyssey will most likely never have a version of Atmos. Atmos is a discreet encoding codec. The best Audyssey will give is a derived/matrixed item overlaying Dolby or DTS.
Atmos decodes and sends content to 7.1.4 speakers. Audyssey takes care of equalizing the speakers to the room. Two different tasks. I for one would want both.
dlbeck's Avatar dlbeck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Clue View Post
So which did you prefer? The up firing or the overhead. I am intrigued by the new format and could do either although I really like my current speakers. Adding overheads to my setup would be a piece of cake.
I preferred the ceiling mounted speakers by a good margin. It seemed more immersive and a more seamless transition on the 360 degree pans.
Rayjr's Avatar Rayjr
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I just want to give a big THANK YOU to Dolby for hosting this special event for us AVS Forum members.
The demo as well as the way they treated us was great.

Now for the question that was asked "So which did you prefer? The up firing or the overhead."
I personally preferred the Dolby Atmos enabled speakers over the direct firing overhead speakers.
The Atmos enabled speakers seamed to give you a larger sense of space.

Just my $.02
RayJr
Aras_Volodka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
Not yet, later today for sure. And Mark Henninger heard both. Be sure to tune in to Home Theater Geeks this week, when Mark, Mike Heiss, Tom Norton, and I talk about CEDIA and our impressions.
Cool thanks Scott! Can't wait to hear it!

Quick question to those of you who go to watch Atmos films... do any of you go see it @ Marcus theaters? I've been to two Marcus theaters that are supposed to be setup for Atmos but I don't hear the effect... I've been to an AMC that does work. Has anyone else had this experience with Marcus as well? I just went to see Dolphin Tale 2... either Marcus didn't enable the Atmos or it has the worst mix ever.
Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post
Speaking of legends; I believe Mark Seaton is in the photo, representing CAVE (Chicago audio video enthusiasts)
Yep, Mark Seaton was there. Always glad to see him!
Scott Wilkinson's Avatar Scott Wilkinson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Clue View Post
So which did you prefer? The up firing or the overhead. I am intrigued by the new format and could do either although I really like my current speakers. Adding overheads to my setup would be a piece of cake.
In this particular case, I preferred the up firing speakers. But in the GoldenEar demo, the overhead speakers sounded wonderful.
RLBURNSIDE's Avatar RLBURNSIDE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disto View Post
Atmos decodes and sends content to 7.1.4 speakers. Audyssey takes care of equalizing the speakers to the room. Two different tasks. I for one would want both.
Waaaaait a minute, if an Atmos decoder doesn't actually re-mix the sounds into the appropriate channels based on not only the 3D object metadata and the actual relative (and absolute) speaker positions, I'm not sure what the point is.

As far as I can tell, "Audyssey" and related tech should become obsolete / irrelevant it the channels are receiving synthesized-to-their-frequency-specs-and-3D-position coordinates already.

For one, anything related to phase delay should be immediately suppressed in any post-Atmos decoding steps, since the channels should already have the final sound. At most, the receiver might then apply bass management and EQ but that's it.

Am I wrong?
Orbitron's Avatar Orbitron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
In this particular case, I preferred the up firing speakers. But in the GoldenEar demo, the overhead speakers sounded wonderful.
The responses to this question seem to be mixed and i'm beginning to wonder if it's how well implementation of a set-up is done rather than which type of set-up it is, in determining the response.
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