Originally Posted by blazar
Certainly great points and based on the pace of channel counts at Marantz, et al, it appears that a truly low price point atmos box (24-64 channel) is not on the horizon yet.
I'm the first person to want 24 channels as a starting point for 3D audio and having both multi-sub and speaker array flexibility, leaving out an active crossover setup, but if that definition of "low" is less than the Storm Audio ISP, it doesn't exist at this point beyond 16 channels.
And even in that case (Storm), the rollout is still TBD
for a 20 or 24 channel expansion card, and the limitation is still native Atmos in 9.1.6 (which is still embryonic in their brand), with a product that's still in the early rollout stage. There's Datasat but their 11 channel Atmos/DTS:X technology is frozen in 2015 as far as immersive audio goes on the RS20i.
Add in the fact that all those DSP based units do not have cross-compatible speaker layouts. I believe that consumer confusion and setup confusion is more the "fault" of Dolby/Auro/DTS at this point.
Far less so DTS:X than Auro, but if you want to stick with one format as your baseline, there's plenty of documentation on Atmos and to a lesser extent Auro. But on the Altitude, we have the Help menu on the Speaker Configuration tool that can tell us prerequisite speaker, as well as pre-defined layouts (user beware IMO), and especially visual aids for ideal vs. physical placement of speakers on the Optimizer. Then there's the subscription-based software in The Cinema Designer, which will predict the number of speakers associated with high channel count given your room's number of rows and seats, as well as other variables it takes into account.
Heck, even the limits of the Altitude's cross compatibility with layouts have not been made very clear on their website and literature. I made a lot of "mistakes" in speaker placement since I had my room built before the Altitude was on the market.
Remapping can help you there if you can't get perfect placement, but the Help menu on Speaker Configuration can be of assistance at times.
At this point the 'rational' choice for consumers is to skip the entire rat race, which is what most of the streaming generation is already doing.
And miss out on 200+ Atmos and slightly less than 100 DTS:X releases? For most humans 7.1.4 is still good enough as a starting point IMO. If you don't have the room or the budget for an Altitude, there's still plenty of relatively cheap options. Onkyo has a nine channel pre/pro for $799 that has both Atmos and DTS:X) that can meet the entry level of 5.1.4. Obviously Trinnov is in a class by itself, but going big or going home isn't a binary choice here.
If the studios keep on releasing titles that are not "full atmos" (limited) channel counts, that is going to lead to another stumbling block for high speaker count setups. I am still dumbfounded about Wonder Woman (given their budget) and the release of fixed channel count Atmos.
Right now, it's the studio (Disney), not the studios in the plural as the biggest offenders, and it's for two releases to be sure: The Last Jedi and Thor: Ragnarok that are apparently fixed to 7.1.4 on our Input meters. Other Disney movies listed as "7.1.4 Dolby Atmos" are suspect until proven otherwise. And even there, Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2 was listed as 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos, but the top middles are used semi-occasionally, so 7.1.6 is a better description.
We need to be aware of this, obviously, as an issue in our world, and monitor movies as much as we can with our toolkit, but it's not quite at the "Sky is Falling" level.
Wonder Woman is effectively 7.1.4 but there's a few instances where the wides light up, from a few seconds to maybe 10 to 15 seconds max. It's more of a poor use of Atmos objects for speaker locations beyond the obvious than a printed to 7.1.4 mix.
Saving Private Ryan, OTOH is 7.1.6, no wides or anything else, and the .6 is about 80% the top middles at that, with the top front and rears used for ambient effects. And other movies like Source Code are only using the 9.1.6 palette, rather than liberal use of objects that can be take fuller advantage of the higher channel count of native Atmos scaled to what we have in the 24.1.10 layout.
See Oblivion, Star Trek: Into Darkness, War for the Planet of the Apes, Hacksaw Ridge etc. for examples of "full Atmos". Or if you really want crazy busy object use for anything you're likely to have (as least in my own case of 13.4.6), check out REM's Automatic for the People or Luca Terilli’s Rhapsody’s Prometheus.
There are a lot of mixed signals from the various levels of the industry at this point. Streaming with crap audio on the one side and uhd discs with mediocre atmos utilization on the other side. These are not good signs for the next 10 years but I could be wrong...
Not according to FilmMixer on the Dolby Atmos thread. He cited the Netflix Atmos series that are streamed-only to be 9.1.6, NOT 7.1.4 as such.
What's a more likely sign - one that's only been discussed on the DTS:X thread - is that we're settling on Dolby winning a decisive victory in the 3D audio codec wars and becoming a de facto monopoly in 3D audio, unless you're in Europe and absolutely have to have an Auro layout for some movies that were mixed to Auro for that market. As I write this (May 23) there are literally no planned releases in the next two months of UHD DTS:X movies, and the vast majority of films in UHD and DTS:X lately have come from Universal at that.