Hello everyone. I’m pleased to be able to contribute, after taking the last month to read through this entire thread with great interest (phew!). I just upgraded from 7.1 to 7.1.2 this weekend.
I’ve just started the process of experimentation with the Dolby Surround Upmixer with my legacy blu-ray content— I don’t own any Atmos blurays just yet, only the downloaded Atmos demo disc. Over the last couple of weeks, I had been listening to the Atmos demo disc repeatedly with my old non-Atmos receiver, just to have a baseline reference so that I could compare (unscientifically) to the Atmos-decoded version.
I’m also pleased because after nearly 14,000 posts, I believe I may be the first person in this thread to have (or at least share impressions of) the Atlantic Tech 44-DA Atmos-enabled modules, which I’m using in the 'Front Dolby' position of my setup. I currently have them sitting on the media cabinet about 18” from the FL/FR channels, near ear height. The modules are larger than my FR/FL speakers so I didn’t want to stack them on top of the FR/FL. I reasoned this placement should work since it allows a bit of separation between the ceiling reflection point and my side surrounds in my somewhat narrow (14’ wide) room.
My listening space is not a dedicated theater, as many of the folks here have. It’s a living room with a strong home theater focus, so I’m excited about the purported ‘flexibility’ of the Atmos system working with my less-than-optimal setup. Going into this upgrade, I was concerned about my existing surround speaker placement, since a) both side and back surrounds are mounted higher than ear-level; b) side surrounds are are Axiom QS8s which fire in four directions —tweeters diagonally across the room, and woofers firing towards the ceiling and the floor simultaneously, and c) my rear surround is a single speaker dual-monopole design. I wanted to avoid having to reposition anything if possible, so as of now they’ve been left as-is.
So far, my worries have subsided. The system does indeed sound great—better than before. Here are some initial impressions from this weekend. Movies watched were Skyfall (bluray DTS-HD 5.1 upmixed), Hunger Games Catching Fire (bluray DTS-HD 7.1 upmixed) and Dolby Atmos demo (Atmos encoded).
- The Atmos-enabled speakers do indeed create a greater sense of height—I don’t regret the purchase. This was clearly evident in the Atmos demo disc material, particularly the ‘Amaze’ and ‘Leaf’ trailers.
- During the Amaze trailer, there was a moment where the sound of a bird flutters around the room in a 360 degree motion. With my non-Atmos receiver, I could always perceive a minor sense of disjointedness when the sound panned one speaker to the next, probably due to the speakers being of varying heights. With the Atmos processor, the motion was pinpoint and seamless around the room, and the timbre, to my ears, was consistent and believable.
- Also during the Amaze trailer, when the rainfall starts, both my wife and I looked straight up because we could clearly hear distinct raindrops above us, as if a speaker was directly overhead. Really cool.
- With Skyfall, I had a harder time picking out discrete overhead effects in the upmixed soundtrack. The Atmos speakers didn’t draw attention to themselves in any way, so it was tough to judge here. I did notice (after putting my ear near the Atmos speakers), that much of the background music during action sequences was steered to the Atmos channels. The sound overall was totally enveloping, but it was subtle and not a huge change from what as already an engrossing standard 5.1 mix.
- The Hunger Games fared better with upmixing. The scenes in the dome, particularly, were incredible, with a sense of ambience that I wasn’t prepared for. Specifically I could hear subtle ambient sounds in places were no speaker exists, which was really nice. I think there may be something to the theory that blurays that were derived from theatrical Atmos mixes do indeed fare better once they are processed with the DSU upmixer.
That’s it for now, I’ll try to report more impressions once I’ve had some more movies to watch (hopefully some native Atmos releases soon). For those who have less than ideal scenarios, and can’t commit to precise-placement according to ideal specs, I do believe you’re in for a treat, and should expect a nice upgrade to your enjoyment. Some pics, for those interested.
Oh, and for inclusion in the running list of adopters:
rockhound76s - 7.1.2 using Marantz AV7702. Atlantic Tech Atmos-enabled modules for the 'Front Dolby' position.