Originally Posted by Bill-99
A couple of questions from the sidelines...
- How stable is 16 channels as a spec? It looks kind of bleeding edge and subject to lots of maturity issues.
There's no 16 channel spec per-se.
There is a 16 channel speaker layout that is part of the consumer Atmos spec.
However, 16 channels decoding
has been available since the advent of consumer Atmos.
Commercial (theatrical) Atmos was released as a spec in 2012, whereas consumer (home) atmos was released in 2014.
Commercial Atmos allows for up to 128 channels - 10-channel 7.1.2 bed, up to 118 for objects.
Consumer Atmos was spec'd at 24.1.10 (35 channels
), based on a 5.1 or 7.1 bed. in theory, 35 channels is the consumer Atmos limitation.
Later on, Auro and DTS-X expanded their immersive decoding to go beyond 13.1 in the consumer realm.
Initially, most CE manufacturers released devices that implemented only up to 7.1.4 and later 9.1.4 Atmos.
But some niche high-end manufacturers implemented support for 16 ch Atmos in their initial release, and one of them (Trinnov) implemented 24.1.10 from the get go.
Note that most manufacturer's devices contain immersive audio hardware based on platforms sourced from less than a handful of immersive audio providers such as MDS, ADI, etc.
Most implementations of immersive audio is based on the software
decoders supplied by these hardware platform providers.
For instance, the common 12 ch. (7.1.4) or 14 ch (9.1.4) limitation that most low to mid-end CE manufacturers have is a direct result of the platforms they're using.
Trinnov on the other hand, used their own proprietary platform based on x86 computing hardware and developed software decoders that went up to the consumer Atmos limit, because they'd developed their platform initially for commercial theater systems.
Note that each Atmos implementation has to be sanctioned and approved by Dolby or in the case of DTS-X by DTS.
Going back to the speaker layouts concept, Dolby has been coming out with more (new) approved layouts conforming to the Atmos spec.
One new one recently approved layout is 11.1.8. But if you think of it, this falls in between the lower limit of 5.1.2 and the upper limit 24.1.10. However, it wasn't officially approved until recently, whereas the 9.1.6 layout has been there since the release of consumer Atmos.
It should also be noted that Trinnov's systems have gone beyond Atmos's 35 channel limit by using proprietary upmixers that allow for as many audio streams as you have channels on your equipment. They offer devices that output 48 channels. This would not be technically Atmos compliant though. However, there's nothing stopping any other provider from doing this. As an example Emotiva and StormAudio have annouced devices that can output up to 28/32 channels.
What we're now seeing is that 16ch (9.1.6) is now coming into the mainstream - i.e. at much lower pricing (think <=$7K vs =>$15K), with about a dozen mid to top-end manufacturers (Emotiva, Monoprice, JBL, StormAudio, AudioControl, Acurus, etc) who have now shipped or announced devices supporting =>16 ch immersive audio.
To conclude, it's very mature IMO. However, implementation of the full Atmos spec is key, as is the implementation of upmixers - proprietary or codec based. So YMMV depending on the CE manufacturer.