home theater vs. commercial theater - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
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home theater vs. commercial theater

It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?
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post #2 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:07 AM
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DIY Titan's will get you so very close with lots of subs

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post #3 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:12 AM
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I have had people who come over say that the sound to them was better than in theaters, and my setup is pretty budget overall. I think it depends. Sure, it's louder in theaters, and yes, they have lots of speakers in lots of locations and have invested a lot of money into the sound system. However, it's a larger space and has to therefore cover a wider area. The advantage, as far as I see it, to a small home theater space is that it's easier to fill a much smaller space with accurate, detailed sound and also to pressurize the room with bass frequencies and really feel the impact of the LFE scenes a little more.
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post #4 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:18 AM
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Yes, I can and will argue it. One thing I think you're missing is that the commercial theater has to try and attain that quality for 130+ seats and that is what eats the money fast. Getting in your face sound and chest thumping bass effects and clear surround isn't unobtainable at all.

@cocrh already mentioned the Titans, throw in Volt 8's for surround sound and 4 V.B.S.S. for bass and you'll be rocking in no time. And this is just one example of the approach you can take.

As for the sound calibration, some basic knowledge is all you need to take measurements, then the people on the forums will help you understand the measurements and improve. Even then Audyssey and the like aren't terrible.

You really can get that full cinema experience at home.

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post #5 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:45 AM
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Also make sure you use high quality source, blue ray's DVDs. Commercial theaters use top quality A/V source in addition to speakers. I have witnessed magic happen the moment I use a blue ray source compared to NTFLX/AMZN streamed version of the same movie.

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post #6 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:56 AM
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ROOM TREATMENT makes HUGE difference.
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post #7 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 06:59 AM
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1. As mentioned, not that hard to get theater quality sound at home...especially if you have a smallish room.
2. Agree about the Blue Ray! I don't even to bother to stream, the audio quality is most often dissappointing. I have watched movie on D-TV that have considerably less impressive audio quality than the BR! If it is worth watch, to me, it is worth buying...
3. Quality subs! With a couple quality 12-15 inch subs, you can get more really low LFE than a theater can ever hope for, in a small to mid sized room! I would guess most commercial theaters have limited 20 hz stuff...
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post #8 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?
What are you talking about... you will hear time and time again about people that have systems that are "better" or as good as the cinema. I'm not talking about the turn your living room into a HT person but a having a dedicated room with a projector with speakers behind type of setup. If you are willing to do it the right way you can get a lot for cheap if you have the space, time, know-how, and a willing partner.
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post #9 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?
I think a lot of members here have systems that sound as good and in many cases better than a theater. My non-dedicated but reasonably good room with nice equipment sounds better when compared to most theaters where I live.
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post #10 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur
... the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. ...
I disagree that no-one can reproduce the experience of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects and most-excellent center channels.

And while I do get what you're saying about the "massiveness" of commercial cinema sound, I gladly trade that for the "less-massive" sound of a well-equipped, -set up and -calibrated HT with:
- consistently clear audio and video;
- a movie that always starts on time and can be paused for snack and bathroom breaks;
- the guaranteed comfort of the seating; and
- the lack of distractions (people snacking loudly, talking and/or kicking at the seat-backs in your row ).

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post #11 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 07:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?

A commercial theater is a planned project with no compromises. Mostly everything for that theater is purchased as part of that plan. We already know what works well and we apply those things in the construction.

Then you have your average living room theater, filled with problems from floor to ceiling. There you see things that don’t make a whole lot of sense. A small screen and small speakers in comparison to the size of the room, TV’s mounted improperly, eight feet high over a fireplace, front speakers not in line with the screen, little center channel speakers, seating up against the back wall, every day household noises mixed in, poor acoustics, weak calibration, speakers placed inside cubby holes.

Perhaps this thread should have been titled something like “everything wrong with your average living room theater...a complete list...and what to do with the WAF”.

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post #12 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. Can anyone really argue this?
I think @eng-399 would and his theater would like a word with you

Nothing in any theater I've been to even comes close to his setup. Even my lowly setup blows most theaters out of the water.

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post #13 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 08:56 AM
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Yes, again, as long as we seperate out...those running some 5.1/7.1..or whatever, in the an open room that the wife calls the living room...with those of us who have dedicated rooms, with speakers/subs/room treatments that are designed for optimal SQ, not trying to blend with the decor. If your "theater" doubles as a living room or bedroom, then yes, commercial theaters are likely going to be better!

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post #14 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 08:57 AM
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Much of the comparison between commercial theaters and home theaters is subjective. From my experience commercial theaters sound more alike than home theaters do. Big rooms, huge high efficiency speakers, big power, commercially designed and executed equipment makes for a fairly consistent experience and all that is certainly difficult to recreate at home. I agree that, with the right equipment that commercial theater "sound signature" certainly is obtainable. Big efficient drivers, huge low end capacity and big power will do a lot towards getting that commercial theater sound signature. But, there's a lot to be said for the sound that can be achieved in much smaller HT with a well designed sound system in which every seat is in the "surround sound sweet spot" as compared to being lucky enough to get one of the "sweet spot seats" in a commercial theater. A audiophile quality surround system that provides the ability to pinpoint surround sounds and movements at lower volumes, with nearly the same LFE dynamics as a theater, while sitting in a super comfortable premium leather theater chair that is the perfect viewing distance and angle from a 126' screen in the comfort of your own home is an experience and luxury that is hard to argue against.
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post #15 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 09:38 AM
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I think you can get a better sound at home. Especially in a small-ish treated room. My system can reach SPL peaks that make it hard to breathe... Never gotten that from a movie theater just due to the shear volume of space. At home, you can control things more, have more ideal placement of speakers and the sound can be amazing.
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post #16 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 10:23 AM
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Personally I prefer watching movies at home (unless it's a Dolby Cinema). Sound is clearer, more discrete, and detailed. The subwoofer is flat and balanced to my listening position. Generally I enjoy the sound quality a lot more than the typical movie theater.

And this is compared with just my living room setup. I would imagine the people with actual dedicated theater rooms would also agree.

I feel like the typical theater is just sheer volume in large space, and the bass doesn't have that same clean impact and tactile feeling. Action movies just sound like lots of noise everywhere and not as discrete.

...and not even including the ambiant noises including chatter, popcorn chomping, soda slurping, kids wiggling, and cell phone lights.
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A well well-designed home theater can easily eclipse audio quality from a commercial theater. The problem is most people do not have a house in a typical setting where this level of performance can be enjoyed. And by that I mean a home theater with concrete walls or a house that sits on a 5-acre or bigger lot which can play loud and proud.


But as always we have an op who's issuing pure click bait who has most likely never experienced a top-dollar home theater consisting of JBL pro theater, QSC pro theater, or Klipsch pro theater speakers paired with large internal baffle subwoofers which dig much deeper than most commercial theaters. Which is why he has not posted in this thread sense.
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post #18 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 11:45 AM
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Interesting, in the "how to choose a loudspeaker thread" Floyd Toole was saying quite the opposite; that movie theater sound is generally awful compared to a well set up home theater due to lousy implementation of EQ.

I certainly won't go digging into that now very long and (now boring to me) thread to dig out his particular thoughts but I guess someone could pop in there and ask again.

He said something to the effect that while theaters might have the gear they rarely have proper implementation.

Last time I went to a quite new Atmos movie theater to watch "Dunkirk" I found the sound excellent though.
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post #19 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?

You can do this if you live in a 10,000 sq foot home and have an unlimited budget to spend on designing and building the room, plus the equipment in it. Remember that a big part of what makes a home theater good is the room and acoustics of the room. Commercial movie theaters are designed to make the most of the sound coming from the speakers.
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post #20 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?

Yes I can..... I am said professional sound engineer.....and my room sounds just as good as ANY theatre that I have been to.... (not owner bias) but confirmation from others that have experienced my room.


Going the DIY route, you don't need to spend crazy amounts of money to recreate that experience....So yes, MANY people on this forum have equaled or SURPASSED that experience....



Juju
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post #21 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 12:15 PM
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Also make sure you use high quality source, blue ray's DVDs. Commercial theaters use top quality A/V source in addition to speakers. I have witnessed magic happen the moment I use a blue ray source compared to NTFLX/AMZN streamed version of the same movie.

Your right, when I play a blu-ray in Dolby True HD or DTS HD there is a huge difference than when I play the same movie from iTunes or Netflix in Dolby surround. And I don't even have a high end blu-ray player.
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post #22 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 12:25 PM
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My room isn't blacked out but there aren't any super bright EXIT signs reflecting off my screen like the Dolby Cinema I have been to. That right there makes my room better.
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post #23 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmdbur View Post
It seems to me that it is almost impossible to get the kind of sound from a home theater system that would be equal to what is heard in a commercial movie theater. I have been to many movies/theaters (even just this weekend), and there is something about the sound that is just so in your face and full sounding. Maybe it's because of the combination of loud volume, deep bass effects, seamless surround effects, and most excellent center channels where the dialogue/on-screen effects are so crystal clear and loud that you do not miss anything. I don't think anyone can reproduce this kind of experience at home. Even with the best speakers/setup you can come close, but nothing is going to be as good as the commercial theater. I guess that makes sense, because if you think about it, commercial theaters spend thousands and thousands of dollars on speakers (and very large ones at that), and also they have their sound systems/auditoriums professionally calibrated by sound engineers. Can anyone really argue this?
Yes, easily and I'd say better it technically and especially in terms of experience, as there will be no one on their phone or talking in my theatre.

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Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
You can do this if you live in a 10,000 sq foot home and have an unlimited budget to spend on designing and building the room, plus the equipment in it.
This comment is clearly based upon not having actually done it. It doesn't take a lot of money if you DIY and/or shop well second hand. It's much easier if you do have a dedicated room, where the dreaded WAF comes into play, but it's not hard.



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Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
Remember that a big part of what makes a home theater good is the room and acoustics of the room.
Acoustics isn't all that difficult if you take a bit of time to learn about the subject and invest about $150 in some measuring gear and learn how to use it.



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Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
Commercial movie theaters are designed to make the most of the sound coming from the speakers.
No, they're dedicated to making a profit for the owner and the movie houses. Most commercial theatres are built as sparingly as possible, trying to get most of the seats within a reasonable spec for the lowest possible cost. It's much easier to set up, as in my case for a max 2 person viewing area than it is for 100+. And I have at least as good a measuring system and at least as much DSP adjustment to be able to optimise it all.
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post #24 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 01:26 PM
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My room isn't blacked out but there aren't any super bright EXIT signs reflecting off my screen like the Dolby Cinema I have been to. That right there makes my room better.
Ticket pricing way too high, snack prices too high, people breathing down my neck, people coughing on me, plastic candy wrapper noises, people kicking the back of my seat...eew!
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post #25 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 01:32 PM
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You can do this if you live in a 10,000 sq foot home and have an unlimited budget to spend on designing and building the room, plus the equipment in it. Remember that a big part of what makes a home theater good is the room and acoustics of the room. Commercial movie theaters are designed to make the most of the sound coming from the speakers.
I disagree...I spend about 1000 on projector and screen...about 1500 on speakers, another 1500 on subwoofers, about 500 on a good AV Rec, maybe another 500 on rugs, bass traps and acoustic panels. Nothing in my theater is high end, it would fit in the "upper" part of the budget category.
And my room, well a cement basement 12 x 20 room...was there for the waiting when I moved in! Sure, one corner is my laundry room, which likely doesn't help the acoustics...but the sound is great and when I had a sound engineer friend there for a listen, he was impressed.
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post #26 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Yes, easily and I'd say better it technically and especially in terms of experience, as there will be no one on their phone or talking in my theatre.

This comment is clearly based upon not having actually done it. It doesn't take a lot of money if you DIY and/or shop well second hand. It's much easier if you do have a dedicated room, where the dreaded WAF comes into play, but it's not hard.



Acoustics isn't all that difficult if you take a bit of time to learn about the subject and invest about $150 in some measuring gear and learn how to use it.



No, they're dedicated to making a profit for the owner and the movie houses. Most commercial theatres are built as sparingly as possible, trying to get most of the seats within a reasonable spec for the lowest possible cost. It's much easier to set up, as in my case for a max 2 person viewing area than it is for 100+. And I have at least as good a measuring system and at least as much DSP adjustment to be able to optimise it all.

The comment I made about the 10,000 sq foot home and unlimited budget was for the most part sarcasm directed at comparing a commercial movie theater's size and sonic boom to a home theater. Obviously you can build a good home theater, and just like anything else you can do a budget one for little money, or a very expensive dynamic one. And no I have not done it myself, but I have seen allot of HT rooms, some DIY half ass ones, and some professionally done high end ones. My point about the room acoustics was not about how difficult it is, but rather the fact that it does play a big part in how the HT sounds which is often overlooked. I was merely trying to point out that you cannot get a good HT system in a standard living room or family room, you need a dedicated enclosed well designed room. Hence the term well designed. Anyone can put up four walls and a door and throw some expensive speakers in there. But it takes more than that for a good HT.



I have a good friend who builds custom homes for a living, and allot of his customers get home theaters built in them. But he uses professional HT companies to build them from start to finish. Even in his own home he had one designed and built from a top high end HT company, even though he could have built it himself. He spent over $70'000 on his HT which ties into his control4 system for a room that seats 18 people comfortably. It sounds incredible. But he tells me about some homes which he's built where the person has spent over $100,000 with the room, equipment and speakers. I can only imagine how they must sound. So the point I was making was, yes you can reproduce a commercial theater experience in your home, but just like anything else you can spend little or allot according to the level of what you want.
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post #27 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 05:04 PM
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Interesting, in the "how to choose a loudspeaker thread" Floyd Toole was saying quite the opposite; that movie theater sound is generally awful compared to a well set up home theater due to lousy implementation of EQ.

I certainly won't go digging into that now very long and (now boring to me) thread to dig out his particular thoughts but I guess someone could pop in there and ask again.

He said something to the effect that while theaters might have the gear they rarely have proper implementation.

Last time I went to a quite new Atmos movie theater to watch "Dunkirk" I found the sound excellent though.
Everyone has to get lucky sometimes .

I devote a chapter in the third edition of my book to cinema sound, describing the present situation and where some of us think it needs to go. Problem: it will cost money and the industry is not flush . . .

Also have a look at:
Toole, F. E. (2015). “The Measurement and Calibration of Sound Reproducing Systems”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., vol. 63, pp.512-541. This is an open-access paper available to non-members at www.aes.org http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=17839

A well designed home theater can easily surpass the majority of cinemas in terms of sound quality and bandwidth. Sound level is simply a matter of budget. Cinema sound levels are often found to be too high, and some cinemas drop the sound level up to 10 dB to keep customers from walking. In homes, playback levels are typically much lower than cinema reference level. See Part 3 of Designing a Home Theater on the open access (no charge) companion website to my book: www.routledge.com/cw/toole. Click on the link at the top of the page.

A frequently ignored aspect of movie sound is that multichannel systems can make small rooms sound large, but they cannot make a large room sound small. Anybody ever notice that in a large cinema "intimacy" is missing?
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Last edited by Floyd Toole; 02-26-2019 at 05:08 PM.
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post #28 of 61 Old 02-26-2019, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
My point about the room acoustics was not about how difficult it is, but rather the fact that it does play a big part in how the HT sounds which is often overlooked.
To the people that buy at big box stores maybe, but look at some of the (especially) DIY systems here, and you'll see that's often not the case. Still, even with a multi use family room, it's still quite easy to better a lot of commercial cinema sound and video.


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I was merely trying to point out that you cannot get a good HT system in a standard living room or family room, you need a dedicated enclosed well designed room.
Simply not true. I also have some experience designing and installing expensive HT rooms, TV and broadcast rooms, mastering and control suites etc.
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post #29 of 61 Old 02-27-2019, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Floyd Toole View Post
Everyone has to get lucky sometimes .

I devote a chapter in the third edition of my book to cinema sound, describing the present situation and where some of us think it needs to go. Problem: it will cost money and the industry is not flush . . .

Also have a look at:
Toole, F. E. (2015). “The Measurement and Calibration of Sound Reproducing Systems”, J. Audio Eng. Soc., vol. 63, pp.512-541. This is an open-access paper available to non-members at www.aes.org http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=17839

A well designed home theater can easily surpass the majority of cinemas in terms of sound quality and bandwidth. Sound level is simply a matter of budget. Cinema sound levels are often found to be too high, and some cinemas drop the sound level up to 10 dB to keep customers from walking. In homes, playback levels are typically much lower than cinema reference level. See Part 3 of Designing a Home Theater on the open access (no charge) companion website to my book: www.routledge.com/cw/toole. Click on the link at the top of the page.

A frequently ignored aspect of movie sound is that multichannel systems can make small rooms sound large, but they cannot make a large room sound small. Anybody ever notice that in a large cinema "intimacy" is missing?
Thanks for chiming in.

Maybe they pay more attention at dialing in the newer Atmos theaters; it is not a gigantic space so that might help.

Eight rows of recliners with three rows with 16 seats and five with 14 seats so just 118 seats.

Opened about 2 years ago in Petaluma CA.
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post #30 of 61 Old 02-27-2019, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lightsout190 View Post
I was merely trying to point out that you cannot get a good HT system in a standard living room or family room, you need a dedicated enclosed well designed room.
I cordially invite you to come experience the HT I have set up in my living room. I think it may change your mind.



Quote:
I have a good friend who builds custom homes for a living, and allot of his customers get home theaters built in them. But he uses professional HT companies to build them from start to finish. Even in his own home he had one designed and built from a top high end HT company, even though he could have built it himself. He spent over $70'000 on his HT which ties into his control4 system for a room that seats 18 people comfortably. It sounds incredible. But he tells me about some homes which he's built where the person has spent over $100,000 with the room, equipment and speakers. I can only imagine how they must sound.
"Expensive" does not always equal "quality". I have seen some very expensive home theaters (+$100K) that have made some very basic mistakes.
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