With all due respect to the 2-channel rigs at AXPONA 2016, the most impressively powerful system I heard at the show came from Mark Seaton, who brought 17,000 watts of thunder in the form of Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 immersive surround. Furthermore, Sony’s VPL-VW5000ES laser projector provided the lightning with 32 foot-lamberts of HDR-friendly peak brightness on the Seymour Screen Excellence  Enlightor 4K 115-inch wide acoustically-transparent screen. The visuals easily kept up with the audio thanks to the work of Ken Whitcomb (D6500Ken on AVS) of Calibrations, Inc.

Seaton’s system is right up my alley when it comes to capability. The front stage consisted of three 2000-watt active Seaton Catalyst 12Cs ($3800/each). Four Spark speakers ($1200/each) handled surround duties while Spark XCs—a compact, sealed variant of the Spark—took care of Dolby Atmos height effects. The Spark is the first passive speaker series offered by Seaton Sound and both models feature the same concentric 2-way driver as the Catalyst 12C and can be driven by an external amp or even an AVR.
A Yamaha CX-A5100 AV pre/pro decoded Dolby Atmos for the demo. The Fifth Element Atmos Blu-ray provided plenty of overhead audio action. So did a clip from Star Trek: Into Darkness, which also featured bass that hit so hard my shirt sleeves flapped against my arms.

That super-impactful bass came from two towers of 18” subwoofers. Each tower consisted of one F18+ active sub ($2300/each) and two F18-Slave subs ($1100 each). In all it adds up to six 18” drivers and 8000 watts of power just for the deep bass. You can add up to three passive subs to each powered F18+.

Catalyst 12C 2000-watt 3-way speaker and F18+ 4000-watt subwoofer with dual passive F18-Slaves in a three-sub stack.
Dennis Young from Home Theater Shack noted that "The only thing that could pull me from my seat was an impending return flight home. A truly jaw-dropping example of what can be done for a motivated home theater enthusiast." I happened to concur with Dennis and spent my final moments at AXPONA in Mark's room. Cinephiles take note, the 32 foot-lambert peak brightness at the AXPONA demo was same as what the El Capitan theater in Hollywood achieves when showing Dolby Vision HDR content.

For effortless dynamics and a complete sense of immersion, it’s hard to beat an Atmos rig with more power on-tap than you’ll typically find in a commercial IMAX auditorium. That’s what Seaton Sound specializes in, and I hope more people get a chance to hear such a system—it's always exhilarating and at times revelatory.

Click here to check out more reports from AXPONA 2016.