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Media Entertainment Hardware Technology

Is Dolby Atmos a Flop For Home Theater Like 3DTV Was? 197

An anonymous reader writes: Object-based audio is supposed to be the future of surround sound. The ability to pan sound around the room in 3D space as opposed to fixed channel assignments of yesterday's decoders. While this makes a lot of sense at the cinema, it's less likely consumers rush to mount speakers on their ceilings or put little speaker modules on top of their existing ones to bounce sound around the room. Leading experts think this will be just a fad like 3DTV was. What do you think?
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Is Dolby Atmos a Flop For Home Theater Like 3DTV Was?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2014 @08:05PM (#47686483)

    and yes, you dont have enough speakers and amps for atmos at home. sound bars wont make it. hell, most people i know have their 5.1 systems setup wrong.

  • 3dTV is a flop? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2014 @08:16PM (#47686533)

    Then why do all the TVs over 50 inches include it?

  • Here is TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Matt_H ( 34421 ) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @08:20PM (#47686547) Homepage

    The missing link is http://www.audioholics.com/audio-technologies/5-reasons-dolby-atmos-is-doa

  • Re:Ambisonics (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @08:30PM (#47686587)

    The primary developer of Ambisonics was Micheal Gerzon, one of the best minds to ever work in digital audio. His academic background was in the field of axiomatic quantum theory.

    Aside from Ambisonics he devloped

    Noise Shaping Dither
    Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP format used in DVD-A)
    Soundfield Microphone

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @10:20PM (#47686945)

    and yes, you dont have enough speakers and amps for atmos at home. sound bars wont make it. hell, most people i know have their 5.1 systems setup wrong.

    I'm a sound designer in Hollywood, my credits include Men in Black 3 and Zero Dark Thirty.

    The main promise of ATMOS was that it wouldn't matter how many speakers you had -- a mixer could prepare a final mix in Atmos in his 60-horn room, but then when the bitstream on the DCP or Blu-Ray was decoded in the theater or home, it wouldn't matter if the end-user had a 60-speaker Atmos rig, a 9.1, a Barco Auro speaker system, a 5.1, a stereo or even a mono. The Dolby renderering algos would simply take the panned objects and automatically render the correct audio stream for each speaker, as a function of the speaker's position relative to the listener. The Dolby RMU is just a glorified OpenAL audio engine, it gets fed audio streams that have an alt/azimuth data envelope, and this envelope is transformed down to whatever speaker array the end user has.

    What's even more interesting is you could have a significantly more complex speaker array than the person who mixed it -- maybe he mixed it with 32 speakers, and you have some future-ready system with 100 -- and the renderer will still do the Right Thing and expand the spatial resolution accordingly. Atmos mixes are future-proof for any simple, non-phase-related speaker array.

  • Re:Ambisonics (Score:5, Informative)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @10:27PM (#47686977)

    The problem with Ambisonics is it tends to favor a strong Sweet Spot [wikipedia.org], which is OK in a home theater but will fail in a large room, where people are seated to the four corners of the space. Speakers near the walls will always tend to be perceived as louder, and the further you are from the tuned center of the room, the more the sound field will appear to be warped toward the closest wall. This happens with 5.1 but the effect is mitigated by the fact that there's a center speaker behind the screen, and the mixers have individual control over speaker levels and panner divergence.

    Ambisonic mixes are almost by definition not mono-compatible and don't allow the mixers to address sounds to individual speakers with unlimited panner divergence. There's always some situation where you want a sound to come from every speaker in the room, or to come from speakers on the opposite sides of the room, with equal intensity: the latter is impossible with B-format (and only possible in the limit with n channels), and the former is impossible with any theoretical pure ambisonic sound system.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @11:49PM (#47687245)

    The way Atmos works is it can carry up to 128 individual audio channels. 20 of these are set aside for two discrete 9.1 mixes (mixers choice what goes in those), the remaining 108 are set aside for individual pannable objects. In the file themselves, these audio objects are full-rez and lossless; however, these objects don't "live" all the time, the mixer can use them for a few seconds here and there. Nothing as general as "all the dialogue" or "all the car sound effects" lives in the pannable objects throughout the entire project.

    There are discrete sounds in the Atmos bitstream itself though, and in principle it would make remixing easier, so I suspect you'll never see an Atmos bitstream in a consumer format without DRM.

  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @03:41AM (#47687773)

    What I'd like to hear is an orchestra recording which mics each instrument and gives each of them a channel. It'd be interesting to see how well Atmos can recreate the sound stage of a full orchestra.

    Before he died, Frank Zappa was exploring this very idea. His performances with the Ensemble Modern where usually mic'ed with one mic per instrument, then he'd have a surround sound desk where all the instruments could be panned around the room and so he'd incorporate motion into his compositions. Apparently he either did or was going to (death has an unfortunate way of interfering with ambitions) do this in a live setting so the audience could hear the instruments "flying" around over their heads. It would have been pretty spectacular, even if most people where mystified by his avant garde serialist classical music.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger