Currently, the only place in Australia that you can experience Dolby Atmos sound is at the Crown Village Cinemas in Melbourne. Reading Cinemas in Waurn Ponds, Victoria also has Dolby Atmos installed however it is currently closed for renovations. Despite limited commercial uptake in Australia and native content, Onkyo’s Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers and receivers will soon be sold by electrical retailers to kit out home cinemas with 3D sound.
Dolby Atmos was first introduced into commercial cinemas during 2012 and is step up from surround sound. It lets filmmakers place the sounds of certain objects in different spaces around the room, rather than delivering sound through one channel. For example the sound of a plane flying overhead will come from above you and the sound of someone creeping up behind you will make you want to turn your head. Up to 128 simultaneous sound objects can be panned around and above you in a multi‐dimensional sound field, the company said.
Onkyo have provided visual representations of how the system will work in the home.
5.1 channel surround sound is achieved by subwoofer and five speakers- fronts, centre and surrounds. With the Onkyo Home Theatre System the naming convention becomes 5.1.2 or 5.1.4. The final number refers to speakers in the ceiling. Alternatively, if ceiling speakers can’t be installed, Onkyo has Dolby Atmos-enabled up-firing speakers, so the sound bounces off the ceiling and back down to the listener, recreating the effect of overhead speakers.
Similarly, a 7.1 channel system now becomes a 7.1.2 or a 7.1.4 channel system, with the addition of four ceiling speakers or up-firing speakers (pictured below on the right).
There is even a 9.1.2 system. It doesn’t matter which set up you chose, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack will be automatically optimised for individual setups.
Currently 124 movies have been produced with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and just one – Transformers Age of Extinction– will be available for on Blu-ray. More content is expected to arrive in the future.
What the new Onkyo systems’ do have is an upmixer, which will improve the sound of existing channel-based content, mostly by picking up atmospheric sounds and sending it through additional speakers, so as to not distort the original sound mix. It is a similar scenario to 4K Ultra HD; limited native 4K content exists but the televisions will upscale existing content.
Another similarity with 4K UDH is that this technology gives retailers a way to increase foot traffic into their stores. With the system currently being installed in large retail outlets, Appliance Retailer was assured that in-store demonstrations would achieve impressive results for consumers looking to experience the new technology.
Onkyo’s new Dolby Atmos-enabled products include: