Definitive Technology 5.0.4 Dolby Atmos Speaker System Reviewed

TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
56
#41
Oh please. That's not what it was saying. Auro 3D definitely did not ALLOW enabled speakers when it came out. I don't mean just hooking them up for God's sake. I mean Auro approving/allowing the AVR to assign them and still function.

This did not work on the 7010, but does work on the 7012 and like rear heights, it was because Auro changed their minds when they realized it was corporate suicide to challenge Dolby to that degree on the playing field. If Auro wants adopted, it is the one who must compromise, not Dolby as Dolby holds all the cards (market) right now.

The truth is enabled speakers don't work any wose/better with Atmos or X than Auro. They are a poor substitute for real overhead speakers regardless, but sadly the ceiling (and even high walls) are never going to be popular places to put speakers in most homes. In-ceiling aren't easily moved or filled back in and so are bad for home sales as they tend to be permanent fixtures.

Auro is not fundamentally different from Atmos. You still have to blend bed with overhead. An enabled speaker is possibly more ideal for Auro than Atmos in the sense they want the overhead right above the same bed speakers. Atmos has different placements in most of its layouts. Having the bed project the height above it fits the Auro model to a T except for the fact the bounce isn't often very convincing, but that is true for Atmos and X as well.
I do understand your point and you are correct about the layout options presented in some of the newer AVRs offering Atmos Enabled as an option. If I’m not mistaken those are options with the so-called unified layout and you cannot use (explicitly) an Atmos-enabled speaker with the VOG. The VOG is the real game changer with Auro.

Unless there’s a change to the Auro spec that I’m not aware of, all the Atmos Enabled speaker options are only available under the unified layout options. I’ll need to check the X8500H and see how Denon presents it there.

Denon has more info for those interested here https://denon-uk.custhelp.com/app/a...uro-3d-and-dolby-atmos-speaker-configurations
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
56
#42
I have the capability to drive a true Auro layout (surround height) or the more-Atmos friendly layout. The differences are about the same as reducing 7.1.6 to 5.1.4 (I'm using up to 11.1.6). Atmos over Auro sounds similar to Auro over Atmos (in that both mixes sound similar over the same speaker layout). The differences are way overblown in a home setup as Auro is really just 5.1.4 with the side heights being at the wall instead of in-line with the front mains (image expands outward however far the difference in distance is). That's about all there is to it. Otherwise, it sounds like 5.1.4 with cinema soundtracks (dual quad miked soundtracks are another matter as they need placement more correct to align correctly with the original mic locations).

If you expand Auro-3D to use more speakers (e.g. Use rear height but then extract the top middle channels and send it to side height and I expand the bed surrounds to rear wides with matrixing as well arriving at Auro-3D through 9.1.6 worth of speakers, it sounds oddly similar to the Atmos mix over 11.1.6 from the front two rows of seating here (matrixed rear wides pull the side surround images back to be more like rear surrounds. It's the same as sitting up a row further in 5.1.4 (in-between sides and front). The end result is similar.

Channel based is meaningless in a way since Atmos has to be rendered to channels one way or another. Most DTS:X soundtracks are being rendered as 7.1.4 channel based as are Disney Atmos soundtracks. These all sound the same. If you extract channels (via neural x when DTS:X Pro is released to the public) or via Pro Logic type processors, you get the same result. Channels in the middle between discrete channels. Is Top Middle rendered by Atmos ANY different from Top Middle extracted between front height and rear height? No, there's no difference what-so-ever. All the marketing bits about precise 3D imaging is exaggerated. There are only 34 channels possible and you can extract at least half of them from lesser soundtracks. A DTS:X 7.1.4 soundtrack can expand to at least 11.1.6 as I've already done here using extraction.

Neural X in DTS:X Pro will do the same thing for existing non-object based soundtracks (more channels can be extracted than that, though like rear center and rear center height, center height and the VOG, giving you at least 12.1.9 capability in DTS:X Pro with Neural X based extraction from a mere locked 7.1.4 soundtrack. Sadly, Atmos will be stuck with 7.1.4 on a high-end AVR since it won't allow an upmixer like Neural X to be used with it. You will need to use external methods like I'm using to get more than 7.1.4 from a Disney Atmos soundtrack).
Could you elaborate on what you mean by Atmos being stuck with 7.1.4? Perhaps I missed something? Extracting extra channels aside, the Denon X8500H will process 7.2.6 from an Atmos track but DTS:X is limited to 11 channels max (right now) for 7.2.4 until DTS:X Pro comes to the consumer market on more reasonably priced AVRs and pre-pros.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Full Audioholic
Ratings
304 2 41
#43
Could you elaborate on what you mean by Atmos being stuck with 7.1.4? Perhaps I missed something? Extracting extra channels aside, the Denon X8500H will process 7.2.6 from an Atmos track but DTS:X is limited to 11 channels max (right now) for 7.2.4 until DTS:X Pro comes to the consumer market on more reasonably priced AVRs and pre-pros.
Disney does not make "true" Atmos soundtracks. They lock the objects into what is essentially a 7.1.4 "channel" based system (you can make stationary objects and then mix as channels instead, which is what Disney is essentially doing). People often call this "Atmos Lite". Thus, if you play a Disney Atmos movie, it will not use any speakers outside the 7.1.4 configuration in an AVR that uses more (not even in a Trinnov unless it's using "remapping" mode). You can get around this by using external extraction (e.g. two Pro Logic processors extracting a "center" between say front and rear height to create top middle or front L/R and side L/R to create wides) as these are made after the channels are rendered and the AVR is not aware of them. Otherwise, if you had say a Denon 8500 set to do 7.1.6, the "top middle" speakers will be silent with Disney Atmos movies.

This is a real problem if you have a room that is too long for proper phantom imaging as it will leave a "hole" overhead where the imaging falls apart. I'm using a 12'x24' room with front/rear heights going from the front of the room to the very back and the imaging gets pretty weak in the middle when configured as 7.1.4 (e.g. rain sounds like there's a gazebo or something overhead keeping the rain from hitting right over my head) so I use two Onkyo ES-600 Pro processors to extract "top middle" between them and this makes it smooth all the way across the 24' room (e.g. The Atmos helicopter demo then pans smoothly and evenly around the entire length of the room). Because it's extracted instead of rendered from the AVR, it works with these locked 7.1.4 soundtracks from Disney and gets past the 11-channel DTS limit as well.

Similarly, I use matrix extraction for front wides and surround#2 (essentially a rear wide between the side surrounds and rear surrounds) as I have three rows of seating. This gives me 11.1.6 in the room and gives rows 2 and three nice even surround (and smoother panning from the MLP as well as more depth to "stereo" mode as the wides are active with stereo soundtracks unless I turn them off). I also create my own "dialog lift" effect by using an active mixer to put some L/C/R material into the front heights (controllable via the output pots how "high" it goes) so the dialog comes from the screen instead of the three PSB T45 speakers underneath it. The matrixed "rear wides" also extends the side surrounds for Auro-3D soundtracks to almost the back which then combined with the "unified" rear heights plus the extracted top middle speakers gives Auro-3D soundtracks much closer rendering to the Atmos versions (I have a half dozen in both to compare). I can also shrink Atmos back to 5.1.4 which then over the same speakers sounds surprisingly similar to "true Auro-3D" that just uses surround height speakers. I can also send surround height to rear height at the same time (Monoprice 2-in 2-out switchbox) to mimic an Auro 11.1 theater (which copies surround height to the rear in the same manner).

This lets me compare/contrast Atmos, X and Auro-3D in different configurations and/or to give the 2nd and 3rd row more "surround" on Auro-3D soundtracks (also helps with true 5.1 in "direct" mode as the "rear wide" matrixed speaker then acts like an array copy of the side surround instead putting the combined phantom image between the two sets of side surrounds for the second row (the front wides keep it directly to the sides for the front row as the side surrounds are behind and the front wides in front of that row making the phantom image appear directly to the sides. Turning the wides off, the soundtrack then has 5.1 soundtracks "behind" the front row in the recommended location for a 5.1.4 system. Thus, all soundtracks can be played more or less as intended or stretched to 11.1 or 11.1.6 (9.1.6 in Auro-3D's case as the rear beds aren't active, although I could get another switchbox to copy them as well, but the rear wides are probably good enough since there's only one seat in the back row and side surround just in front of the seat isn't too shabby sounding either. With full 11.1.6 all seats get full surround (rear beds and heights are just behind the 3rd row).
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
56
#44
Disney does not make "true" Atmos soundtracks. They lock the objects into what is essentially a 7.1.4 "channel" based system (you can make stationary objects and then mix as channels instead, which is what Disney is essentially doing). People often call this "Atmos Lite". Thus, if you play a Disney Atmos movie, it will not use any speakers outside the 7.1.4 configuration in an AVR that uses more (not even in a Trinnov unless it's using "remapping" mode). You can get around this by using external extraction (e.g. two Pro Logic processors extracting a "center" between say front and rear height to create top middle or front L/R and side L/R to create wides) as these are made after the channels are rendered and the AVR is not aware of them. Otherwise, if you had say a Denon 8500 set to do 7.1.6, the "top middle" speakers will be silent with Disney Atmos movies.

This is a real problem if you have a room that is too long for proper phantom imaging as it will leave a "hole" overhead where the imaging falls apart. I'm using a 12'x24' room with front/rear heights going from the front of the room to the very back and the imaging gets pretty weak in the middle when configured as 7.1.4 (e.g. rain sounds like there's a gazebo or something overhead keeping the rain from hitting right over my head) so I use two Onkyo ES-600 Pro processors to extract "top middle" between them and this makes it smooth all the way across the 24' room (e.g. The Atmos helicopter demo then pans smoothly and evenly around the entire length of the room). Because it's extracted instead of rendered from the AVR, it works with these locked 7.1.4 soundtracks from Disney and gets past the 11-channel DTS limit as well.

Similarly, I use matrix extraction for front wides and surround#2 (essentially a rear wide between the side surrounds and rear surrounds) as I have three rows of seating. This gives me 11.1.6 in the room and gives rows 2 and three nice even surround (and smoother panning from the MLP as well as more depth to "stereo" mode as the wides are active with stereo soundtracks unless I turn them off). I also create my own "dialog lift" effect by using an active mixer to put some L/C/R material into the front heights (controllable via the output pots how "high" it goes) so the dialog comes from the screen instead of the three PSB T45 speakers underneath it. The matrixed "rear wides" also extends the side surrounds for Auro-3D soundtracks to almost the back which then combined with the "unified" rear heights plus the extracted top middle speakers gives Auro-3D soundtracks much closer rendering to the Atmos versions (I have a half dozen in both to compare). I can also shrink Atmos back to 5.1.4 which then over the same speakers sounds surprisingly similar to "true Auro-3D" that just uses surround height speakers. I can also send surround height to rear height at the same time (Monoprice 2-in 2-out switchbox) to mimic an Auro 11.1 theater (which copies surround height to the rear in the same manner).

This lets me compare/contrast Atmos, X and Auro-3D in different configurations and/or to give the 2nd and 3rd row more "surround" on Auro-3D soundtracks (also helps with true 5.1 in "direct" mode as the "rear wide" matrixed speaker then acts like an array copy of the side surround instead putting the combined phantom image between the two sets of side surrounds for the second row (the front wides keep it directly to the sides for the front row as the side surrounds are behind and the front wides in front of that row making the phantom image appear directly to the sides. Turning the wides off, the soundtrack then has 5.1 soundtracks "behind" the front row in the recommended location for a 5.1.4 system. Thus, all soundtracks can be played more or less as intended or stretched to 11.1 or 11.1.6 (9.1.6 in Auro-3D's case as the rear beds aren't active, although I could get another switchbox to copy them as well, but the rear wides are probably good enough since there's only one seat in the back row and side surround just in front of the seat isn't too shabby sounding either. With full 11.1.6 all seats get full surround (rear beds and heights are just behind the 3rd row).
I don’t understand why some companies do this. I tested out Avengers Infinity War and I did get 7.2.6 playback on the Denon X8500H. This limitation is for purely Disney titles or does it extend to Marvel titles as well?
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,373 6 1
#45
I don’t understand why some companies do this. I tested out Avengers Infinity War and I did get 7.2.6 playback on the Denon X8500H. This limitation is for purely Disney titles or does it extend to Marvel titles as well?
As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Field Marshall
Ratings
1,151 6
#46
As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
I've heard that that company Kaleidascape or whatever there called actually gets the actual movie files from the studio and remasterers it to where it's full uncompressed true to the source audio that the director or mixer intended. If I ever hit the lottery that's what I'd get

it would be the only way to listen to those Disney or Marvel movies the way they were intended to be heard.

It's expensive though
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Ratings
56
#47
As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
That makes sense then. I haven’t seen the limitation with Marvel movies. That’s a real disappointment if that limitation exists with Incredibles 2. That has the potential to be a stellar immersive mix. I haven’t sampled the 4K edition.
 

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