The Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, and Auro-3D Discussion Thread

VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
That does sound ANNOYING. Who wants a mode that keeps on cranking up the volume and bass level? :D
I'd just prefer the overall levels be the same and the "upmixer" do its thing based on room reverb/immersion/whatever not making itself sound different by being louder or having more bass (that sounds like one of DTS's old tricks back in the DVD days).
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
I'd just prefer the overall levels be the same and the "upmixer" do its thing based on room reverb/immersion/whatever not making itself sound different by being louder or having more bass (that sounds like one of DTS's old tricks back in the DVD days).
Yeah, seems like I remember a few old titles with hotter bass tracks.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
OK, out of curiosity I played the youtube videos on my system from my Shield.
Thanks for giving those a listen. I find many of your observations very similar to mine. I'll add my comments/opinions below:
Yes, the metronome sounded a bit "weird" in Neural X. I would not say it sounded like the VOG speaker, however (someone have their upper speakers turned up too much?) It actually sounded like it was coming from almost everywhere with a bit more in front of me than around me, so kind of odd. DSU and Auro more or less sounded the same as stereo in its position.
Yeah, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but there's no doubt it pulls it forward and elevates it in a way DSU and Auro do not.
The Careless Whisper song.... I think Auro sounded the best, but that might be because it's both louder and has more bass output at the same settings (kind of annoying really when you want them to "match" as best they can). I had to turn Auro's depth up to like 12-14 to really hear an enlarged room effect (medium/large had less effect, I think). It basically sounds like the room gets a bit bigger (subtle reflections and some reinforcement). Neural X comes out slightly higher in elevation in Neural X than DSU for me, but they weren't as different as I thought they would sound. Yes, putting my ear to the surround speaker you could hear slightly odd sounds (stripped reflections or something),but at the seating positions, it didn't actually sound that different to me.
This track demonstrates how inconsistent Neural:X can be--with the metronome it puts strong direct sound in the surrounds/heights as it does with some music--sounding similar to "all channel stereo." With other music (like this track) it does not, and some sort of garbled, distorted noise ends up there. A bit like a box of chocolates.

This song contains little ambience, so on this one (and much music like it) with Auro at the default settings, you can barely tell it's doing anything--pretty much sounds just like Stereo but with a tiny bit more "depth." I find when I crank up the strength of Auro on music like this it can do more harm than good. With little actual ambience to extract you're only increasing the volume of the generated room reflections, trying to make the music something that it's not. The only time I crank up the strength and feel it sounds appropriate/natural is music that contains a lot of ambience--something recorded in a concert hall, church, etc. With that, you still have the Auro generated sounds, but they're mixed with much louder actual ambience from the recording so it sounds more as the music was intended.

I think that cranking up the strength level may also be why you notice such a volume/bass increase. You're increasing the rolled off/generated sounds well beyond what the music will support. You may also have your sub quite a bit hotter than I run mine also.
Is it just me or is Robyn Adele Anderson kind of hot? :D
Yup. :)

Instead, I put on some material I'm really familiar with. I put on "Father's Son" by Tori Amos and compared. Again, Auro cranks the bass and levels so I had to adjust the volume down and try to ignore the extra bass and listen to placement of sounds instead. That song has overdub echoes of Tori's voice that in stereo repeat what she says into the room a bit and towards the sides (out of phase). In Auro, the room sounded a bit larger and more reverb. That was it. With DSU, the overdub repeats of some of the lyrics sounded often BEHIND me to the sides going well into the back of the room (one set was more towards the front and sides, but most were definitely behind me). Neural X also put them further back into the room than stereo, but not as cleanly/clearly, IMO and the overall soundstage was slightly higher. My preference was by FAR for DSU on that song. That effect gave the song a really neat surround effect that was plainly audible and clear.
For stuff like this DSU does do a very good job. It can give really clean extraction for surround effects, Neural:X sometimes. Lots of Pink Floyd tracks like this as well. When music is actually intended to come from behind you I'd say DSU does it the most cleanly. This stuff is mixed like you'd mix a movie back in the 2-channel pro-logic extraction days and that's a case where I'd say DSU is the best. There's not that much of it though, no live recording will end up this way unless there are actually singers/instruments behind you.

I put on a more rock-like song by her on the same album (American Doll Posse) called "Code Red". This song felt kind of odd with DSU and/or Neural X surround effects, IMO. It starts putting instruments around me that probably didn't belong there unlike the previous song that just did vocals and percussion and what not in the surround channels.
That's the downside of the clean extraction that DSU does. It's clean, but sometimes not appropriate. Lots of music is recorded such that it will have a really wide soundstage--extending beyond the width of your speakers--but the stage is still in front of you. DSU will see that material and delete it from the front speakers and place it in the surrounds. This is why you sometimes get voices/instruments beside/behind you that shouldn't be there. It's taking the wide soundstage and wrapping it around you. Some may like that, some may not, but it's certainly not natural.

Auro also puts that stuff in the surrounds, but it leaves it in the L&R channels as well so the wide front soundstage is enhanced but not altered to a circle around you.

This can be illustrated with this track:


The "Offstage Left" and "Offstage Right" sounds are phase manipulated to make it sound as if they're coming from farther to the left and right than your speakers are placed. DSU cleanly extracts those sounds and places it beside/behind you. It sounds good and clean, but they're no longer located "Offstage L&R." If it's an old 2 channel movie and that's supposed to be action happening to your left or right, that's great. But if it's a recording of a band, the instruments on the outside edges of the band are supposed to sound like they're on the outside edges of the band, not beside/behind me in my opinion.

I really notice this on orchestral/concert hall type recordings. The sound coming from the surrounds are the enveloping ambient room reflections with Auro very close to what actually comes out of those speakers with the native immersive track. DSU and Neural:X play a lot more direct sounds from them, making it sound as if instruments are all around the room.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
The point is that it's different from song to song and your preference is different than others.
No, the point was Dolby themselves have acknowledged for decades that collapsing too much material to the center channel sounds bad to many people with much music. This is why Pro Logic II had a "Music Mode," that did not do this and was adjustable. And why DSU had the "Center Spread" option, that while not adjustable, at least it existed.

I hate "Careless Whisper", so I'm never going to play that song in my system.
The point of that was not to convince anybody that "Careless Whisper" is a good song. It was to demonstrate how, with some music, Neural:X outputs garbled/distorted noise from the surrounds.

You spend a lot of time and effort avoiding knowledge. What you don't understand is how this makes your opinions carry less weight. Quite a contrast with guys like MagnumX who'll actually listen to things/try things, evaluate what they're actually doing with his own ears, then express and informed opinion on things.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Thanks for giving those a listen. I find many of your observations very similar to mine. I'll add my comments/opinions below:

Yeah, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but there's no doubt it pulls it forward and elevates it in a way DSU and Auro do not.

This track demonstrates how inconsistent Neural:X can be--with the metronome it puts strong direct sound in the surrounds/heights as it does with some music--sounding similar to "all channel stereo." With other music (like this track) it does not, and some sort of garbled, distorted noise ends up there. A bit like a box of chocolates.

This song contains little ambience, so on this one (and much music like it) with Auro at the default settings, you can barely tell it's doing anything--pretty much sounds just like Stereo but with a tiny bit more "depth." I find when I crank up the strength of Auro on music like this it can do more harm than good. With little actual ambience to extract you're only increasing the volume of the generated room reflections, trying to make the music something that it's not. The only time I crank up the strength and feel it sounds appropriate/natural is music that contains a lot of ambience--something recorded in a concert hall, church, etc. With that, you still have the Auro generated sounds, but they're mixed with much louder actual ambience from the recording so it sounds more as the music was intended.

I think that cranking up the strength level may also be why you notice such a volume/bass increase. You're increasing the rolled off/generated sounds well beyond what the music will support. You may also have your sub quite a bit hotter than I run mine also.

Yup. :)


For stuff like this DSU does do a very good job. It can give really clean extraction for surround effects, Neural:X sometimes. Lots of Pink Floyd tracks like this as well. When music is actually intended to come from behind you I'd say DSU does it the most cleanly. This stuff is mixed like you'd mix a movie back in the 2-channel pro-logic extraction days and that's a case where I'd say DSU is the best. There's not that much of it though, no live recording will end up this way unless there are actually singers/instruments behind you.


That's the downside of the clean extraction that DSU does. It's clean, but sometimes not appropriate. Lots of music is recorded such that it will have a really wide soundstage--extending beyond the width of your speakers--but the stage is still in front of you. DSU will see that material and delete it from the front speakers and place it in the surrounds. This is why you sometimes get voices/instruments beside/behind you that shouldn't be there. It's taking the wide soundstage and wrapping it around you. Some may like that, some may not, but it's certainly not natural.

Auro also puts that stuff in the surrounds, but it leaves it in the L&R channels as well so the wide front soundstage is enhanced but not altered to a circle around you.

This can be illustrated with this track:


The "Offstage Left" and "Offstage Right" sounds are phase manipulated to make it sound as if they're coming from farther to the left and right than your speakers are placed. DSU cleanly extracts those sounds and places it beside/behind you. It sounds good and clean, but they're no longer located "Offstage L&R." If it's an old 2 channel movie and that's supposed to be action happening to your left or right, that's great. But if it's a recording of a band, the instruments on the outside edges of the band are supposed to sound like they're on the outside edges of the band, not beside/behind me in my opinion.

I really notice this on orchestral/concert hall type recordings. The sound coming from the surrounds are the enveloping ambient room reflections with Auro very close to what actually comes out of those speakers with the native immersive track. DSU and Neural:X play a lot more direct sounds from them, making it sound as if instruments are all around the room.
I'll have to try that downstairs on the theater system. I tested on the computer (Klipsch Prosound 2.1 THX) so that it would appear in my watched tracks downstairs to locate quickly and the "offstage left" had a very pronounced presence in the right speaker for some reason. All the other ones including offstage right sounded where I'd expect in stereo playback. I'll have to see what it does downstairs....
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
Do people like you even have a real college degree to be accusing anyone of “avoiding knowledge”?
Yes, thank you very much. I let you off the hook in the other thread where you proudly declared you were refusing to read any study, book or listen to any lecture about the subject matter to which you were speaking untruths (based upon your ignorance). But if you want to press the matter, I'll oblige.

You wanted license to be loudly ignorant and wrong. If a guy declares he doesn't like math, will refuse to study it and "opt out" of using it, he'll likely get nothing but high-fives (I guess fist-bumps have taken their place these days). Nobody will have a problem with that. But if the same guy then wants to go around yelling 2+2=5, that causes issues. People will correct him because he is wrong. If you had no interest in what the Harman Listener training was, that's fine. Nobody would care. But declaring you refuse to learn about it doesn't give you license to say things that are untrue about it. Your ignorance doesn't exempt you from criticism.

In this case I was merely inviting people to do technical evaluations of what the upmixers are doing to help them learn more about them. You refused to take part. That's fine. But then you go on to spout nonsense about them.

In this area everybody is entitled to their own preferences. Nobody cares what anybody else prefers. If you're interested in how they work, and why that causes people to prefer what they do, please do take part. If not, you're not adding anything to the discussion other than noise.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
the "offstage left" had a very pronounced presence in the right speaker for some reason. All the other ones including offstage right sounded where I'd expect in stereo playback. I'll have to see what it does downstairs....
Yeah, it's interesting how all this stuff works together. In my case "offstage left" is much less convincing that "offstage right." I believe this is because in my current setup, my left front speaker has no sidewall next to it (no reflections from the location the sound is supposed to be coming from),while the right one does. Though if you get the same results with a symmetrical setup it could be a flaw in the recording (or at least difference in how each side was done).
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Guys, it's just an upmixer. Let's not get out of hand.

Jon AA, I don't believe AcuDefTechGuy has Auro-3D on his AVR (I believe he uses Yamaha) so he can't try those tests out even if he wanted to.
 
S

snakeeyes

Audioholic Samurai
Sorry, I completely realize I sounded like a kid. But I've had my say and it's over. Promise. :D

We can all disagree 100%. That's not my issue. That's life. We all disagree.

I take offense when people repeatedly accuse me of avoiding "KNOWLEDGE". :D

But I know I should just ignore it. :D
NeuralX also takes advantage of your full range RBH center and it’s sub cabinet. Many are compromising the center channel and NeuralX seems to have more center channel content than DSU.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
NeuralX also takes advantage of your full range RBH center and it’s sub cabinet. Many are compromising the center channel and NeuralX seems to have more center channel content than DSU.
I think you have a point there. That might be the best thing I love about NeuralX, aside from the cool overhead sound effects. :D

I think the Center speaker does have a much bigger presence with NeuralX.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
I was talking about real academic degrees from real Universities (bachelors and doctors degree),not from the university of Google or YouTube.....BTW, yes, I did ace Engineering Calculus I, II, and III, ....from the university of Google and YouTube that you call "knowledge". :D
Barking up the wrong tree, friend. Degree in Mechanical Engineering here, thank you very much.
We're NOT arguing about mathematics or engineering
There's actually quite a bit of that going on here. Room Acoustics, PsychoAcoustics; it's really a fascinating field of science in which people spend entire careers working professionally.
You are arguing that Auro3D is the best.
Correction: I'm explaining why I and so many others prefer it for most music. Also the advantages/disadvantages of the others. Many processors on the market do not have Auro or DSU with center spread. Understanding what they are and why somebody might want them could be very helpful for some people.
If they try all the modes using their own favorite songs and they like Auro3D or DSU or NeuralX, that's their choice.
Not everybody already has a processor with all three modes. Some are in the market for a new processor or AVR and for many of those music is very important. A better understanding of what the upmixers are doing and what to listen for when auditioning (likely for a very limited amount of time in a store or somebody else's home) could be very helpful in making an informed decision about whether or not their expensive purchase needs to have those modes or not.

If that does not interest you in the slightest, because it's "not important," that's fantastic. Feel free to stop reading and stop posting about it.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I tried that Youtube imaging test with my theater speakers (still having vertigo spells and back pain issues to boot so I can't get to everything immediately; I think I'm falling apart.)

Everything sounds like I'd expect in 2-channel stereo mode (off left is off to the left of the speaker, etc.). 6-channel stereo (i.e. matrixed front wides plus dialog lift sending some to the front heights) more or less sounds the same, except I think it pulls a tiny bit to the left/right of the mains on the speaker callouts for those speakers (array is set uneven so it images where the front wides are, but some front L/R goes to the wides at all times creating a small scale array effect).

With DSU, offstage sounds more like to my left/right (starting towards surround speakers between front wides and surround where side surround tends to phantom image due to array effect between front wide and side surround, the latter of which are behind me at around 100 degrees, but the phantom sides sound more like 90 degrees (the gist is they image closer to side surround).

With Neural X, the effect is a bit odder in that the callout between front and center sounds like it goes vertical by comparison (i.e. close to the height locations). It does not do this with any other mode (oddities with Neural X seem abundant, but then nothing else does height information for upmixing movies quite like Neural X).

Auro-3D sounds very similar to stereo with a bit more ambience in the room (i.e. the room seems more lively reverb wise),but the offstage stuff is back closer to the stereo location (off of the left/right with perhaps a slight movement towards the wide location, probably due to the wides being matrixed/active regardless).

I did more fiddling with the matrix levels and the rear matrix levels and ran tests until my ear started bothering me and all I could conclude is I'm tired of playing with settings and levels.... I just want to watch a movie or listen to some music.

IF I were going to use surround with music, Auro-3D is the least harmful to the original imaging and gives the room some more lively sound and makes it sound in the back rows like it's not so dead (stereo from just up front sounds very far away from the back of the room). But it does nothing interesting to the imaging. If I wanted some actual surround changes, I'd use DSU. Neural X does height things I don't really want to hear with music. If I'm the only one listening, I'd probably stick with stereo, though (matrixed extra speakers on).

IF I were going to watch a movie, I'd probably use Neural X unless it was in mono in which case any mode but Neural X would be preferable I think (Neural X pulls mono into a "big image" and too much out into the room, IMO). Regular DTS or DSU or Auro all sound fine with mono signals.

IF I was going to listen to a DTS Music CD, I'd go with straight decoding of it (no Neural X) for the same reason. The guy in ON AIR should walk across the back of the room, not fly across it, IMO. ;)
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Lucy 2014, 4K/Atmos.
I finally saw Lucy 2014 in 4K/Atmos last night. Picture and Sound quality were awesome. They made enough use of the overhead sound effects for me to put this movie on my Reference List. :D

1. Pacific Rim 2013 Atmos
2. Blade Runner 2049 2017 4K Atmos (among the best)
3. Cloverfield Paradox 2018 Atmos
4. The Equalizer 2014 Atmos
5. The Great Wall 2016 Atmos
6. Hunter Killer 2018 Atmos
7. The Matrix Trilogy 1999, 2003, 2003 4K Atmos
8. Oblivion 2013 Atmos
9. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016 Atmos
10. Salt 2010 Atmos
11. Sully 2016 Atmos
12. Twilight 2008 Atmos
13. Underworld 2003 Atmos
14. Underworld Blood Wars 2016 Atmos
15. Atomic Blonde 2017 DTSX
16. Harry Potter franchise (8 movies) 2001-2011 4K DTSX
17. Black Hawk Down 2001 4K Atmos
18. 13 Hours 2016 4K Atmos
19. Gravity 2013 Atmos
20. Ready Player One 2018 Atmos
21. Robin Hood 2018 Atmos
22. Jurassic World 4K DTSX
23. Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom 4K DTSX
24. Terminator Genisys 4K Atmos
25. Alita Battle Angel 2019 4K Atmos
26. Pet Sematary (2019) 4K Atmos
27. Blade Runner 1982 4K Atmos (among the best)
28. Godzilla King of the Monsters 2019 4K Atmos (among the best)
29. Jupiter Ascending 4K Atmos
30. X-Men Dark Phoenix 2019 4K Atmos
31. Lucy 2014
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Junior Audioholic
I tried that Youtube imaging test with my theater speakers.....
That was a very thorough evaluation and a good summary or what each mode is doing. It lines up with my observations very well.

I should note that despite the issues with Neural:X with two channel music, I still find myself using it a ton for 5.1 movies/tv. It seems to place stuff in the height speakers more accurately than Auro (my processor does not have "Movie mode" so I haven't tested that) and more aggressively than DSU, so it's still a very valuable upmixer for me. When I add a bunch more speakers and get something with DTS:X Pro, it'll probably be the only upmixer that'll take advantage of all the speakers unless Dolby changes their DSU parameters.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I just watched the original Men In Black in Atmos. It didn't have a lot of explicit overhead sound until towards the end with the big bug and flying saucer overheads, etc. (and music overhead in the front during credits),but it had a lot of other good surround effects including one really great back of the room effect (sounded like the bug dude was really walking back there).

I had started to watch Batman with Atmos, but turned it off after ten minutes of 90% of the sound being in the very front of the room (reminded me of Labyrinth where it sounds like Pro Logic save a few action bits). Maybe it gets better with some action scenes, but the sound was so anemic (bass sucked for example; I had to turn up the sub),I decided to watch something else (MIB). There's nothing worse than a new 4K updated release with Atmos only to find the Atmos means Dolby Pro Logic with very little surround at that. Just slapping the word "Atmos" onto a movie doesn't make it so.

I've heard the Christopher Reeve Superman movie is the same way (original 1978 soundtrack is slightly expanded here and there, but is largely similar to the original boring mostly stereo soundtrack). I mean why even change it? That ticks off traditionalists that want the true original soundtrack and get some bastardized version and it ticks off the people that want a true Atmos immersive experience and get a slightly altered 1978 soundtrack (the 5.1 DVD apparently had way more surround effects than the Atmos version). I've actually got an iTunes version of it that has been upgraded to Atmos. I'm curious to try it, but I have a feeling it really will be just like Batman with Atmos. I mean damn. I expected Batman flying down from above to be flying right over my head and instead it's all up front in the middle (stereo). Horribly disappointing start to the movie....
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Fast & Furious 4K with DTS:X and Fast Five 4K with DTS:X have arrived. Now I just need 6 & 7 to complete the DTS:X collection (already had them in 4K streaming and 2K discs without it).
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Wow. I just watched A Bug's Life in Neural X (from 5.1) and it had pretty darn impressive surround effects for a 5.1 track with the usual Pixar panned dialog to boot (nice to see their voices follow their mouths around the screen for a change in movies, which admittedly is more of a problem on larger projection screens than a typical TV).

I followed that up with Ye Olde UNDER SIEGE with Steven Seagal. Great movie (Die Hard 1 quality good, IMO). Its 5.1 track upmixed pretty decent too, IMO (missiles and helicopters and an F18 flying overhead). I always loved how it mix fades right into Jimmie Hendrix's Voodoo Child after the F18 is shot down. It just seemed to fix perfectly there. "Get my pies out of the oven!" --classic line
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince again in DTS:X. I keep noticing new things each time. At the end where Harry is hiding under the astronomy platform when they switch to his viewpoint, all the voices and footsteps are on the ceiling above from the front of the screen to about 30% into the room (about halfway from the screen to my seat which is just in front of the halfway point in the room. That's one of the locations I was wondering about how well it imaged there because things always seem in the front top or top middle or back top with very few slow "pans" across the ceiling in most movies. This imaged them right there and sounded pretty darn good.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I watched Dark Tower in Auro-3D again from the second row, this time. The side/rear surround sounds much better from that seat, but some of the overhead stuff sounded seemed further away (Auro tends to put things towards the front of the room overhead rather than the middle in some movies, probably since they have a dedicated center height). I seem to recall it only really had a lot of overhead sounds towards the end when I watched it the first time. But bullets flying and other effects were quite good. I did notice more rear height effects being closer to the rear speakers (and usually watching Auro-3D titles, I still use the "scatmos" top middle that extracts an in-between channel so with Auro-3D that gives it six overheads just like Atmos/X. But there are no rear channels, although my matrixed surround #2 does bring the bed level sounds back to just behind the second row.

I also watched DIVERGENT in DTS:X (from the 4K version). Oh yeah. That's the stuff. It had all kinds of surround effects and plenty of overhead sounds as well. It's not the best I've heard, but they did a good job converting it to immersive. Oddly, the two sequels are both in Atmos (and came out before the 4K DTS:X version of the first movie). I have to watch those in Atmos yet.
 

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