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

VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I just watched Star Wars: A New Hope in Dolby Atmos off Disney+.

I have to say that it blows away the DTS 6.1 version on Blu-Ray. There's plenty of overhead action in the movie and much improved bed level immersion as well into the front wide and rear speaker areas (again via Matrix/Scatmos expansion to 11.1.6). I heard sounds floating in mid-air in points in the room overhead I've never heard them in before, 2/3 the way up the wall floating in places just above my head and what not instead of all the way to the ceiling. IN actuality, they were also in the rear mid regions as well from other seats (phantom array imaging in a relativistic manner). Music was all over the place at different times. It started in the front like the original soundtrack and then moved into the front wide region throughout much of the film and by the end credits, it was in strongly both the side beds and top middle speakers as well as the front wide region creating an all encompassing tunnel of John Williams music (oddly not in the rears, but surround #1 had partial, coming from the side component of the dual-matrix combination). Ships flew well around the room into all conceivable areas in various scenes. Radio chatter floating in large bubbles overhead during the X-Wing attack on the Death Star (Luke, you've switched off your targeting computer. What's wrong?) There was even some dialog panning in a couple of spots on Tatooine (going from the left side of the screen to the center, although dialog was usually in the center only). I suppose the subwoofer deep bass could have been more there, but it never was as strong as in the prequels in any prior release (Revenge of the Sith's opening drum beats reminding of Taiko drums). The only thing that could have made it better immersed, really is if it were also in 3D video (It's too bad those finished conversions were never released. With 3D fading, they may never be.)

My projector is 2K/3D, so I cannot comment on 4K/HDR, but that's the sharpest I've ever seen A New Hope in 2K, now rivaling Revenge of the Sith for picture quality on the same projector (save many of the cheap saber special effects are still cheap looking by comparison, etc., although I think I prefer the model shot special effects for the space scenes). And the best thing of all is that Han now shoots first! (Ok, they shoot more or less simultaneously, although I think it looks more like Greedo bumped the trigger as he was hit just ahead first which appeared to knock his aim off to the right. Regardless, it's better than Greedo shooting first. I didn't really have that big a problem with the other effects other than than terrible Jabba scene still being there, which it could have done without, IMO (just because the footage existed for the scene, doesn't mean it should be used. Part of the appeal of Return of the Jedi was seeing Jabba for the first time, although I suppose if you watched the prequels that would give it away. It'll never be quite the same for future generations as seeing the originals at the theater or drive-in).
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
The 5.1 for the Mandalorian is a typo on the Disney+ site. I started the first episode and it (says it's) Dolby Atmos.

EDIT: I take it back after actually watching it. It's a FARCE (not The Force). It says Dolby Atmos on the front of the 7012, but it's just a label. It means nothing. If I watch The Mandalorian on my NVidia Shield I get real 5.1 + DSU (or whatever I choose). I believe it's only in stereo in actuality on the AppleTV 4K. I hear nothing out of the surround speakers. I tried another title that says 5.1 (TRON). I know that one has only been in 5.1 so far and says 5.1 on the screen. It says ATMOS on the receiver anyway. I get NO surround (not even 5.1) out of the surround speakers once again. It's stereo. If I play it on the Shield, I get DD+ true 5.1 with actual surround use. So there seems to be a problem with the AppleTV 4K app. It plays the actual Atmos titles in Atmos, but the 5.1 titles get stereo with an Atmos label (so far). I haven't tried forcing the AppleTV in to Dolby Digital mode to see if it gets 5.1 out of it that way. DD+ (that works) is far better sounding on the NVidia Shield than that FARCE of Atmos on the AppleTV 4K with The Mandalorian.

EDIT 2: A reboot of the AppleTV appears to fix the problem. It then played in "Multi-In + DSU" on my AVR and I get actual working 5.1 sound with The Mandalorian like with the NVidia Shield instead of the "Atmos" label with only stereo sound in reality. I recalled it doing something similar once before which gave me the idea to try it. That would explain why some get "Atmos" and some don't. It's a GLITCH in AppleTV that occurs after using it for some time for whatever reason (bug).

EDIT 3: Others on other forums claim The Mandalorian IS actually available in Atmos, but not on AppleTV 4K as there's apparently a mistake/bug/whatever there with that device for exactly just that ONE show, apparently (i.e. everything else that says it's in Atmos is in Atmos here). I cannot verify this as I don't own ROKU or whatever device they claim works with the show to verify it. The NVidia Shield, for example has NOTHING in Atmos here (at least with my 2K projector). IF it works with a 4K set attached or whatever, I wouldn't know as my projector is still 2K/3D.
 
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snakeeyes

Audioholic Samurai
The 5.1 for the Mandalorian is a typo on the Disney+ site. I started the first episode and it (says it's) Dolby Atmos.

EDIT: I take it back after actually watching it. It's a FARCE (not The Force). It says Dolby Atmos on the front of the 7012, but it's just a label. It means nothing. If I watch The Mandalorian on my NVidia Shield I get real 5.1 + DSU (or whatever I choose). I believe it's only in stereo in actuality on the AppleTV 4K. I hear nothing out of the surround speakers. I tried another title that says 5.1 (TRON). I know that one has only been in 5.1 so far and says 5.1 on the screen. It says ATMOS on the receiver anyway. I get NO surround (not even 5.1) out of the surround speakers once again. It's stereo. If I play it on the Shield, I get DD+ true 5.1 with actual surround use. So there seems to be a problem with the AppleTV 4K app. It plays the actual Atmos titles in Atmos, but the 5.1 titles get stereo with an Atmos label (so far). I haven't tried forcing the AppleTV in to Dolby Digital mode to see if it gets 5.1 out of it that way. DD+ (that works) is far better sounding on the NVidia Shield than that FARCE of Atmos on the AppleTV 4K with The Mandalorian.

EDIT 2: A reboot of the AppleTV appears to fix the problem. It then played in "Multi-In + DSU" on my AVR and I get actual working 5.1 sound with The Mandalorian like with the NVidia Shield instead of the "Atmos" label with only stereo sound in reality. I recalled it doing something similar once before which gave me the idea to try it. That would explain why some get "Atmos" and some don't. It's a GLITCH in AppleTV that occurs after using it for some time for whatever reason (bug).

EDIT 3: Others on other forums claim The Mandalorian IS actually available in Atmos, but not on AppleTV 4K as there's apparently a mistake/bug/whatever there with that device for exactly just that ONE show, apparently (i.e. everything else that says it's in Atmos is in Atmos here). I cannot verify this as I don't own ROKU or whatever device they claim works with the show to verify it. The NVidia Shield, for example has NOTHING in Atmos here (at least with my 2K projector). IF it works with a 4K set attached or whatever, I wouldn't know as my projector is still 2K/3D.
On the Apple TV 4K, on Atmos content, is it 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 on Disney +, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Atmos titles?
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
On the Apple TV 4K, on Atmos content, is it 7.1.4 or 5.1.4 on Disney +, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Atmos titles?
It's whatever it's set to use (they're supposed to use up to 34 speakers). Oddly, Disney appears to be using moving objects now according to a Trinnov owner. He doesn't have anywhere near all the speakers, but says they're mostly 7.1.2 constantly (top middle) with many 5-10 second ay a time panning objects in front heights and wides so that's at least 9.1.6 support in Star Wars (not sure about older movies if they are locked or not. I believe other studios generally use the same as bluray. Titles I've compared in iTunes against the bluray generally sound the same except the volume output is lower on Apple TV and typically needs turned up 6-10 dB).
 
S

snakeeyes

Audioholic Samurai
It's whatever it's set to use (they're supposed to use up to 34 speakers). Oddly, Disney appears to be using moving objects now according to a Trinnov owner. He doesn't have anywhere near all the speakers, but says they're mostly 7.1.2 constantly (top middle) with many 5-10 second ay a time panning objects in front heights and wides so that's at least 9.1.6 support in Star Wars (not sure about older movies if they are locked or not. I believe other studios generally use the same as bluray. Titles I've compared in iTunes against the bluray generally sound the same except the volume output is lower on Apple TV and typically needs turned up 6-10 dB).
Ok so sounds like full 7.1.4 is available.

I’m installing 4 ceilings for 5.1.4 and alignment of tweeters of bed channels (monopoles) at ear level. I would need to put surround back in-walls to fit them in but just was curious if that is overkill. Room is 17x17 so it’s a tight fit.

My current AVR can’t do 7.1.4 but it can be wired for 7.1 and 5.1.4 at the same time and flip back and forth. (Not sure I would care to use 7.1 with a choice to upmix to 5.1.4)It’s a Yamaha RXA2060. (Also my understanding is I’m unlikely to use 7.1.2 over 5.1.4 either)

I would consider a new 7.1.4 AVR in a few years or so and move the current AVR to a different room.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I crammed 11.1.6 in a 12x24 room OK. ;)


I'd go for 5.1.4 over 7.1. There are relatively few 7.1 only (that aren't also Atmos), but it would be nice to have if you have a lot of 7.1 only ones I have maybe 2-3 dozen. MI:Ghost Protocol is probably the most impressive sounding.
 
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snakeeyes

Audioholic Samurai
I crammed 11.1.6 in a 12x24 room OK. ;)


I'd go for 5.1.4 over 7.1. There are relatively few 7.1 only (that aren't also Atmos), but it would be nice to have if you have a lot of 7.1 only ones I have maybe 2-3 dozen. MI:Ghost Protocol is probably the most impressive sounding.
5.1.4 is probably the best plan for me.

Thanks :)
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
In case anyone's curious, due to some arguing at AVS about older pre-2000 soundtracks that were not "near field" in the home versions as most/all of the newer releases are mastered to (using speakers typically 8' away and according to comments I read at another forum from an industry editing guy they also shrink the stereo imaging width due to small TVs being used at home with speakers to the sides instead of under/over or behind a screen, decrease dynamic range (because people don't want to listen at theater levels at home), increase the center channel level (because people can't hear dialog on cheap TVs) and set the volume levels with an assumed average level of 75dB (half as loud audibly as a theater). In other words, if you even TRY to listen at reference level (85dB/105dB) you will find it too loud since it's often compressed to sound 6-10dB louder for vocals relative to sound effect levels. There are some exceptions, I think typically from Paramount and of course, lately Disney is way worse....

That explains why The Matrix DTS Cinema version I have from the APT cinema disc has SFX levels like 6dB louder than the new Atmos version with dialog matched and that's one people DIDN'T complain about at all (sounds great they said!). Yeah, it's still not the theater soundtrack which would scare the crap out of you by comparison at the same dialog level.

In any case, the real argument came down to other pre-2000 soundtracks, especially the DTS/DD ones on laserdisc, which this other film forum (that is largely industry people and those that run small theaters) claim were taken with very few changes from the cinematic masters (they didn't start using "near field" mixes until around 1999/2000 as one guy claimed he thinks that "Seven" (Brad Pitt) was the first DVD with a near-field mix as it made a big deal about it or something on the platinum DVD release. In particular, I was told that Jurassic Park DTS on laserdisc had "ridiculously overcooked bass levels" and that the pitiful sounding early DVDs that had no bass on the LFE track were the correct ones. Yeah, I took issue with that.

So what I did was get my DTS Laserdisc out (oddly I have my lasderdisc player connected to my new system) and take some measurements with my sound meter with some key dialog bits in the first 10 minutes (A-weighted to keep bass out of the equation) and then those giant "thumps" at the start and bass in the soundtrack in that loading scene at the start and compare them to the DTS:X UHD Blu-Ray version. What I found was kind of shocking.

Despite all the years gone by and changes in near-field, etc., the overall average dialog levels matched at the same AVR settings! (within less than 2dB anyway) as did the BASS levels (again within 2dB on my meter) for those thwacks and even the soundtrack part. Some of the sound effects in the surround channels were different (7.1.4 versus 5.1), but overall, they sounded very similar levels for dialog and bass, anyway. The bass thwacks were very good sounding, but hardly Blade Runner 2049 levels of scare the crap out of you crazy.

My opinion remains unchanged. We are being increasingly shortchanged one some (not all) of the movie releases. According to the industry guy, "near field" is still a subjective process. After they finish the cinema soundtrack, the next day they bring in monitors at 8 feet away and adjust the soundtrack to sound as close to the big room cinema speakers (a/b switch) as they supposedly can....except that they increasingly are pushed to make it sound good on low denominator systems, I think (the guy didn't want to admit that, but they tricked him into more or less verifying that compromises are made for home system levels, distances, etc. as outlined above, not just the "near field" effect, which is just an "X-Curve" response of treble dropping over larger distances. That is why Home THX's "RE-EQ" setting was invented and "Reference" on Audyssey. It reduces the upper treble level on cinema soundtracks so that it sounds better near-field. The problem is they are now pre-baking that into the soundtracks, so the correct setting for post-2000 released and remastered soundtracks is supposedly FLAT. In practice, who knows. They can adjust anything they want by ear. Remasters are often done without the original team and supposedly that's why some newer soundtracks suck or have the really deep subsonic bass removed from them (got to make sure a sound bar doesn't blow a woofer!)

And yes, Jurassic Park DTS on Laserdisc still sounds awesome.....
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 in 3D/Atmos. Not much overhead material. The movie was OK, somewhat funny, mostly cute. 3D was decent.

I watched Biggles: Adventures in Time in Neural X. Utterly amazing how good a job Neural X did with just 2-channel stereo. Biplanes flew overhead, lots of surround , etc. Frankly, it was more impressive in some respects than the above.

I'm actually in the middle of Toy Story 4 3D/7.1 Neural X right now. Voices and thunderstorm overhead, etc. already. I think stuff made from Atmos upmixes back to Atmos-like very easily.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I wondered if the audio on the newer Flatliners movie was different with the Auro-3D version than Atmos (hard to compare every scene), but the opening with the voices on the ceiling seemed better on the Auro-3D version for some reason and despite comparing them several times, it was hard to tell because some of the voices were in the same spots and others seemed different. But then I tried it on my 4.1 system upstairs and of course the voices were at bed level instead, but there was a distinct difference in where the voices were placed with the Atmos downmixed 5.1 mix having voices distinctly in the surround speakers whereas the 5.1 Auro downmix combined them together and had voices floating in the middle of the room! (hard to tell unless you closed your eyes since you don't see anything). It was pretty freaky. I'd say they're definitely not from the same master mix in that case (supposedly most Auro-3D movies are just a conversion mix from the same Atmos master, but in some cases they did do a different mix like Johnny Mnemonic, but I didn't know which ones were different. It could have just been some tweaking, though....

Meanwhile, I just ordered Angry Birds 2 in 4K on UHD which is an Imax Enhanced title with DTS:X surround, but it comes with a digital code that gives the iTunes 4K version with Dolby Atmos so I'll be able to compare DTS:X to Atmos if desired. I'm also still waiting for Death Machine in Auro-3D to arrive from Germany.

I also just picked up John Wick 3 and the new Hellboy on iTunes on sale (both have Atmos).
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
DEATH MACHINE (1994) is here from Germany in Auro-3D.....

Got to watch it yet. :D
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Someone on AVS said it didn't work in Auro-3D. They must have something set wrong (D&M AVRs don't auto-select Auro-3D as DTS 5.1 or 7.1 is the base soundtrack and it defaults to that instead unless you are already in Auro-3D mode. But if the Auro-3D signal is present, it will say so in the INFO button pop-up under SIGNAL as Auro-3D/DTS-Master 5.1. If it's only DTS, it won't say Auro-3D there or light up the 11.1 speakers in the speaker diagram. I just tested it and it's 11.1 Auro-3D just fine in English baby! Immediately I got wind sounds from all around me. I've got to go watch it. I'll report back when I've watched it all (my disc cover photo)

Death Machine Auro3D.jpg
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I finished watching Death Machine in Auro-3D. The movie is essentially about a new lady taking over as CEO in a company that's secretly making front line terror weapons and she's trying to clean their act up while the mad scientist making the weapons is having none of that idea and yet falls in love with her so he's up for killing everyone but her to make the world his way. It feels absurd and yet if you throw reality out the window, it has its moments just the same. It's obviously a bit of a B-grade horror movie, but I can see why it's a bit of a cult classic at the same time. It definitely has some appeal to it in a sense that's hard to define. The acting could be better in many many places, but the effects and crazed pace at times gives it a very high class feel too. It creates suspense and an almost claustrophobic feel of terror and I think with better actors and dialog, it could have been something much bigger at least until I question why no bullets every snag any of those hydraulic hoses on the robot (it's near invincibility lent it a hard to believe factor and yet the almost animal-like stupidity of its AI compared to say a Terminator made it possible to evade despite all its tracking measures. The cyber-programmed human warrior bit was harder to believe and the guy yelling Arnold like commands wasn't well done...the bad acting thing again. Even Arnold portrayed a robot-like demeanor better. The CEO lady did better and the crazy bad guy was pretty believable as a nut job so it wasn't a total acting failure).

The new Auro-3D soundtrack seems to take the original Auro-3D philosophy into account (instead of a conversion of an Atmos track that sounds like Atmos 5.1.4). By that I mean the the entire soundfield is one giant continuous one rather than some arbitrary division of bed/height like most Atmos stuff tends to do (i.e. height stuff is overhead and bed stuff is below with some objects that fly between them sometimes). I'm not saying Atmos couldn't go "big" but it seems to go for pin-point most of the time rather than a giant wall of sound. The sound is so continuous in Auro-3D, that it's often hard to be sure if the heights are in use or it's just the impression they are from the stereo mix phase relationships or whatever. One push of my MUTE button for the AVR that powers the height channels answers that question (the entire sound field collapsed into the bottom third of the room; it was freaky to hear how much of the soundtrack was in the height channels and NOT in the bed channels (you could hear faint/muffled bits of some of the upper sounds but it's clear there IS a division and often far more was in the heights than the beds, but you'd never guess it with the overheads on as it just sounds like sounds come from anywhere and everywhere in the room WITH NO INDICATION OF SPEAKERS WHATSOEVER. It sounded like there was often far more in the heights than the beds. It was a giant 8 foot wall of sound in every direction.

There were plenty of moments of direct overhead sound, but they were often big sounds blending in with the rest of the field rather than "Oh there's the ceiling!" except in a few places like the thunder in the storm outside which were clearly all above. Most of the overhead action was to the sides and front creating the impression the entire wall was made of speakers as again, there was no direct indication of sounds from specific speakers save perhaps the dialog, except that I use dialog 'lift' and and so it comes from the center of the screen where there are no speakers. The closest exception I can think of is when the one guy is talking to the other guy from a monitor above him and the sound clearly came from the vicinity of the front right height speaker at the top of the screen to the right of it. Bass was plentiful and deep. Some of the sound effects were oddly muffled for what appeared to be effect rather than going for loud sounds (for example where the one guy breaks the glass on a door to get through it or where instead of loud sounds of grinding flesh and screams, it goes for a quiet effect of freaky music blaring with a muffled slow motion type effect.

If I had a complaint about the soundtrack, it would be I'd like more direct overhead sounds in the middle of the ceiling, but then this soundtrack was designed for 1994 so there were few parts where that would make sense and when it could have (e.g. in the elevator when the machine attacks), it came from the floor into the elevator, not from above and so the opportunity for overhead sound there was missed. But clearly it had tons of sounds in the heights to the sides and front. But if you closed your eyes, it seemed far more surreal with no visuals to make you realize no objects were actually in the middle of the room between you and the screen (similar things apply to height effects that are distinctly above; they're much more clear to tell where they're coming from when you're not hunting for invisible objects that your brain rejects as not existing and therefore diminishes the effect a bit or so at least it seemed.

But certainly this was an interesting "immersive" mix in that it did NOT sound like a typical Atmos or X soundtrack, but more like the Auro-3D demo of the tractor pass or Amsterdam street corner in that you don't realize there's anything coming from speakers until you cut off the top or bottom and the room divides in two. There are no speakers, just the sound field all around you.
 
HTfreak2004

HTfreak2004

Senior Audioholic
I haven’t made the leap and frankly don’t intend to.

I stay with channel based signal over object based. ;)
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I just watched IT Chapter 2 in Dolby Atmos 11.1.6 (12'x24' room with three rows of seats sitting center first row) and all I can say is if you want to hear an immersive Atmos movie, that is IT! Simply stunning use of surround. There are movies with more distinct moments of direct overhead use (there are several here just the same), but few movies I've heard have sounds moving in and around the main floor the theater (e.g. behind my head in the first row when there are two more sets of speakers behind that) and even a moment near the end with the deadlights when Pennywise screams there's this river of alien-esque sound floating through the air between heights and beds and snaked its way through the room like an invisible hologram. Now THAT was a great use of surround! My only complaint is that I would have liked a few more louder overhead moments spaced out over the different areas of the ceiling instead of just directly overhead. Some ambient bits could have been more effective louder, IMO (and I had the system playing back at Audyssey calibrated +3dB ABOVE reference so they were quite apparent in quiet moments, but would be hard to distinguish some of the quieter bits at lower volumes, IMO. Overall, I don't think I've heard anything at the Cinema that comes within 10% of this experience (then again, I don't have an Atmos theater near me and not all Atmos movies are as immersive at this one).

The best example of sounds that are distinctly and totally just all over the ceiling, IMO so far is the opening title sequence of the newer FLATLINERS movie, both in Atmos, but even more so in Auro-3D. Voices just come from everywhere imaginable overhead and you can tell that your brain's ability to focus on sounds in front of you rather than behind you at work there as they sound larger and less distinct behind you overhead than when it's above you or to the sides overhead or in front of you overhead. I'd conclude if I had to choose only four overhead speakers, front and middle overhead would be more effective than front/back in a room that wouldn't support strong phantom imaging behind you. Of course, with six, you don't have to choose.

(Oh and the movie itself was quite good too, IMO, especially for a Stephen King movie, which usually don't translate well. I think this and the first chapter tops the charts, really for an effective translation. Almost three hours passed very quickly. The first movie is also excellent and has pretty darn good Atmos sound too).
 

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