By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Less than a year after it was introduced in top movie palaces, Dolby has announced that home theater systems will be getting the Atmos treatment by fall. The hyper immersive surround sound system which takes films like Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit, Gravity, Transformers, and the upcoming Christopher Nolan film Interstellar, and turns them up to 11, will offer not only incredible home theater sound, but with over 100 titles already released into home theaters, it won’t be long before home theater fans will wonder why they ever need to leave the house. But even more, as Atmos is also coming to your mobile device!
“Height is an important part of Atmos, so we adapted that experience so that the consumer can get that in the living room or on a mobile device,” – Brett Crockett, Dolby Director of Sound Research
The big challenge for Atmos in the home is obviously that most houses have relatively low ceilings (about 7-8 feet). Atmos shines in spaces 4-5 times that. But has a way around that by re-rendering the signal for home receivers that add a height component to the digital sound file, that will give home theater A/V receivers the ability to mimic sounds coming from a virtual height.
“For the home theater environment we’ve put together a renderer in home receivers that renders to a height plane,” says Brett Crocket of Dolby. “Using the ceiling, we create reflected sound that sounds like overheads.”
Crocket goes on to say, “To test and optimize that technology for our partners, we have built our own home audio prototypes in a wide variety of form factors — from high end set-ups involving ceiling speakers and Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers for the most sophisticated home theatre enthusiasts, to more streamlined Home-Theatres-In-A-Box and soundbars. We’ve shown these working prototypes to our consumer electronics, mobile device, and home audio partners, and have been pleased with their response.”
Crockett also says that Dolby is has also partnered with manufacturers to develop Atmos-certified speakers and receivers. They include most of the heavy hitters like Denon, Integra, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, Steinway Lyngdorf, and Yamaha. Andrew Jones is designing Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers for Pioneer. Onkyo is also creating a high-end Atomos Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) which will include speakers, receivers, and Atomos-powered Blu-ray players.
But what’s really shocking to me is that Dolby is also putting out Atmos-enabled sound for future mobile deivces. Using virtual technology, and I’m presuming it’s through an Atmos app, Dolby will be able to play back movie soundtracks and 3D sound with virtual height on a mobile phone or tablet through Atmos-certified headphones. Man! Wouldn’t it be cool if this announcement is the opening salvo of the iPhone 6, with Dolby providing Atmos certification for Beats headphones when the next generation device is announced next month? I’m not saying it is, but I sure as heck hope so, because it wouldn’t hurt for Apple to have an edge, and that would certainly be it.
Lastly, Crocket mentioned that Dolby is also working on a new initiative which will bring greater dynamic range to the television. Dubbed Dolby Vision, the new format will make colors even bolder and provide greater range between light and dark images that are reproduced in an ultra high definition 4K display. And while Atmos home theater and mobile devices should be showing up by the holiday shopping season, I wouldn’t look for Dolby Vision until 2015.
To read more about it, check out Dolby’s Blogpost here.
Hat Tip – THR