What is Dolby Atmos?

(7 Aug 2015)

What is it about the experience of going to the cinema that pulls us back with every new film release? If it's seeing a blockbuster on a high resolution screen that's as wide as your field of vision, with sound that envelops you and absorbs you completely, how brilliant would it be to be able to walk into your living room and have that same cinema experience at home?

Dolby Atmos has done just that, paving the way to the ultimate home cinema experience. Surround sound systems are usually either 5.1 or 7.1. 5.1 is a six channel surround sound set up, using five full bandwidth channels and a low frequency effects channel. 7.1 is the step up from that and both allow sounds and effects from a film to move across these channels. Think of sitting in a circle of speakers and watching a film; sounds from an action sequence can seemingly move around you, but only within the ring, as film makers have to create a soundtrack which moves between speakers. These webs of sound cannot precisely match screen directions and are heard as a uniform whole, rather than individually as part of a richer, more realistic experience.

Hailed as the "the most significant development in cinema audio since surround sound", Dolby have created the first cinematic audio format in which sounds exist as individual entities, or 'audio objects'. This means that audio mixers can place individual and independent audio objects or sounds, now without channel restrictions, precisely anywhere within a 3-Dimensional space. In this case, every noise, sound and effect from the original cinema mix can be specifically placed within the 3D space of your home cinema. This produces a sweeping, flowing audio experience. Next, these sounds are now not just pushed towards the audience, but can utilise the acoustics of the room through specifically engineered upward-firing and overhead speakers.

Once installed within a cinema room, the Dolby Atmos system requires the space to be mapped out in order to create a bespoke, 3-D audio landscape. The speakers then receive a complete calibration to allow sound mixers to 'place' sounds and voices at exact points within the room; from specific speakers or between them. This means that when watching a film, the soundtrack can be reproduced in a way that is unique to the room, making the very best of your space and investment.

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Philharmonic AV design and install home cinemas for luxury homes in London, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and surrounding areas.

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