Immersed in the Action: 3D audio systems continue to evolve

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Technology

Immersive sound (aka 3D sound) is one of the new enhancements gaining traction in premium theatre auditoriums (and home theatres too). These surround-sound formats incorporate height speakers and additional points of sound to augment the movie theatre listening experience and help immerse the audience in the action onscreen. Here are the latest stats and developments for the four companies currently getting in on the aural action.

Dolby Atmos

More than 1,000 screens worldwide have been installed or are committed to be equipped with Dolby Atmos®. The total number of announced Dolby Atmos movie titles is now more than 275, encompassing all the major studios.

Recent Dolby Atmos releases include Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, San Andreas, Spy, Minions, Terminator: Genisys, Ant-Man, Pixels and Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation. Coming up are these titles:

Everest (Universal) Sept. 18, 2015

Pan(Warner Bros.), Oct. 9, 2015

The 33 (Warner Bros.), Nov. 13, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 (Lionsgate), Nov. 20, 2015

Monster Trucks (Paramount), March 18, 2015

The Jungle Book (Disney),April 15, 2016

Dolby recently announced that PVR Ltd., the largest multiplex chain in India, will be installing Dolby Atmos in 50 of its screens across the country. PVR currently has two Dolby Atmos locations.

Dolby Atmos is a key component of Dolby Vision, Dolby’s new initiative combining Dolby Vision™ laser projection, Dolby Atmos 3D sound, and innovative auditorium design. AMC Theatres has opened four Dolby Cinema locations and expects to have 50 operating by December 2018.

Auro 11.1

Barco’s Auro 11.1 system has more than 550 screens committed or installed, and more than 100 films have been mixed in Auro 11.1. Recent titles include Minions and Pixels.

Upcoming releases in Auro 11.1 include Everest (Universal), Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (20th Century Fox) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 (Lionsgate). In addition, many Indian film productions are mixed in the Auro 11.1 format. More than 35 leading post-production studios have installed the Auro-3D® Studio System.

At CinemaCon 2015 in April, Barco introduced AuroMax®, a system that incorporates support for the placement of “objects” in any immersive mix and advanced rendering technology from Iosono.


DTS:X

DTS introduced its new immersive DTS:X format at CinemaCon 2015 in April, equipping the Brenden Theater at Las Vegas’ Palm Hotel. While Dolby Atmos and Auro have generally been installed in premium auditoriums, DTS says it can accommodate smaller rooms with the installation of just a few additional speakers and a compatible server. To spearhead DTS:X adoption, GDC Technology has been appointed a worldwide DTS:X certification service agent with an exclusive appointment in the Asia-Pacific region, where it is expected most of the DTS:X cinema installations will first appear. In order to deliver a DTS:X sound mix to a theatre, it must be offered in DTS’ MDA (multi-dimensional audio) format, which DTS says is available for use license-free.

Quantum Logic

Another new entrant in the 3D sound arena is veteran audiovisual and automotive company Harman, whose brands include Lexicon and JBL. At CinemaCon, Harman’s Lexicon division introduced the QLI-32 Quantum Logic Immersion cinema processor, designed to deliver up to 32 channels of surround sound in professional cinema applications.

As Dan Saenz, Harman Professional’s business segment manager for installed and cinema sound, explained in our June issue, “The Lexicon QLI-32 uses exclusive signal-processing techniques to actively analyze the acoustical information in the audio mix and recreate a full three-dimensional sonic environment with width, depth and height by identifying and positioning objects in the sound field–all without adding elements to the original mix. Because the QLI-32 works with existing audio systems, installation costs are reduced and any stereo or multi-channel content can be made immersive.” Quantum Logic installations use side speakers for height effects, rather than ceiling-mounted speakers.

Harman has just begun shipping the units and expects to have installations up and running in the U.S., India, China, Thailand, Korea, the U.K. and Germany by the end of September.