The Sound of the Colosseum: QSC brings Dolby Atmos to the entire Caesars Palace theatre

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Technology

Converting the Colosseum at Caesars Palace into “the world’s largest movie theatre” has always been a big job; this year, according to Mark Mayfield, director of global cinema marketing at QSC, the job was even more “colossal.”

Why? “Because this year,” Mayfield elaborates, “for the first time, we’re delivering Dolby Atmos sound to the entire Colosseum, including the second mezzanine—which adds about 800 seats. We are taking the Atmos overhead speakers and moving them up another 50 feet so they will trim at about 90 feet to keep them out of the second mezzanine sightline. In order to maintain the proper Atmos specifications, the new design incorporates QSC WideLine 10 loudspeakers.” 

Working with Boston Light & Sound, Dolby and installers from Caesars, QSC’s Jon Graves and his team are using more speakers than they’ve ever put up before—and a type of loudspeaker that’s not normally used in movie theatres. To maintain Atmos specifications, QSC had to add new amps and speakers, and re-engineer the entire network.

Altogether, the system uses 39 WideLine-10 line-array speakers and nine double 18 subwoofers for the screen channels. Twenty-four WideLine-8’s and eight WideLine double 12 subwoofers make up the rear surrounds. The Atmos overhead speakers use 32 WideLine-10 loudspeaker arrays with custom-made yokes from Adaptive Technologies. The Atmos experience in the first balcony is handled by an additional 32 SR 1030 surround speakers.

The result is the biggest Dolby Atmos sound rig ever installed. “Every loudspeaker has its own amplifier channel and could conceivably get separate sound, so we have routing of up to 64 different channels—this system is using 44,” Mayfield adds. “And the only way to accomplish what needs to be done in the Colosseum this year is through our Q-SYS™ platform.”

Q-SYS is basically a very powerful computer on an Intel platform; it can handle complex routing, do all the DSP audio signal processing, and monitor the status of every loudspeaker in the system. “This year, we’re using 48 amplifiers—so in the unlikely event that any channel goes down, Q-SYS will tell us which amp and which channel—and we can go in and fix the problem.” 

As an added challenge, “multiple studios are showing their product,” Mayfield says, “and each has its own sound and image expert—who may want to adjust the audio for their particular reel. Fortunately, Q-SYS has a virtually unlimited number of pre-sets, so we can tweak each movie to the way they want to hear it. And then, for each show, it’s basically just a button-push to get to their preferred configuration.”

Total amplifier power for the entire system exceeds one million watts. “That,” concludes Mayfield, “is the biggest ever.”