Dolby Atmos To Dominate Home-Theater Demos

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DENVER — The sound of the next big thing in surround sound will echo off the walls of the Denver convention center, where many dealers will get their first chance to experience Dolby Atmos surround sound in a controlled home theater setting.

Dealers and suppliers will also be waiting word of the first Atmos-encoded Blu-ray discs, which Dolby has promised would be available in the fall.

Atmos promises significant improvements in home theater surround sound, enabling movie makers to precisely place and move multiple individual sounds in three-dimensional space, including above listeners’ heads, at any given time.

Because each sound is reproduced clearly and distinctly, Atmos delivers a more life-like experience, Dolby said. Sounds also pan more smoothly around you, and the surround experience is improved no matter where you sit.

To achieve those goals, sound studios attach specific X, Y, and Z coordinates to each sound, or object, to describe that sound’s location anywhere in a 360-degree space around the listener at any given time.

New A/V receivers incorporating Atmos decoding will be displayed by Integra, Pioneer, Yamaha, Denon, Marantz and possibly Sony. For its part, Steinway Lyngdorf will show what it says is the first and only surround processor to feature both Dolby Atmos audio-object decoding and Auro-3D channel-based decoding. Auro 3D developer Auro Technologies will show two AVRs with Auro 3D decoding.

In Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, Pioneer is demonstrating left-right and surround speakers with a top-firing Atmos driver that bounces height information off the ceiling to place sounds above listeners. Definitive Technology and Atlantic Technology are showing a-height-speaker module that sits atop existing speakers. And Triad will unveil a trio of Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers that incorporate a dedicated height driver.

Here’s what dealers will hear or see at the show:

Atlantic Technology: The company plans fourth-quarter shipments of its first Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker.

The $499/pair 44-DA is a compact height-speaker module that fits on top of Atlantic’s THX-certified 4400 LR speakers.

Because of its compact size, it can be placed on top of other speakers or used as a standalone elevation speaker, the company added. The speaker measures 5.5 by 8.4 by 9.5 inches.

The 44-DA features 5.25-inch woofer and 1-inch silk-dome tweeter mounted on top of the module in a concentric driver array at a precise angle to optimize height effects.

The speaker delivers a “controlled acoustic scatter” to broaden the sweet spot of the sound reflected off the ceiling, the company said. The configuration allows for greater placement flexibility in a room, the company added. Standalone modules can be placed around the room for increased dimensional effect.

Definitive Technology: The company is showing the A60 Elevation speaker module for its existing BP- 8060ST floor-standing tower speaker.

The module, shipping at $499/pair, operates as a dedicated Atmos-enabled “height speaker” that reflects sound off a ceiling to project sound effects above listeners. The A60 can be placed on top of the BP8060 towers and connected by speaker wire to an A/V receiver or preamp processor equipped with Dolby Atmos decoder. A wire-management guide holds the speaker wire tight against the back of the tower, the company said.

Denon: The brand’s first two Atmos-equipped AVRs are the 7.2-channel $1,399 AVR-X4100W and 9.2-channel $1,999 AVR-X5200W. Both are shipping.

Denon’s $1,399 model supports an Atmos 5.1.2 speaker configuration out of the box, but a two-channel amplifier can be connected to drive 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 speaker configurations. The $1,999 model supports 5.1.2, 5.1.4, and 7.1.2 configurations out of the box, but with an add-on two-channel amp, it will drive 7.1.4 or 9.1.2 Dolby Atmos configurations. They feature HDMI 2.0 but not HDCP 2.2.

GoldenEar: The company is promoting its Invisa series of architectural speakers as delivering the best height effects for Dolby Atmos home theaters.

In its demonstration of an Atmos theater, the company will use four in-ceiling Invisa HTR 7000 speakers matched with two of the company’s recently shipped Triton One flagship floorstanding speakers as front left-right speakers. The system will also include a SuperCenter XL for the center channel and two Triton Twos for the left-right surrounds. The Triton One and Two speakers incorporate built-in powered subwoofers.

Integra: The brand is showing its showing a trio of A/V receivers and a preamp/surround processor equipped with Dolby Atmos surround decoding.

The new AVRs are the $1,700-suggested DTR-50.6, $2,300 DTR-60.6, and $2,800 DTR-70.6. The new preamp/surround processor is the $3,200 DHC-80.6. All feature THX certification and HDMI 2.0 inputs and outputs for 4K/60Hz video passthrough. All also incorporate HDCP 2.2 copy protection over HDMI.

Two other Integra AVRs — the $1,000 DTR-30.6 and $1,300 DTR-40 — were launched earlier this year and were the first Integra AVRs to ship with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2.

The pre-pro and the top two AVRs will be available in October with on-board Dolby Atmos. The $1,700 DTR-50.6 AVR currently lacks Atmos but will get an Atmos firmware upgrade in September. That AVR is shipping.

The previously announced $1,000 DTR-30.6 and $1,300 DTR-40.6 AVRs also get an Atmos firmware upgrade in September.

All four new models also feature HDBaseT, expanding the technology to six components from two.

All four components decode high-definition music files in FLAC, DSD, ALAC, HD 24/96 and HD 24/192 formats. They also stream Internet radio stations, Spotify, Pandora, SlackerTM, Tune In and SiriusXM Internet Radio.

All also feature proprietary AccuEQ room calibration, Qdeo technology by Marvell to up-scale video to 1080p and to 4K, and selectable ISF video calibration.

Marantz: The brand will show the Atmos-equipped $1.999-suggested SR7009 AVR and the $1,999 AV7702 preamp/processor, which will appear in a 7.2.4 demo. The Marantz models ship in September.

The 9x125-watt SR7009 AVR delivers Atmos 11-channel processing (5.1.4 and 7.1.4) with the addition of an amplifier. It also features Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, eight HDMI 2.0 inputs, three HDMI 2.0 outputs, passthrough of 4K/60Hz and 4:4:4 pure color, 4K/60Hz video scaling, AirPlay, DLNA 1.5, Windows 8 certification, and high-resolution gapless playback via USB and network. They also feature Control4 SDDP certification, Crestron Connected technology, and ISF certification.

The AV7702 preamp/processor offers the same key features as the AVR, excluding amplification but including Dolby Atmos 11-channel processing.

Both feature HDMI 2.0 but not HDCP 2.2.

Pioneer: Five new Elite-series audio/video receivers unveiled by Pioneer include the company’s first three Dolby Atmos-ready models, whose soundfields can be reproduced by the company’s first Atmos-enabled home-theater speaker system.

The $1,600-everyday SC- 85, $2,000 SC-87, and $3,000 SC-89 AVRs will get a firmware upgrade to add Dolby Atmos decoding. The other two AVRs, which won’t be upgradable to Atmos, are the $1,000 SC-81 and $1,300 SC-82 AVRs.

To go with the Atmos AVRs, the Atmos-enabled 5.1 speaker system delivers a 5.1.4-channel Atmos soundfield. The products include a $749-everyday bookshelf pair and a $699-each tower speaker. All incorporate a height driver on top, angled up, crossed over at a Dolby-specified frequency, and driven by its own amplifier channel to place individual sounds overhead sounds by reflecting them off a ceiling.

The three Atmos AVRs are nine-channel models that drive two or four in-room height drivers in the new Elite speakers or two or four in-ceiling speakers.

All AVRs are the first in the Elite series to offer HDMI 2.0. None features HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

All Atmos receivers and speakers are shipping.

Sony: New ES-series A/V receivers will be Sony’s first AVRs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection on HDMI 2.0 outputs. The new AVRs will also offer more custom- installation features than before. It wasn’t certain at press time whether the AVRs would feature Dolby Atmos. Details were unavailable.

Steinway Lyngdorf: The $18,000 P200 surround processor is promoted as the first and only surround processor to feature both Dolby Atmos audio-object decoding and Auro 3D channel-based decoding. It also features HDMI switching, 4K passthrough and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. It also has RoomPerfect room-acoustics correction and digital signal processing that keeps the audio signal completely in the digital domain.

The P200 ships in early 2015 and of handles up to 16 native channels and up to 256 output channels.

Triad Speakers: Triad is launching a trio of Dolby Atmos-enabled front speakers that incorporate dedicated height drivers angled up to bounce height-channel information off the ceiling, placing sounds above listeners. The three speakers, each at a suggested $1,000 each, are the in-room Bronze, an in-wall speaker, and an on-wall speaker.

Each features a D’Appolito driver array with two front-firing woofers and a tweeter, plus the separate height drivers.

Yamaha: The company will demonstrate 11.2-channel Dolby Atmos via its $2,199-suggested 9.2-channel Aventage RX-A3040 network A/V receiver and Aventage MX-A5000 11.2-channel amplifier. The company’s recently announced $1,699-suggested RX-A2040 AVR with Atmos will also be displayed along with the recently announced 7.2-channel RX-A1040, RX-A840 and RX-A740 Aventage AVRs at $1,199, $899 and $699, respectively.

All are the first Aventage models with HDMI 2.0 to support 64 fps 4K Ultra HD passthrough, and all are the series’ first AVRs with built-in Wi-Fi.

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