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What To Know About IMAX Enhanced

An early explainer on the new A/V technology

After more than a generation of home theater being a thing, two companies — IMAX and DTS — have combined to create the first single certification for both home theater video and audio gear called IMAX Enhanced.

According to the two companies, “[t]he new certification and licensing program combines the highest-end consumer electronics products with IMAX digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies to offer consumers a new level of quality in immersive sight and sound experiences for the home.”

Initial IMAX Enhanced A/V gear — five Sony OLED and LCD flat screen TVs, nine Sony projectors, three Denon AVRs and five Marantz AVRs — have already been announced, most due to hit retailers in October. Currently available AVRs will receive firmware updates next month to be fully compliant with the new IMAX Enhanced specifications. IMAX Enhanced certified soundbars are expected, but home theater speaker systems are so far not eligible for certification.

However, while IMAX is partnered with all of the major Hollywood studios, no IMAX Enhanced titles have been announced, and there is no estimation of when or how many IMAX Enhanced titles will be available. IMAX Enhanced content will not be distributed for ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

A/V devices can be certified for IMAX Enhanced within a week, according to a spokesperson. DTS uses its own certification process for audio products and independent IMAX-authorized test centers for video. Current and new devices can be firmware updated to meet IMAX Enhanced standards.

Video hardware IMAX Enhanced requirements include a minimum of a 65-inch display with support for HDR10 and HDR10+ or other HDR dynamic, as well as specific calibration, resolution, color, brightness, contrast, scale of image and sound capabilities.

On the audio side, the IMAX Enhanced specification supports both 5.1 and 11.1 formats using a special variant of the DTS:X codec, but the recommended speaker layout for an IMAX Enhanced system is 7.2.4 with seven horizontal speakers, two subwoofers and four height speakers; 5.1.4 is the minimum layout for IMAX Enhanced A/V receivers and processors. 

See also: The Most Exciting/Vague Announcement At CEDIA Expo

While the IMAX Enhanced program does not currently include specific speaker performance criteria, a minimum of 20Hz – 20kHz be reproduced with a minimum sensitivity of 89db and frequency response down to 70Hz is recommended.

Sound United, the parent company of Denon and Marantz, is providing sales and demonstration training to retailers to demo IMAX Enhanced once all the pieces of the ecosystem — displays, AVRs and content — are available.

Content certification — both UHD Blu-rays and streaming 4K HDR material of both new and catalog titles — involves a new enhanced version of content using IMAX’s digital re-mastering process to remove unwanted grain and noise. While most films are currently finished in P3 color space, IMAX has the capability to master in full Rec2020.

IMAX and DTS also will partner with Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of its DTS:X codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an IMAX signature sound experience. Select IMAX Enhanced titles shot with IMAX cameras or specially formatted for IMAX theatres will also include an expanded aspect ratio for the film’s home release to show consumers more picture on their TV.