Senior HTF Member
- Jan 2, 2000
- Real Name
- Josh Dial
But, if I’m wrong, PLEASE TELL ME because I’d LOVE TO KNOW… I haven’t found another solution (other than the Monolith HTP-1).
You are sort of wrong (and certainly wrong to say even if your AVR has wide capabilty it will not engage them).
There are a lot of factors here.
Atmos and DTS:X both take an existing "bed" layer and add either additional audio channels or discrete objects and play those additional channels or objects through height speakers.
The additional audio can be channels or tracks. Let's assume you are watching a movie. The film's creatives may have decided to use the height channels to play ambient music to reinforce the aesthetic of the scene. Maybe the scene takes place in a loud dance club so pushing the music through the heights make it sound all around you. In that example the heights are used for channels.
The additional audio can also be for objects. Maybe later in the same movie example the action moves from inside the dance club to outside and there is a helicopter flying around. The creatives can stop pushing the music through your heights as channels (maybe the music is gone or only plays in your surrounds) and instead push object-based audio information through your heights. The helicopter will move from height speaker to height speaker or even around all your speakers. In any event, the height speakers are being used to place an object.
It's a tad more complicated than that but it should suffice for our purposes.
The bed layer contains up to 7 channels plus the LFE (again, this is for home releases only, not theatres). In other words, Atmos and DTS:X are built upon a 7.1 bed layer.
Front wide speakers can be added to a 7.1 system to make a 9.1 system. However--and this is important--the extra 2 channels may not be discrete channels. In 5.1 and 7.1 each channel contains discrete audio (or, at least, it can). In 9.1 what goes to those extra 2 channels depends on your processor. If your processor can do Atmos or DTS:X then those 2 front wide speakers are fed either 2 front wide channels or objects. They are discrete. If your processor cannot do Atmos or DTS:X but otherwise supports front wide speakers, then those 2 speakers will be fed matrixed information from your front and centre channels with a bit of reverb added in.
Ultimately it's probably more useful to think of front wide channels as being extra speakers like your height speakers in which the creatives can place channels and objects.
But it's up to the source media to use the additional channels.
In the end, what you can play depends on a number of factors:
- The audio track. If the source isn't using speakers well or at all then there's nothing you can do (except maybe use upsampling like Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural X to force audio into all your speakers).
- Your processor. If you can process 15 discrete channels, then you will absolutely be able to play 9.x.6 tracks, subject to your ability to amplify those channels.
- Your amplification. You obviously need to be able to amplify your channels. If you can decode 15 channels but only amplify 11, you are stuck with 7.x.4 or 9.x.2.