Is Dolby Atmos & DTS-X the last format consumers will support?

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While this could apply to both disc and streaming formats let’s try not to concern ourselves with the delivery format but the audio format and the number of channels delivered by the audio format. We have come such a long way on the audio side and many of us have been in this hobby since the beginning. We went from movies in stereo to Dolby Pro Logic to the next big step of Dolby Digital and DTS. We then went to lossless audio formats like DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD that took us from discrete 5.1 to discrete 7.1 audio. And how we have immersive audio which gives us combinations of 7 (5.1.2), 9 (5.1.4 or 7.1.2), 11 (7.1.4) or in higher end systems 13 channels (7.1.6).

In many consumers home there is the wife acceptance factor that keeps out basic 5.1 and 7.1 surround set ups. Then there is also the reluctance to have more than 7 speakers in a living room, den or dedicated theater room. While dedicated theater rooms are more likely to have speaker configurations of 7 channels to 11 channels of sound supporting all available surround formats. Let’s face it the many average consumers are not supporting 7 channel surround and immersive audio even if they are buying discs or digital movies that offer those number of channels. We are living in what I call the golden age of home theater as we have access to the quality we never had access to before. But at the same time there comes a point where people will not keep stuffing more and more speakers in there rooms dedicated or not. And where consumers do not see the benefit of trying to stuff more speakers in small rooms or can not because they rent an apartment.

What could the industry possibly offer beyond the current audio codex’s that the consumer would adopt? Do we even need anything beyond 7.1.4 or even 7.1.6 or even considering running multiple subwoofers? So our current number of overall channels with widely available hardware is 11 – 13 channels which most hardware only offering 11 channels! This doesn’t even include Emotiva’s new pre/pro monster offer 16 channels with future upgradability to 28 channels! And Denon is offering a flagship product that offers 13 channels. At this rate the only other place to put speakers would be the floor but I do not see that being very feasible. So is Dolby Atmos and DTS-X the last of the new surround codex and is the only thing they can do is increase bit rate on future formats? Many of us lived with basic two channel stereo for many years before the explosion of channels began. I feel there is nothing more to be offered that will make people want to place more and more speakers in the listening environment.

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  1. I'm just glad these exist when the market seems to be dumbing itself down, pushing soundbars of all things! I've had standard Dolby Surround since 1989, haven't watched anything at home with less than that since then!

  2. Robert Crawford

    It's the last audio format this consumer is going to support as I'm close to being a senior citizen.

    I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

  3. Josh Steinberg

    I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

    Make way for The Next Big Thing! Sensual Surround. So we all need to get bigger and better (and more???) sub-woofers. The APOCALYPSE NOW FINAL CUT 4K bluray release includes the 'Meyer Sound' and 'Sensual Surround' logos along with those of 'Dolby Atmos' and 'Dolby Vision'.

    About the APOCALYPSE NOW FINAL CUT in theaters—

    "The film’s original release garnered universal acclaim for its soundtrack, with the team headed by film sound innovator Walter Murch receiving the Academy Award for Best Sound Design. However, despite their groundbreaking efforts, the technical limitations of the day thwarted attempts to effectively emulate the powerful force of the sounds of modern warfare.

    “There were no films at the time with that kind of infrasonic, ultra-low frequency impact,” said Meyer Sound president and CEO John Meyer, who had founded his company only months before the film’s first release. “You had to get those frequencies on the soundtrack first, and then you had to reproduce them with loudspeakers. None of that was happening in 1979. But what we have in this new version with Sensual Sound is deeper and more powerful because the technology has vastly improved. This really is a breakthrough.”

    "Sensual Sound is implemented in both the post-production of the soundtrack and in the film’s exhibition using Meyer Sound’s VLFC very low frequency control element. Unlike conventional subwoofers that roll off at the threshold of hearing (about 20Hz), the VLFC bridges across this threshold to deliver infrasonic response down to 13 Hz. All very low frequency sounds are bolstered by a corporeal sensation of physical force.

    “When you sense those extreme low frequency sounds, immediately hormones are secreted into your bloodstream that tell you ‘get the hell out of here fast’ or ‘freeze and play dead,’” explained Coppola. “When you see the B-52 strikes in this new version, you feel them and then you hear them. It’s the difference between just hearing something and being inside a room that’s shaking. You get scared when the room is shaking.”

  4. I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

    I agree not sure there is anything else audio wise they can market to us! Other than more and more channels requiring more speakers and more channels of amplification.

    Then there is always environmental audio where when it is hot onscreen it is hot in your room or freezing cold or rain hitting you in the face. Or smell o vision audio, ROFL!!!! 😮

  5. Dave Moritz

    I agree not sure there is anything else audio wise they can market to us! Other than more and more channels requiring more speakers and more channels of amplification.

    But even then – I don’t think they’d need a new format. While home Atmos is limited to 7.2.4, theatrical Atmos can support pretty much unlimited channels. So if anything, they might upgrade home Atmos to match the capabilities of its theatrical sibling – but I wouldn’t really consider that a new format.

  6. I've never had an interest in Dolby Atmos. It wouldn't matter if I did because running 35mm film through the processors I don't have an input for anymore channels. I would have to purchase a Dolby 750 or 850 and I'm just not going to spend that amount of money for a few extra speakers. I'm happy with my 5.1 Dolby Digital, SDDS, DTS and SRD EX. I'm done with expanding!!

  7. Due to living in a one bedroom apartment, I've opted for a 5.1 soundbar that works quite nicely. Especially since a large chunk of my collection are mono or plain stereo/stereo surround. If I had an actual home theater room (and didn't have to worry about disturbing other tenants), I'd probably go for a full Dolby Atmos setup.

    Though, by my count, I only own 30 releases with Dolby/DTS 7.1, Dolby Atmos, or DTS X (five of which are unnecessary remixes of pre-1950s monaural tracks).

    JohnRice

    Smellovision

    Carl Stalling says it'll never work.

  8. DFurr

    I've never had an interest in Dolby Atmos. It wouldn't matter if I did because running 35mm film through the processors I don't have an input for anymore channels. I would have to purchase a Dolby 750 or 850 and I'm just not going to spend that amount of money for a few extra speakers. I'm happy with my 5.1 Dolby Digital, SDDS, DTS and SRD EX. I'm done with expanding!!

    Sparky, who has Atmos, says I don't need it. My setup gives a nice impression of height.

  9. Josh Steinberg

    But even then – I don’t think they’d need a new format. While home Atmos is limited to 7.2.4, theatrical Atmos can support pretty much unlimited channels. So if anything, they might upgrade home Atmos to match the capabilities of its theatrical sibling – but I wouldn’t really consider that a new format.

    The main thing is that most people don't have ginormous viewing rooms. Even having 7.1 is gonna be unnecessary for lots of people because there's not the space in the room to make those two "middle speakers" useful.

    I imagine the # of people who've gone with any form of Atmos is minor, and the more speakers involved, the fewer willing to do it.

    As implied earlier, most people seem happy with sound bars. They're not gonna load up 12+ speakers in their TV rooms!

  10. I have what was “top of the line” once down in our basement TV room, where we retire about 8:00 every night. Here we watch mostly TV shows off cable and I watch a 3D movie when my wife is out with the girls.

    Most of our casual day to day viewing however occurs in the main floor living room on a 45” TV which has a sound bar. I find the experience here very satisfactory. I play everything from old TV show sets to the latest blockbuster with commentary. Sometimes I hear about the wonderful sound a particular disc has, and after viewing it upstairs, I take it to the better system in the basement and sample it, but a sample is enough.

    Sound was once all important to me and I had the typical apartment with the ultra expensive “Stereo” and no furniture, when I was single. Now for some reason, if it is clear and I can hear the dialogue that is enough.

    Don’t you find the latest generation isn’t even bothered with Stereo let alone Atmos? All the Bluetooth speakers are mono. Were certainly not Millennials, but I just installed Google Home minis all over the house and although the give clear loud sound, they of course are one channel.

  11. Mark McSherry

    Make way for The Next Big Thing! Sensual Surround. So we all need to get bigger and better (and more???) sub-woofers. The APOCALYPSE NOW FINAL CUT 4K bluray release includes the 'Meyer Sound' and 'Sensual Surround' logos along with those of 'Dolby Atmos' and 'Dolby Vision'.

    About the APOCALYPSE NOW FINAL CUT in theaters—

    "The film’s original release garnered universal acclaim for its soundtrack, with the team headed by film sound innovator Walter Murch receiving the Academy Award for Best Sound Design. However, despite their groundbreaking efforts, the technical limitations of the day thwarted attempts to effectively emulate the powerful force of the sounds of modern warfare.

    “There were no films at the time with that kind of infrasonic, ultra-low frequency impact,” said Meyer Sound president and CEO John Meyer, who had founded his company only months before the film’s first release. “You had to get those frequencies on the soundtrack first, and then you had to reproduce them with loudspeakers. None of that was happening in 1979. But what we have in this new version with Sensual Sound is deeper and more powerful because the technology has vastly improved. This really is a breakthrough.”

    "Sensual Sound is implemented in both the post-production of the soundtrack and in the film’s exhibition using Meyer Sound’s VLFC very low frequency control element. Unlike conventional subwoofers that roll off at the threshold of hearing (about 20Hz), the VLFC bridges across this threshold to deliver infrasonic response down to 13 Hz. All very low frequency sounds are bolstered by a corporeal sensation of physical force.

    “When you sense those extreme low frequency sounds, immediately hormones are secreted into your bloodstream that tell you ‘get the hell out of here fast’ or ‘freeze and play dead,’” explained Coppola. “When you see the B-52 strikes in this new version, you feel them and then you hear them. It’s the difference between just hearing something and being inside a room that’s shaking. You get scared when the room is shaking.”

    Two thoughts come to mind when I read this:
    1. This is warmed over Sensurround; and
    2. Sensual Sound sounds like a surround system engineered for "adult" movies, with extra "boom-chick-a-wow-wow". 😉

  12. RobertR

    Sparky, who has Atmos, says I don't need it. My setup gives a nice impression of height.

    That's good advice from Sparky Robert. My surround speakers are all the way up to the ceiling height so I'm very happy with the way it sounds. I don't need Atmos.

  13. DFurr

    That's good advice from Sparky Robert. My surround speakers are all the way up to the ceiling height so I'm very happy with the way it sounds. I don't need Atmos.

    That's what I thought until I heard it. I'm not saying it's for everyone but, properly implemented, it is pretty awesome.

    Josh Steinberg

    I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

    Vaporware, of course. 🙂 IMAX Enhanced comes to mind. No extra speakers required but no one to my knowledge has given a concise answer as to what it actually does.

  14. John Dirk

    That's what I thought until I heard it. I'm not saying it's for everyone but, properly implemented, it is pretty awesome.

    John if I was only using my system for Blu Rays I actually might have considered doing Atmos but my existing processing equipment is really geared for 35mm film and won't allow Atmos to be added without installing a whole new system.

  15. DFurr

    That's good advice from Sparky Robert. My surround speakers are all the way up to the ceiling height so I'm very happy with the way it sounds. I don't need Atmos.

    I realize that there's little need for Atmos in your theater, since very little that you watch can take advantage of it, but that's just bad advice from someone who doesn't understand what Atmos is intended to do. It's not about "height" of side effects. It's about moving from a circle of sound, which is what surround has always been, to a dome of sound. That requires speakers overhead, and there's no other way to achieve it, even though a lot of people have the mistaken belief that height speakers and Atmos (which have to be overhead, not just elevated) are the same thing.

    EDIT: I realized I typed that response wrong. I should have quoted this instead of what I quoted. I realize the way I originally wrote this makes it sound like Don was giving the bad advice, when it was Sparky who was.

    Sparky, who has Atmos, says I don't need it. My setup gives a nice impression of height.

  16. JohnRice

    I realize that there's little need for Atmos in your theater, since very little that you watch can take advantage of it, but that's just bad advice from someone who doesn't understand what Atmos is intended to do. It's not about "height" of side effects. It's about moving from a circle of sound, which is what surround has always been, to a dome of sound. That requires speakers overhead, and there's no other way to achieve it, even though a lot of people have the mistaken belief that height speakers and Atmos (which have to be overhead, not just elevated) are the same thing.

    EDIT: I realized I typed that response wrong. I should have quoted this instead of what I quoted. I realize the way I originally wrote this makes it sound like Don was giving the bad advice, when it was Sparky who was.

    I've had the great pleasure in listening to Don's and Roberts setups and both do not need Atmos/DTX, in my opinion and they both agreed. Their setups are two of the best I have ever seen/heard.

    You are totally wrong in your assessment about me giving bad advice, you don't even know me to come to that conclusion.

  17. Nobody NEEDS Atmos, but nobody NEEDS to drive a Ferrari, either. If it's feasible for your setup and budget, and you care about having great sound, you should consider it. If your existing gear is good enough for you, or you can't justify the expense, that's fine.

    A 7.1 configuration is designed to add height or side channels. Atmos is about highly localized sound objects. (That is, creating them virtually by processing the sound coming through channels.)

    Getting back to the original question, I think that future sound formats will be focused on improving the processing to get better localization of sound through *fewer* channels, not more. They sell a lot of Atmos soundbars today that I suspect don't hold a candle to an actual 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 set of speakers, but maybe a few years from now, the algorithms will have improved enough to make a soundbar capable of more localized sound. THAT will sell!

  18. John Sparks

    I've had the great pleasure in listening to Don's and Roberts setups and both do not need Atmos/DTX, in my opinion and they both agreed. Their setups are two of the best I have ever seen.

    You are totally wrong in your assessment about me giving bad advice, you don't even know me to come to that conclusion.

    Appreciate your comments, John. Another person shouldn't presume to say what we hear. He hasn't heard our systems.

  19. Aaron Silverman

    They sell a lot of Atmos soundbars today that I suspect don't hold a candle to an actual 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 set of speakers, but maybe a few years from now, the algorithms will have improved enough to make a soundbar capable of more localized sound. THAT will sell!

    They sell them but soundbars are not capable of creating a true Atmos environment and I'm pretty sure their manufacturers/marketers know this. In my opinion it's sad Dolby even allowed for this misinformation to be propagated. Clearly they wanted to broaden their potential revenue streams from licensing fees and knew the general public wouldn't know any better.

  20. John Sparks

    Well, another asshat on my ignore list…and the list keeps on growing.

    Stop that right now! We can all have disagreements, but being abusive towards another poster using that type of language isn't acceptable here. Any further such forum behavior or escalation will result in disciplinary action.

    10. No personal attacks. We expect all members to treat each other with consideration and respect. While we encourage lively debate, we do not allow personal attacks. This includes direct attacks, such as name-calling, as well as indirect attacks, such as repeated baiting of a member in a provocative or belittling manner. If you believe that you have been subjected to a personal attack, or have witnessed one on another member, please see the section on Dealing with Problems for instructions on how to proceed.

    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/help/terms

  21. John Sparks

    Well, it seems that logic is one sided. He accused me of something that I am not guilty of and then he gets to gloat that he can say whatever he wants about another person…Mainly Me!

    You're the one being abusive with your language and escalating the disagreement. This isn't a debate, our posting guidelines are clear to understand!

  22. FWIW, I find I'm upgrading some of the action movies I like to UHD, to get the Atmos soundtracks. Also some music heavy ones like Cinderella. Even though my Atmos implementation is still pretty minimal, the steering of sounds seems to be generally better. That will only improve as I (finally, someday) get a real 7.1.4 setup going, with properly installed in-ceiling speakers overhead.

    I don't know if it's my imagination, but Atmos/DTS:X soundtracks seem to create a more enveloping environment, even with my current, far less than ideal 7.1.2 setup using front reflecting speakers. I wonder how much the processor plays into it, though. I have a fairly decent one, a Marantz AV7703.

  23. Dave Moritz

    What could the industry possibly offer beyond the current audio codex's that the consumer would adopt? Do we even need anything beyond 7.1.4 or even 7.1.6 or even considering running multiple subwoofers?

    Josh Steinberg

    I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

    I think that we're more or less at the end of “more speakers” for home audio.

    But there’s still a lot to be offered to home viewer. But it’s a different direction that everyone here, trained in the decades of “more channels”, is overlooking…if I may be so bold. 🙂

    The next big thing is computational audio. The Apple HomePod is a harbinger. The “codec” will be something like Atmos: an object based 3D sound field. But it won’t be pre-processed to discrete channels. It will be a generalized positional data plus the audio. It will be fed to a small number of smart speakers that self calibrate within the room, and create the 3D audio experience in real time from the positional audio stream calculated against their self calibration.

    It will be Audyssey plus Atmos plus Apple HomePod, where every speaker has the computational power of last year’s smartphones. It won’t create the perfect 3D audio that a true ensemble of 11 to 15 speakers can. But for most people it will be cheaper and better than anything they’ve ever had previously.

  24. DaveF

    But it won’t be pre-processed to discrete channels.

    That's what Atmos is, and DTS:X. It doesn't have a pre-defined number of channels, but is "object oriented" to place sounds at a specific location within the room. The processor and number & location of speakers determines how precisely it can reproduce sounds where they are supposed to be.

  25. JohnRice

    That's what Atmos is, and DTS:X. It doesn't have a pre-defined number of channels, but is "object oriented" to place sounds at a specific location within the room. The processor and number & location of speakers determines how precisely it can reproduce sounds where they are supposed to be.

    To my understanding, they are generalized 3D audio at the studio design level. But for consumer audio, the soundtrack is pre-computed and released as discrete channels. My Marantz 7702 is not doing a computational audio to convert a pure 3D data stream to my specific channels. It’s playing 7.1.4 channels modified by Audyssey generates phase delays and frequency response functions.

    Will try to do some searching to see if I’ve got this right or wrong. 🙂

  26. DaveF

    To my understanding, they are generalized 3D audio at the studio design level. But for consumer audio, the soundtrack is pre-computed and released as discrete channels. My Marantz 7702 is not doing a computational audio to convert a pure 3D data stream to my specific channels. It’s playing 7.1.4 channels modified by Audyssey generates phase delays and frequency response functions.

    Will try to do some searching to see if I’ve got this right or wrong. 🙂

    Do you have a 7702 or a 7702a? I don't believe the 7702 does Atmos, so when you play an Atmos soundtrack on a 7702, you're just getting (usually) regular Dolby HD 7.1.

  27. Dave Moritz

    While this could apply to both disc and streaming formats let's try not to concern ourselves with the delivery format but the audio format and the number of channels delivered by the audio format. We have come such a long way on the audio side and many of us have been in this hobby since the beginning. We went from movies in stereo to Dolby Pro Logic to the next big step of Dolby Digital and DTS. We then went to lossless audio formats like DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD that took us from discrete 5.1 to discrete 7.1 audio. And how we have immersive audio which gives us combinations of 7 (5.1.2), 9 (5.1.4 or 7.1.2), 11 (7.1.4) or in higher end systems 13 channels (7.1.6).

    In many consumers home there is the wife acceptance factor that keeps out basic 5.1 and 7.1 surround set ups. Then there is also the reluctance to have more than 7 speakers in a living room, den or dedicated theater room. While dedicated theater rooms are more likely to have speaker configurations of 7 channels to 11 channels of sound supporting all available surround formats. Let's face it the many average consumers are not supporting 7 channel surround and immersive audio even if they are buying discs or digital movies that offer those number of channels. We are living in what I call the golden age of home theater as we have access to the quality we never had access to before. But at the same time there comes a point where people will not keep stuffing more and more speakers in there rooms dedicated or not. And where consumers do not see the benefit of trying to stuff more speakers in small rooms or can not because they rent an apartment.

    What could the industry possibly offer beyond the current audio codex's that the consumer would adopt? Do we even need anything beyond 7.1.4 or even 7.1.6 or even considering running multiple subwoofers? So our current number of overall channels with widely available hardware is 11 – 13 channels which most hardware only offering 11 channels! This doesn't even include Emotiva's new pre/pro monster offer 16 channels with future upgradability to 28 channels! And Denon is offering a flagship product that offers 13 channels. At this rate the only other place to put speakers would be the floor but I do not see that being very feasible. So is Dolby Atmos and DTS-X the last of the new surround codex and is the only thing they can do is increase bit rate on future formats? Many of us lived with basic two channel stereo for many years before the explosion of channels began. I feel there is nothing more to be offered that will make people want to place more and more speakers in the listening environment.

    Did consumers, especially the general public, actually ever embrace either format? I fear it was just embraced by a very select few enthusiasts.

  28. JayJay

    Did consumers, especially the general public, actually ever embrace either format? I fear it was just embraced by a very select few enthusiasts.

    And those "select few enthusiasts" make up less than 10% of the market. Same thing happened with 3D.

  29. JayJay

    Did consumers, especially the general public, actually ever embrace either format? I fear it was just embraced by a very select few enthusiasts.

    About 99% of the general public has no idea that Atmos and DTS:X even exist, or what they are.

  30. I think "home theater" is being put to pasture after every passing year. We now live in a world of "good enough" and sound bars. I see plenty of folks shopping for these bars more than I have in years past.

  31. JayJay

    I think "home theater" is being put to pasture after every passing year. We now live in a world of "good enough" and sound bars. I see plenty of folks shopping for these bars more than I have in years past.

    On the other hand this technology is tricking down to the soundbar crowd as well. Its just too damn expensive and lacking in market saturation to penetrate the "Walmart Market" which the Home Theater Enthusiasts (such as this forum SO MANY TIMES) keep forgetting is the real consumer base.

  32. Lord Dalek

    On the other hand this technology is tricking down to the soundbar crowd as well. Its just too damn expensive and lacking in market saturation to penetrate the "Walmart Market" which the Home Theater Enthusiasts (such as this forum SO MANY TIMES) keep forgetting is the real consumer base.

    yeah, but Atmos in a soundbar is a total joke. Marketing BS. Just like the 5 Series TCL TV I got for the living room. It "does" HDR, as in, it can accept and process an HDR signal, but it's maximum light output and dynamic range prevent it from truly making use of it. So, the marketing says "This has Dolby Vision" and people think it's the same as a Quantum or OLED TV, and they never have a clue. That TV is fine for me. I wanted a cheap TV. I knew that it wasn't really capable of real HDR, but most people will be suckered. "Which soundbar should I buy?" "This one costs twice as much, but has Atmos and that one doesn't." "Ooh! I'll take the one with Atmos."

  33. AcesHighStudios

    I don't think I will understand so-called "cinephiles" and their antithetical propensity to think every latest thing is the last thing they will ever need. "Good enough" is the enemy of all progress.

    For home theaters, at some point there's a limit to the usefulness of technological advances.

    Take 8K TVs. For the vast majority of home viewers, 8K will be unnecessary. There's hardly any content that'll be able to use the resolution and TV sets are too small for it to make a difference.

    Audio setups with more channels are the same. It's tough enough for most people to make Atmos work, much less asking them to have a system with 10+ speakers.

    Advances are good overall, but that doesn't mean they'll be useful for most people…

  34. JayJay

    Did consumers, especially the general public, actually ever embrace either format? I fear it was just embraced by a very select few enthusiasts.

    And I think you're right. As I noted, there's a limit to how far the average person will go.

    Most people don't have large viewing rooms where they can install 7+ speakers, much less want that.

    It's great that Atmos/DTS X are available at an affordable consumer level, but that doesn't meant many will take advantage of them.

    I have literally zero friends with real HT setups!

  35. I've lost count of how many friend and folks I work with have switched to using soundbars. And many are mounting them right under their TV that is of course mounted 6 feet high on their living room wall above their fireplace.

  36. JayJay

    I've lost count of how many friend and folks I work with have switched to using soundbars. And many are mounting them right under their TV that is of course mounted 6 feet high on their living room wall above their fireplace.

    I don't have any friends that had 5.1 setup and switched to soundbars. I did have friends that switched from TV speakers to soundbars. Many of them either didn't have room for 5.1 speaker setup or the wife didn't want wires/cables attached to such a setup.

    Those of us with 5.1 or more setups are probably less than 5%. If I had to guess it's 1%.

  37. JohnRice

    Do you have a 7702 or a 7702a? I don't believe the 7702 does Atmos, so when you play an Atmos soundtrack on a 7702, you're just getting (usually) regular Dolby HD 7.1.

    7702 mk II. I just get tired of typing the extra “mk II”. 🙂

  38. JayJay

    I've lost count of how many friend and folks I work with have switched to using soundbars. And many are mounting them right under their TV that is of course mounted 6 feet high on their living room wall above their fireplace.

    That’s why computational audio is the next big thing for the living room “theater”. We’re moving away from lots of big speakers to small numbers of small speakers with very powerful CPUs and supporting sensors.

  39. What Dave’s describing as “computational audio” is essentially how Atmos works in a theater. In theaters, each sound is unique from each other sound and can be placed in whichever speaker makes the most sense for that environment. It essentially creates a mix from scratch based on the parameters of the room and what the sound designers intended. So, if the soundtrack has a sound panning from the left to the right, Atmos decides based on each theater which speakers are best to use to accomplish this sound placement.

    But at home, Atmos is a different beast, and a much simplified one. It’s based on a 7.1 core with optional extensions – so your home receiver has some wiggle room but some sounds are specifically tied to specific channels and there’s no way to adjust that.

    So what Dave’s talking about is essentially bringing theatrical Atmos to the home, where the system isn’t just playing a 7.1 track with optional bells and whistles but is actually taking inventory of what you have and where it’s placed and how best to send that sound to speakers based on your specific layout. Along with more powerful room correction implementation so that sound mixes don’t have to be designed solely with the perfect room in mind.

    Something like that is probably the future. Seven floor speakers plus four ceiling speakers plus two subwoofers (the current max Atmos home setup) is more than most consumers want or even have space for. But a system where you could put speakers in spaces that your room has, and allow the system to be smart enough to figure it all out, that could very well be the future.

    I think what we’re seeing by the average consumer is a rejection of technology as the driving factor in how their living spaces should be set up. And people in general have always been willing to sacrifice quality for convenience. (And at the home level, convenience/layout can be a more important consideration than absolute quality. The perfect system that doesn’t fit into your house isn’t much use no matter how technically perfect it is.)

    We’re already seeing this with physical media, where the general public is placing a greater value in more compact and efficient ways of delivering content (like streaming) over bulkier and technically better methods (like discs). The average consumer doesn’t want a wall of disc shelves, but does want access to large amounts of content. It makes sense that the average consumer doesn’t want an obstacle course of speakers in their living room. The goal, more often than not, is probably “something that sounds better than the speakers in the TV.” You’re seeing a lot of soundbar sales because they provide the quality of sound that used to be built into a good TV, which was good enough for most people back in the day and still is.

  40. AcesHighStudios

    I don't think I will understand so-called "cinephiles" and their antithetical propensity to think every latest thing is the last thing they will ever need. "Good enough" is the enemy of all progress.

    That's true until you factor in marketing. Science is pure but the corporations that manufacture our gear also have stockholders to answer to.

  41. DaveF

    That’s why computational audio is the next big thing for the living room “theater”. We’re moving away from lots of big speakers to small numbers of small speakers with very powerful CPUs and supporting sensors.

    I'm also still trying to wrap my head around the concept of "computational audio" and this is an enthusiasts site. I suspect the vast majority of consumers are perfectly happy with the options that exist today and wouldn't even consider replacing anything barring a hardware failure. With that in mind how would computational audio ever work its way into the mainstream and, if it can't, will it ever be affordable?

  42. Josh Steinberg

    What Dave’s describing as “computational audio” is essentially how Atmos works in a theater. In theaters, each sound is unique from each other sound and can be placed in whichever speaker makes the most sense for that environment. It essentially creates a mix from scratch based on the parameters of the room and what the sound designers intended. So, if the soundtrack has a sound panning from the left to the right, Atmos decides based on each theater which speakers are best to use to accomplish this sound placement.

    But at home, Atmos is a different beast, and a much simplified one. It’s based on a 7.1 core with optional extensions – so your home receiver has some wiggle room but some sounds are specifically tied to specific channels and there’s no way to adjust that.

    So what Dave’s talking about is essentially bringing theatrical Atmos to the home, where the system isn’t just playing a 7.1 track with optional bells and whistles but is actually taking inventory of what you have and where it’s placed and how best to send that sound to speakers based on your specific layout. Along with more powerful room correction implementation so that sound mixes don’t have to be designed solely with the perfect room in mind.

    Something like that is probably the future. Seven floor speakers plus four ceiling speakers plus two subwoofers (the current max Atmos home setup) is more than most consumers want or even have space for. But a system where you could put speakers in spaces that your room has, and allow the system to be smart enough to figure it all out, that could very well be the future.

    I think what we’re seeing by the average consumer is a rejection of technology as the driving factor in how their living spaces should be set up. And people in general have always been willing to sacrifice quality for convenience. (And at the home level, convenience/layout can be a more important consideration than absolute quality. The perfect system that doesn’t fit into your house isn’t much use no matter how technically perfect it is.)

    We’re already seeing this with physical media, where the general public is placing a greater value in more compact and efficient ways of delivering content (like streaming) over bulkier and technically better methods (like discs). The average consumer doesn’t want a wall of disc shelves, but does want access to large amounts of content. It makes sense that the average consumer doesn’t want an obstacle course of speakers in their living room. The goal, more often than not, is probably “something that sounds better than the speakers in the TV.” You’re seeing a lot of soundbar sales because they provide the quality of sound that used to be built into a good TV, which was good enough for most people back in the day and still is.

    Excellent info Josh. Thanks.

  43. Colin Jacobson

    For home theaters, at some point there's a limit to the usefulness of technological advances.

    Take 8K TVs. For the vast majority of home viewers, 8K will be unnecessary. There's hardly any content that'll be able to use the resolution and TV sets are too small for it to make a difference.

    Audio setups with more channels are the same. It's tough enough for most people to make Atmos work, much less asking them to have a system with 10+ speakers.

    Advances are good overall, but that doesn't mean they'll be useful for most people…

    MOST people would still be buying pan and scan VHS tapes from a 2 for $5 bargain bin at Wal-mart if they could. I don't factor them into the equation and am extremely glad the push toward technological advancement didn't hinge on those people.

  44. AcesHighStudios

    MOST people would still be buying pan and scan VHS tapes from a 2 for $5 bargain bin at Wal-mart if they could. I don't factor them into the equation and am extremely glad the push toward technological advancement didn't hinge on those people.

    I think you seriously exxagerate the "the masses are idiots" characterization. The fact is that the mass market eagerly embraced DVD (the market penetration was huge), and quickly abandoned VHS.

  45. AcesHighStudios

    MOST people would still be buying pan and scan VHS tapes from a 2 for $5 bargain bin at Wal-mart if they could. I don't factor them into the equation and am extremely glad the push toward technological advancement didn't hinge on those people.

    RobertR

    I think you seriously exxagerate the "the masses are idiots" characterization. The fact is that the mass market eagerly embraced DVD (the market penetration was huge), and quickly abandoned VHS.

    Thanks – beat me to it.

    I was surprised when DVD caught on like it did, as I figured "Joe Six Pack" was content with VHS quality.

    But obviously not.

    People have embraced bigger and bigger TVs and they've gotten into surround sound to a decent degree as well. If J6P didn't have any interest in home theater, they wouldn't make those inexpensive "HT in a box" packages.

    J6P even embraced Blu-ray to a decent degree! I mean, you can buy BDs at the freakin' supermarket – that's a sign it got some form of mass approval…

  46. The "masses" adopted DVD when they had to and they complained about those black bars on the top and bottom of their TV screens and wondered why were missing part of the picture.

    The last VHS, "A History of Violence," was released on March 14, 2006 — 10 years after the release of the first DVD. That is not quickly abandoning VHS.

  47. RobertR

    I think you seriously exxagerate the "the masses are idiots" characterization. The fact is that the mass market eagerly embraced DVD (the market penetration was huge), and quickly abandoned VHS.

    I don't have objective data but, subjectively, I have to agree with @AcesHighStudios The masses didn't willingly "adopt DVD, it was shoved down their collective throats and it took some time. That's how most technological advances work. The masses are just that. Mortals. They want whatever works [simplicity] and have no real interest in technological evolution or true audio/video excellence unless it makes a device smaller or easier to manage.

    Masses and Enthusiasts… Every field or subculture has both and they are always the same. The masses hardly even realize [and NEVER acknowledge] that the innovations they currently enjoy were ushered in and paid for by Enthusiasts. Enthusiasts are different and exist on a higher plane. We adopt new tech earlier and at our own risk so that others can benefit years later. We want the best we can reasonably afford, TODAY…

    But even enthusiasts have to factor in WAF and overall cost.

  48. I think both of you are right about parts of the story, but you're both so interested in arguing about it, that you're refusing to see it. DVD caught on, but think back to how much was P&S, cause we can't have those black bars. That is, until 16×9 TVs became more common, then it got better. Does anyone remember the earthquake of [email protected]$^ when The Next Generation finally came out remastered on BR, and it was pillarboxed? A lot of people lost their minds complaining that it didn't fill the 16×9 frame. How many shows have been released on BR cropped/opened up, or are now broadcast that way? a LOT.

    These days, people have gotten more familiar with some bars, but I know a lot of them who use the various zoom and stretch settings so they still don't get any black bars. I've pointed out to several how distorted or cropped the image was, and they do… not… care. They want to screen filled, at all times.

    You both have valid points.

  49. John Dirk

    I don't have objective data but, subjectively, I have to agree with @AcesHighStudios The masses didn't willingly "adopt DVD, it was shoved down their collective throats and it took some time. That's how most technological advances work. The masses are just that. Mortals. They want whatever works [simplicity] and have no real interest in technological evolution or true audio/video excellence unless it makes a device smaller or easier to manage.

    The "masses" don't buy a product because business "decrees" it. New Coke failed. The Midi skirt failed. Beta lost to VHS. The RCA videodisc failed. All despite the fact that business wanted to "shove things down their throat". CONSUMERS decide what succeeds or fails, NOT business.

  50. RobertR

    The "masses" don't buy a product because business "decrees" it. New Coke failed. The Midi skirt failed. Beta lost to VHS. The RCA videodisc failed. All despite the fact that business wanted to "shove things down their throat". CONSUMERS decide what succeeds or fails, NOT business.

    I don't disagree with anything you've said here but your tone could have been a bit more subdued. 🙂 Let's not go there. If I've misconstrued then apologies up front. Anyway…

    I only have personal knowledge and experience with your last example and it makes my point perfectly. BETA lost to VHS because the masses didn't care about it's technological superiority. At the time, VHS was easier to acquire and also easier to afford. That really is alI I was trying to say.

  51. John Dirk

    I only have personal knowledge and experience with your last example and it makes my point perfectly. BETA lost to VHS because the masses didn't care about it's technological superiority. At the time, VHS was easier to acquire and also easier to afford. That really is alI I was trying to say.

    I was thinking the same thing. As I recall, Betamax was superior, but only had Sony behind it, where VHS had a powerful consortium behind it. I agree with John that this is a good example of where an inferior product was shoved down everyone's throat.

  52. I worked at a Blockbuster during the transition from VHS to DVD, and from my experienced point of view, consumers were eager to adopt it and it was a very happy for the benefits it offered over VHS: that it didn’t have to be rewound and that you could jump to any point, that the discs didn’t wear out like tapes could and couldn’t suffer a mechanical failure, and that it was priced to own from Day 1, where many VHS movies were not available for consumer purchase until much, much later after their initial release.

    I think one of the reasons that BD didn’t catch on as widely as DVD was that it was essentially a picture/audio quality upgrade only – the biggest benefits, going from a linear format to a non-linear format, had already been provided in DVD.

  53. JohnRice

    I was thinking the same thing. As I recall, Betamax was superior, but only had Sony behind it, where VHS had a powerful consortium behind it. I agree with John that this is a good example of where an inferior product was shoved down everyone's throat.

    VHS didn't win because it was a "powerful consortium". It won because JVC paid better attention to what people wanted.

  54. John Dirk

    I don't disagree with anything you've said here but your tone could have been a bit more subdued. 🙂 Let's not go there. If I've misconstrued then apologies up front. Anyway…

    I only have personal knowledge and experience with your last example and it makes my point perfectly. BETA lost to VHS because the masses didn't care about it's technological superiority. At the time, VHS was easier to acquire and also easier to afford. That really is alI I was trying to say.

    It wasn't my intention to adopt a combative tone. I was mainly responding to the "the masses really preferred VHS over DVD" claim.

  55. Josh Steinberg

    I worked at a Blockbuster during the transition from VHS to DVD, and from my experienced point of view, consumers were eager to adopt it and it was a very happy for the benefits it offered over VHS: that it didn’t have to be rewound and that you could jump to any point, that the discs didn’t wear out like tapes could and couldn’t suffer a mechanical failure, and that it was priced to own from Day 1, where many VHS movies were not available for consumer purchase until much, much later after their initial release.

    I think one of the reasons that BD didn’t catch on as widely as DVD was that it was essentially a picture/audio quality upgrade only – the biggest benefits, going from a linear format to a non-linear format, had already been provided in DVD.

    I've always said that VHS to DVD was revolutionary but DVD to BD was evolutionary.

    I'm actually surprised BD's done as well as it has, given that it's not the huge leap than VHS to DVD was…

  56. AcesHighStudios

    The "masses" adopted DVD when they had to and they complained about those black bars on the top and bottom of their TV screens and wondered why were missing part of the picture.

    The last VHS, "A History of Violence," was released on March 14, 2006 — 10 years after the release of the first DVD. That is not quickly abandoning VHS.

    The last 8-track tape came out in 1988, well after the format had been completely ignored by the masses.

    Formats don't die overnight – though with LD, it was close. DVD crushed LD really quickly.

    VHS died more slowly, but 9 years from DVD's US debut to the complete eradication of VHS is pretty fast, IMO, especially given how huge VHS was in the 80s and 90s…

  57. AcesHighStudios

    The "masses" adopted DVD when they had to and they complained about those black bars on the top and bottom of their TV screens and wondered why were missing part of the picture.

    Well I was part of the unwashed "masses" so you're hearing this from the horse's mouth. I didn't have to adopt DVD. I was actually more into laser discs than tape when DVD made its first appearance. I didn't complain about the black bars either. My transition to DVD was fairly quick when I saw the advantages to DVD including picture quality. My transition to blu ray from DVD was a little slower but when some films I wanted that were not on DVD but became available on blu ray (55 Days In Peking for example) I quickly moved to blu ray. I've not adopted to 4K and extremely likely I won't. The emphasis on 4K films tend to be on DC/Marvel blockbuster junk which I'm not interested in. I may change my mind if 4K releases of L'Avventura, Pillow Talk, The High And The Mighty, La Dolce Vita, All About Eve, Johnny Guitar, Nashville, Rebecca, Samson And Delilah, Marnie, Where The Boys Are and Rosemary's Baby become available.

  58. Thomas T

    Well I was part of the unwashed "masses" so you're hearing this from the horse's mouth. I didn't have to adopt DVD. I was actually more into laser discs than tape when DVD made its first appearance. I didn't complain about the black bars either. My transition to DVD was fairly quick when I saw the advantages to DVD including picture quality. My transition to blu ray from DVD was a little slower but when some films I wanted that were not on DVD but became available on blu ray (55 Days In Peking for example) I quickly moved to blu ray. I've not adopted to 4K and extremely likely I won't. The emphasis on 4K films tend to be on DC/Marvel blockbuster junk which I'm not interested in. I may change my mind if 4K releases of L'Avventura, Pillow Talk, The High And The Mighty, La Dolce Vita, All About Eve, Johnny Guitar, Nashville, Rebecca, Samson And Delilah, Marnie, Where The Boys Are and Rosemary's Baby become available.

    Hate to ya, but if you were into LD, you weren't one of the "unwashed masses". That's being used to describe the VHS only crowd.

    Besides, LD fans did have to adopt DVD – or abandon the hobby,. LD died a pretty quick death after DVD hit the shelves.

  59. Robert Crawford

    I don't have any friends that had 5.1 setup and switched to soundbars. I did have friends that switched from TV speakers to soundbars. Many of them either didn't have room for 5.1 speaker setup or the wife didn't want wires/cables attached to such a setup.

    Those of us with 5.1 or more setups are probably less than 5%. If I had to guess it's 1%.

    That's been my experience, too. Soundbars allow for an improvement in sound over the tiny speakers built into the TV without taking over the room with equipment and wiring.

    I've had a surround system for probably close to 30 years, but have also contemplated buying a soundbar for the display in our master bedroom where we currently have just a 49inch 4K display, cable box, Roku 4K box and Sony BD player — i.e. no sound system.

    As for Atmos, while I wouldn't mind trying it out — my Denon X3300W receiver supports the format — there is just no way I am installing ceiling speakers in our family room where the main home theater resides. I honestly really pushed the limits for the room and wife factor when I added rear center speakers several years ago to go from a 5.1 to 7.1 setup (those speakers actually sit right in front of our fireplace). Whenever we install new carpeting the room, I am seriously considering dropping back down to a 5.1 setup, as the rear center speakers didn't add much to the audio experience in the room.

  60. Thomas T

    Well I was part of the unwashed "masses" so you're hearing this from the horse's mouth. I didn't have to adopt DVD. I was actually more into laser discs than tape when DVD made its first appearance. I didn't complain about the black bars either. My transition to DVD was fairly quick when I saw the advantages to DVD including picture quality. My transition to blu ray from DVD was a little slower but when some films I wanted that were not on DVD but became available on blu ray (55 Days In Peking for example) I quickly moved to blu ray. I've not adopted to 4K and extremely likely I won't. The emphasis on 4K films tend to be on DC/Marvel blockbuster junk which I'm not interested in. I may change my mind if 4K releases of L'Avventura, Pillow Talk, The High And The Mighty, La Dolce Vita, All About Eve, Johnny Guitar, Nashville, Rebecca, Samson And Delilah, Marnie, Where The Boys Are and Rosemary's Baby become available.

    I never bought into LD as I never liked the size of the discs so I went from a large video tape collection to buying that first Sony DVD player, the S7000 in 1997. There was no hesitation on my part as I quickly accepted that video tapes would be history in the not too distant future. Shortly after I bought that Sony player in September, 1997, I started reading a certain forum named the "Home Theater Forum". I didn't actually join the forum until about a year or so later.:)

  61. JohnRice

    I still haven't grasped the concept of "computational audio."

    Josh Steinberg

    What Dave’s describing as “computational audio” is essentially how Atmos works in a theater. In theaters, each sound is unique from each other sound and can be placed in whichever speaker makes the most sense for that environment. It essentially creates a mix from scratch based on the parameters of the room and what the sound designers intended. So, if the soundtrack has a sound panning from the left to the right, Atmos decides based on each theater which speakers are best to use to accomplish this sound placement.

    Yes, but more. 🙂

    Everyone with a smartphone is benefiting from computational photography and getting vacation and birthday snapshots far better than they could a few years before. Good sensors plus lots of computer algorithms are doing things on photographs that were a few years ago the domain of skilled photographers and photo editors. But now, HDR is free. Co-adding raw frames to beat down dark current and read noise is done in hardware. Video is recorded at 30 fps, but 60 fps data is to reduce motion blur or do super-resolution computations.

    Noise canceling headphones are the canonical example of computation audio in the consumer world. We're now starting see this taken further and can guess at how it might apply to home theater.

    Long story short, there might be extensions to Atmos and DTS:X for the high end. I think they can benefit all the more from smart speakers. But I think the real benefits will come soonest to the lower end. And I think pretty soon the sub-$3000 5.1 surround system will be destroyed by an ensemble of $500 to $1000 smart speakers. Similarly to how camera phones are destroying the point and shoot camera market.

    To borrow from the Apple HomePod page:

    HomePod is a breakthrough speaker that adapts to its location and delivers high-fidelity audio wherever it’s playing.

    A six-microphone array, along with an internal bass-EQ microphone, analyzes and compensates for the effect of the room on the bass response, providing rich, consistent sound.

    Six microphones positioned around HomePod allow it to pick up all the sound in a room. When you say “Hey Siri,” advanced signal processing, together with echo and noise cancellation, allows HomePod to hear you without the need to raise your voice — even if you’re across the room with loud music playing.

    A custom-designed array of seven beamforming tweeters, each with its own amplifier, creates tremendous directional control. Placed around the base and using a folded-horn design, they send the flow of music toward the center and then out the bottom in a 360-degree pattern, resulting in an all-encompassing sense of space. This virtually eliminates early table reflections and allows for consistent high-definition sound.

    Take a high-end Atmos system: Currently the Audyssey-type calibration systems that consumer audio uses, as far as I know, adjust speaker delay and response function. But they don't measure 3D speaker positions, or have any ability to perform beam forming or multi-speaker noise cancelation. They don't truly calibrate a three-dimensional speaker array for generalized 3D sound. It's just a means to make the speakers have a "flat" response and sound as if from the same distance from a given listening position. And this is all done with relatively puny DSP chips in $1000-class AVRs.

    So let's add more speakers — for the high end enthusiast — and we'll have microphones in the speakers. And the calibration system with have the computational power of next year's iPhone, with its machine learning ("NeuralEngine") cores. It will self-calibrate. Every speaker can chirp and the whole around will listen. The system would build a 3D model of its speaker locations and also a room model with its obstructions and echoes. With its large array of speakers, it will use beam forming to not just have a EQ curve and time delay, but actively modify sound from all speakers to combat background noise (because even enthusiasts struggle with HVAC, street noise, people walking overhead, etc) and improve localization of three imagery.

    Because this is a high-end system, maybe it includes an additional calibration microphone, as Audssey does currently. But instead of just measuring a two foot bubble around the sweet spot, the user will do a multiple reading spread over the entire room. And the system will detect during listening whether you're alone, or in a full room, or if it's just you back you're in the back row and not the front row, and adjust its output accordingly.

    But what about the regular person. This is starting to happen with a pair of HomePods for stereo sound. I imagine an ensemble of five "HomePods". Again, they will self-calibrate against the room and each other. No external Audyssey mic or three hours needed for the homeowner to "calibrate". They'll just do it. And if the furniture changes or the flooring goes from carpet to hardwood, it will self-adjust without being told. And the speakers, being ensembles of speakers, will not need to be in the proscribed 5.1 arrangement.

    Even simpler then is a soundbar. Take a quality soundbar. Add in microphones and computer brain. Let it self-sense the room's characteristics, and apply machine learning "magic" to the audio processing, and out comes far better faked-Atmos than any bar can accomplish today.

  62. Josh Steinberg

    I just wonder where else is there left to go – you’ve got full lossless audio quality and the ability to place sounds anywhere in any room with Atmos/DTS-X. I mean, what else is there?

    Indeed, I don't see what more there can be in a private consumer's home.

  63. Colin Jacobson

    Hate to ya, but if you were into LD, you weren't one of the "unwashed masses". That's being used to describe the VHS only crowd.

    Besides, LD fans did have to adopt DVD – or abandon the hobby,. LD died a pretty quick death after DVD hit the shelves.

    LD fans didn't really "have to" adopt DVD. They embraced it. It was they who jump started the format. That may surprise some people, given the extremely noisy minority of LD diehards who fought DVD tooth and nail, but it's true.

  64. RobertR

    LD fans didn't really "have to" adopt DVD. They embraced it. It was they who jump started the format. That may surprise some people, given the extremely noisy minority of LD diehards who fought DVD tooth and nail, but it's true.

    I agree with you – LD fans mostly flocked to DVD.

    But they also "had to" if they wanted to continue to pursue their hobby. LD died off so quickly – by 1999, it was essentially kaput in the US – so either you moved to DVD or you lacked a videophile option.

    I adopted in summer 1998, mainly because I saw the writing on the wall. I didn't want to go DVD, as I had a massive financial and emotional investment in LD, but by summer 1998, it was clear that LD was fading fast.

    As such, either I moved on or I got left beyond. This had to be true for other videophiles who would've preferred to stay LD but who had to go DVD if they wanted to continue to enjoy a higher-quality format…

  65. Colin Jacobson

    I agree with you – LD fans mostly flocked to DVD.

    But they also "had to" if they wanted to continue to pursue their hobby. LD died off so quickly – by 1999, it was essentially kaput in the US – so either you moved to DVD or you lacked a videophile option.

    I adopted in summer 1998, mainly because I saw the writing on the wall. I didn't want to go DVD, as I had a massive financial and emotional investment in LD, but by summer 1998, it was clear that LD was fading fast.

    As such, either I moved on or I got left beyond. This had to be true for other videophiles who would've preferred to stay LD but who had to go DVD if they wanted to continue to enjoy a higher-quality format…

    The "have to" part makes sense for those who wanted to stay with LD, but couldn't, because most people embraced DVD. The anti DVD contingent was small, but very vocal.

  66. I have no idea how many people actually have real sound systems, but if it's something like 5% then it's interesting how much material actually takes advantage of it. Could you imagine if most titles came out in separate 2-channel only and 5.1 or higher editions, kinda like 3D? There's a good number of releases coded for D-Box (moving seats) also which hardly anyone has- I'd love to get that but the price is just too far out of my range. Glad that I at least have some material for it if I ever do end up getting it, possibly decades from now.

    Re the "forced" to buy DVD discussion, I worked at Tower Records and there were plenty of people who swore they would stick with VHS forever. Some of them seemed to not know that you could easily keep your VCR to watch your old movies and also add a DVD player, and you also aren't forced to re-buy your older movies in the newest format unless you want to. If the industry really wants to "force" something on the market, they usually can.

  67. Josh Steinberg

    Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy laserdisc commentary notoriously began with him exclaiming “Fuck DVD!”

    Which made it funnier when he had to apologize about said comment on the subsequent Criterion DVD.

  68. RobertR

    The "have to" part makes sense for those who wanted to stay with LD, but couldn't, because most people embraced DVD. The anti DVD contingent was small, but very vocal.

    I think fans had an emotional attachment to LD that never transferred to DVDs.

    LD was such a niche that fans got to feel "special". Like vinyl nowadays, it was awkward and expensive, but it allowed you to feel smugly superior to all those losers who watched P&S VHS tapes.

    This isn't to cast aspersions at others – I include myself in that smugly superior clan! I really "bonded" with LD and hated hated hated to see it go.

    But I was enough of a realist to understand LD wasn't gonna last. I think the last LD I bought period was the Japan import of "Phantom Menace" in 2000, and I probably wouldn't have bothered with that if I'd known there'd be a domestic DVD a year later. Back in 2000, we had no clue when any of the "Star Wars" films would hit DVD, so I thought I might have to wait years for "Menace" on DVD.

    I'm sure I still bought some LDs in 1999, but I don't recall anything past 1998 other than the aforementioned "Menace". Actually, I got into the CAV Disney sets in 1998 and probably got a few of those in 1999.

    Oh, now that I think about it, I remember I got some Criterion LDs at a good discount into 1999 – "The Game" and some others. I probably took advantage of other "dead format clearance sales" as well.

    The last domestic new release LD I recall buying was the extended version of "Frighteners" – and like "Phantom Menace" and pretty much everything else, I would've gotten that on DVD if one existed at the time.

    For all my reluctance to shift formats, I bailed on LD pretty quickly once I went DVD! If a title was out on both formats – like 1998's "Godzilla" – I went DVD…

  69. Josh Steinberg

    Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy laserdisc commentary notoriously began with him exclaiming “Fuck DVD!”

    I'd really forgotten about the pockets of anti-DVD animosity from those early days! I remember now that I cheered on Smith when he denounced DVD! 😆

    Ironic that by January 1999, I embarked on a 20-year-plus career as a DVD critic!

  70. Bryan^H

    I was never anti DVD, even though I knew my Laserdisc collection that I spent $thousands on was about as valuable as tree bark when DVD arrived.

    I was just about to cave and buy into LD, when I read an article in 1995, about DVD development and decided to hold off.

  71. Colin Jacobson

    I think fans had an emotional attachment to LD that never transferred to DVDs.

    LD was such a niche that fans got to feel "special". Like vinyl nowadays, it was awkward and expensive, but it allowed you to feel smugly superior to all those losers who watched P&S VHS tapes.

    You got that right! There was definitely an element of elitism among some LD fans. I remember how annoyed some of them were when DVDs loaded with special features that only used to be available on LD started appearing……at much lower prices, making them available to the "proletarian riff raff", and being sold at the likes of (ugh, gasp, disgusting!) Walmart.

  72. Bryan^H

    My fear is that Soundbars(easy, convenient, not messy) will take over, and Receiver/multi channel speaker systems will be for high end home theater enthusiasts only.

    That's different from current reality how?

  73. RobertR

    You got that right! There was definitely an element of elitism among some LD fans. I remember how annoyed some of them were when DVDs loaded with special features that only used to be available on LD started appearing……at much lower prices, making them available to the "proletarian riff raff", and being sold at the likes of (ugh, gasp, disgusting!) Walmart.

    LDs did feel more "special" than DVDs, partly because of price and availability. I'm not anti-big box stores, but when you can buy movies at checkout counters, they do lose that same luster.

    But the prices were a massive win for me. LDs were freaking expensive! I regarded it as a great move that I could now get movies with extra features that commanded a $100+ premium on LD for $30 or less!

  74. Colin Jacobson

    LDs did feel more "special" than DVDs, partly because of price and availability. I'm not anti-big box stores, but when you can buy movies at checkout counters, they do lose that same luster.

    But the prices were a massive win for me. LDs were freaking expensive! I regarded it as a great move that I could now get movies with extra features that commanded a $100+ premium on LD for $30 or less!

    DVD pricing and availability were a big win for everybody. Everybody, that is, who was primarily motivated by acquiring movies rather than feeling "superior" to other people.

  75. Colin Jacobson

    LDs did feel more "special" than DVDs, partly because of price and availability. I'm not anti-big box stores, but when you can buy movies at checkout counters, they do lose that same luster.

    But the prices were a massive win for me. LDs were freaking expensive! I regarded it as a great move that I could now get movies with extra features that commanded a $100+ premium on LD for $30 or less!

    It also doesn't help that you had to get up every 45 minutes and flip the disc over. In some cases up to 5 times!!!

    "bUt ThE sOuNd wAs LeSs CoMpRe"–I don't care.

  76. Lord Dalek

    It also doesn't help that you had to get up every 45 minutes and flip the disc over. In some cases up to 5 times!!!

    CAV discs were the best!!:)
    It is funny that such a big inconvenience was a non-issue for me when I owned it.,

    I loved every second of my time with it
    I kind of regret giving my entire collection, and player away for free.

  77. Lord Dalek

    It also doesn't help that you had to get up every 45 minutes and flip the disc over. In some cases up to 5 times!!!

    "bUt ThE sOuNd wAs LeSs CoMpRe"–I don't care.

    We actually borrowed a machine and discs of “Lawrence of Arabia” and had to change discs every 1/2 hour!

  78. I started out with VHS but mostly recorded most of my movies and in the beginning of LD I actually would rent some of the movies and record letterbox movies to VHS and later to S-VHS. But LD was the first format I actually purchased many movies on and I basically only purchased letterbox movies. The main thing that I loved about DVD at the time was the much smaller disc with 5.1 surround mixes. I also would replace Dolby versions of movies with DTS versions and it did not bother me to double dip titles. When HD came out I quickly adopted that as well and due to impatient I adopted both HD-DVD and Blu-ray even though from what I was reading I felt Blu-ray was the way to go. Blu-ray got me to purchase more movies than I had purchased on DVD due to what I feel are better looking transfers. But this also got me to upgrade equipment for video and also newer audio codex. So now I have adopted 4K blu-ray and my entire home theater has been upgraded to be compatible with 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. I have in the past worked as a appliance installer so I was in many customers homes. I could not tell you how many people ether still hanging on to VHS or those who did not have HDTV's, computers or a basic 5.1 surround system and sometimes did not even have a decent two channel system. My own brother had a death grip on pan & scan movies despite me telling him how he was missing out on picture he decided he hated it all the way into owning a 16 X 9 HDTV. Like many of us here I have adopted the latest and greatest but I am at that point where I ask myself do I really need anything more than 4K in the home? Do I need more than 11 channels of audio in the home? I know I am not interested in buying what I have in 4K over again so my 4K library will have to hopefully get me through the rest of my life.

    To go back and touch on VHS vs Beta briefly and something I feel effected a number of formats moving forward. Sony came out with Beta and some other formats which the masses did not support. But a good part of it IMHO was poor marketing from everything from Beta, Mini Disc and SACD. Sony finally caught a break with the success of Blu-ray after all the other formats failed. The masses adopted the audio CD like wildfire IMHO but not much has happened since and no physical format has replaced the CD. We now have highly compressed digital downloads and digital streaming for both audio and movies. Granted digital streaming and downloads have come a long way and I did get a 4K apple tv and do own digital movies now. I am not sure what can be done moving forward that will get consumers to purchase new gear and what will get them to support new formats moving forward.

  79. I don’t have a fancy system. I have a Logitech Z 906 5.1 system. The appeal was the THX certification. Yeah….I know. But the sound is great. I would love an Atmos system so I can hear true Atmos at home instead of the uprez, but Dolby and the companies they partner with have to price these things for he average working man. A Vizio 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar on Amazon is 600.00. Time to lower the price.

  80. RobertR

    DVD pricing and availability were a big win for everybody. Everybody, that is, who was primarily motivated by acquiring movies rather than feeling "superior" to other people.

    I never said that LDs made me feel superior. I just said they felt more special.

    Owning LD was like being in a little club. I didn't care about feeling superior – like "The LD community involves real movies fans and the VHS community is mouth-breathing slobs" – but there was a different vibe about the format than there was with DVD…

  81. Colin Jacobson

    I never said that LDs made me feel superior. I just said they felt more special.

    Owning LD was like being in a little club. I didn't care about feeling superior – like "The LD community involves real movies fans and the VHS community is mouth-breathing slobs" – but there was a different vibe about the format than there was with DVD…

    Sorry, didn't mean to imply that you were one of the people I was referring to.

  82. Brian Husar

    I don’t have a fancy system. I have a Logitech Z 906 5.1 system. The appeal was the THX certification. Yeah….I know. But the sound is great. I would love an Atmos system so I can hear true Atmos at home instead of the uprez, but Dolby and the companies they partner with have to price these things for he average working man. A Vizio 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar on Amazon is 600.00. Time to lower the price.

    Human civilization is still about four and a half DaveFs away from being able to refer to an Atmos soundbar as "true Atmos."

  83. DaveF

    Yes, but more. 🙂

    Everyone with a smartphone is benefiting from computational photography and getting vacation and birthday snapshots far better than they could a few years before. Good sensors plus lots of computer algorithms are doing things on photographs that were a few years ago the domain of skilled photographers and photo editors. But now, HDR is free. Co-adding raw frames to beat down dark current and read noise is done in hardware. Video is recorded at 30 fps, but 60 fps data is to reduce motion blur or do super-resolution computations.

    Noise canceling headphones are the canonical example of computation audio in the consumer world. We're now starting see this taken further and can guess at how it might apply to home theater.

    Long story short, there might be extensions to Atmos and DTS:X for the high end. I think they can benefit all the more from smart speakers. But I think the real benefits will come soonest to the lower end. And I think pretty soon the sub-$3000 5.1 surround system will be destroyed by an ensemble of $500 to $1000 smart speakers. Similarly to how camera phones are destroying the point and shoot camera market.

    To borrow from the Apple HomePod page:

    Take a high-end Atmos system: Currently the Audyssey-type calibration systems that consumer audio uses, as far as I know, adjust speaker delay and response function. But they don't measure 3D speaker positions, or have any ability to perform beam forming or multi-speaker noise cancelation. They don't truly calibrate a three-dimensional speaker array for generalized 3D sound. It's just a means to make the speakers have a "flat" response and sound as if from the same distance from a given listening position. And this is all done with relatively puny DSP chips in $1000-class AVRs.

    So let's add more speakers — for the high end enthusiast — and we'll have microphones in the speakers. And the calibration system with have the computational power of next year's iPhone, with its machine learning ("NeuralEngine") cores. It will self-calibrate. Every speaker can chirp and the whole around will listen. The system would build a 3D model of its speaker locations and also a room model with its obstructions and echoes. With its large array of speakers, it will use beam forming to not just have a EQ curve and time delay, but actively modify sound from all speakers to combat background noise (because even enthusiasts struggle with HVAC, street noise, people walking overhead, etc) and improve localization of three imagery.

    Because this is a high-end system, maybe it includes an additional calibration microphone, as Audssey does currently. But instead of just measuring a two foot bubble around the sweet spot, the user will do a multiple reading spread over the entire room. And the system will detect during listening whether you're alone, or in a full room, or if it's just you back you're in the back row and not the front row, and adjust its output accordingly.

    But what about the regular person. This is starting to happen with a pair of HomePods for stereo sound. I imagine an ensemble of five "HomePods". Again, they will self-calibrate against the room and each other. No external Audyssey mic or three hours needed for the homeowner to "calibrate". They'll just do it. And if the furniture changes or the flooring goes from carpet to hardwood, it will self-adjust without being told. And the speakers, being ensembles of speakers, will not need to be in the proscribed 5.1 arrangement.

    Even simpler then is a soundbar. Take a quality soundbar. Add in microphones and computer brain. Let it self-sense the room's characteristics, and apply machine learning "magic" to the audio processing, and out comes far better faked-Atmos than any bar can accomplish today.

    I really think you hit the nail on the head on this one. consider how Sonos' soundbars allow you to connect their Play:1 speakers as surrounds. it's not that far of a leap to incorporate reflective effects and use the built-in mics to expand and refine the soundfield, and a future generation of speakers could incorporate upward firing drivers.

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