Was very very lucky to be invited to attend the What HiFI / Dolby demonstration night of the new Dolby Atmos system at Dolby HQ in London last night. All I can say is wow :O I have always been a fan of surround sound and up until now I've been more than happy with my 5.1 setup or even 7.1 in the cinemas. I always thought the surround effect was very immersive and you could imagine the sounds sweeping around the room in accordance with the on screen action.
With Atmos I genuinely think this is much more than just the next step, its a monumental leap forward not only in the technology but also the whole experience. It is much much more immersive ( a description that is used too often I feel in conventional surround sound set ups) to the point where during several of the demo clips they used to show off the system I had goosebumps, I felt that drawn in. Also the panning of sound is much more smoother, but I have only noticed this in retrospect to what I'm used to. You can easily track sounds as it goes, not only around you in a somewhat linear plane, but also up and over your head.
One clip was a rainforest setting and the noise of the rain from above was simply incredible. A very basic effect but made it so much more enthralling. Another was a peice they had filmed of opera. Placement of the opera singers and the backing choir was amazing, it was so precise it made the whole thing more life like and immersive. At the end of the clip when the audience starting applauding I nearly stood up thinking it was the people behind me applauding!
I am genuinely very excited by this emergence and I cannot wait till it is rolled out in more cinemas here. If you get a chance to see something in Dolby Atmos I urge you to go. My words here really don't do it justice, but if you get the chance to experience it I hope you would agree with what I've tried to get across. To this effect, Dolby, and the cinema chains, need to advertise the fact they have the Atmos system installed and what films they will be showcasing it with. Something like Gravity I would imagine would be outstanding.
Many thanks the the What HiFi team for the invitation and to Dolby. It was truely a great and very exciting experience. The chance to hear and see some of the latest award winners was also fantastic