24 of the best film scenes to test surround sound

20 of the best film scenes to test surround sound
(Image credit: Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures, Disney, Warner Bros.)

David Lynch once said, “films are 50 per cent visual and 50 per cent sound. Sometimes sound even overplays the visual".

He’s got a point: imagine Jaws without the dramatic ‘dun-dun’, 2001: A Space Odyssey without the visceral sound effects, or even – gulp! – Jurassic Park without its memorable theme.

If you've chosen the comfort of your home over getting covered in popcorn at your local cineplex, then the quality of your own speaker system for movie nights is hugely important. And while there’s value in practical, space-saving soundbars and, even more so, Dolby Atmos soundbars, nothing beats a full-fat home cinema speaker system for the ultimate AV experience.

Whether you have a 5.1- or 7.2-channel system, or even a Dolby Atmos set-up with extra in-ceiling or upward-firing speakers, these film scenes will reveal how good your AV system really is. Volume dial at the ready...

Interstellar (2014) - The Wormhole

You could easily compile a complete and compelling list comprising solely Hans Zimmer soundtracks – he's unarguably the modern master when it comes to adding scale and drama. 

One thing he makes clear is that there's far more to delivering immersive sound than volume and impact. 

This scene is a slow-burner, as so many of his classic tracks are, beginning by delivering brooding with tension and a sense of impending drama. Rumbling bass will wake up your subwoofer before the dive through the black hole ratchets up the action. Ominous organ notes give way to panicked details as the ship threatens to disintegrate all around you.

Awesome images help of course but without the stunning soundtrack Interstellar certainly wouldn't have the same impact. A brilliant way to remind you how great (home) cinema can be.

View Interstellar [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

House of Flying Daggers (2004) – chapter 4

Zhang Yimou’s gorgeous martial arts film has a soundtrack as vivid as its exotic picture – and the echo-game scene will be the first to detect any gaps in your system's soundfield.

Beans, hurled by a police captain in slow motion, meticulously ping around the room and bounce off a circle of drums, requiring your system to track their trajectory precisely. Integration is key here, and the soundfield should take on the dimension of – and be as tight-knit as – the drum arrangement, thus putting you at the centre of it.

Blistering percussion is a good test of dynamics too, while smashing glass and the dancer’s twinkling headpiece will challenge your speakers’ tweeters to keep a lid on the treble.

Ready for more? Later on, the five-minute bamboo-forest fight – just as awesome as it sounds – offers a similar challenge when it comes to precision and cohesiveness, as branches creak, break and soar through the air.

View House of Flying Daggers [Blu-ray] on Amazon

Unbroken (2014) - bombing raid

Want to know what Dolby Atmos is all about? Get yourself a copy of Angelina Jolie's Unbroken and head straight to the bombing raid. It's glorious from the off, opening with a choral score that should sound heavenly on your speakers. It slowly gives way to the hum of the approaching squadron of bombers and you need to be able to hear real dimension to the individual rotor blades of their propellers buzzing by.

The real meat of the action is the dog fight with the Japanese planes swopping through the soundscape, followed closely by rattling machine gun fire spiralling after them.

Atmos is about more than just height. The extra axis of sound means the designer can pick and place effects into the soundfield as well as adding that overhead dimension. This scene has both, and if you're not ducking your head every time the enemy comes in for another pass, then it's time to upgrade your equipment.

View Unbroken [Blu-ray] on Amazon

Kraftwerk 3-D: The Catalogue (2017) - chapter Autobahn

In 2017, the electronic pop pioneers released a 3D concert film (in Dolby Atmos, featuring their eight-album-spanning ’70s and ’80s oeuvre) performed during shows between 2012 and 2016. We know what you’re thinking: "hand me my debit card right now."

While the absence of crowd noise arguably detracts from the bedrock design of the archetypal gig experience, the 5.1 Dolby Atmos presentation (the Blu-ray also includes a ‘Headphone Surround 3D’ mix) offers an all-encompassing, spatial-dynamic and cohesive blanket of sound that’s as mesmeric as the languid projections behind the techno machine men. And it’s the 14-minute live version of Autobahn – one of the most precise and polished tracks – that you’ll especially want to prick up your ears for. The bottom line: it should sound sublime through your system.

And look it, too. Promising a multi-sensory celebration of melody and technology, it also happens to be one of the more visual performances, with contrasting projections displaying antique cars and driverless cars on empty, sun-kissed motorway vistas.

View Kraftwerk: 3-D: The Catalogue [Blu-ray] on Amazon

Baby Driver (2017) - chapter 1

The opening scene from Edgar Wright's Baby Driver won't do much for your centre channel but your front and rear pairs are going to love it.

While it begins with a ringing sound that should come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, this sequence gets going as a test for your stereo pair. The whole scene is set to Bellbottoms by the John Spencer Blues Explosion. It's a song with serious attack and it needs to come across with - no pun intended - real drive. If you don't want to hear it again by the end of the scene, then your set-up is doing something wrong.

When the getaway begins, though, it's about how your surround speakers integrate with the fronts. The tyres should screech across the soundscape as the car slides about and it mustn't be so clumsy as to sound like the effect is simply chucked from speaker to speaker. Ideally, it moves across the space so subtly and seamlessly that you forget about your system altogether - not an easy thing to do when you're testing, we grant you.

Re-calibrating the levels on your AVR might help but there could be more fundamental issues.

View Baby Driver [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Taxi Driver (1976) - chapter 1

From a Baby Driver to a Taxi one - there's not much in the way of whizz-bangs in this Scorcese classic to test out the effects chops of your home cinema system but, for music and for dialogue, it's a winner.

Expression and dynamism are the watchwords for your front and rear pairs from the minute that the title sequences of this film begin. It's a drive-by of night-time New York City set to Bernard Herrmann's incredible score which slips from languid to dangerous in an instant.

You're looking for your speakers to melt into the background and produce an all round, open sound that you can almost bathe in. It needs to lull you into relaxation before smacking you round the face with discord in a reminder of the Travis Bickle that's yet to come.

Then it's a great test for your centre speaker as Bickle answers questions at his taxi driver job interview. He's a bit of a mumbler but his words should still be nice and clear and it should be impossible for him to hide his troubled nature behind them. His controller gets the sense that there's something not quite right with Bickle and so should the audience.

View Taxi Driver [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) - ferry scene

Marvel means nothing if not great action, and the web-slinger is an awesome character to test big swushing surround effects. This mid-movie, first-time showdown between Spider-man and the Vulture is an excellent work-out for a home cinema set-up.

It begins with some pretty standard busy action - gun shots from left, right, up and down; smart dialogue; a jaunty soundtrack - and then quickly moves to a full-on swinging and flying fest from the two lead characters.

The final act is possibly the most telling, certainly for your sub. There is some wonderfully unearthly groaning and buckling of the hull when the ferry splits in two – which needs to be communicated by your system with terrifying weight to give that genuine sense of scale. That said, this is a moment for revealing your system's talents for dynamics and detail too.

The soundscape gets very bare. The music drops away and we really need to hear true empty silences between those incredible, singular effects. Weedy set-ups need not apply.

View Spider-man: Homecoming [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016) - chapter 7

While it's easy to point to the most action-heavy sections of a film as a great workout for your speakers and AV receiver, it’s often the quieter moments that can give you just as much information on how subtle, evocative and dynamic your system can be.

The scene where we’re first introduced to Rey in The Force Awakens is completely devoid of any loud noises or even dialogue. It’s all about space and silence conveying the immense, vast emptiness of the cavernous ruins of the star destroyer should elicit a sense of awe.

Your system should also be able to convey the gentle shift in atmosphere as Rey emerges out into the desert plains of her home planet, the solid, scraping clunk of metal as she loads up her speedster, and the delicate, agile strands of Rey’s Theme. Handled bluntly, it loses that sense of wonder and adventure.

View Star Wars: The Force Awakens [Blu-ray] on Amazon

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - chapter 2

Home cinema sound isn't always about those blockbuster moments – and the second sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy is case in point. It's the title scene when Peter Quill, now an adult, arrives on Morag to find the Infinity Stone. The filmmaking here is all about the atmosphere and how it changes twice.

To begin with, we need an ominous feel to the deserted city. Your system will need the dynamic skill to render every drop of rain against the moody string soundtrack. Your sub will need to be big enough to hit you chest every time water shoots up from the planet's surface but not be so soft that the effect is too muffled.

Then, when Quill dons his Walkman and plays Come and Get You Love, it needs timing to bring out the real rhythmic joy and silliness of watching him dance around in the cave.

And then we get to the action as he's confronted by Ronan's men. We need clear, defined pulses from the laser blasts, the crackle of Quill's jet boots and, of course, some nice clear pre-fight dialogue. It's a complete home cinema work-out and will offer a quick pointer to where you might have a weakness.

View Guardians of the Galaxy [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

John Wick (2014) - chapter 7

John Wick is the best thing Keanu Reeves has done since The Matrix. In fact, the retired-but-not-anymore hitman is probably cooler than Neo in every way: he has better suits, better gun-fights and better one-liners.

And the disc is a wicked test for your home cinema system. Take chapter 7, the club scene, where Wick brutalises a queue of henchman while chasing a towelled Alfie Allen through crowds of merrymakers. 

There's no huge surround effects but your speaker package will still need a balletic poise, agility and huge reserves of muscle to handle the exquisitely precise choreography. The underlying track, Le Castle Vania by LED Spirals, should lead with a compelling sense of purpose and then be clearly and neatly punctuated by every hit and point-blank shot to the face without anything missing a beat.

Even your centre has work to do with moments of dialogue. Well, we say dialogue – it's more like groans and tortured death rattles. But it is centre channel business nonetheless. They really shouldn't have killed his dog.

View John Wick [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

WALL-E (2008) - chapter 22

The importance of sound in film is irrefutable, but rarely to the extent that it is in Pixar’s WALL-E, where sound is both the narrative and language of the largely dialogue-free animation. One of its most charming scenes also happens to be among the more sonically colourful too, as one of Hollywood’s most-loved robots is propelled through space on a fire extinguisher with Eve tumbling after him.

You should be able to track their position on the screen with your eyes closed, hear the faint sprays from the extinguisher and the robots’ subtle mechanical clicks – a mix of real-world sound and synthesizers – in your rear channels, and be immersed in the uplifting instrumentation and ethereal ambience created by sound designer Ben Burtt. There’s even a bit of dialogue from the red-suited humans in the middle for your center speaker to have a chance to shine.

View WALL-E [Blu-ray] on Amazon

Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) - chapter 9

Through 95 minutes of musical montage, live action and animation, this rock opera – the brainchild of Floyd member Roger Waters – tells the tragic story of rock star Floyd ‘Pink’ Pinkerton (Bob Geldof) and his psychological downfall. Yes, it’s dark and downright depressing but - Floyd fan or not - there's no denying it’s an audio treat.

Among the first animated films with a Dolby Stereo soundtrack, it was presented on DVD in 1999 with a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound mix. The film didn’t win Best Sound at the 1983 BAFTA Film Awards for having just one or two good-sounding scenes.

The one backed by Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) – BAFTA winner of Best Original Song, too – is a sure highlight, and a great test for explosive dynamics and midrange solidity, not to mention your subwoofer’s tunefulness. You just might want to turn it down when the school kids rampage around their classroom!

View Pink Floyd: The Wall [DVD] on Amazon

Star Trek (2009) - chapter 5

We’ve seen it a gazillion times by now, but the scene where Bones keeps injecting Kirk with vaccines, the reveal of the USS Enterprise and the ship going into warp speed remains one of the best and funniest moments of JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek.

It’s also a magnificent test for your home cinema system. You should be able to feel the height and movement of the ships that fly over the Starfleet students as they bustle about in the hanger; the change in scale and atmosphere when Bones and Kirk move to a smaller room; hear the little beeping, blinking noises inside the Enterprise; and the deadpan humour in Captain Pike’s gravelly voice.

The moment of truth comes when Michael Giacchino’s stirring score fills the entire room and reaches a beautiful flourish when you first see the Enterprise. The soaring music should end with blaring horns and a moment of awe as the pristine starship is finally revealed. And when it hits warp speed, your system should be delivering that gut-punching, precise sound effect with layers of deep, taut bass.

If you're spine's not tingling after that lot, it's time to find some new home cinema gear.

View Star Trek [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2017) - chapter 17

Thanks to its Ultra HD Blu-ray release, Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi flick gets the Atmos treatment – a presence that can be felt right from the off, with its impressive sense of heft, depth and dynamism.

Crowd scenes, like in chapter 17, hustle and bustle with effects showcasing pinpoint accuracy when it comes to placement within the soundfield. It’s also one of the better uses of overhead channels with the rain – and it rains quite a bit in Blade Runner – adding a sense of verticality that a 7.1 track couldn’t aspire to.

Vangelis’ enigmatic score gets a wonderful outing and, when combined with the effects, offers a great example of the immersion that Atmos can bring.

View Blade Runner: The Final Cut [Ultra HD Blu-ray] on Amazon

The Matrix (1999) - chapter 30

Keanu Reeves makes a second appearance on this list with the Wachowski's seminal film. The Matrix gets a Dolby Atmos soundtrack for its 4K Blu-ray release, and it's a belter.

Dan Davis's atonal orchestral score should fill the surrounds, and consequently your room, with an expansive quality that's an excellent, expressive accompaniment to the action on screen.

But it's in the third act when the action ramps up that the fun happens: the moment when Neo and Trinity call for guns ("lots of guns") should fill the room while the iconic Bullet Time sequences should pan through your surround speakers so well that you'll want to reach for the rewind button. Bass needs to be a big and arresting presence but also clean and tightly controlled.

It's a demanding workout for your cinema system. When rendered right, it sounds magnificent.

View The Matrix [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - the whole film (yes, really)

This two-hour chase opera might sound a mess on a lesser system, but it's not supposed to be a wall of noise. You’ll need a mighty powerful system to really feel the thunderous roar of the souped-up engines - one that can convey the scale of the desert wasteland, the wind storms and the jagged, rusty monstrous cars.

Junkie XL’s soundtrack is orchestral and furious, with angry drums egging the chase on while the strings and electronic beats drive the on-screen action. You’ll need a system that’s precise and articulate enough to keep the tension of the music, the noise of the cars and the explosions all running alongside one another.

Each gunshot, engine rev and grunted Tom Hardy dialogue needs to be distinguishable. But the best part is the distorted guitar riffs that suddenly flare up whenever the camera cuts to the Doof Warrior – the red jumpsuit-wearing guitarist who’s attached to his insane rig on bungee ropes and plays a double-necked guitar that shoots flames. Yes, really.

View Mad Max: Fury Road [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Ford v Ferrari (2019) - the races

You couldn’t make a movie about the Le Mans 24 hours race without some pretty epic driving sequences, and James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari delivers 30 minutes of racing that arcs the final third of the film. Containing interplay between internal and external space, crashes, rain and a searing wide panned score (in the same key as the Ford GT 40 engine, no less), this set piece is a sonic masterclass in authenticity and power with a very human story at its centre.

But for giving your surround system a quick runabout, the shorter Willow Springs race toward the start of the film is ideal. As Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale) steers from the open cockpit of his Ford Cobra, you should feel heavily wind buffeted from all sides. Inside the cabin, you’re surrounded by vibrations of the smashed windshield, rattling suspension and gear change transients. Meanwhile, in seamless transitions to exterior shots, the continuous directionality of the cars as they zip across the screen, or skid off the track, is precisely located.

With the right system, the layers of sound should feel visceral and thrilling without being overbearing. There’s very little underscore here but pay close attention to the internalised moment where all the focus is on Miles’ breathing, and harmonic drones subtly start to creep into the rears. It's an impressionistic bit of sonic storytelling in the midst of action that should naturally envelop the viewer without feeling distracting or disjointed.

View Ford v Ferrari [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - chapter 1

Set 30 years after the events of its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is not so much a sequel but an extension of the original's universe, only this time with more plot.

As with the first Blade Runner, 2049 notably embeds sound into the score, blurring the lines between effects and music to create a unified sonic landscape full of tonality, motion and texture. In fact, it’s the music that gets the most Dolby Atmos treatment, using the surrounds for big, intense moments to prevent the image from narrowing.

Watching the opening scene, you should feel immediately feel blanketed in the musical atmosphere. One of the first sounds that will strike you, as well as your subwoofer(s), is the sonorous, undulating bass. If your drivers can cope with the LFE, it should feel expansive without masking the other details in the scene, like the spinner flying overhead or the buzzer waking Ryan Gosling.

Some of the most sonically revealing moments in 2049 are the quietest, and there are a lot of them, especially when it comes to the treatment of dialogue. Later on, in the scenes inside Wallace’s harsh reflective rooms, his direct voice is heard in the overhead for an oppressive, claustrophobic feel while the vocal reverb is subtly decorrelated to give a colossal sense of space. Even with rippling delays and reverb tails ricocheting all around, you should still find that the screen pulls and holds focus.

View Blade Runner 2049 [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Gravity (2013) - chapter 1

Throughout the tense 90 minutes of Gravity as Sandra bullock hurtles through the vacuum of space with only George Clooney for company, the Oscar-winning Dolby Atmos mix (only available on the limited edition Diamond Luxe Blu-ray or the special edition HD Blu-ray) both helps the viewer find focus within the confusing geography of nothingness while also heightening the sensation of disorientation. 

In a film where becoming untethered is a constant threat, the sound team decided to set the dialogue-free from the centre of the screen and allowed it to track with the actors. In the opening scene, as Bullock tumbles, we hear Clooney’s radio communication travel from the rear right to the front and back again, following her terrifying trajectory. As the voices pan around your system, it’s a great way to check the high-mid definition of your rear speakers. And it’s not just dialogue that has been allowed to float; the entire score is composed for surround. It should move, swell and clash with the action without becoming chaotic and losing rhythmic integrity.

With little ambience to play with, the surrounds are used effectively to show changes of space within... well, space. While Bullock starts drifting, the camera zooms right inside her helmet, and sonically we join that space for the first time - the air, breath and hint of tetanus subtly cloaking us. More dynamic is the fire scene later in the film that burns overhead until the airlock is shut, damping everything down before more deep thuds from above. There’s plenty for your vertical channels to grapple with here.

View Gravity [HD Blu-ray] on Amazon

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) - Live Aid

When you first watch Bohemian Rhapsody, there's plenty to distract you, from Rami Malek's dental apparatus to marveling at Gwilym Lee's commitment to mirroring Brian May's long-term singular haircut. However, the final 20 minutes of the film that recreates, almost in full, Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance at Wembley is captivating and, sonically, the closest feeling to being a live gig we’ve had in quite some time.

The film's audio team went to great lengths to have options for every camera angle of this marathon scene. Along with the 16-track archive recording secretly made by the BBC at the time, they were able to capture PA ambience with the help of Queen’s sound engineers, who played back the film tracks in an empty stadium kitted out with 22 mics before a gig.

The result means that whether behind the strings of Freddie's piano, in amongst Roger Taylor's kit or jostling in the press pit, the sonic perspective has astonishing realism. 

The scene opens with a camera flying over the raucous stadium crowd and a swooping sensation of height and movement. As we move around the stage, we hear the proximity of each amp and instrument, and within the crowd, we are surrounded by thousands of chanting voices. Even the long shots from the cheap seats should feel engulfing, transportive and irresistibly enjoyable.

View Bohemian Rhapsody [4K Blu-ray] on Amazon

Dune (2021) - The Sandworm Reveal

While sci-fi is often rooted in far-fetched fantasy, we find it to be most effective when it's connected with reality in order to make it more believable. 2021's Dune, an adaptation long in the making and certainly not the first live-action take on the pivotal science fiction story, nailed this wholeheartedly with its tactile world-building elements. This extends past the excellent set design and concept art, as well as Denis Villeuneve's stellar directing (the same visionary behind Blade Runner 2049 which you'll already have seen on this list), but also in the film's sound design.

Crucially, out of the 3200 sound effects in the film, just four were totally synthesised, which explains the film's odd uncanny sense of familiarity despite taking place in a distant solar system occupied with nightmarish alien warlords and worms that can devour small towns. Notably, the vehicles in Dune take on a familiar yet animalistic design, with the aerial vehicle known in-universe as an "Ornithopter", taking on a dragonfly-like appearance. The resemblance isn't just physical, however, as the sound designers combined a variety of organic insect and feline sounds to achieve the fluttering wings and buzzing engine noise. 

This scene starts tame, with a gentle cruise over the deserts of Arrakis, but it quickly devolves into a rescue mission as the Ornithopter nose dives and the protagonists rush out into the sandstorm to help the crew of a large spice harvester before a deadly worm attack - it'll make more sense when you watch it. What results is a sonic feast, as the sounds of rushing wind, creaking metal and frantic cries envelop you in surround sound. It culminates with a deep, guttural bass drop as the worm surfaces, accompanied by Hans Zimmer's masterful score, this is not a movie to be missed, especially if you have a good surround sound system.

View Dune 4K UHD Blu-Ray on Amazon

No Time To Die (2021) - Chase through Matera

Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond may  not have lived up to Casino Royal  for many, but its opening chase scene provided plenty of high octane thrills. It included some sweet vehicle stunts, and a smorgasbord of action sound effects including the crunching metal of crashing cars and the satisfying ping of bullets hitting bulletproof glass. The scene kicks off with an explosion that takes Bond's hearing, which the sound designer's cleverly worked into the film's audio presentation. We hear 007's ears ringing as if they were our own, and then it kicks into high gear.

Whether its the buzzing engine of a dirt bike zipping across the cobbled streets before making an extraordinary jump, or the screeching of tyres as Bond weaves the Aston Martin DB5 through the streets of the Italian town, this car chase is a feast for all the senses.

It culminates in a standoff within a town square, as the baddies open fire on Bond's bulletproof Aston. The effect of bullets clinking against the armoured car, as the glass splinters and buckles is exhilarated, especially in surround sound as many scenes taken place within the car from the protagonists position. But this is Agent 007 we're talking about here, and he always has an escape plan, this time it so happens to involve the rattling machine guns strapped to the front of his car, a hissing smokescreen deployment and revving the DB5 up to perform some graceful donuts before making his escape - looking and sounding as good as ever 007.

View No TimThe Batman e To Die 4K UHD Blu-Ray on Amazon

The Batman (2022) - Batmobile chase

After what feels like an eternity of lacklustre DC films, we finally got a worthy adaption of the caped crusader in the form of 2022's The Batman for the first time since The Dark Knight Rises was released a decade prior. While the film ticks practically every checkbox for us, including the grimy yet gorgeous take on Gotham that's enhanced through expert set design, lighting and cinematography, it also happens to sound fantastic.

The pivotal moment that demands a quality sound system has to be the Batmobile chase scene between the titular character and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as The Penguin. What starts out as a shootout quickly escalates, ass Batman makes an entrance that induces goosebumps no matter how many times you watch it. The sound of the Batmobile revving up, with the snarling V8 engine accompanied by the whistle of an actual jet booster is sensational and it only gets better from here.

As the chase moves onto the motorway, the camera cuts between inside and outside the Batmobile and Penguin's Maserati, meaning we get to experience the surround effect of cars whizzing by at top speed from inside the cockpit. As the action spins to out-of-control levels, the crashes of lorries overturning and spilling cargo and exploding in true Hollywood fashion is pulse pounding.

As the chase reaches its climax, the Batmobile lets out one final roar as it jumps through a fiery explosion before smashing into the back of the Italian sports car. We're placed within the Maserati as it flips out of control, with the sound spinning around us in tandem, effectively carried out in surround sound.

View The Batman 4K UHD Blu-Ray on Amazon

Babylon (2023) - The party

From the director of La La Land, a touching tragic romance, and First Man, an emotional biopic centred around Neil Armstrong during the 1969 Moon Landing, comes Babylon; a raunchy, messy and unpredictable deep dive into the golden age of Hollywood. We'll preface now that this is not a family-friendly movie, however, it just so happens to sound pretty incredible. 

After the opening scene, we're taken to a depraved and bombastic party full of music, dance routines, performers, alcohol, drugs and... an elephant? Babylon whips around this opening party as the infectious jazz soundtrack plays, while increasingly taboo things happen. Whether that's the enveloping sound of the crowd cheering (or screaming in fear) or the individual instruments of the jazz band asserting dominance as the camera zooms in on the maestros, it is arguably closer to overstimulation than anything else, however, the sense of chaos is conveyed so effectively through the sound design that it instantly mesmerised us.

As the party descends further into chaos chairs and bottles go flying, with the crashing and smashing sounds piercing through the bustle of the crowd and toe-tapping soundtrack, The main draw here is that we follow protagonist Manny as he weaves his way through this party in one long shot, putting us at the centre of the senseless chaos, making it an ideal scene to test drive your surround sound kit.

View Babylon 4K UHD Blu-Ray on Amazon


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Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.

  • Axe
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    Looking for the best film scenes to show off your surround sound system's potency? We have just what you need...

    19 of the best film scenes to test surround sound : Read more
    What a SLOPPY INCOMPETENT article! Just glancing at it for a few seconds: David Lynch may have said that, but Lucas and others said it first. "2001" sound effects? Are you kidding? It's one of the only accurate no sound in space films ever. "Blade Runner" (The Final Cut) was 2007, not 2017! And if you are going by specific video release dates, then why do you list "Taxi Driver" as 1976?! And WHAT is that doing in the line up along with the dumb as ---- incredibly over-rated infantile millennial "Baby Driver"? Probably plenty more ineptness, but not bothering at this point.
  • Woogy
    Axe said:
    What a SLOPPY INCOMPETENT article! Just glancing at it for a few seconds: David Lynch may have said that, but Lucas and others said it first. "2001" sound effects? Are you kidding? It's one of the only accurate no sound in space films ever. "Blade Runner" (The Final Cut) was 2007, not 2017! And if you are going by specific video release dates, then why do you list "Taxi Driver" as 1976?! And WHAT is that doing in the line up along with the dumb as ---- incredibly over-rated infantile millennial "Baby Driver"? Probably plenty more ineptness, but not bothering at this point.
    The Blade Runner final cut referred to in the article is the 4K UHD version which was released in 2017. Taxi Driver was released in cinemas in February 1976.

    And the article is suggesting films that test your surround set-up. So, your personal opinion of Baby Driver as a film is null and void, as well as churlish.
  • Axe
    (Abusive terminology removed by moderators) No kidding "Blade Runner (The Final Cut)" is dated for its UHD video release! The point is the DUMB SLOPPY inconsistency! The "Taxi Driver" 35mm print from 1976 is not what is being reviewed for home video surround, nor are the several other entries listed by theatrical release dates! Either list all by theatrical release date or all by particular video edition release date! That simple dummy. As for infantile "Baby Driver", the ONLY reason it's included is the reviewer's personal opinion of that stupid film, not its surround sound for testing your setup! There are literally hundreds if not thousands of titles that would do the job as well or better.
    The article is so stupid, sloppy and worthless it should be removed.
  • sproggit
    If you'd had the humility to title this "Our favorite film scenes", rather than "The Best", you might be excused. But this list is just idiocy. Just one observation to make: for some reason a lot of the most impactful soundtracks can be found on otherwise dire movies... See my list for examples!

    In no particular order...
    - Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith - the opening scene where Obi-Wan and Anakin attack Grievous' flagship - excellent for 3D imaging...
    - Transformers I - opening sequence Where Blackout attacks the SOCCENT Air Base
    - Cobra (Stallone) - the scene at the foundry near the end of the movie - an early DTS-HD sound track...
    - Ronin - the scene where they attempt to ambush the car containing the briefcase
    - The Sorcerer's Apprentice - the scene with the Tesla coils
    - The Fall - the scene near the end with the guards chasing the survivors across the palace, all sounding like a pack of hunting dogs...
    - The Fifth Element - The Operatic Recital/Lilu's fight with the Mangalores

    Literally so many to choose from, it's hard to understand where this selection came from. Sad!
  • anthem receivers rock
    watch Annihilation, its got the best sound.
  • oiche_shamhna
    This list cannot be complete until Super 8 is added. The train wreck scene will test any system