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Immersive Audio

Bringing the "Theater" back to your home

Immersive Audio

So you’ve gone to the movie theater and watched the latest blockbuster on one of the main screens. It was amazing. You loved the movie so much that you go out and buy it as soon as it comes out on Blu-ray, pop it in to your system at home, and sit back to enjoy the magic all over again. But something is wrong. You have a great TV, and a good surround sound system. You even have a giant bowl of movie theater buttered popcorn in your lap. But this time around, it just doesn’t make you feel like you are “there” as much as it did in the theater. You still enjoyed watching the movie again, but just doesn’t quite live up. So, what is missing? More than likely, it was something so subtle that unless you know what you are looking for you probably missed it. The answer? More speakers.

Wait, you mean my system isn’t loud enough?
It’s less a case of volume, but rather where the sound is coming from. Many of the big movie theaters are using newer types of surround sound, generally called “Immersive Surround,” to improve your movie-going experience. This adds a third axis from which you hear sound coming from.

Third axis? That sounds like you are talking about 3D.
Not too far off, actually. To relate to things in three dimensions, we use height, width, and depth to determine the size and position of something. Video generally has height and width, but no depth. That’s what 3D video attempts to introduce. Your typical surround sound setup on the other hand, gives you sound in width (left and right) and depth (front and back), but doesn’t address any audio from the height dimension (above and below). Immersive Surround gives you some of that third dimension by adding speakers directly above the listening area, or by adding speakers designed to reflect sound from that area to the listener. To that end, you will need more speakers.

Okay, so it’s just sound coming from above? That’s all?
Again, not quite. It’s more than just adding speakers above you, it’s also about how the audio is mixed, or designed. The recording studios carefully select the sounds that are coming from above the listening area, so that only those are sent to the speakers. This ends up with a rich, engaging, and immersive listening experience. You can hear the planes coming up from behind you and flying right over your head before they streak across the screen, flying away from the camera. You can hear the monster walking across the creaking floorboards above and behind you as you watch the hero on screen lying quietly trying to avoid being noticed. It’s these little nuances of audio that Immersive Surround bridges the gap to, and will help bring that amazing theater experience to your own home.

Alright, sounds good. Do I just buy more speakers and drop them in?
While many of us may wish it were that simple, quality results rarely are. Your home theater may or may not be ready for the change. It could need just a few additional reflective speakers added to your existing system, or it may require additional wiring, speakers, and replacement of your existing Receiver. The room itself may be ill suited to supporting the additional soundscape as well. It’s best to contact a professional and have them come take a look at your current system and discuss your desires and expectations with them to see what it will take to bring the magic of the theater back to your home again.

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