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Dolby Atmos at home (pictures)

Dolby Atmos is the big thing in cinema sound right now, and it might be the next big thing in your home theater. We take a tour of Dolby's studios to see some Atmos-friendly gear.

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Geoffrey Morrison

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Dolby

Dolby has facilities all over America, and indeed the world. For its latest Atmos event, we spent time at two buildings in Burbank, California. One housed a small demo cinema, which you'll see next, and the other had a home-theater setup.

Read more about my visit to Dolby studios here.

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Two-in-one

In addition to working as a small cinema, it doubles as a mixing stage.

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A few seats and a mixing board

Note the long slab of the mixing board behind the second row of seats. There are 35 speakers in this room.

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Mixing board

Dolby says it is building near-field Atmos mixing rooms, not too dissimilar to this one, for the major studios as a way to hasten take-up in the home-cinema environment.

Dolby says that while film-makers and disk authors can use the original Atmos file and put it untouched on the Blu-ray disk, many soundtracks will need some intervention.

It's not quite as substantial as what you see at places like Abbey Road, but it doesn't need to be. The several computer screens are used for much of the work.

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Old school

Around the office are relics from the past, like this reader from the days of...what was it called? Flim?

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As ya do...

Dolby has won numerous Emmys and Oscars.

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Home-theater demo

This is the room they set up for the Atmos home-theater demo. Note the ceiling speakers (there were two more out of frame). It was what they call a 7.1.4 setup, the last figure being the number of ceiling speakers.

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Speaker proto

Note the upward-firing driver of this Atmos-enabled speaker prototype.

Dolby says in addition to dedicated speakers, users will be able to add up-firing "Atmos modules" to their existing speakers, and some manufacturers are even planning to bundle these with Atmos receivers.

In a few clicks you'll see what some production models will look like.

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More wires

The top drivers are effectively a different speaker, so you need to run an additional set of speaker wires to them.

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Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR

Two bookshelf speakers, designed by Andrew Jones for Pioneer. Likely inexpensive, and good, if the non-Atmos versions are any indication.

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Onkyo TX-NR636

The Onkyo TX-NR636 is a receiver that promises an upgrade to Atmos compatibility later in the year.

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Integra DTR-50.6

The back panel of the Integra DTR-50.6, one of the new Atmos-enabled receivers. There are also models from Integra's sister company Onkyo, along with Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, and Pioneer. Expect others soon.

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Pioneer SC-85

The back panel of the Atmos-enabled SC-85 from Pioneer. Note the speaker connection labeled "top middle."

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Pioneer SP-EFS73

The tower versions off the SP-EBS73-LR. To give you a sense of size, the woofers are 5 inches in diameter.

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Yamaha RX-A2040

The Yamaha RX-A2040, which has nine amp channels.

Read more about my visit to Dolby studios here.

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