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Dolby Atmos Demonstration at Dolby Labs in Soho Square, London

AV fanatics have been watching the progress of Dolby and its new Dolby Atmos technology ever since it was whispers in the dark. With interesting snippets released in magazines and on tech websites we were excited to get an invite by Pioneer to get a first-hand experience of Dolby Atmos at Dolby Labs in Soho Square, London. The idea was for Dolby to showcase the new technology in its custom designed cinema using its full range of speakers and decoders so we can witness what the technology could do for the cinema industry and how that will filter down to the home user.

However it was the second part of the tour that interested us the most where Pioneer where to demo the technology on their new Dolby Atmos enabled home theatre receivers. So ushered into a room laid out to represent a living room space, although who has 6 individual chairs in two rows I’m not sure, we had a brief explanation on the workings of the two types of speaker systems available to the home user. Firstly there is the in ceiling speaker design where home users install 1 or 2 pairs of speakers in the ceiling to add the height channels to their systems. The second system uses `presence’ speakers that sit on the front and rear speakers designed at a specific angle to give the impression of ceiling speakers by bouncing the sound off the ceiling and into the listening positions. Whichever speaker type is chosen the receiver adapts to the listening environment and processes the sound accordingly. For the demonstration the receiver used was Pioneers flagship SC-LX88 paired with KEF’s R series speakers which worked out as R700 front and rears, 200c centre and a 400b subwoofer. Providing the presence speakers was the new KEF R50 Dolby Atmos speakers sat onto of the front and rear speakers.

Running through the demo disc provided by Dolby we listened to both types of speakers and then used certain test sequences to change between them so we could see the differences between the two speaker systems, and although you did notice a better sound stage and detail from the in ceiling speakers, the presence speakers really didn’t fall far behind offering a great sound and detail that I wasn’t expecting from what could be classed as a compromise, they really are a great solution if ceiling speakers aren’t an easy install without compromising on the sound. Along with the performances and the interaction with the new kit (not forgetting the tea and biscuits!) Pioneer had a quick glance at a new speaker setup they are looking to hopefully provide to UK customers in the future that provides an all in one solution for Dolby Atmos. The idea being that they resemble normal floorstanding and bookshelf speakers but have built in Dolby Atmos certified speakers built into the tops providing customers with all the speakers required to run Dolby Atmos but in a standard looking 5.1 system and providing an easier solution. Pioneer is waiting on a possible rebranding, pricing and supply issues to be ironed out then possibly they will be available to UK customers.

Dolby Atmos conclusion…

All in all it was a really interesting event and gave us a good insight into what Dolby Atmos is and how it can easily be implemented into a home environment with ease. Although the tag line Pioneer are using of ‘only 4 more wires’ runs true for the speaker setup, it doesn’t include the new receiver and speakers also required to run Atmos as most older receivers in the market aren’t and won’t be Atmos compatible. But, if you’re in the market for a new home theatre setup and weighing up Dolby Atmos as a contender, it’s definitely worth investing if you are a film buff and really want to add an additional dimension to your listening pleasure.

Coming away from this we knew we needed to get involved in Dolby Atmos, so returning from the show we ordered ourselves the new SC-LX88 and LX58 Atmos enabled receivers for demo and stock and some KEF CI200RR-THX in ceiling speakers to provide the Atmos experience and got to work installing them within our demo room. After completion and an in-depth setup we sat down and listening and watched the Dolby Atmos Demo discs. Again, we blown away with the detail and sound stage provided with this new tech and we are fully behind it being the new standard in home cinema experience and will champion it to anyone that takes the time to pop down to our store to listen to it. With content a bit sparse at present with only Transformers – age of extension being the first title out, but a whole host of blockbuster titles in 2015 already using the new technology and release dates already provided, we think 2015 will be Dolby Atmos’s year for the home cinema owner.

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