What began rather slowly with support from a handful of manufacturers and just a smattering of content has rapidly grown over the past year to make Dolby Atmos a significant force in the home theater market. Models are now available from virtually every receiver manufacturer. Sony was one of the last major “holdouts,” but its new STR-ZA5000ES launched at this past CEDIA and a full review is coming soon. Dolby Atmos 5.1.2-capable models are now priced as low as $400. At this point, Dolby Atmos is a ubiquitous feature on virtually every receiver that you sell.
Even still, it’s likely that Atmos isn’t something many of your customers have heard much about, let alone experienced. (I live more than 100 miles away from the nearest Dolby Atmos-equipped commercial theater.) And if you are waiting for someone to come in specifically requesting it, then you’ll likely be missing out on sales opportunities to upgrade them to a .2 or .4 system.
If you have not done so already, installing a demo system should be a priority—even if it’s in your home—so you can let people experience this 3D audio format first hand. Atmos isn’t one of those, “I think I can kinda hear it…” kinds of technologies, but rather an easily demonstrable performance upgrade. And even if your prewires don’t include wiring for in-ceiling, overhead Atmos speakers (but, seriously, why aren’t they?) your customers will enjoy more immersive, detailed 5.1-channel surround sound with any Atmos capable receiver playing Atmos encoded content.
On the theatrical front, Atmos is embraced by virtually every major studio and is featured on nearly every marquee titled released. On top of an Atmos film—
Mad Max: Fury Road—winning both technical audio awards (Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing) at this year’s Academy Awards, five of the six films nominated in both categories— Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sicario, The Martian, and The Revenant—were recorded in Dolby Atmos. (Only Bridge of Spies was not recorded in Atmos.)
As of March, Dolby hits 50 Atmos titles available for the home, including 37 Blu-ray discs and 13 Ultra HD Blu-ray titles. Additionally, there are currently 14 titles available for streaming from Vudu. All of this definitively answers the question, “What is there to watch in Atmos?”
Disappointingly absent from the list of films available at home is anything from Disney, including Pixar. This is even more surprising when you consider that numerous Disney titles have taken advantage of Dolby Atmos audio, and Pixar was the first studio to have a film released in Atmos with
Brave back in 2012.
Most galling is that the upcoming April 5 Blu-ray release of
Star Wars: The Force Awakens—currently the third largest grossing film of all time—will NOT include its theatrical Atmos mix. This is the case even though co-producer Ben Rosenblatt commented, “I really can’t imagine hearing the film in anything but [Atmos]. John Williams believes that that format really captures the orchestra and I couldn’t agree more, and JJ feels the same way.” Disney is likely waiting to give the full audio treatment to some future Special Edition release or perhaps waiting for the UHD BD version. (An email to Disney’s global communications department went unanswered.)
Even though we’ll have to wait to enjoy
The Force Awakens at home in Atmos, here are a couple of terrific short videos to whet your audio appetite. The clip “ Saber Sparks and Sonics” focuses on the sight and sound of the lightsaber, and “ Sound of Symphony in Dolby Atmos” highlights the evolution of music and the impact of the score for The Force Awakens.
Below is a list of all currently available and upcoming Dolby Atmos titles for the home market. Links will take you to my Atmos disc review where available.
Dolby Atmos Blu-ray Titles:1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) 2. (Paramount) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3. Step Up All In (Lionsgate) 4. The Expendables 3 (Lionsgate) 5. (Lionsgate) John Wick 6. On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (Red Bull Media House) 7. (Lionsgate) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 8. Unbroken (Universal) 9. (Warner Bros.) Gravity 10. (Warner Bros) American Sniper 11. (Warner Bros) Jupiter Ascending 12. (Universal) The Gunman 13. (Lionsgate) The Divergent Series: Insurgent 14. Age of Adaline (Lionsgate) 15. (Warner Bros.) Mad Max: Fury Road 16. Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death in Heaven 3D (BBC) 17. (Sony) Bram Stoker’s Dracula 18. The Gallows (Warner Bros.) 19. (Warner Bros.) San Andreas 20. The Fifth Element (Sony) 21. Léon: The Professional (Sony) 22. Pixels (Sony) 23. Game of Thrones Season 1&2 (HBO) 24. (Paramount) Terminator Genisys 25. Enchanted Kingdom (BBC) 26. The Man From U.N.C.L.E (Warner Bros.) 27. Roger Waters: The Wall (Universal) 28. Minions (Universal) 29. (Paramount) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation 30. Pan (Warner Bros.) 31. Sicario (Lionsgate) 32. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC) 33. Everest (Universal) 34. Goosebumps (Sony) 35. In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros.)
Dolby Atmos Blu-ray Titles Announced:
Game of Thrones Season 5 (HBO; release date March 15, 2016)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (Lionsgate; release date March 22, 2016)
Dolby Atmos UHD Blu-ray Titles Released:1. Sicario, UHD (Lionsgate) 2. Ender’s Game, UHD (Lionsgate) 3. The Expendables 3, UHD (Lionsgate) 4. Mad Max: Fury Road, UHD (Warner Bros.) 5. San Andreas, UHD (Warner Bros.) 6. Pan, UHD (Warner Bros.) 7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, UHD (Sony) 8. Salt, UHD (Sony) 9. Hancock, UHD (Sony) 10. Chappie, UHD (Sony) 11. Pineapple Express, UHD (Sony) 12. The Smurfs 2, UHD (Sony)
Dolby Atmos UHD Blu-ray Titles Announced:
Concussion, UHD (Sony; release date March 29, 2016)
Dolby Atmos OTT Content Available on VUDU:1. Mad Max: Fury Road, UHD (Warner Bros.) 2. The Man From U.N.C.L.E., UHD (Warner Bros.) 3. The Gallows, UHD (Warner Bros.) 4. San Andreas, UHD (Warner Bros.) 5. American Sniper, UHD (Warner Bros.) 6. Man of Steel, UHD (Warner Bros.) 7. Jupiter Ascending, UHD (Warner Bros.) 8. Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat), UHD (Warner Bros.) 9. Into the Storm, UHD (Warner Bros.) 10. Pan, UHD (Warner Bros.) 11. Entourage, UHD (Warner Bros.) 12. We Are Your Friends, UHD (Warner Bros.) 13. Pacific Rim, UHD (Warner Bros.) 14. In the Heart of the Sea, UHD (Warner Bros.)