CEDIA is, as always, chocked full of audio gear this year, from speakers of all kinds, to audio control products, and more. But it's immersive audio technologies, namely Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, that rule the show.
Now that both technologies have been revealed, and DTS:X on its way by next year, AV receiver manufacturers are building support for both technologies into their latest products, allowing customers to get the total immersive experience when watching compatible movies or other content, as it becomes available.
Both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are characterized by object-based audio, whereby sound is added in a 3D space, so that objects can be heard not only in front, behind, and at the sides, but also above you, precisely where the mixing engineer intended them to be heard. For a good idea of how both works, those attending the show should set aside some time to check out Sony's 20-minute demo, which beautifully showcases the capabilities of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as 4K video and High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology, using Sony's latest AV receiver, 4K projector, and speakers.
Indeed, Sony is one of a handful of companies that announced its own new flagship receiver that incorporates support for both technologies. The STR-ZA5000ES offers Atmos compatibility built-in and DTS:X will be supported through a firmware upgrade. It supports up to 11.1 channels to accommodate a 7.1.4 immersive audio configuration. Scheduled to ship next April, it will sell for an MSRP of US$2,800.
Canadian audio company Anthem is also joining the game with its MRX 1120 11.1-channel receiver with support for systems up to 7.1.4, built-in Dolby Atmos and future DTS:X support. It adds DTS Play-Fi for wireless music streaming as well, and Anthem's Room Correction technology. Pricing: about US$3,500.
Last month, Pioneer confirmed its three new top-line 9.2-channel Elite receivers, the SC-99, SC-97, and SC-95, all of which feature Atmos support and DTS:X compatibility through a firmware update. They can support 5.2.4 and 7.2.2 Dolby Atmos configurations; and with external amps they can support 9.2.2 and 7.2.4 operation. Pioneer's MCACC Pro room-correction technology compensates for temporal reverb and phase characteristics. Pioneer says this enables the receivers to more faithfully reproduces the three-dimensional audio mixes in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround mixes. Also included is built-in Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay support; plus Wireless Direct for control via a smart device running the iControlAV5 app. US pricing ranges from US$1,600 up to US$2,500. Stay tuned to our upcoming November issue, which will include an in-depth review of the SC-95.
Denon has joined the foray as well with its new premium network 9.2-channel AV receiver. Planned for launch this month at $2,599, the AVR-X6200W features Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound, and will support DTS:X object-based surround with a future free firmware update. Support for Auro-3D surround can be added with a paid firmware update as well. Out of the box, it can support 5..1.4 or 7.1.2 Atmos configurations. But its 11.2-channel processor and 13.2-channel pre-outs will allow for 7.1.4 and 9.1.2 configurations with an external two-channel amplifier added to the equation. There are also various custom configurations for multi-zone. There's also built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay and DLNA support; plus support for online streaming services like Spotify, SiriusXM, and vTuner Internet radio.
Napa, CA-based James Loudspeaker is also banking on folks hopping onto the immersive audio bandwagon, conducting demos at its booth that feature Mavericks Small Aperture architectural speakers, PowerPipe subwoofers, and other producs, showcasing Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The company is also featuring an Auro 3D demo.
While it doesn't offer support for DTS:X, AudioControl launched its new 7.1.4 Concert AVR-7 and Concert AVR-9 receivers with Dolby Atmos, 4K, HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2 and introducing Dirac Live for AudioControl.
It's clear that the custom integration channel will be focused both on high-resolution 4K pictures as well as creating the most immersive audio experience possible for their clients. That's good news for the industry.
Stay tuned for more news from CEDIA. And, by the way, don't call it CEDIA Expo anymore. As part of a larger rebranding effort, CEDIA Expo has been officially renamed to simply CEDIA. "Expos," joked Richard Millson, a board member of the association, before the event's first keynote, "are for shoe salesmen and tractor guys." The CEDIA logo, meanwhile, has also been refreshed with a new look that Millson says is "fresh and 21st century." Welcome to the future of custom integration.
Anthem MRX 1120