DTS:X to be launched April 9th at DTS headquarter

A quick update, after weeks without any next generation home theater news, to let you know than in an invitation sent to media outlets yesterday, DTS announced that details regarding their new 3D object-based audio format DTS:X will be given at an event hold in their headquarter on April 9th in Calabasas, California.

More details to come in a mere 10 days, which should ramp up again interest in new home theater titles with object based audio.

Impressions on the Onkyo TX-NR1030

I need to start this post by officially thanking Onkyo for the great customer service they gave me after my initial receiver arrived with a major issue, either due to a bad unit or to transport from the online retailer I purchased it from. On a late Friday night, the social media people on the Onkyo team replied to me through Twitter and helped me confirm the issue and start the replacement process.

Onkyo then went over the usual level of service as they did accept to replace my unit instead of sending it for repair as my retailer did not have any in stock to help me. Instead of being stuck without my home theater for weeks, the replacement unit was shipped on the next business day. This is tremendous support and it is definitively a good way to keep customers with the brand.

Having said that, I’ve been using the receiver for a week now and I can say that I’m very happy with the experience. To start, I picked the Onkyo TX-NR1030 because of its support of 11 channels. The receiver includes amplification for 9 channels and you can connect an additional stereo amplifier to go up to a reference Atmos implementation of 7.1.4. To do this, I added a AudioSource AMP-100 stereo power amplifier, simple but efficient and because it’s used for the height back speaker, it can provide the required power for a good price.

Onkyo TX-NR1030
The connections behind the Onkyo TX-NR1030 are interesting, the speaker connectors are more accessible than the previous models I owned.

 

The switch from my previous system at 5.1.2 (with an Onkyo TX-NR737) is noticeable and a great improvement. Not only does the two additional height channels add a more dimensional effect to the height layer, but the addition of two surround speakers also support better the 360 degrees effect, even better with Atmos movies and object positioning. The TX-NR1030 has enough power to drive the 9 channels in a very efficient way and the sound quality is very good.

The Atmos demos (available as downloadable on Demo World) are impressive in 7.1.4 and the thing that surprises me is that different the trailers are now my favorite ones from when I tried in 5.1.2, mainly because of the added dimension and sense of movement.

The receiver configuration tools is quite well done and the AccuEQ calibration works well. I have a read a lot about it being inferior to Audyssey that was used before by Onkyo, but I cannot judge as I did not use it before. I played multiple sources with and without AccuEQ room correct enabled and my final selection is to keep it on as it improves the dynamics and the clarity of movies.

I also appreciate the net functionalities of the receiver, including DLNA and Spotify Connect. My only grudge with the feature is with the file server mode as it only support some shares and not the ones my router and NAS provide, it seems too tied to typical Windows file servers.

In a nutshell, I can say I’m very happy with the receiver and with the new 7.1.4 setup it can support. My only hope is that Onkyo will confirm an upgrade path for the receiver to DTS:X when it’s officially announced next month, I’ll keep you updated on this.

 

John Wick : Dolby Atmos Review

How Reviews Are Done On NextGenHomeTheater.com : Here are some ground rules for review on this site. The first thing is that the movie itself will never be reviewed, as this is not the intention and tastes and opinion regarding movies are up to the viewer. Furthermore, the review will concentrate on the next generation element of the content, so in this case the Dolby Atmos track, while presenting the other aspects. A Blu-Ray 4K would for example be reviewed for visual performance only. There will not by any grades either, just comments and a purchase recommandation in the conclusion.

The Movie

John Wick tells the story of a retired hitman who needs to go back to work after a bad gang hurt the little things he still had and loved in life. The movie tells a story of revenge, with a linear but efficient storyline and a great visual universe.

Continue reading John Wick : Dolby Atmos Review

Universal Announces Unbroken In Dolby Atmos

I don’t know if “When it rain it pours” is really adapted to the situation, but after more than two weeks without anything announced related to next generation home theater, I have a second announcement for you in less than 12 hours.

Universal announced today it’s first ever Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, for the Angelina Jolie’s directed movie Unbroken.

The movie will be released on March 24th and it will then become the 9th movie available on Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos in North America. Hey, we’re almost double digits now…

Please note the listing of Dolby Atmos Blu-rays has been updated accordingly.

On Any Sunday : The Next Chapter Includes Dolby Atmos Track

Multiple sources seem to confirm that the new documentary about moto racing called On Any Sunday : The Next Chapter, which extended trailer was one of the demos on the Atmos demo disc, has indeed been released with a Dolby Atmos track.

The Blu-ray is out today on Amazon and details are not included to confirm, but multiple sources are confirming the Atmos inclusion.

You can follow the link on the image to purchase from Amazon. I will let you know as soon as I can try the disc. Meanwhile, I updated the list of Atmos Blu-rays on the site.

The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 1 confirmed with Dolby Atmos

With the great support that Lionsgate is offering to Dolby and the Dolby Atmos format, it’s not a surprise to see that Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 1 will be released on March 6th in Blu-ray with an Atmos track.

The movie will also offers the following special features :

  • “The Mockingjay Lives: The Making of Mockingjay – Part 1”: 8 part feature-length documentary
  • “Straight From the Heart: A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman” featurette
  • “Songs of Rebellion: Lorde on Curating the Soundtrack” featurette
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat” – Lorde music video
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer
  • Nina Jacobson
  • Sneak Peek of The Divergent Series: Insurgent

The list of Dolby Atmos movies have been updated. It’s interesting to see some traction on Dolby Atmos releases in this new year.

Onkyo To Release A New Dolby Atmos Demo Disc

Just a quick note to tell you that the team at Onkyo Germany is working on updating their Ambra – Prism of Live ambiance Blu-ray to have a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

slo-1

 

There is already a downloadable demo on their webpage here. You need to either burn the ISO file on a Blu-ray disc or extract the m2ts file from it and play it with your media player.

I did test the content yesterday and even if I cannot say I’m a fan of the type of music used, there is some interesting positioning effects, mostly with voices during the 4 minutes and 50 seconds demo.

If you got a Dolby Atmos system at home, give it a try and let me know what you think through the comments !

Vice starring Bruce Willis to feature Dolby Atmos in Blu-ray

Update : Since this news, Lionsgate released a press release saying the movie would only offer DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, so I removed the movie from the list. Sorry for this and thanks to Chris for notifying me.

Lionsgate announced yesterday the upcoming release of the science-fiction thriller Vice, starring Bruce Willis, on Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. The movie, which just got released in theaters, will be available for home theaters on March 17th.

You can purchase the movie on Amazon.com by clicking on the movie poster above. 

A First Encounter With The Blu-ray Audio Format

After Sony announcing a new high end Walkman at CES 2015 and Neil Young officially launching the PonoPlayer and Pono store out of its beta phase, we can say that 2015 starts strongly for High Definition audio.

I must admit I’m new to all of this and my home theater gear is definitively not targeted toward listening to music in high definition formats. I also understand there are huge debates about if those formats are really making an audible difference for listeners and I will not try to be the judge of this.

Debate aside, I’m a fan of new technologies and when I saw that Universal had released some audio albums in high quality audio (24-bit/96 kHz sampling) in the Blu-ray format, I could not resist the urge to get some of them and try it out in the home theater. I imagine that trying with jazz or classical music would have been a better approach, but I’m a classic rock fan and it’s what I wanted to try.

Yesterday I finally received my order from Amazon of two High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray discs, Bryan Adams’ Reckless, which was remastered for it’s 30th anniversary and my favorite album from Supertramp, Crime of the Century. I’ll get back to the Supertramp disc in a follow up article.

The format is pretty simple, as soon as you start the disc, music starts by default on the first song with the PCM soundtrack selected. A static menu is displayed with the current song information and offers quick options to select tracks and audio formats among PCM, TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, all in lossless 24-bit/96 kHz quality.

I cannot count the number of times I listened to those songs, since receiving the Reckless tape more than twenty years ago from a late friend of mine and then through various greatest hits albums of the singer. Being able to listen again to this new remaster of the album is really interesting and I must admit I noticed some sonorities I did not hear before on some of the tracks. Is the audio really better than the CD version of the tracks ? It is up to debate with audio experts, but I did appreciate the album in this format.

Reckless also comes with seven extra tracks that were recorded in studio at the same time of the album but did not make it finally on the recording. The Blu-ray audio also includes a 5.1 mix created specifically for this release, which is interesting and adds dimension to the listening experience.

The album finally comes with a download code for the songs that are available in mp3 format at 320kbps. It’s an interesting idea, but as long as purchasing a high definition audio disc, I would have preferred getting access to 24-bit/96 kHz FLAC files instead. It’s a bit like buying a Blu-ray and getting a download code for the film in standard definition.

I’ve been burned before by new generation audio formats (DVD Audio anyone ?) and what I like about the so called Blu-ray Audio is that its not really a format, but a clever usage of the already existing standards of the Blu-ray format. This means that as long as I have a Blu-ray player available, I’ll be able to use those discs in their intended quality.

If you are Bryan Adams fans, Reckless is needless to say the most important album of his career and this is definitively a great way to listen to it.

John Wick Bluy-ray Release Will Feature Dolby Atmos

I don’t know how I missed it before, but looking at the information available on the Blu-ray release details of John Wick, staring Keenu Reeves, we can see that it will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

With a release date of February 3rd, it will become the fifth movie release for home theater with Dolby Atmos track.

I updated the list of Blu-ray movies with Dolby Atmos present on the site with the related information.