Sorting Through Atmos and DTS:X Receivers and Pre-Pros by Rob H.
A Couple of Thoughts on Immersive Audio Setups
There are differing opinions on which additional speakers beyond the standard 5.1 layout deliver the most immersive experience:
– Mark Henninger, Senior Writer at AVS Forum, stated during an episode of the Home Theater Geeks Podcast that he feels that four overhead speakers are necessary in order to get a good sense of panning and movement of the audio objects. If he were limited to 9 speakers, he would favor 5.1.4 over 7.1.2:
– Representatives from THX, Matt Severaid and Craig Buckley, stated on an episode of the AV Forums Podcast that they feel the Surround Back speakers actually play a critical role. They also feel that the Surround and Surround Back speakers should still be elevated as opposed to being at seated ear level, which is the new recommendation from Dolby. With elevated Surround and Surround Back speakers, they would opt for 7.1.2 with Surround Back and Top Middle speakers if limited to 9 speakers total.
General statements that might help you to quickly narrow down the field:
1) There are quite a few models that can decode Dolby Atmos but are unable to decode DTS:X (and will never get an update to do so). This is the case with ALL models that were released in 2014 – except for the flagship Denon AVR-X7200W Receiver and Marantz AV8802 Pre-Pro; those are the only two models that were released in 2014 that can be updated to decode DTS:X. There are also some 2015 models that decode Dolby Atmos but do not decode DTS:X.
This list from High Def Digest has done an excellent job of separating the DTS:X + Dolby Atmos models from the Dolby Atmos-only models:
2) There were no models released in 2014 that included HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2. While several 2014 Onkyo & Integra models touted HDCP 2.2 support, those ports were limited to 10.2 Gbps, which is insufficient for High Dynamic Range video signals that require the full 18 Gbps bandwidth of HDMI 2.0a. Once again, the only exceptions were the Denon AVR-X7200W and Marantz AV8802, which can have a hardware upgrade performed. No other 2014 models can be upgraded. Since the bandwidth (10.2 Gbps or 18 Gbps) is rarely listed on any spec sheets, the key features to look for are support for UltraHD/4K at 60 fps along with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. Those features are the “code” that lets you know if a model has the full 18 Gbps bandwidth.
3) So far, in 2015, Pioneer & Pioneer Elite have not announced any models that can decode DTS:X or are able to receive an update to do so. This could change if they announce new models.
4) So far, in 2015, Onkyo & Integra have not announced any models capable of using more than 7 speakers simultaneously (5.2.2). This could change with the announcement of new models.
5) Denon & Marantz are the only mass market brands offering any models capable of decoding the Auro-3D immersive audio format. It is a $200 optional upgrade. It is only available on all models capable of using 9 or 11 speakers simultaneously.
6) In 2015, Denon & Marantz are the only mass market brands offering any models capable of using Front Wide speakers.
Getting into some of the finer details:
7) Denon & Marantz have announced several models that are not yet listed in the High Def Digest article linked above. That is because the official announcements were made in Europe, but they have not yet been officially announced in North America. The official North American announcements are expected soon – certainly during or before CEDIA Expo 2015. You can view an English language translation of the European announcements below:
8) The additional Denon & Marantz models listed in a similar fashion as the High Def Digest article:
DTS:X & Dolby Atmos Receivers
AVR-X6200W – ($2299, October) 9.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 11.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)
SR6010 – ($1199, September) 7.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 9.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)
SR7010 – ($1699, September) 9.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 11.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)
AV7702 Mk. II – ($1999, October) 11.2 Channel A/V Pre-Amp/Processor, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)
9) If you would like to be able to use 11 speakers simultaneously, the number of mass market DTS:X options is limited:
AVR-X7200WA AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2999, available now, the ‘A’ on the end of the model number is important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X.
AVR-X7200W AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2999, available now. These do NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, but Denon will upgrade these units to AVR-X7200WA for free, although you have to pay to ship it to New York for the HDMI hardware upgrade.
AVR-X6200W AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2299, October.
AV8802A Pre-amp/Processor with 13.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $3999, available now, the ‘A’ on the end of the model number is important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X.
AV8802 Pre-amp/Processor with 13.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $3999, available now. These do NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, but Marantz will upgrade these units to AV8802A for free, although you have to pay to ship it to New York for the HDMI hardware upgrade.
AV7702 Mk. II Pre-amp/Processor with 11.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $1999, October. The “Mk. II” on the end of the model number is extremely important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X. In 2014, there was an AV7702 model; it did NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, and it could NOT be upgraded. So be cautious about the “Mk. II” model number.
SR7010 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $1699, September.
RX-A3050 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2199, September.
10) If you’re ok with “only” using 9 speakers simultaneously, the number of mass market DTS:X options is even smaller:
AVR-X4200W AV Receiver with 7 internal amps – $1499, August.
SR6010 AV Receiver with 7 internal amps – $1199, September.
RX-A2050 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $1699, available now.
11) Since Denon & Marantz, and Yamaha are the only mass market options right now for 9 or 11 speaker models that support DTS:X, what are some of the differences that might help you decide on a brand?
– Denon & Marantz use Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with SubEQ HT and LFC (Low Frequency Containment) in all of their 9 and 11 speaker models.
– Yamaha uses YPAO with RSC (Reflected Sound Control) and multi-point measurement. The RX-A3050 adds 3D angle measurement, but the speaker azimuth and elevation angles are only used by Yamaha’s own proprietary Cinema DSP 3D Listening Mode.
– In addition to the 7 main speakers (Front L/R, Center, Surround L/R, Surround Back L/R), Yamaha allows you to connect “Front Presence L/R”, and “Rear Presence L/R” speakers. The Front Presence L/R speakers can be identified as Front Height, Top Front, or FRONT Dolby speakers. The Rear Presence L/R speakers can be identified as Rear Height, Top Rear, or REAR Dolby.
– In addition to the 7 main speakers and the optional Front Wide speakers, Denon & Marantz allow you to connect “Height 1″ and “Height 2″ speakers. The Height 1 speakers can be identified as Front Height, Top Front, Top Middle, FRONT Dolby, or SURROUND Dolby speakers. The Height 2 speakers can be identified as Top Middle, Top Rear, Rear Height, SURROUND Dolby, or REAR Dolby speakers.
Having the additional speaker position options allows you to better match the name of the speakers with their physical location in your room. This allows the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Renderers to position audio objects more precisely.
Posted by The HT Guys, August 6, 2015 11:47 PM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.