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Dolby Atmos Immersiveness

Updated 01/19/2022

Dolby Atmos is the latest in Home Theater right now, and since I finally picked up an Atmos-enabled receiver and have managed to dial everything in just right for the theater room in my basement, I thought I’d share my experiences with just how immersive particular titles get.

Below, you’ll find a running list of Atmos (and in some cases, DTS-X) titles from both streaming and physical media that I’ve watched. I’ll be ranking each title out of 5 “speakers” (1 being not very immersive at all, 5 being insanely immersive) and will point out any scenes that stood out, so you can fast-forward to your ears’ delight!

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (4K UHD BLU-RAY – 01/18/22)

Paramount

This is the kind of movie that was made for Atmos. And while the sound more than shines throughout the film, the Atmos effects often take a backseat to the more-than-well rounded out mix of the movie itself. Dialogue is often whispered, and tense conversations through gritted teeth pop up in almost every scene. However, there are some Atmos-heavy scenes that are worth mentioning:

• Chapter 1: Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg are talking beneath an overpass where cars are driving overhead in both directions

• Chapter 3: Skydiving is a workout for every speaker

• Chapter 6: Police bike chase is wild. Stuff going on everywhere

• Chapter 7: Really tense scene with a traincar going right overhead then right into another chase scene with some wild alternating between left and right heights

• Chapter 10: Gun battle in a sewer has some really fun overheads

• Chapters 12 – 14: Helicopters just live overhead for minutes straight. Absolute helicopter porn that ends with a Cliffhangeresque scene that is almost exclusively overheads

This is a really cool movie and the sound is more than excellent. But if you’re looking for a movie full of demo-worthy scenes to show off those Atmos muscles, you might look elsewhere unless you’re really into helicopters.

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5

THE CONJURING 2 (BLU-RAY – 01/18/22)

Warner Brothers

Blu-Ray • Atmos • 1080p Upconverted

I’ve seen this movie my fair share of times, but this is my first time in Atmos, and fucking hell, what a difference. The overhead effects are put to full use throughout its run time. Rain pours almost the entire movie, British pop invasion tunes are crawling across the ceiling almost as much as whispers of demons, and it makes the jump scares that much more effective. Here are some moments that stood out:

• Chapter 5: Footsteps overhead when cops are poking around

• Chapter 6: Bells ringing all over the soundstage, house being torn apart chaotically in every speaker

• Chapter 8: Persistent rainstorm with thunder and lightning

• Chapter 10: Sounds of a flooded basement, water everywhere, kids running around upstairs. This scene was actually one of the coolest I’ve heard with an Atmos movie so far

• Ch 12 to the end of the movie: Downpour & Ed’s breathing in overheads. Demon begins grunting and breathing, and it bounces all over the ceiling

As far as Horror films are concerned, I think this is what Atmos was built for: another thing to scare the living shit out of the audience. I already really liked this movie, but this brought a whole new element to the table. This might be my go-to demo for now 🤘

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5

DOCTOR SLEEP: DIRECTOR’S CUT (BLU-RAY – 01/17/22)

Warner Brothers

Blu-Ray • Atmos • 1080p Upconverted

Since I can remember, The Shining has been my favorite movie – a go-to every Halloween, I get sucked in by Kubrick’s magic touch and cinematic trickery. It’s an incredible movie experience that gets better with every viewing. Lucky for us, Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor, etc.) was given the reins to the adaptation of Stephen King’s Shining sequel, and I’m happy to say that this is everything I hoped for and more. Now, I’ve seen both versions, and while the Director’s Cut doesn’t change too much, I would still definitely recommend getting your hands on that version.

There are too many scenes of overhead sonic excellence to mention in this release, that I’m just going to have to suggest that you experience it yourself. There’s a persistent heartbeat pouring through the overheads and surrounds throughout the entire film that will rattle your nerves by the time the characters arrive back at the iconic Overlook, and then the Atmos effects take center stage, and you’ll be smiling from ear-to-ear until the credits roll. If you’re not too sure about Atmos yet, Doctor Sleep will definitely get you on the train.

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5

OVERLORD (BLU-RAY – 01/17/22)

Paramount

Blu-Ray • Dolby Atmos • 1080p Upconverted

Superhuman Nazi Zombies aside, the sound design on this movie is fun as hell. From the get-go, nervous soldiers on a plane rattle through the air, and we’re right in the middle of every bullet and explosion from there on out. There’s a scene where the main character falls out of said plane, and the wind whooshing around him covers the entire overhead landscape. There are a few other standout scenes, including footsteps over creaking boards that might convince you someone is upstairs, and great water trickling in tunnels throughout. This was a really fun one.

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5

ARCHIVE 81 (NETFLIX – 01/17/22)

Netflix

Netflix • Dolby Atmos • 4K

This show is really fun. It goes off the rails in the last two episodes or so, but that’s also when the Atmos effects really kick in. Without spoiling anything for you, there’s a scene in the last episode where a particular structure begins crumbling all around a couple characters and it really feels like the stonework is crashing down over your head. Add in some really cool overhead music effects throughout the entire show, and this makes for one really fun immersive viewing experience. Definitely would recommend this show (especially in the last few episodes) for Atmos demo.

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5