Q I currently have a Dolby Atmos/DTS-X 7.1.4 speaker setup that uses a Marantz SR7011 A/V receiver, which I’m interested in upgrading to Auro-3D. Apparently you can use the receiver’s subwoofer 2 output to connect the Auro-3D “Voice of God” overhead speaker, which I plan to do. But before I take the $199 plunge to upgrade my Marantz, I have a few questions. Can Auro-3D decode/convert Atmos and DTS-X? I own around 200 Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and none of them have an Auro-3D soundtrack. As for the ceiling speakers, should I set them up the way Auro-3D suggests or leave them in their Dolby Atmos recommended positions? (My home theater has a drop ceiling so it’s no problem to reposition the speakers.) Thanks for whatever advice you can give. After reading several articles praising the immersive sound quality of Auro-3D, I’m anxious to check it out.
—Dave Davey, Mount Arlington, NJ
A I’ll admit upfront to having no hands-on experience with Auro-3D, so any answers provided here will be practical and theoretical rather than based on real-world listening. Auro-3D typically uses a “three-layer” speaker configuration, with a standard 5.1 or 7.1-channel surround-sound setup augmented by four height speakers (L/R front and L/R back) plus an overhead top speaker (the “Voice of God” unit you mentioned). Auro-3D’s setup recommendations on its website place the wall-mounted height speakers at a 30-degree angle targeting the area above the seated listener’s head, and the top speaker placed directly above the main seating area at a 90-degree angle.
A typical Dolby Atmos speaker setup, on the other hand, is quite different, with two or more overhead effects speakers located in (or on) the ceiling in front of and behind the main listening position and no wall-mounted height speakers. Can Auro-3D decode/convert Dolby Atmos and DTS-X? The answer to that is no — all three are separate and unique codecs. However, according to Marantz’s documentation, the overhead effects in Atmos soundtracks decoded by your Marantz receiver can be played back on an Auro-3D setup, but with the overhead effects info routed only to the front height speakers. Standard mono/stereo/5.1/7.1 content, meanwhile, can be processed by the Auro-3D Auro-Matic Upmixer in a receiver or surround pre/pro for playback on all speakers in an Auro-3D setup.
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