The Dolby Atmos advantage: Sound system gives immersive movie experience


Marquee Cinemas Southridge 12 General Manager Brent Bowman is shown in one of the cineplex’s new MXC auditoriums, which feature luxury seating, 4K laser projection and Dolby Atmos sound. All of the auditoriums have been remodeled, with two upgraded to MXC.

Dolby Atmos, the surround sound successor to Dolby Digital, adds a new, immersive presence to the moviegoing experience.

Every sound in a motion picture — from music to sound effects to voices — is mixed into channels. Channels are placed, generally, on the left and right and, on some systems, in the back of the viewing area.

As Geoffrey Morrison elaborated in a Dec. 15 article, “if two actors are speaking on screen, that gets mixed to the center channels. When the music swells during a dramatic moment, that’s usually in the front left and right channels. Zooming and swooping special effects might appear in the surround speakers.”

With the Dolby Atmos system used by the MXC theaters at Marquee Cinemas Southridge 12, those sounds can be more specific, richer and realistic. As Marquee Cinemas Chief Operating Officer James Cox explained, “In a typical theater, when a director cuts a movie and he wants something to go to the right surround, then he sends a signal that has to go to every speaker on that wall.

“On the Dolby Atmos, each speaker is its own channel. What the director can do is, say, you’ve got a plane flying overhead in the scene or something, he can add that speaker, this speaker, that speaker and this speaker, and he can move that sound around just like it is in the movie,” Cox said.

Dolby Atmos, Morrison said, can pinpoint the exact location to place a sound in a theater. “Done right, it’s not only more convincing than before, but also less obtrusive,” he said. “It’s more natural, so you’re less likely to notice the special effects and more likely to stay absorbed in the movie. And that’s the point, right?”


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