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Comparison Study of Listeners' Perception of 5.1 and Dolby Atmos

Surround sound reproduction has been a common technology in almost every theater room for several decades. In 2012 Dolby Laboratories, Inc. announced a new spatial 3D audio format – Dolby Atmos [1] that (due to its object-based rendering) pushes the possibilities of spatial reproduction and supposedly listeners’ experience forward. This paper examines listeners’ perception of this format in comparison with today’s unwritten standard for cinema reproduction – 5.1. Two sample groups were chosen for the experiment - experienced listeners (sound designers and sound design students) and inexperienced listeners; the objective was to examine how these two groups perceive selected formats and whether there is any difference between these two groups. We aimed at five aspects – Spatial Immersion (Envelopment), Localization, Dynamics, Audio Quality, and Format Preference. The results show mostly an insignificant difference between these two groups while both of them slightly leaned towards Dolby Atmos over 5.1.

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