Focal's Dolby Atmos Demo

Some believe that Dolby Atmos, Apple's spatial audio variant, and other immersive technologies are the wave of the future. While the best way to determine what the future will bring is to live long enough to render the future the present, Jim Austin and I independently dipped into Focal Naim's impressive self-contained 7.2.4. Dolby Atmos Theva exhibit, staged within their larger exhibit space, to get a taste of what's available right now.

This was my first opportunity to hear Focal's new Dolby Atmos Theva 7.2.4 array. Headed by two Theva No3 speakers ($2398/pair), four Theva No3-D speakers ($2998/pair), and one Theva Center ($649), the array also included a Focal Sub 600P ($1399), Focal Astral 16 processor and amplifier ($19,999), Theva stands ($249/pair), and a center stand ($149). All speakers are made in France. The drivers utilize "Slatefiber" cones made from recycled non-woven carbon fibers and thermoplastic polymers from discarded aeronautical and automotive parts. They also have an aluminum/magnesium TNF tweeter. Note that the corner speakers include upward firing drivers (below) that obviate the need to install speakers on the ceiling.

Listening to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and Elton John's "Rocket Man" was a trip. I can't pretend that what I heard resembled what I'd expect to hear in a live performance unless that performance was fully equipped with a surround system, but it was a helluva lot of fun.

Utopianemo's picture

Atmos works best on content intentionally mixed for it. Like you said, stereo music played through the Dolby Surround upmixer is more fun than believable. BUT, playing something like John Williams’ Atmos Blu-Ray recording of him in Vienna is somewhat revelatory.
…..And not for the expected reasons. It’s the *applause*. While the music is indeed immersive, it’s the moments where the audience bursts out in applause that feel like I’m there. It’s a fundamentally different experience than the faux environmental cues of Pro-Logic, or Dolby Digital, or DTS or any other surround technology I’ve heard. I hope you get to experience that at some point.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thank you.