6 Movies To Show Off Your Atmos System
Here at Aperion Audio, one thing we really love is a great sounding movie. Having a well mixed film not only adds to the realism of the experience, but it’s a great way to show off your awesome speakers! Luckily, we live in a time with an unprecedented level of high-production quality, led by more and more releases of 4K UHD discs that include an Atmos mix. Now that almost 200 titles are already out, we can look forward to a lot more Atmos (plus DTS:X and Auro 3D) soundtracks to further tantalize our tympanic membranes. Obviously there are MANY movies out there with great sound, but here are a few that we love to titillate our corporeal senses, and anyone else who wanders into our headquarters.
This might be one of the best sounding movies we’ve encountered. It sports an aggressive Atmos mix with tons of low-end boom. Although this is to be expected from an unapologetic disaster flick, they really did a superb job of mixing the dense mesh of sonic elements throughout the sound field. While the opening sequence has some nice content, the action really gets going in chapter 4. The restaurant scene is loaded with overhead sound and once the helicopter rescue begins, it’s an all out barrage that will test the limits of your system.
The Star Wars franchise has been synonymous with great sound from its inception. After all, George Lucas was responsible for the first audio/video standardization for theaters, THX , back in 1983. I still even have the original Star Wars trilogy boxset on Laser Disc, which was the pinnacle of audio at the time. But I digress…. The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars film to be released in 4K with a Dolby Atmos mix and it doesn’t disappoint. There are numerous space battles fraught with deep explosions and plenty of overhead activity as swarms of fighters engulf the listener. Even in some of the less tense moments, like when Kylo and Rey Force-communicate, the sound permeates all of the channels and produces a truly 3-dimensional experience. The only caveat is this release needs the overall level increased a few ticks to keep it on par with the other titles.
The Atmos track in this film gets going even before the movie during the “Bad Robot” logo sequence. This leads into a first chapter that is laden with aural movement as Kirk evades tribesmen though alien brush. The subsonic rumble of an erupting volcano might just cause anything wall mounted to reconsider its existence. The scene concludes with the Enterprise rising from its submerged hiding place in a dramatic display. Here the Atmos mix really starts to engage utilizing the height channels extensively as the ship flies overhead with dripping water while Spock’s encounter with lava plumes envelop you from all angles – and that’s just the beginning. The remainder of the film is filled with brilliant action sequences that might leave you needing a Dramamine.
One of the most visually compelling films of 2017, Luc Besson’s Valerian also contains an exquisite soundtrack. After the opening sequence supported by David Bowie, the audience is brought to a paradise world with beautiful aliens and landscapes. This luscious environmental tonality gives way to explosions from above where the collateral damage from an unrelated space war causes the destruction of the planet. Later, one of my favorite moments comes when Laureline must insert her head within a cortex jellyfish to take advantage of its psychic abilities. This results in a sublimely spacious Atmos immersion with voices and effects swirling about. Throughout the rest of the film there is a virtuosic treatment of the audio and music that elevates the film beyond what the banal acting and rather superficial script might have had you believe.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
This is the second film in the much maligned franchise that adapted a beloved 80’s cartoon pastime into an overly complex and mechanically irrational live action movie where the robots frequently are better actors than the humans. Yet, it’s an amazing example where style over substance actually works in its favor. How none of these films have won an Academy Award for Sound Editing is beyond me because they sound GREAT. The opening of Revenge of the Fallen is one of our favorite demo moments because of its engaging mix of surround activity and impressive bass extension. Right off the top, there is an awesome bass dip that will really stretch your sub and sets the stage for the rest of the movie that is a quintessential audio rollercoaster. The mix exploits every aspect of your system and while the audio intensity may border on the perverse, it is nonetheless an outstanding example of film sound at its finest.
While much of the film is taken up with less strident dialogue, the entire film is coated with a lush atmosphere that allows the viewer to soak into its world. Between the bubbleship, drones and the weather, the soundtrack is littered with movement from the LFE channel to the overheads. But unlike some others on this list that whose sound fields can become dense and approach incomprehensibility, Oblivion has a lot of subtlety and space in which it articulates its immersive effects. From an abandoned ballroom where Jack searches for a missing drone with reverberant beeps emanating from all directions to a simple dinner scene that has possibly the best rainfall effect Atmos has yet to produce, this film executes on every level.