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What To Do When Movie Theaters Are Closed: Take IMAX Home

Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

I remember the first time I got to see an IMAX movie. It was a while ago, and I recall being blown away by the quality of the sound and the image. As you might have guessed, that movie was Avatar – what can I say, it was Cameron, and I thought it involved giant blue Smurfs, so I went and had my first IMAX experience ever. And you know what? Afterward, I wanted to bring it home. I wanted my own IMAX screen, or at least an equivalent, and my own IMAX sound system. 

With recent advancements in display and sound technology, the IMAX experience can now find its place in your home. That is if you are willing to shell out some cash because this level of AV-HiFi does not come cheap. 

How to Turn the Silver Livingroom Screen into an IMAX Display

Depending on what kind of TV/projector and AV receiver you have, or you choose to buy for this setup, you must first check one thing: whether they are IMAX Enhanced certified or not.

See, IMAX Enhanced-certified TVs are the ones that have passed certain thresholds of performance and efficiency where screen size, resolution, brightness, and dynamic range were taken into consideration.

Plus, every IMAX Enhanced-certified TV has something called IMAX Mode. Basically, your TV goes into this mode when they detect a specific flag at which moment image enhancements are disabled and smoothing algorithms, too. The goal is to eventually show the movie as it was meant by the director – with the noise, color grading, and other “features” chosen by them.

Sure, you can mix and match, but, at the end of the day, don’t you want to get the best out of your audio-video experience at home? 

Because content-wise you’ll be golden. IMAX Enhanced movies that were shot with IMAX-certified cameras or specially formatted for IMAX theatres will have an expanded aspect ratio, enabling viewers to see the full scale and scope of the picture on 4K HDR TVs.

Plus, they’ll benefit from proprietary Digital Media Remastering technology (DMR) developed by IMAX. DMR accurately reduces noise and grain under the filmmakers’ guidance to best optimize the content for a much higher-quality and higher-brightness 4K HDR display format. Without this technology, high-dynamic-range content can look much worse than what the DOP had in mind. 

That said hardware matters. Depending on whether you go with a TV or a projector, the resolution must be at least 2K and has to be HDR or HDR10+-ready. Why? Well, you’ll want the widest dynamic range possible to experience the feeling of a very detailed, three-dimensional image with a lot of depth. Preferably 4K or even 8K if you are Richie Rich.

If you ask me, a 4K HDR-ready display will suffice at home but if you really want to get something top-notch, look into some Nano Cell TVs or some QLED ones. Sony and Samsung are the best TV brands to look into.

When it comes to projectors, LG and EPSON propose some of the best on the market, winners of multiple awards and prizes from media and customers. 

Depending on your needs and budget, you can find something that will suit your IMAX Enhanced experience. Both technologies offer benefits and drawbacks, and both are the pinnacle of consumer displays. Regardless of your choice, get a big screen so you can concentrate on the other aspect of your IMAX Enhanced experience – the sound. 

How to Recreate IMAX Heart Pounding Sound at Home

When you go to an IMAX movie, you get a specific sound, a heart-pounding sound stage that’s unique to IMAX.

The IMAX setup is made up of 6 channels and 44 speakers and the sound mix can have anywhere between two and ten times the dynamic range of other soundtracks. Movies are mixed to an 85dBc standard, if you were wondering, and even the IMAX rooms are tuned by an IMAX team, not left to chance.

The feeling you get in this environment seemed impossible to recreate at home but the IMAX Enhanced team is challenging that popular opinion with IMAX Enhanced-certified sound systems. It’s that simple! 

IMAX and DTS have partnered with notable names among Hollywood sound mixers leveraging DTS:X codec technology integrated into home audio equipment to deliver an IMAX trademark experience.

Sony, Denon, and Marantz, to name a few, are already on board. Denon and Marantz are in the race with some top of the line AV receivers that will make your heart sing and your wallet bleed. If high-end audio fidelity is not your thing, you can always pick from other premium providers like Arcam, Lexicon, Elite, Integra, Trinnov Audio, TCL, and Audio Control that offer product compatibility and premium quality. 

No matter your choice, you need to chase products that meet the IMAX Enhanced requirements. Your speakers should have a minimum frequency spectrum of 20Hz-20KHz, and the system should be able to emit an average sound pressure level of 85dB with 110dB peaks (115dB for subwoofers), with speakers placed 3m from the seating position. This is for sound devices with a minimum speaker sensitivity of 87dB. 

In the past, I went for DTS certified sound systems because of the sound stage and quality. Now, with the introduction of IMAX Enhanced, the user can get the best of both worlds.

Besides, some devices feature IMAX Mode, which ensures that consumers are experiencing the filmmakers’ vision as intended. 

Where Do We Go From Here? 

Depending on the hardware you already own, and on the fact that you’re not willing to spend a small fortune on your entertainment center, the IMAX Enhanced experience is achievable with a minimum of effort.

According to the folks over at IMAX, all IMAX Enhanced certified products are designed to work independently of each other. Even alone, they will perform their function at the highest level, and when combined, they work in concert, creating the most immersive and highest-quality experience available in the home. The caveat is: “you’ll still see the best version of the content possible on your TV, but it won’t be optimized as it will be on an accredited set.” IMAX 

Now it’s all up to you. Are you going to pull the pin on a big purchase or just integrate a pair of speakers or a soundbar into your system? Tell us in the comments below.

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