Cinemark Plano Premieres New Sound System

West Plano screenings of "Brave" feature Dolby Atmos sound

A Plano movie theater has one of only 14 auditoriums in the nation with new surround-sound technology.

West Plano Cinemark's auditorium with the Dolby Atmos system, which takes surround sound to a new level, is also the first in Texas.

Disney/Pixar’s "Brave" is premiering the Dolby Atmos system, part of the movie industry's attempt to upgrade the theater experience.

In years past, the speakers on the left side of an auditorium may have been on one channel while those on the right were on a different one, said Damian Wardle, Cinemark vice president of global theater technology and presentation.

The Atmos system is more dynamic, with 64 speaker feeds -- including so-called overhead "Voice of God" speakers -- and 128 simultaneous inputs.

"Now, every single speaker is an individual channel," Wardle said. "The sounds can go over the top of you and around you. It really gives you the full capability of putting the sound anywhere in the auditorium."

For example, audio technology engineers at movie studios can edit a sound pattern to ripple up the wall, mimicking a pebble thrown into a river -- or even the sound of wind blowing across the room.

Wardle said the theater chain and movie studios alike are looking to push the boundaries of the traditional movie-going experience.

"The theater is more than just the movie on the screen," he said.

Wardle said the movie industry is continuously working to create unique experiences at the theater. As home cinemas and other options grow in popularity, Cinemark tries to enhance the communal feel of coming to the movies, he said.

Forest Brooks, who was at the theater Friday morning to see "Brave," said he identifies with the point.

"You have that experience of everyone laughing at the same time or getting scared at the same time," he said. "It makes the experience heightened."

In a press release, Dolby Laboratories spokesman Ramzi Haidamus called the technology "our most revolutionary sound innovation in years."

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