Immersive audio in the pipeline for AHL

22 October, 2014 by Emily Blatchford

The roll-out of immersive audio in Australia has been given a new boost with the news Amalgamated Holdings Limited (AHL) has committed to install Dolby Atmos into around 20 if its cinemas in next few years.

A significant investment from AHL, the installation is part of the company’s future expansion plans and will take place in premium cinema screens at yet undisclosed locations.


Curt Behlmer, Senior Vice President, Content Solutions & Industry Relations, Dolby Laboratories, took some time to sit down with IF at the Australian International Movie Convention to talk about the new development.

“For one, I’m very excited about it. I’ve known the guys at AHL for a number of years and obviously they are very important cinemas. I think obviously the importance of a lot of their locations and the number of screens… It’s great for us to be able to work with them to enable more venues and filmmakers to realise the potential of immersive audio,” he says.

So what can audiences expect?

“The biggest difference is it’s really an immersive body experience,” he says. “There are speakers everywhere and the ability to individually address those speakers, so from a creative standpoint it’s very different from surround sound. You can very accurately place sound ahead or behind, in contrast to a surround sound system where the best you could do was a left or right rear sound, for example.

“So something like a helicopter you can put overhead or very specifically at the side of the cinema – it provides a lot more precision.” 

Behlmer won’t be drawn on exactly how large an investment this is for AHL, but the announcement comes at a time where many exhibitors are finding themselves at a crossroads – on one hand, financially strapped from the digital roll-out and on the other, driven by a desire to reinvest in their businesses when building an audience has never been more crucial.

“Of course many cinema owners are finding themselves in a place where they have to make some very tough decisions,” he says. “The digital roll out was, for many, financially exhausting and it will vary cinema to cinema how they choose to navigate going forward. However we are excited to be able to offer this next step in audio and I think, once they hear it, Australian audiences will really respond.”