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IMAX Enhanced Certification: What Are You Really Getting?

by October 19, 2018
IMAX Enhanced Certification Home Theater

IMAX Enhanced Certification Home Theater

IMAX has been a staple in the movie theaters as the best in sound and video for over a decade. Now they want to bring that experience into the home theater realm but it's going to involve 3 things: IMAX Enhanced hardware, and content. OK that's 2 things. Ironically the new standard that they're attempting to set mentions nothing about the room acoustics or speaker dispersion or output requirements. Perhaps in the near future that will be revised but let's go with what we know so far to determine if IMAX Enhanced is a must have in your home theater.

Note: Speaker placement is covered by DTS:X guidelines. Although standard immersive speaker layouts are recommended, IMAX DTS:X renders the IMAX signature sound to any speaker layout.]

IMAX Mission: to ensure an optimized and consistent viewing experience that remains faithful to the filmmakers’ creative intent. But how will this be achieved?

IMAX Certification: licensing and certification program on hardware devices, post production and filmmaking process

IMAX Enhanced Certification for Home Theater YouTube Discussion


First off, IMAX Enhanced certified gear is backwards compatible as is the software. You can still mix and match gear and software. IMAX cameras, and digital enhancement processes are baked into content from filmmaking. So to get the best experience, you need native IMAX content. IMAX Enhanced is not a new HDR format. In fact, the current HDR10 standard with optional dynamic metadata is compatible with IMAX. But what about Dolby Vision???  Moving on....


As far as sound, IMAX Enhanced is NOT a new format but instead is a variant of the DTS:X immersive surround codec with some processing enhancements. Details aren't exactly forthcoming thus far, but we did get some interesting tidbits of info that shows some promising enhancements over the standard DTS:X surround experience. The idea is to take the 12.0 channel mix from the cinema and properly convert it to work in a home theater environment from 5.1 to beyond with support for height channels, and most critically the dedicated subwoofer channel and associated bass management lacking in the IMAX cinema. The DTS:X surround codec will feature persistent center screen height object to provide the ability to create a speaker where one doesn't exist.

Denon IMAX Sony IMAX Projector

Denon IMAX Enhanced AV Receiver (left pic); Sony IMAX Enhanced Projector (right pic)

Hardware Partners

Hardware partners include Sony, Sound United (including Denon and Marantz). In fact the latest Denon receivers have already been announced with IMAX Enhanced certified and other existing products like the Marantz AV8805 13.2CH AV Processor and Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2CH AV receiver will see a firmware update later this month with the Marantz SR8012 AV receiver slated for early Q1 2019.

Content Partners

Sony Pictures, and Paramount Studios are on board as well as IMAX documentaries. IMAX is promising content that will be shot in 4K and HDR and if they follow the advantage from the cinema to home, we should see video with enhanced noise reduction to make the image even crisper. The aspect ratio may also be different since most IMAX theaters offer taller screens. We could see aspect ratios reflect this in the home theater as well. IMAX works directly to preserve the director’s intent so this may be variable dependent upon that.

IMAX Operation in the Home

Once you pop in an IMAX Enhanced 4K Blu-ray disc or supported streaming service (TBD), the AV receiver and display will switch into IMAX mode putting it in picture and sound settings IMAX and DTS engineers have determined would produce optimal performance to recreate the IMAX experience in the home. It's unclear if these settings will be user changeable, especially on the display side if picture controls would need to be better optimized to get proper black levels depending on the room lighting.

IMAX Enhanced Certification Value or Another Stamp?

StampToday's modern AV receiver has more logos stamped on the faceplate than a NASCAR driver has on their jacket. While the premise of what IMAX is offering in the home seems compelling, it's unclear if consumers will be motivated to upgrade their hardware and seek out specific IMAX Enhanced content to take full advantage of what the program offers. Will IMAX maintain the integrity of their name or will it become a cash cow like what Dolby did with Atmos and THX did with certifying everything but breakfast cereal? Time will tell but so far we like the potential.

Are you planning on upgrading to an AV receiver with IMAX Enhanced Certification in the near future? Share your thoughts about this topic in the forum thread below.


About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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