The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 28, 2013

Theater sound system ‘will blow people away’

Richland Cinemas to introduce new technology

JOHNSTOWN — Just when you think movies couldn’t be more real given 3-D know-how and high-speed framing that assaults the visuals, the latest in sound technology is coming to Johnstown.

And Richland Cinemas once again is in the forefront of introducing cutting-edge technology.

Ed Troll IV, owner and general manager of County Amusement Co. of Johnstown, has been granted approval to install Dolby’s new Atmos Sound System, which produces a sound that literally envelops moviegoers.

“At this time, we will be the first one in Pennsylvania to install a 52-channel sound system that has a staggering 31,000 watts of power,” Troll said. “The only other theaters to get such approval are in Detroit, New York City and one outside Washington, D.C.”

The system allows sounds to move around the theater to create dynamic effects and reproduces a natural and lifelike audio experience that perfectly matches the story.

In its multiscreen building at Richland Town Centre, Troll already has added digital technology to go along with stadium seating and better sound systems to enhance people’s movie experience.

But Atmos is opening up a new door for theatergoers.

Dolby claims that with Atmos filmmakers can now precisely position and move sounds anywhere in a theater – even overhead – to heighten the realism and impact of every scene.

Troll will be closing down Room 5, his 300-seat, stadium seating theater in October to begin the intricate installation process. All other rooms will continue operation during the upgrade.

“We plan on being completed in time to play Harrison’s Ford “Ender’s Game” that comes out Nov. 1 and will feature our new system,” Troll said. “It will blow people away.”

He’s not talking about volume, although it could be cranked up to ear-shattering levels.

“Because the sound of each speaker is aimed in distinct directions, it’s as if the character on the screen is standing right next to you,” he said. “I can’t wait for people to hear this.”

The installation of the speakers, which include 14 overhead surround speakers, will be the first step.

“Crews must first make a huge metal rack 50 feet long and 15 feet wide to hold the speakers, which will carry two rows of speakers, 8 feet apart,” Troll said. “We will have seven speakers each on the right and left walls and add six at the rear of the theater.”

Troll joked that sound will be coming from everywhere “except from the floor.”

“And the way things are advancing, that’s probably next,” he said.

Troll said Dolby Atmos is the most significant development in cinema audio since surround sound, taking a unique layered approach to sound design.

With the addition of the new technology, Troll is eager to offer people movies that take advantage of all the advances.

The releases through Christmas include “Thor: The Dark World,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Frozen” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

“We have already updated our equipment in Auditorium 5 to play ‘Hobbit’ in the new High Frame Rate format, which is the same room the Atmos System will be in,” Troll said. “It looks and sounds like a great upcoming season.”

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on LavisTD.

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