AURO-3D® is a multichannel sound format that expands on standard 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound by adding additional height layers that fill in above the left, right, center and surround channels, allowing for more detailed sound localization. With so many movies featuring speeding cars, airplanes, rocket ships and other flying objects these days, the extra layers of height provided by AURO-3D can make the user experience feel even more immersive, and the same is true of complex music with dense instrumentation.
Watching or listening to content in this format requires an AV receiver that is able to decode the AURO-3D signal and distribute it to the appropriate speakers. You’ll also need the requisite speaker configuration, including those in a standard 5.1 or 7.1 surround setup, plus a speaker pair above the screen and another high one that points down at an angle (these can be in-ceiling mounted speakers).
And, of course, you also need AURO-3D content. Here are some recommendations for movie scenes and songs that best demonstrate the capabilities of this exciting technology.
Because of its ability to project sound above the listener, an AURO-3D movie soundtrack can be even more immersive than one mixed in 7.1 or 5.1 surround sound. Check out these scenes!
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – THE WING SUIT
The plot of this animated adventure film centers around protagonist Hiccup and his dragon Toothless, who united the Vikings and Dragons in the first movie.
As you might expect with a movie like this, there’s a whole lot of flying going on, so there are plenty of scenes where the extended height perception you get with AURO-3D accentuates the animated thrills. This scene is particularly thrilling, as Hiccup (the protagonist) dons a suit that allows him to fly and then begins riding on the back of his dragon Toothless. They start out low over the water and then zoom up to higher altitudes, with Toothless spinning faster and faster as they break through the clouds. Watch the scene here.
BLACK PANTHER – THE CAR CHASE
This popular superhero movie tells the story of T’Challa, who goes back home to the African country of Wakanda to become king after the death of his father and finds that ruling a nation is a bit more challenging than he expected. Also crucial to the plot is a substance called vibranium, which gives superpowers to those who eat it. T’Challa partakes and becomes the Black Panther.
The car chase scene in this film is epic, enveloping the viewer for almost five minutes of nonstop action. You’ll see spinning and flipping galore, with the Black Panther jumping off a speeding car onto a nearby building. Needless to say, AURO-3D makes the action significantly more intense. Watch the scene here.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT RESCUE
This film from the ever-growing Marvel franchise shows a teenage Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, performing humdrum typical teen activities like walking on the ceiling, holding broken ferry boats together with his webbing and fighting against a criminal in a flying vulture suit. There are many scenes where AURO-3D’s immersive height implementation comes into play, but the most compelling is the Washington Monument rescue scene.
It starts with Spider-Man standing on a tiny ledge near the top of the monument. Next, police officers in helicopters arrive to arrest him. He jumps off the structure using his web to keep him in the air before crashing through a window, where he again uses his web, this time to rescue his friends from a falling elevator. Finally, he saves his would-be girlfriend from tumbling down the elevator shaft. If you have a fear of heights, you might need to hold on to your seat while viewing! Watch the scene here.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 – THE SEA WALL CHASE
This film is a sequel to the original Blade Runner movie from 1982. Like the first movie, it takes place in a dystopic future version of Los Angeles, only this time, it’s 30 years later.
Our hero, Officer K, is a blade runner for LAPD, and that means he hunts down replicants (enslaved bioengineered humans) that break the law or rebel. Many of the scenes have a distinctly vertical aspect, but none more so than in the Sea Wall Chase, with flying cars dive-bombing each other, spinning out in flames and landing in the water. Particularly during those moments, the soundtrack’s implementation of AURO-3D height-localization prowess is compelling. Watch it here.
Some music available in AURO-3D is mixed directly for it, while other pieces get “upmixed” from stereo. (Upmixing uses software algorithms that intelligently transform stereo mixes into immersive AURO-3D.) To handle the data required for AURO-3D, albums supporting it are typically released as Blu-Ray™ discs. Here are a few notable AURO-3D-encoded songs.
“REQUIEM: VIII. SANCTUS”– NIDAROSDOMENS JENTEKOR, TRONDHEIMSOLISTENE (LUX)
This song comes from the album Lux, with AURO-3D-savvy producer Morten Lindberg at the helm. It won a Grammy® for Best Immersive Audio Album in 2020 and features Nidarosdomens Jentekor (the Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir) and Trondheimsolistene (Trondheim Soloists string orchestra) performing together. On “Requiem: VIII. Sanctus,” the high notes from the choir soar even higher (in height, not pitch) than they would in stereo or even in 7.1 surround sound. You feel totally enveloped by the music and can easily imagine you’re listening from inside an old European cathedral. Check out the stereo mix here.
“LUNACY” – DAVID MILES HUBER (PARALLAX EDEN)
Grammy-nominated producer David Miles Huber’s Parallax Eden has been released in various multichannel formats over the years, including an AURO-3D version. If you want to feel surrounded by pulsing beats and brilliant electronic textures, any of the compositions will get you there, but the most compelling is “Lunacy,” which starts with a solo clavinet and builds to complex interweaving synths, keyboards and drums. Listening to it in AURO-3D lets you hear each instrument with more clarity than in stereo because the soundscape is so much bigger.
“I immediately fell in love with the powerful emotion [AURO-3D] brings to the listeners,” says Huber on the AURO-3D website. “Creatively, more possibilities come to mind when you have such an extensive canvas available.” Check out the stereo mix here.
“CAROLS OF DEATH: NO. 3. TO ALL, TO EACH” – SKYLARK VOCAL ENSEMBLE (CROSSING OVER)
This song comes from a concept album by the acclaimed American choir. According to the group’s website, each composition “depicts the dream state at the end of life.” Hearing it in AURO-3D places you in the middle of these mystical choral arrangements, with the soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts panned three-dimensionally. “Carols of Death: No. 3. To All, To Each” by American composer William Shuman is an awe-inspiring example. Check out the stereo mix here.