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Disney Plus IMAX Enhanced streaming is expanding to include ‘signature sound’

Disney Plus IMAX Enhanced streaming is expanding to include ‘signature sound’


DTS claims that with certified devices, you’ll get an experience that better preserves the details of the sound mix made for IMAX theaters.

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A colorful graphical illustration of the Disney Plus logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Disney Plus has been streaming movies in a taller-than-usual “IMAX Enhanced” format for more than a year now, and now it will roll out a new wrinkle for the home theater certification, with IMAX signature sound by DTS. Set to roll out at some point this year, the format says its intent is “preserving the full dynamic range of the original mix.”

There aren’t a lot of specifics about exactly what will be different, but audio and surround sound specialist DTS (and its parent company Xperi, which also owns other brands like TiVo) says its IMAX Enhanced label establishes a set of qualifiers ensuring viewers will get the best audio and video experience.

Unlike the extra-tall 1.90:1 aspect ratio IMAX Enhanced Disney Plus titles (mostly Marvel Cinematic Universe films with scenes already formatted for IMAX in their theatrical runs, although they were joined by Pixar’s Lightyear this past fall), which are compatible with any device you access Disney Plus on, this one is for “certified devices” only. At launch, that should include TVs from Sony and Hisense, as well as receivers from Denon, Marantz, and JBL.

IMAX Enhanced hasn’t caught on as a buzzword or presumption of quality in the way Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision seems to, but adding some exclusive access to properly calibrated A/V experiences is one way to nudge things in that direction. Beyond moving on from the old “liemax” debate of whether or not every IMAX theater really offered a super-sized screen or merely a slightly bigger-than-average one, the question here is if they can deliver something noticeably different and better than what viewers were already getting.