What is IMAX Enhanced?

Credit: IMAX

If you’ve paid attention to any of the home entertainment news coming out of this year’s CES, you may have TV manufacturers like Sony talking up a new AV feature called IMAX Enhanced.

Here’s what you need to know about the new standard.

What is IMAX Enhanced?

IMAX Enhanced is a certification and licensing program that promises to ensure compliant Ultra HD  home cinema releases offer “the best picture quality” and the “most powerful audio”.

Initially announced in September 2018 as part of a partnership between IMAX and DTS, the program requires consumer electronics manufacturers to design the 4K HDR televisions, A/V receivers, sound systems and other home theatre equipment they produce in a way that meets a set of standards decided on by a committee of IMAX and DTS engineers.

What are these standards?

Well, the exact details of the certification process for IMAX Enhanced content aren’t public.

However, in the initial announcement for the program, IMAX revealed that the compliant content looking to be branded as IMAX Enhanced will also undergo both audio and visual post-production processes.

“The program will use the newest, proprietary post-production process developed by IMAX to digitally re-master content to produce more vibrant colors, greater contrast and sharper clarity.”

“The companies will also partner with award-winning Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of its DTS:X codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an IMAX signature sound experience.”

Boiling it down, IMAX Enhanced manifests in two major ways:

  • The hardware that meets the standards required to support it

  • The content that’s been digitally remastered to meet those standards

Is IMAX Enhanced the same as HDR standards like Dolby Vision?

Not really.  

Though there are some similarities in the nature of the execution, IMAX Enhanced doesn’t have anything to do with color gamut. It entirely relies on remastering the content in the way that IMAX want cinema it to be experienced.

Who makes IMAX Enhanced hardware?

Thus far, the list of IMAX Enhanced manufacturers isn’t particularly long but it does include Sony, TCL, Denon, Marantz, Arcam, Elite, Integra, Lexicon, Onkyo, Pioneer and Trinnov Audio.

Who makes IMAX Enhanced content?

To date, only two studios have committed to producing IMAX Enhanced content: Sony and Paramount.

“While the IMAX theatrical experience continues to be the gold standard in blockbuster movie-going, today we are launching an exciting new program that applies components of IMAX’s and DTS’ technology and expertise to deliver consumers a level of quality never before experienced at home,” says IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond.

“This is a natural extension of our core business in experiential entertainment. By partnering with a well-established consumer electronics licensing leader, we can leverage both our brand and key technology innovations through DTS’ global licensing platform, without having to make the direct investments often necessary to build a new revenue stream. DTS will build that new business and we will share in the benefits from the program. We’re encouraged by the strong interest from our launch partner companies and look forward to working with DTS to grow the program further over time.”

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

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Fergus Halliday
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