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IMAX, which stands for maximum image, designs its movie screens to make an audience feel like it’s right in the action, rather than simply hearing and seeing the same old movie screen. IMAX movie-goers certainly enjoy the huge screens that extend beyond their peripheral view and the razor-sharp images.

The Science Behind IMAX: Sound as Loud as Imagery

In fact, even in this post-recession period, IMAX profits have soared. But knowing how much we get a kick out of loud music, how does IMAX take things a step further and make its movies sound as big as the images on the screen?

There is a network of 44 patented speakers in the IMAX theater that emits a staggering 12,000 watts of sound. The speakers are directional, which allows them to distribute sound more evenly across the theater, so each member of the audience hears as well as another.  The speaker system also has a wider frequency response, making the high frequencies higher and lows even lower, so that they become vibrations on top of the sound

High-Frequencies and IMAX: Quality Sound Designed for You

It takes more than just blasting sound out of oversized speakers to produce that IMAX-quality sound. For example, IMAX monitors the acoustics in the room and takes into consideration the size and shape of theaters. In fact, they even hold patents on theater geometry so that they can control all the variables (shapes, angles and dimensions) that create the best possible hearing and listening environment.

Furthermore, IMAX theaters have enhanced architecture, with specific speaker placements and soundproofing for optimized hearing. They make sure that they employ the most whisper-quiet air conditioning possible and they remotely optimize the various speaker outputs. This means that there is a team of IMAX sound engineers working around the clock, monitoring each IMAX theater across the globe to make sure that every sound system is at peak performance.

Bringing Math to Life: The Role of Speakers and Geometry

IMAX goes even further than speakers and geometry to amp up the excitement for the audience by making sure each TempurPedic seat in the theater has personal subwoofers so that the viewers can even feel the sound.

Not only that, but the actual movie audio track will have been digitally remastered in order to tweak the sound to make it crisper, brighter, more exhilarating or scary, thus creating an even more dynamic soundscape.

IMAX truly makes the science of sound engineering into an art and there’s even more that goes into producing that great IMAX sound that we know and love. For example: they use live calibration and all of their speaker enclosures are specifically handmade for them.

If you want to know more insider secrets, check out the below YouTube video to join the IMAX Sound Team as they go behind the scenes to demonstrate what goes into creating that great IMAX sound experience.

by Esther Shasho