Dolby Cinema vs Imax Comparison (Detailed)

Dolby Cinema vs IMAX is a common argument among movie lovers. Many people prefer one over another without proper knowledge. So, today we’ll discuss which one should be good to go?

Dolby Cinema provides 4k resolution, more contrast, sound with Dolby Atmos, and a better chair to push your watching experience to the highest level. Whereas the IMAX Cinema comes with a bigger screen, 3D capability, better availability, and cost-efficiency.  

Getting confused? Don’t worry! I’m here to help you to get rid of the confusion. I’ve described both Cinema theaters briefly, you’ll not going to miss a single piece of information. So at the end of this post, you’ll become capable of deciding on which should be your cup of tea!


Dolby Cinema vs Imax – Quick Comparison Chart:

SpecificationDolby CinemaIMAX
Image Quality:Up to 4 times higher than standard resolutionUp to 3 times higher than standard resolution
Aspect Ratio:2.40:12.90:1
Film Process:2D only2D & 3D
Screen Size:15 – 50 feet75 feet average & up to 117 feet
Audio Channels:64 channels12 channels
Comfortability:Better quality chairs than standard chairs with more space and transducers.Nothing special, comparable to normal chairs, just slightly more comfortable.
Availability:197 Dolby Cinemas around the whole world.More than 1500 IMAX theaters around the globe.

Introduction to Dolby Cinema

A question may arise in your brain that is “What is Dolby Cinema?” Long story short, Dolby Cinema is the combination of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision into one system and presents it as a full package inside an AMC. 

Quality and Technology of Dolby Cinema

Dolby Vision operates a couple of 4k lasers to visualize movies that are rich in contrast ratio. It uses lasers instead of lamps, and as a result, more colors can be displayed. And guess what? Also black color appears as perfect black without turning into grey.

There are two projectors that offer 4k resolution, which is four times higher than the standard movie’s resolution. Moreover, it comes with 500 fold higher contrast ratio than digital standard projectors. So, you can enjoy higher resolution, deep black color, high contrast, and many more on Dolby Vision laser projection.

Maybe you can ask, is Dolby Cinema 3d? Well, frankly speaking, NO, Dolby Cinema is not 3D. It’s a major drawback of Dolby Cinema in the current era. 

Additionally, Dolby Cinema produces more accurate colors than its competitor in the 2d world. It’s impossible for anyone not to notice the difference between Dolby Vision and digital standard movies in a theatre. 

Dolby Audio

What is Dolby audio? In short, a new type of audio configuration that was launched in early 2012 by Dolby Research Lab is known as Dolby Atmos. 

Thankfully Dolby Vision comes with Dolby Atmos also. It enhances the theater’s surrounding sound. Dolby generally places their speakers above the audience instead of placing speakers around the room.

In Dolby Cinema, the audience is able to hear the sound from four subwoofers, five in-screen speakers, and more than forty-five surrounding speakers. 


Last but not least, there are also reclining chairs to push viewers’ comfort to the next level while watching movies. The audience can listen to the sound emanating from the transducers in the chairs. These transducers detect low-frequency sounds and then make the seat vibrate to the experience of a crash or explosion.

Dolby Cinema’s Pros

  • Great Picture Quality.
  • 64 Audio channels.
  • Higher picture resolution compared to IMAX.
  • The surrounding Dolby Atmos sound.

Dolby Cinema’s Cons

  • Not much is available as IMAX!
  • The screen size is small compared to IMAX!

Introduction to IMAX

IMAX is the most popular movie format around the world. If there is any premium theater near you, and you don’t know about the theater, then can you guess, is it IMAX or Dolby? 

Let me answer the question I’ve asked! It’s probably an IMAX auditorium. Do you know? There is 1500+ IMAX Theater around the globe; isn’t it amazing?

IMAX Cinema Experience

IMAX technology is more established, and most people are familiar with IMAX. The IMAX movies use high-resolution cameras, films, projectors, and theaters. In general, the difference between regular digital movie theaters and IMAX theaters is the size of the screen and the auditorium.

The IMAX theater experience is a better combination of four crucial features: The projector, the big screen, speakers, and most important the camera. 

IMAX Camera

When it comes to the Camera, IMAX Cameras feature 70mm film stock, as a result, horizontally eighteen-thousand lines of resolution. This is the reason why IMAX movies are far ahead of standard movie formats. The standard movie format offers 35mm film stock, which means only six-thousand horizontal lines.

Now, a question may arise in your brain, why not every movie maker uses an IMAX camera? The answer is simple! IMAX cameras are much more expensive. However, there is a drawback also, these cameras are much heavier with limited mounting options. Although, many blockbuster movies are made with IMAX cameras, like Avengers Infinity War. 

IMAX Screen Size

IMAX offers screens of huge size, which is a clear advantage over standard digital theaters. A typical auditorium’s screen is about 15 to 50 feet tall. Even Dolby Cinema theaters offer about the same! But IMAX comes with an average height of around 75 feet screen! Which takes it to the next level. 

Do you know? Who provides the biggest theater screen in the world? IMAX provides it. It’s about 117 feet! Isn’t it superb? Obviously.

IMAX cinema provides a curved screen and the audience seat is situated closer to the screen. As a result, viewers can focus easily on the movies instead of the edges of the screen. Thanks to the curve screen which significantly improved the whole experience. 

IMAX Audio

Last but certainly not least, IMAX comes with 12 audio channels. The location of the speakers is behind the screen. And the technology is optimized for every individual viewer. Regardless of where you are seated, you can enjoy the sound from any seat in the auditorium. In addition, IMAX cinema support 3D as well. 

IMAX Cinema’s Pros

  • Much availability compared to Dolby Vision.
  • 3D compatible as well as 2D.
  • Bigger Screen Size.

IMAX Cinema’s Cons

  • Picture Quality is not good as Dolby Vision!
  • The aspect ratio is lower compared to Dolby Cinema!

Dolby Cinema or IMAX: Detailed Comparison

These two movie formats are popular today & they provide the best viewing experience. But how do these two giant titans stack up against one another? Well, we’ll briefly discuss picture quality, image format, audio, 2D vs. 3D, and comfort.

As a result, you’ll know which one is suitable for you at the end of the day. 

Image Quality

When it comes to Image quality, Dolby Cinema is the clear winner against IMAX Cinema, thanks to the Dolby Vision technology. Dolby Vision delivers a four times higher resolution than standard digital cinema format. As a result, you will get the maximum picture quality at the Dolby Cinema auditorium. In addition, it comes with 500 times higher contrast ratio also.

Moreover, Dolby Vision technology works by increasing the brightness and expanding the dynamic range. Dolby always focuses on making things realistic. So, they have developed their projection at the level of 0.01 nits at the highest darkness and twenty thousand nits at the peak brightness.

As a result, the picture gets life-like caliber, high contrast, and high dynamic range. Isn’t it really amazing?

However, it doesn’t mean that IMAX comes with poor or average picture quality. IMAX also provides good picture quality, which is obviously above standard picture quality. In general, IMAX comes with a 2k resolution projection in their theaters. But some of them have dual projection technology, which provides 3 times higher resolution than standard cinemas resolution.

But the difference between Dolby and IMAX is not significant in the watching experience, although Dolby is the clear winner here.

Image Format

Although Dolby Vision is the clear winner in Image or Picture quality, on the flip side, in Image format, IMAX gonna be win the fight. ETX standard, AMC prime, and also Dolby cinema comes with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. While IMAX features an aspect ratio of 1.90:1, which is unique. 

The advantages of the aspect ratio of 1.90:1 are that it can show a taller image. Compared to others, it is capable of showing 26% more screen space. That’s why many people prefer to watch IMAX shots movies in IMAX theaters. 

In addition, IMAX also comes with IMAX Dome and IMAX Laser. As a result, you can get a superb cinematic experience, which pushes the cinematic experience to the next level. Furthermore, there is another unique format called Digital IMAX. So, no complaints there about the IMAX.

Sound System

Well, both Dolby and IMAX provide good sound quality. But when we compare one another, Dolby cinema is far ahead in this section because of their Dolby Atmos sound technology. On the other side, there are differences in the audio channel and speaker placement also.

Where Dolby Cinema provides 64 audio channels, while IMAX comes with 12 audio channels, this comes to speaker placement also. Dolby Places their speakers surrounding the auditorium on the flip side, and the IMAX theaters place their giant speakers behind the screen.

But IMAX uses a unique technology for its sound system. The speakers are optimized for every individual viewer. Regardless of where you are seated, you can enjoy the sound from any seat in the hall.

So, who is the winner here? Of course, Dolby Cinema because of their Dolby Atmos and 64 channel audio. Nothing can beat Dolby atmos.

Availability and 3D

Here comes the IMAX first! When we talk about availability, IMAX has over 1500 halls around the globe. While Dolby Cinema has only 179 auditoriums. Moreover, Only IMAX can provide 3D movies. So, IMAX is the clear winner here.


IMAX theaters generally offer chairs like other Cinema halls. But Dolby Cinema comes with transducers in the chairs and also big chairs compared to IMAX. These transducers push the whole experience to the next level. It detects low-frequency sounds and then makes the seat vibrate to the experience of a crash or explosion.


Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Qs)

  1. Is there any difference in cost between IMAX and Dolby?
    IMAX theater tickets are mostly budget-friendly. You can generally get a ticket for an adult for around 20 Bucks and for a child for around 15 bucks. But Dolby cinema theater tickets will cost slightly higher than IMAX. Don’t worry, you can buy a ticket for the Dolby cinema without hurting your wallet!
  2. If a movie gets shot with an IMAX camera, then which theater will be appropriate for the movie?
    In this scenario, of course, the IMAX Theater will be appropriate for the movie. Don’t forget the IMAX camera comes with 70mm. For this, you will notice horizontally eighteen-thousand lines of resolution, which is insane!
    Also, you can get 26% more screen space which will push your watching experience to the next level.

Wrapping It Up!

IMAX Cinema beats Dolby Cinema in some perspectives and also vice versa. If you want to watch a movie that gets shot by a conventional camera, then Dolby Cinema could be a good choice for you. Furthermore, Dolby Atmos will increase your watching experience significantly. 

On the flip side, if you are wondering about enjoying a movie that gets shot by the IMAX camera, then the IMAX Cinema theater will be an ideal pick for you; although you are going to miss Dolby Atmos.

In addition, if your choice is a 3D movie, then the IMAX is the only choice you have. But Overall, Dolby Cinema is ahead because of the picture quality, sound, and comfortability.

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