What Is IMAX Enhanced Certification for Home Theater?

Experience the look and sound of IMAX at home

IMAX Enhanced Split Screen Example — Space

If you want to experience IMAX at home, you may need to dish out anywhere from half a million to a million dollars for a proper setup.

Knowing that the vast majority of people cannot afford such a setup, IMAX is focusing on lowering that cost and has teamed up with DTS for a home theater certification program officially labeled as IMAX Enhanced.

What Is IMAX Enhanced?

IMAX Enhanced represents specifically added tweaks to existing video and audio processing techniques.

In order to qualify as an IMAX Enhanced device, select high-end 4K Ultra HD OLED or LED/LCD TVs, projectors, sound bars, home theater receivers, and AV preamp/processors must go through an evaluation procedure.

The submitted TVs and components must meet specific performance standards established by IMAX in partnership with DTS and select Hollywood Studio technicians. IMAX determines whether components meet video certification standards, while DTS evaluates audio performance.

To make things easy for the consumer, IMAX certified home theater components feature an IMAX Mode that activates automatically when the official enhanced content is detected.

IMAX Video Enhancements

For video, the IMAX Mode provides the following enhancements.

IMAX Enhanced Aspect Ratio

IMAX Audio Enhancements

For audio, the IMAX Mode enables the following:

  • The IMAX Mode activates a variation of the DTS:X immersive audio format that more closely matches the surround sound experience in IMAX cinemas.
  • The IMAX Mode can adapt to deliver immersive surround sound, including overhead effects from a variety of speaker setups.
  • Although the IMAX Enhanced mode is compatible with 5.1, 7.1, or more channel setups, IMAX recommends a 5.1.4 or 7.2.4 channel setup (refer to tip below for details) for the optimum listening experience.

The 7 or 5 in the first number category represents the number of speakers in the horizontal plane, while the .1 or .2 in the second number category represents the number of subwoofers. The .4 in the last number category represents the number of height speakers (either vertically firing or ceiling mounted).

7.1.4 Channel Speaker Setup with Ceiling Height Speakers
Dolby Labs

What You Need

To take advantage of the IMAX Enhanced experience, you need an IMAX certified or compatible component(s) from each of the following categories:

  • 4K Ultra HD TV or Video Projector with Screen.
  • Home Theater Receiver or AV Preamp/Processor with Power Amplifier.
  • Speakers and Subwoofer(s) to accommodate your desired setup. (Brand and models not specified.)
  • Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player.
  • Content on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc. IMAX Enhanced Content is delivered through select 4K Ultra HD discs. Other content source options may be added.

No official certification is required for Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players as long as the player can transfer the needed HDR10 video and DTS:X audio format data.

What We Like
  • Improvements in audio and video quality—content displayed in full IMAX Aspect Ratio when available.

  • Several TV, video projector, and home theater component options available—all much more affordable than an IMAX Private Theatre Setup.

  • IMAX Certified content is still playable on non-certified equipment, but without the extra benefits. This means that if you plan on purchasing IMAX Enhanced certified products in the future, you can start building a content library any time.

What We Don't Like
  • Audio and video improvements are only provided for IMAX Enhanced encoded content.

  • Previously released IMAX content may not be able to take advantage of IMAX Mode.

  • Limited content availability, need to purchase specific IMAX Enhanced Certified 4K Products to benefit.

  • Although not as expensive as an IMAX Private Theatre, you are still looking at several thousand dollars for a complete IMAX Enhanced setup.

IMAX Enhanced Certified TVs

Sony X900F Series 4K HDR TV with IMAX Enhancement
Photo from Amazon

IMAX Enhanced Certified Video Projectors

Sony VPL-VW295ES IMAX Enhanced 4K Video Projector
Sony Electronics

IMAX Enhanced Certified Home Theater Receivers

Denon AVR-X6500H IMAX Enhanced Home Theater Receiver

IMAX Enhanced Certified AV Preamp Processors

Marantz AV8805 IMAX Enhanced AV Preamp/Processor

IMAX Enhanced Certified Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Releases

Look for the IMAX Enhanced Logo on the product and content packaging, as well as streaming offerings.

The IMAX Enhanced Certification program isn't your only option. Check out the THX Certification Program for speakers and other home theater gear.