Dolby Cinema Vs IMAX – Which Is Better?

When it comes to theaters, IMAX and Dolby Cinema are two very popular choices. Both cinemas offer you comfortable seats, crystal cleaning projections and sounds. Thus making your movie experience really enjoyable. 

As both of these movie formats are so popular, then you may be wondering which one is better? In this article, we will be comparing both cinemas and delving into the features that each offers.

Dolby Cinema Vs IMAX – Which Is Better

Expectations Of A Dolby Cinema

The Dolby Laboratories have been branding Dolby Cinema, in the hopes to give their movie theater the edge and be more attractive to customers. Dolby Cinema has been designed in a way to make a really memorable and fun experience for the audience that helps them to connect with the story they are there to watch. 

With a Dolby Cinema, you step in the character’s life with them. Thus, you are allowed to also enter and relate to the world that the director and filmmaking team have tried to create.

Hence, you get to witness every detail on the screen, alongside very vivid colors thanks to the Dolby Vision, which makes all the colors on the screen pop.

Also, due to the Dolby Atmos sound, every sound or word is so clear you actually feel as if you have entered the world of the character and are there with them. 

The Dolby Atmos is used through several speakers to help enhance the overall sound. This also includes overhead speakers, yet when you walk into a Dolby Cinema theater, you won’t find any speakers in sight.

It is the overhead speakers that have been designed in a particular way for the sound to pass through to where the audience is sat. You still get to hear every sound the director intended for you to hear.

As a result, Dolby Cinema aims to give you an immersive experience. It helps to create a realistic environment, which makes audiences buy into and believe the worlds they are watching. 

Features Of IMAX And Dolby Cinema Comparison

IMAX and Dolby Cinema both offer a similar cinematic experience, yet they do differ in different ways. The difference between the two isn’t down to looks, but the movie experience that the audience receives. 

There are a couple of factors that make these two movie formats different for one another, that we have gone through below. 

Image Quality

For image quality, Dolby Cinema wins this contest against IMAX. This is due to the fact that Dolby Cinema uses a High Dynamic Range (HDR). What this does is make the images of the film look as realistic as possible by using multiple colors alongside high contrast. 

Dolby HDR uses much more digital information when compared with HDR10 that is used by IMAX Cinemas. They both use similar color specifications. However, Dolby Cinema supports a lot more data, which means the colors look much sharper and realistic. 

HDR10 and Dolby Vision supports 10-bit videos. While HDR10 supports 10-bit video with a brightness that goes up to 10,000 nits and a 12-bit depth and color.

Dolby Vision can support up to a 12-bit video, alongside brightness up to 10,000 nits and a 12-bit depth and color.

Image Format

Both IMAX and Dolby Cinema are 3D movie experiences. Each of them have a similar brightness, contrast, resolution, and color. However, once again, Dolby comes out on top due to the Dolby Vision and Atmos technologies that are used for the image quality and sound of the movie.

It is known that a Dolby Cinema will have a resolution that is 4x higher when compared to a standard movie resolution. Giving you a much more crystal clear image and immersive experience. 

With that being said, we aren’t saying that IMAX provides you with poor image quality. IMAX has a 2K resolution when used with the double laser projection. Therefore, IMAX can still give you a great viewing experience due to IMAX Dome Presentations and IMAX Laser, both are great viewing experiences. 

Both IMAX and Dolby Cinema are available in a range of different formats. However, the image format is one of the main differences between both IMAX and Dolby Cinema.

This is due to IMAX coming with a Digital IMAX format. This format will still have a high brightness, contrast, color, and resolution. Yet, this format is also available in IMAX 3D.

Some films that are produced in IMAX format are also available in Digital IMAX as well. However, in the film world, some films that are produced in Digital IMAX are formatted for only Standard Digital. 


Audio is really important in movies, and this has been a critical thing for Dolby Cinema that they have put a lot of work into. As Dolby has put a lot of work into the audio of their movie theater, their audio quality outshines IMAX Cinemas.

The majority of Dolby Cinemas uses Dolby Atmos, which helps them to provide really clear audio that helps you to become immersed into the film world. With that being said, IMAX still offers you great audio as their theater uses the top of the range speakers. 

The audio quality in an IMAX theater is still amazing, and you can’t fault the audio. Yet with Dolby Siemens and the use of Dolby Atmos the sound quality is slightly better and more thought about. This is what gives Dolby Cinema the upper hand in this area. 


When you go out to the movies, you want to be comfortable, as this will help you enjoy the film. Movie goers love nothing more than sitting in the theater to watch a newly released film on the big screen.

Obviously, the image and sound quality are important for any audience member. Yet, they also need to feel comfortable in where they are sitting.

They really enjoy and become immersed in the movie’s world and become part of the characters’ story. If you aren’t comfortable, then you won’t enjoy the film, even if it is the best film ever made. 

Both IMAX and Dolby Cinemas offer different configurations of seats, sound, screens, and lighting. When it comes to your seating options, these differ as some theater seating is rows, while others have a tiered stadium seating style. 

Stadium seating is a very popular choice, as they offer different viewing angles of the movie, and are considered really comfortable. They still offer you a great audio quality no matter where you are sitting, thus making them the ideal option for anyone home theater. 

When it comes to comfort, Dolby Cinema is known for their comfortable seating when watching a film on their screens. In some theaters, you can also recline their seats as well for a more enjoyable viewing experience.

Alongside that, it is known that if there is something thrilling like an explosion your seat will actually rumble, to make you feel part of the action.

Dolby Cinemas offers top tier seating comfort. However, IMAX theaters still have comfortable seats for viewing, making for a pleasurable experience. However, once you try the Dolby seating, you’ll understand how much more comfortable their seats are. 


This is something that IMAX is better at than Dolby Cinemas. IMAX theaters are available all around the world, so you can access an IMAX theater a lot more easily than a Dolby Cinema.

If that wasn’t enough, IMAX theaters are generally much larger than Dolby, so this bigger size means that there is a lot more availability when it comes to an IMAX theater compared to a Dolby Cinema. 

In an IMAX auditorium, they may use a single or duo IMAX projector. Compared with a Dolby Cinema that uses one projector, however, this is rare. Only 25 theaters all over the world actually use one projector, most of them will use 2 projectors in their setup. 

However, a Dolby Cinemas can use fewer projectors, then they need much less space. As a result, their overall size and capacity of their theater can be much smaller. Which in turn then makes their ability more limited. 

The Difference Between 2D And 3D

The Difference Between 2D And 3D

Which film should you watch, in 2D or 3D? Well, the answer to this question depends on the type of film that you want to watch. 

If you want to watch a 3D film, then you should go to an IMAX theater. This is because Dolby Cinemas doesn’t support 3D movies, thus you are limited to just IMAX.

However, you need to be aware that IMAX is much more suited to 3D films, therefore you may not get a great viewing experience when watching a 2D film in an IMAX theater. 

Although, it is known that there are two types of IMAX theaters where you can watch movies. This includes the real IMAX theater and the fake IMAX, which is also known as the LIE-MAX.

In the fake IMAX theater, you pay to watch either standard movie formats or enhanced digital formats of 2D films. This gives you the option to watch a 2D film easily in an IMAX theater, as the real IMAX is more suited for 3D films. 

Dolby Cinema Explained

Dolby Cinemas are famous for their impressive audio and image quality. As a result, it can’t be surprising that Dolby Cinema beats IMAX theaters in most categories when it comes to your movie experience.

Thus, to get a better understanding why it is so loved and why it has come out on top, we have gone into more detail about Dolby Cinemas. 

What Are Dolby Laboratories?

Dolby Laboratories is the company behind Dolby Cinema and is known for amazing sound systems which offer perfect sound quality.

Dolby Laboratories also uses Dolby Vision to create the ideal picture quality for any movie goer. The overall image and sound quality is the main reason why people go to a Dolby Cinema. This is all thanks to Dolby Laboratories. 

What Is Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision is all about the image quality and how the image will be projected onto the screen. Typically, Dolby Vision will use 2 4K laser projectors which will project the high quality images of the movie. 

An audience will get to see a vast range of color, and blacks actually appear black instead of a dark gray. This is due to Dolby Vision using lasers instead of lamps to project the images.

This then also causes a 500 times high contrast when compared to a standard projector. However, this then causes an accurate color reproduction, which makes the filmmaker’s world and characters feel a lot more real. 

What Is Dolby Atmos?

When it comes to the sound of Dolby Cinemas, this is thanks to Dolby Atmos. This sound system and format was originally released in 2012 to improve the sound quality in theater. 

This sound system doesn’t use speakers that are installed around the room. Instead, the speakers are installed above the audience to give them a much more immersive experience.

The Dolby Atmos system uses 48 surrounding speakers, with 5 speakers that are on the screen. With this enhanced setup, the audience can listen to 54 channels and 128 audio tracks easily. 

Dolby Atmos is a very powerful system, in which you can hear a bird’s wings flapping across the room.

AMC Prime

AMC Prime offers various different film formats like Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime. Actually, during 2015, it wasn’t clear that Dolby Cinema was at AMC Prime because the theater was using different formats. 

However, near the end of 2015, Dolby and AMC joined forces and Prime was removed. Then Dolby Cinema was brought to AMC. It can’t be surprising that AMC wanted Dolby, considering they offer such great movie watching experiences. 

When Dolby joined AMC, they put all their elements into one. Which then caused Dolby to upgrade AMC theater by streamlining their theater to suit their requirements and specifications.

They did this by installing reclining chairs, which enhances the comfort levels of the audience and also decreases the chances of the audience becoming distracted while watching the movie. 

These seats did limit the amount of people that could go to the AMC theater, but then you get a much better viewing experience, as the seats produce sounds with the movie. Thus, the seat can perceive low frequencies as well as vibrant due to an explosion or a crash in the film. 

As a result, the AMC Dolby Cinema is considered a top tier and quality movie watching experience. 

Why Is Dolby Cinema So Good?

As we have established, Dolby Cinema gives you a great viewing experience and top tier audio and image systems. Dolby not only uses 4K laser projectors, they also have 4x more resolution, which offer perfect and realistic images.

Everything that you are watching is how it should be, and the colors are vibrant that makes the film beautiful to watch. The sounds and images are such good quality that you become immersed in what you are watching. 

IMAX Theaters

IMAX Theaters are seen as a premium theater and popular all over America. Originally, IMAX was meant for showing documents, yet they quickly moved into showing other types of films. There are IMAX theaters in 80 countries, with a total of over 1,500 theaters worldwide. 

IMAX is loved for many reasons, such as the following. 


IMAX cameras produce amazing films, by using a 70 mm movie stock which then produces 18,000 resolution lines. Making a much more enhanced watching experience.

These cameras create good films, yet a lot of films don’t utilize the IMAX camera setup due to its weight. Alongside that, trying to replace an IMAX camera is very pricey. 

The first ever film made with an IMAX camera was Avenger Infinity War. This is because the camera suited the way the story was being told. 


A typical theater screen will be 15 to 50 feet or 4.6 to 15.2 meter high. The chairs in an IMAX theater will be opposite the screen, but placed much higher up than a standard theater chair. This is due to the height of the screen, thus the chair must match it. 

However, this helps the audience to put their entire focus on the movie and that’s all they see. They don’t have to look at the edges of the screen. Alongside that, the center of the screen you will notice is slightly curved. This helps to create a much better viewing experience. 


The projects in an IMAX theater have been placed in particular places for a reason. They also use laser projectors, which help to offer good picture and color qualities that are better than standard or digital formats. 

Generally, an IMAX theater will use a dual 2K laser projector. Although, a lot of newer IMAX theaters have been using a duo 4K laser projector instead, which offers crisper images.

However, no matter the resolution of the projector, IMAX does offer great images due to how close the projectors are positioned to the screen. The closeness helps the projector produce smooth, crisp and still clear images. 


IMAX has a great sound system. There are multiple speakers that are hidden behind the screen. The aim they have is to offer a unique listening experience. When a larger screen is used, then bigger speakers are used to help the sound travel better.

However, each IMAX theater has their own sound system and setup. They are each unique and personalized to the different locations. Hence, this can sometimes lower the quality of the sound. 


In these comparisons, there is no contest, Dolby Cinema is far superior to IMAX. It has a superb image quality thanks to Dolby Vision that produces crisp and clear images that are vibrant to look at.

Even the sound quality is just as good, due to Dolby Atmos, which is used in most Dolby Cinemas and thanks to the reclining seats, this offers a more comfortable experience.

With all of these things, Dolby Cinema offers a much more immersive experience when it comes to watching movies. 

However, Dolby Cinema is still limited in some areas. If you want to watch a 3D film, then you will want to go to an IMAX cinema. Also, more films have started to shoot using IMAX cameras. Thus, there are more reasons why you should be going to an IMAX theater. 

Overall, you will have a great viewing experience in both theaters. However, Dolby Cinema is slightly better and will offer you a slightly better and more enjoyable watching experience.

Anita Jones