Difference between IMAX and Dolby
By Andrew Parker - February 3, 2023

When you go to the movies these days, you may choose between IMAX and Dolby Cinema. These may appear to be extremely similar, yet there are some significant distinctions between them.

Chart Summary
  1. Relatively modern, fewer locations
Multiple locations and an older establishment
  1. Costs more
Cheaper options
  1. Better aspect ratio, resolution, and audio quality
Larger screen 
Audience wearing 3-D glasses in movie theater, arms reaching out

Getty images/Brand X Pictures/ PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier


IMAX is a trademarked system of high-resolution cameras, film formats, film projectors, and theatres notable for their extremely large screens with a tall aspect ratio (about 1.43:1 or 1.90:1) and steep stadium seating.
Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (abbreviated Dolby) is an American corporation specializing in noise reduction, audio encoding/compression, spatial audio, and HDR imaging. Dolby licenses its technology to producers of consumer gadgets.

IMAX vs. Dolby

The goal of the Dolby cinema experience is to immerse the spectator in what they’re viewing. True surround sound, 4K visual quality, 3D capabilities, and powerful subwoofers are included. The visual quality is outstanding. These elements produce a crystal-clear image and an exceptional movie experience. The laser projection is also fantastic, significantly outperforming standard movie projectors with a superior aspect ratio – a 2.40:1 ratio. Dolby Cinema also has 64 audio channels and is powered by Dolby Atmos. On the flip side, seeing a movie in a Dolby Cinema can be challenging because there are few. You could have difficulty finding one in your neighborhood.

IMAX cinemas are particularly adaptable since they can accommodate both 2D and 3D content and are readily available. As a result, they are a more convenient alternative than Dolby Cinemas. IMAX is available on over 1,500 sites worldwide, so chances are there is one not far from you. In terms of visual format, IMAX takes the lead. Compared to the Dolby format, the 1.90:1 aspect ratio gives audiences around 26% more screen space for their movies (source). The larger screen lets you notice more details, making the experience more immersive.