Cinerama's sound system astonished audiences just as much as its enormous screen. In 1952, the term "Stereophonic Sound" was not something that the average person understood and they'd certainly never heard anything like it. Even after Hollywood adopted stereophonic sound in ersatz Cinerama emulations such as CinemaScope, there remained something different about real Cinerama sound. That difference was that CineramaSound, as it was called by the company, WAS real. Five, six, or seven channels of sound were recorded live on location, rather than being created from sound effects libraries in a studio. (Photo: Five microphones (one not visible) record sound for the screen channels while one or more remote microphones pick up information for the surround channels located at the sides and rear of the theatre. The Cinerama camera is seen in its 800 pound lead and fiberglas sound blimp.)
Music recorded by the Cinerama team maintained the same direct seven channel recording techniques as location sound. Without resorting to various types of "sweetening" the resulting sound had immense power and so much clarity that individual instruments were easily discernable by the listener. (Photo: Dimitri Tiomkin conducting the orchestra and chorus for his score to Search For Paradise Carnegie Hall, New York.
The MGM sound department probably had several hundred hours of train sounds but it wouldn't do for Cinerama. Seen here is a second unit recording sound effects for the train robbers sequence of How The West Was Won. The array of five microphones recorded sound that would accompany closeups of the engine's drive wheels. The film won an Oscar® for its sound recording.
Hear Leonard Maltin's Comments On The Sound