XD vs digital cinema – which movie theater is better?

Going to a cinema isn’t just about watching the latest blockbuster that everyone is hyping (although that’s definitely a part of it). It’s also much more about the experience that you get while you’re there.

Today, with theater chains competing to get as many butts in the seats and offering different features in their auditoriums, it can be daunting to pick where to watch a movie these days. 

This is why we’ve written this comparison between Sony XD vs Digital Cinema to give you an idea of where you might get a better experience watching a movie.

XD vs Digital Cinema

Sony Digital Cinema and Cinemark XD (XD stands for “Extreme Digital Cinema”) are premium movie auditoriums in Galaxy and Cinemark movie theater chains. In this article, we’ll compare the two to find out which has the better image, sound, comfort, and other features.

XD vs Digital Cinema – Which is Better?

Galaxy Theatres Sony Digital CinemaCinemark XD
Screen Projector TechnologyThe auditorium uses Sony-manufactured dual-laser 4K projectorsCinemark XD uses 4k laser projectors made by Barco
Audio SystemUses the Dolby Atmos 360-degrees sound systemUses the Auro 11.1 channel surround sound system (older ones used 7.1 channel systems)
2D and 3D MoviesIt only plays 2D moviesCinemark XD has both 2D and 3D movie projections
Seat ComfortSolid comfort, but seats lack true luxuryVery luxurious, leather, reclining seats with both headrests and footrests

What is Sony Digital Cinema?

Sony Digital Cinema Theater
Sony Digital Cinema Theater

Digital Cinema or Sony Digital Cinema is a “premium large format” (PLF) cinema auditorium in Galaxy Theatres. 

It uses 4K digital cinema projectors made by Sony, which deliver 4K image, HDR, excellent contrast ratio, and includes 3D dual-lens technology for an immersive 3D viewing experience.

Sony has, however, discontinued its digital cinema projection line as of 2020, though it is still providing maintenance on it for its theater clients like Galaxy, as far as we know.

In addition, the Sony Digital Cinema auditorium in Galaxy Theatres offers excellent sound quality, provided by Dolby Atmos, which allows visitors to get an even better experience watching a movie here.

What is Cinemark XD?

Cinemark XD Theater
Cinemark XD Theater

Okay, now onto the XD theater.

XD stands for “Extreme Digital” and is a theater auditorium by Cinemark that was first unveiled back in 2009. 

Thanks to the large screens stretching 70+ feet from floor to ceiling, XD often draws comparisons with another theater format, IMAX (you can check this article to see the differences between Cinemark XD and IMAX).

Cinemark XD also uses 4K laser projectors, an Auro 11.1 channel surround sound system and has spacious and luxurious leather seats.

Digital Cinema vs XD – Features Face to Face

We already covered a little about the different features that both Sony Digital Cinema and Cinemark XD theaters have, but let’s now compare those features head-on.


Digital Cinema auditoriums use 4K dual laser projectors made by Sony. Does anything need to be said about the quality of Sony’s products in general? With their projector line, Sony kept its high quality. However, they still decided to discontinue manufacturing projectors and focus on other products instead.

Sony 4K Digital Cinema Projectors
Sony 4K Digital Cinema Projectors

On the other hand, Cinemark XD theaters also use 4K laser projectors made by Barco (which also provides other theaters with projectors, including Galaxy Theatres DFX), which provide very good image quality on massive, 70+ feet screens.

Winner: Draw. There’s really not that much separating these two when it comes to projectors. Both use laser 4K projectors, and the difference here is minimal.

Audio System

The Sony Digital Cinema auditorium greets its guests with a crystal clear and powerful sound system provided by Dolby Atmos.

Most Cinemark XD theaters have the Auro 11.1 sound surround system that is able to provide a very good experience wherever you are seated in the theater. This includes a classic 5.1 surround system onto which 6 additional speakers (5 side speakers and 1 overhead speaker) were added.

Auro 11.1 Soundfield Diagram
Auro 11.1 Soundfield Diagram

In addition to this, Cinemark XD theaters are also THX certified.

Winner: Cinemark XD. In this case, XD theaters probably have a little better sound overall than Digital Cinema, but not much. However, some may not like that they (XD) turn up the bass a bit higher.

2D vs 3D

Sony Digital Cinema theater auditoriums only show movies in 2D and, unfortunately, don’t have 3D.

In comparison, Cinemark XD shows both 2D and 3D movies.

Winner: Cinemark XD. Again, the victory goes to Cinemark XD since it can play both 2D and 3D movies, while Digital Cinema only plays 2D.

Seat Comfort

The seats at Galaxy Theatres Sony Digital Cinema auditoriums will be comfortable enough to get you through a movie without needing a long stretch afterward. Still, they’re not as luxurious as you might find in some other theaters (check out our DFX vs Digital comparison to get a better idea).

Cinemark XD Theater Recliner Seats
Cinemark XD Theater Recliner Seats

Cinemark XD theaters, on the other hand, have even more comfortable seats, with extra space, footrests to put your feet up, headrests and can be reclined so you can watch a movie like you are in your living room.

Winner: Cinemark XD. Probably the only category in which we have a clear winner. While the seats at Galaxy Theatres Digital Cinema auditoriums are comfortable enough, they lack the luxury and polish of those in Cinemark XD theaters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cinemark XD better than digital?

We can consider Cinemark XD to be better than Sony Digital Cinema thanks to having larger screens that are easier to watch, a better sound system in the auditoriums and more comfortable and luxurious seats. The only downside is that it costs a bit more.

Are XD movie theaters worth it?

The visual and auditory experience you will receive at a Cinemark XD theater is definitely worth the extra money.


Both Cinemark XD and Galaxy Theatres Digital Cinemas belong to the upper echelon of movie auditoriums and are well worth your cash if you’re keen on visiting them to watch the latest movies.

That said, while there are plenty of similarities and both of these auditoriums offer something of their own, we believe that in the end, the clear winner here is Cinemark XD.

Have you been to these two? Which did you like more? XD or Digital Cinema?

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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