I have known the Xbox One has had Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos for a while now but I never tried it because I assumed you needed a special headset or mixamp to us it. Well according to my research this morning I was way off. I plan to do some testing with both tonight but for now I will try to explain the differences and tell you how to enable it on the Xbox One.
What is Dolby Atrmos?
Dolby defines Atmos: “treating sounds as audio objects, Dolby Atmos lets game creators preserve the three-dimensional audio scene and precisely move and position sounds in that scene—we call it moving audio.” Xbox announced that a Blu-ray Bitstream pass-through, which includes Dolby Atmos support on Xbox One and Xbox One S, would be rolling out to Xbox Preview members. This feature enables all Xbox consoles to pass Blu-ray audio data untouched to a user’s audio equipment, allowing your headset to produce an immersive sound experience.
While audio engineers have been acquainted with Atmos for a few years, gamers are getting access to this feature on Xbox One and Windows. The first time running Dolby Atmos, there will be a Windows Store pop-up for Dolby Access. The app is free, and you can try it for free, but you need to buy it if you want to keep it ($15). It is compatible with Windows 10 PC/tablets, and Xbox One. Currently, there are no plans for PlayStation support with Dolby Atmos.
What is Windows Sonic?
Windows Sonic is Microsoft’s answer to spatial sound. Spatial sound can be leveraged by Windows Desktop (Win32) apps as well as Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps on both Windows and Xbox One. Audio will be presented to headphones without needing any code or content changes. The platform fully supports real-time Dolby Atmos encoding for both Optical and stereo headphone output, as well as Windows Sonic for Headphones encoding for stereo headphones. It also allows all existing applications that were capable of rendering to 5.1 or 7.1 channel formats to now treat all stereo headphones as a virtual 7.1 device.
Windows Sonic is free, and is already available as an update for Windows and Xbox. It is compatible with Windows 10 PC/tablets, and Xbox One. Currently, there are no plans for PlayStation support with Windows Sonic.
To enable Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic:
Settings >> Audio Devices >> Audio
Then Select Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos for headphones
They both work through the controller, mixamps, opticial cables etc. If you are using a Mixamp you are going to want to set it to Stereo mode. That way the mixamp isn’t trying to process the already processed signal.
I was actually looking at earbuds I could wear just for chat so I could take advantage of my new sound bar that has DTS Virtual surround but now that I found these options work for most any headset I am going to try it first. I will post later my findings and if I liked them over stereo and 7.1 provided by my mixamp.