Dolby Atmos Upmixing for all Games and Movies Comes to Xbox One; Windows 10 May Get It Later

Feb 28, 2019
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Dolby Atmos, the proprietary object-based spatial audio technology developed by Dolby, is slowly becoming more ubiquitous as more devices, including smartphone, support it.

Microsoft’s Xbox One console received Dolby Atmos compatibility in 2017, alongside Windows 10, through the official Dolby Access app. Now, though, Microsoft has rolled out a new feature in the Alpha insider ring that allows upmixing of non-Dolby Atmos audio sources according to Dolby’s own algorithm.

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Previously, a game or movie had to feature Dolby Atmos audio tracks, but now everything will be upmixed by default. It won’t sound as good as an original Dolby Atmos track, of course, but it should still provide a heightened sense of immersion for those using compatible audio receivers. Speaking to Forbes, Steven Wilssens (Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft for Audio) said that when the new update rolls out to all Xbox One users there’ll also be a toggle to deactivate the upmixing, for those who prefer to hear the original format.

We reached out to Wilssens to ask whether the upmixing feature is coming to Windows 10 PC as well, and it looks like it might be at some point.

Currently, we will not be doing the same for PC. The Windows 10 PC implementation only sends Dolby Atmos MAT encoded streams to the receiver when there is Spatial Sound to be rendered. That would be when someone is watching a Dolby Atmos movie, playing a spatial sound enabled game, or an app using the spatial sound APIs directly. When we are not sending Dolby MAT, your receiver will upmixing the audio to height channels with its own algorithm. The downside is that the behavior is not consistent between Xbox One and PC, the upside is/was that both devices had behavior that is optimized for the different devices and their usage. However, we might add a switch on PC that allows for the same behavior with PC as on Xbox in a future Windows 10 and/or Dolby Access update.

In related spatial audio news, a DTS:X app is also expected to become available soon on both PC and Xbox One.

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