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Gaming meets cinema sound as Dolby Atmos heads to Xbox One, Windows 10

Xbox One S
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
It’s official: Technologies more known in the world of home theater are coming to game consoles. First it was 4K resolution and HDR (high dynamic range), and now its object-based surround sound, as Dolby and Microsoft announced Wednesday that Dolby Atmos is coming to the Xbox One, as well as Windows 10.

While standard surround sound only represents sound coming from in front of you, behind you, or to the left or right, object-based surround sound adds another dimension, throwing height into the mix. This is done by using another set of speakers either on the ceiling or mounted on top of surround speakers and facing the ceiling.

“At Team Xbox, we are all gamers first, and bringing Dolby Atmos support to Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming next year will bring you even further inside the action and sound of your favorite titles,” Mike Ybarra, Xbox head of platform engineering, said in a statement “A big thank you to the team at Dolby for their partnership; we’re excited to share more with the Xbox community next year.”

This makes the Xbox One the first game console to support object-based surround sound. Dolby Atmos will be supported for both games and video, and while both will be made more immersive by this type of sound, it could also have unique advantages for gamers.

“With Dolby Atmos, sound moves precisely all around and above you,” Spencer Hooks, Dolby Laboratories director of gaming, wrote in a post on Xbox Wire. ” “You can hear where your allies and enemies are in three-dimensional space. Snipers on the roof? You’ll hear them over your left shoulder and know where to aim to take them out. The same goes for an attacker with a jetpack hovering behind you.”

For the full experience, you’ll need a Dolby Atmos-ready A/V receiver and speakers, but Dolby Atmos can also be experienced with headphones as well. For those using their console with a home theater setup, Xbox also announced this week that Blu-ray Bitstream passthrough, which includes Dolby Atmos support on Xbox One and Xbox One S, is on the way for Xbox Preview members. This allows the console to pass Blu-ray audio to your A/V receiver untouched, for the highest-quality sound possible.

Dolby Atmos will be available for both the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms starting next year. Gamers looking for a sneak peek can already see Dolby Atmos in action in the Blu-ray app, currently available in the Xbox One Preview program.

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