So, what’s Dolby Atmos?
Ever wished you could accurately hear that enemy rogue creeping behind you? The shuffling of their feet is fed to your ears with such precision and detail that you have the time take cover and pawn it. Yes, we’ve heard this type of tech assisted scenario all before. Will Dolby Atmos make your wish come true?
Spencer Hooks, Director of Gaming from Dolby Laboratories announced over Xbox Wire that Dolby Atmos will be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10. Dolby Atmos is the latest surround sound technology from Dolby and is now used in over 2000 cinema locations around the world. It’s a not so new technology (It’s been around since 2012). The first video game to use Atmos is Overwatch.
It’s different from previous technologies as it doesn’t restrict audio to specific channels. Rather, the sound is placed in a three-dimensional space that surrounds you. It also adds an overhead dimension to create a sensation of height, give crisp rich audio to give detail and depth and give you an all-round better entertainment experience.
Sound precision in video games has been used for a long time. Even as far back as the early ’90s of the 4th generation Super Nintendo/SEGA Genesis era.
King Arthur’s World, released March, 1993 was “Presented in Dolby Surround”
From a home theatre perspective, audiophiles have given mixed reviews. Some believe it’s over-hyped, too costly to properly set-up and just doesn’t have a wow factor. More positive reviews say that it’s great for sound engineers to be able to more precisely place sounds. However, it’s still up to the system you’re using to accurately place those sounds. This is a technology that can support up to 64 speakers. Can it really be used with stereo, 5 or 7 channels?
Gamers have also had mixed reviews. Audio quality was said to reduce but the positioning of sounds was more accurate. Also, users have reported that surround sound headphones worked better with Atmos when in stereo mode. It is fully compatible with stereo headphones so don’t rush out and buy a surround sound headset. Users also said the Atmos outperformed surround sound filters. Personal preference seems to be a key determinant in judging the Atmos. It’s an optional feature on Overwatch.
The technology will also have blu-ray support. Xbox announced that the Xbox One and Xbox One S will support Bitstream Pass-Through. This allows your receiver to “produce a high quality, immersive sound experience”. A feature that many users have been requesting.
Dolby Atmos hasn’t made a huge impact in gaming so far but we’ve only had a few games to test the experience. It’s exciting to think that developers like Blizzard are using the technology in the idea to improve user’s performance and experience. Although, it will be harder for smaller devs to devote the budget and time towards it. Similar technologies have been used in gaming for decades. Some gamers may appreciate the improvements but most probably won’t notice. Precision sound coupled with VR I’m sure will be an amazing experience.
Xbox and Dolby will have more information next year on the availability for Dolby Atmos. There’s no word from Sony yet on the PlayStation. However, the PS4 does already support Bitstream Pass-Through for Blu-Ray.
Are you excited to hear that you’ll soon be able to hear audio using Dolby Atmos on Xbox? Is sound precision important to you? Let us know in the comments.