Skyrim Special Edition’s PC and Xbox Audio is horrible (But it’s getting fixed)

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On consoles, the Xbox One version of Skyrim’s graphically enhanced Special Edition maybe the best one to get. That’s largely because its modding isn’t quite as severely constrained as it is on Sony’s console. PlayStation 4 mods can only be as large as 1GB, and can’t contain any assets that’s aren’t already in the game.

That’s not the case on the Xbox One, where mods can take up to 5GB of space, and can feature audio and imagery from outside of the core game files. That means you won’t be seeing the infamous Macho Man Dragon mod in the PS4 – but they will be there on the Xbox One.

That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Xbox One version is superior in all aspects. The audio on the Xbox One and PC versions is apparently quite awful. IT’s all down to audio compression. While the original game used uncompressed audio, this time around it’s been aggressively compressed. The issue was discovered by Reddit user LasurArkinshade (via Kotaku).

“The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format,” the post states. “The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn’t so bad, necessarily—it’s possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels.”

The first bit of audio is from the original game. The second comes from the Special Edition.

This is most noticeable when playing the game with a decent headset. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to affect the PlayStation 4 version – which continues to use uncompressed audio, and is apparently higher in quality than the original game.

Bethesda is apparently aware of the issue, and will be issuing a fix for it soon.

“We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week,” says Bethesda community manager Matt Grandstaff.

There’s no word on what that fix might be – but if it entails downloading uncompressed audio, expect it to be rather large.

Last Updated: October 31, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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