Xbox One is getting Dolby Atmos audio

2 min read


Right now the Xbox One S is the only console that’ll be able to play UHD Blu-Rays. For reasons that make little sense to me (but seem justified to Sony), the impending PlayStation 4 Pro won’t have the requisite optical drive to play the latest, higher definition video format.

“Our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming,” said Sony’s Andrew House. “Certainly with our user base, it’s the second biggest use case for people’s time on the system so we place more emphasis on that area.”

So in the future, when you have a 4K TV and your 4K capable PS4Pro, you’re going to have to stream if you want to watch 4K media without having to resort to the high seas for a spot of media plundering.

The Xbox One S, meanwhile, has a UHD Blu-Ray drive – but many AV enthusiasts (and largely, the sort firmly entrenched in the Sony camp) have asserted that the Xbox One S’ player isn’t in the true spirit of the format, as it doesn’t support bitstream passthrough – which means that newer features like Dolby’s Atmos aren’t supported.

That’s changing. At yesterday’s Microsoft shindig, the company announced that the Xbox One S would be getting bitstream passthrough in a future update, making those that have the requisite hardware squeal in delight.

Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra further clarified on Twitter that “bitstreaming and Atmos will work on all Xbox One products not just Xbox One S, for both video and games that support it.”

Dolby Atmos adds an overhead dimension to audio, and allows sound to move around within a 3D space. There’s no real idea when said update is coming, but Microsoft says it’s “coming soon.”

Great news for audiophiles, and another example of Microsoft listening to its users.

Last Updated: October 27, 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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