James Shields, Global Product Marketing Manager at Xbox, discusses Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos Spatial Sound.

This holiday, not only can you play your games on Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console, but you also have a broad and diverse lineup of new games to experience – including Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Assassins’s Creed Origins, Super Lucky’s Tale, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. While the power of Xbox One X will immerse you in the beautiful visuals of your games, you can take that immersion even further by simply enabling spatial sound for your headphones or compatible home theater system. By using Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos spatial sound, you’ll hear your games in a whole new way.

What is Spatial Sound?

Spatial sound is an enhanced audio experience where sounds can flow around, above, and below you in a three-dimensional virtual space that simulates a more realistic environment. Spatial sound provides an immersive atmosphere that traditional channel-based surround sound formats cannot replicate. Imagine playing Gears of War 4 and a Raven helicopter flies overhead. With surround sound, you’d hear the helicopter flying around you, but with spatial sound, you’ll hear it flying directly above you.

Spatial Audio Feature Feature Image

What is Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos?

Both Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos are technologies that enable spatial sound on your Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. They both provide support for immersive surround and elevation audio cues. Windows Sonic is Microsoft’s platform-level solution for spatial sound. As the platform evolves, it will support more endpoints and different technologies.

How do I enable them on Xbox One?

Windows Sonic for Headphones, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, and Dolby Atmos for home theater are the three audio formats available on your Xbox One to experience the immersion benefits mentioned above.

Windows Sonic for Headphones and Dolby Atmos for Headphones both enable spatial sound for all headphones, earbuds, and audio headsets. Windows Sonic for Headphones is available out of the box, while Dolby Atmos for Headphones is $14.99 USD and provides additional support for Dolby Atmos movies. To enable either of these on your Xbox One, navigate to [Settings > All settings > Display & sound > Audio output > Headset format] and select either Windows Sonic for Headphones or Dolby Atmos for Headphones. If you select Dolby Atmos for Headphones, you will be prompted to install the Dolby Access app and either purchase Dolby Atmos for Headphones or start a free 30-day trial.

Dolby Atmos for home theater can be experienced for free through your Dolby Atmos supported home theater system, sound bar, or TV. To enable on your Xbox One, install and open the Dolby Access app, and follow the instructions provided.

Which headsets work with Spatial Sound on Xbox One?

Xbox gamers can use any Xbox supported headset to take advantage of spatial sound. If your headphones support other virtualization or equalization audio technologies, it is important you turn these features off to avoid double processing.

If you’re picking up a new headset, we recommend checking out the latest Xbox Wireless headsets such as Turtle Beach STEALTH 700 or Razer Thresher, which will connect directly to your Xbox One without the need for wires, a base station, or an adapter. For Dolby fans, it’s worth noting that the Plantronics RIG 400LX, RIG 600LX, and RIG 800LX each come with a Dolby Atmos for Headphones Xbox activation code in the box.

What games and movies support Spatial Sound?

Any traditional surround sound content is automatically upscaled with Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos to provide an enhanced audio experience – making that content more immersive than before. Games that natively support Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos offer the highest level of audio immersion and location accuracy, including Gears of War 4, Super Lucky’s Tale, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Assassin’s Creed Origins. Additionally, there are over 250 movies for Dolby Atmos that you can watch on Blu-ray, UHD Blu-ray, or on major streaming services such as Netflix, Vudu, and Microsoft’s own Movies & TV app.

This holiday, experience your games and movies in full audio immersion by enabling spatial sound with Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos on your Xbox One or Windows 10 PC.

Mike Ybarra, Head of Platform Engineering discusses new features coming to the broader Xbox One community starting today. Read the details below:


We’re excited to announce that we are shipping new features to the broader Xbox One community today. This is a big release, and includes Beam streaming, an updated Xbox experience with the new Guide, home improvements, and much more. One major goal for this release is to make streaming your Xbox gameplay even easier. And by updating the navigation of the Xbox console through the new Guide, we’re aiming to put the features and experiences you love the most right at your fingertips. For our PC gamers, or anybody who loves to create and play, check out this post on the Windows Blog to learn about the gaming updates coming with the Windows 10 Creators Update on April 11.

Here’s a detailed look at some of the top new Xbox Live features rolling out to Xbox One today, which we announced and released to Xbox Insider earlier this year:

*An updated look at Home: One of the first things you’ll notice with this update is a new look for Home on Xbox One. We made these changes to simplify the UI and increase overall system performance. To do that, we’ve optimized for speed and are prioritizing the most valuable content for your games. Now, you’ll see a smaller icon for the game with options to dive deeper into the community surrounding the game, as well as the ability to interact with your Club or find Looking for Group posts, view your Achievements and more. If you do not have a custom background set, you’ll see that the updated Home also spotlights the game you’re currently playing by featuring hero art as your Xbox background.

*Faster and more intuitive Guide: The next thing you’re likely to notice is that the Guide has been updated. With one press of the Xbox button on your controller, you can now pull up the newly enhanced Guide as an overlay on the left side of your screen. No matter what you’re doing, the new Guide experience puts the features and functionality that you use the most right at your fingertips. The first page of the Guide is designed to get you to the content you care about most, including your Games and Apps, Home, Store, your recently launched applications, the latest Games and Deals with Gold for Xbox Live Gold members, and your top Pins. If you have music playing in the background from any number of apps, you can access the controls directly from the Guide, enabling you to control play, pause, rewind, fast forward, and manage volume controls. Finally, you’ll be able to capture screenshots and record video with a simple press of a button. And in the GameDVR menu, you now have easier access to capture gameplay and to modify your options – when recording, you’ll see in the menu overlay that it lasts up to 5 minutes and within the Guide, you can also ‘Record this’ for up to 10 minutes.

*New way to multitask: In addition to adding a new start page to Guide, we’re also evolving the way gamers multitask on Xbox One. To simplify discoverability and to make it easier to get to the things you care about most, our multitasking features were designed with the new Guide in mind. We’ve added a new achievement tracker that is active based on the game you’re playing, and allows you to select and follow multiple achievements in an overlay, all while you’re playing. Cortana will also appear as an overlay on your screen, allowing you to set reminders and alarms, access Party controls, and play music with simple voice controls.

*Watch, chat and interact with Beam on Xbox One: now stream your Xbox gameplay directly from the Guide on your Xbox One, with the ability to manage your Beam broadcasts and interact with fellow gamers on chat overlays that appear on your screen. If you’ve never tried to broadcast your gameplay before, this is the easiest way to get started as you don’t have to download any extra software – Beam broadcasting is built right into your Xbox One. Once you start streaming, Beam makes it easy to connect and engage with your viewers no matter where they are. You’ll also find the new Beam viewing app in My Games and Apps, which lets you watch, chat, and interact with your favorite game streamers in near real-time. To learn more, check out our Beam article.

*Enabling Xbox One to be more accessible for everyone: We felt it was important to enable Xbox One to make gaming experiences more accessible. Take for instance our new Copilot feature, which allows two controllers to act as if they were one. This will help make Xbox One more inviting to gamers who can benefit from playing along with another person, more fun for families by adding cooperative controls for any game, and easier for players who need unique configurations to play. We are also adding new enhancements to Magnifier and Narrator, as well as giving more options over audio output and custom rumble settings on a controller, which was previously reserved for the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. You can find these accessibility options, and more, in Settings > Ease of Access.

*Screen time limits (Xbox One):As we strive to offer the most comprehensive and customizable family features possible, we want gamers of all ages to feel safe and secure when using our platforms. That’s why we’re bringing the family timer feature to Xbox One as screen time limits, updated for today’s digital family. Parents familiar with screen time limits for Windows 10 will find a similar set of controls for Xbox One. Set daily time allowance and limits for each child—your Xbox One will pick those limits up and enforce them whenever the child is signed in. To set up screen time limits, head over to microsoft.com/family, sign in with your parent account, and select “Screen time” for your child’s account. You’ll be able to turn on and set Xbox One and PC screen time limits separately for each child.

*Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough: The Blu-ray disc player on Xbox One now supports bitstream passthrough, which allows your receiver to decode audio natively. All bitstream formats are supported, including newer ones like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This feature will light up later next week.

Over the past few months, we have been targeting hundreds of improvements across the board. Many thanks to the feedback from the members of our Xbox Insider Program. Be sure to keep letting us know what you think at Xbox feedback. As we’ve said, this is just the beginning – be on the lookout for more great features. The team has worked hard and we hope you enjoy the updates to your Xbox One experience! And don’t forget that there are also great PC gaming updates coming as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update on April 11 (for more information on the Windows 10 Creators Update, check out this post from Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Group).