Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos & 7.1 virtualization in Creators Update

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by rpgwizard, Apr 25, 2017.
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  1. Diji1
    This is interesting to me - which games have you used it on?

    The only experience I have of Dolby Atmos for Headphones is on Overwatch (which uses an in-game Dolby Atmos for Headphones solution rather than the "native" Windows 10 solution) - and it is AWESOME. Easily the best surround sound I've used in a game, period. There is no ambiguity about direction, distance, above/below - it's amazing.

    However I have read some rather bad things about results of people using it Dolby Atmos for Headphones in Windows 10 for gaming. Perhaps it's just people setting crap up wrong as often happens with surround sound ... in theory it should do roughly what it does in Overwatch to any game provided the game has multi-channel surround sound.

    I've read some much better things about using it for Dolby Atmos music albums - that is also meant to be quite breathe takingly good.

    I'm on the edge of paying up to have it myself on Windows 10 and play around with it although I have a discrete soundcard.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  2. Jiv_au
    If you're keen and willing you may be able to achieve similar sound experience by following this instruction and using free software:

    It's a bit fiddly to setup, but once you have got it going it may surprise you.
    You can then try DA for HP or WinSonic or CMSS-3D or SBX or GSX1000 or OOYH in any of your games that support 5.1 and/or 7.1
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  3. Avean
    PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds, Battlefield 1 and Battlefront 2. Whenever i choose Dolby Atmos for Headphones, my soundcard gets put to 2 channel mode. But ingame i can clearly hear sound going all around me.
    But with Windows Sonic i cannot get it to only produces stereo sound for whatever reason.
  4. davidland
    sounds cool
  5. YJX94
    IIRC Windows Sonic only works when it's given a surround signal. So if you set the audio to stereo in-game then it won't work, the source of the audio must be put in surround/5.1/7.1 mode for Sonic to work. What it does is, it takes that surround signal and down mixes it to stereo using virtualisation. Listen to music on YouTube with Windows Sonic on and off, you'll notice there's no difference because Sonic isn't getting a stereo signal from YouTube since music on YouTube is only 2 channel stereo.
  6. Avean
    Anyone noticed any problems with the latest update in Windows 10 ? Fall Creators Update. Came yesterday for me and for me spatial audio have changed. For me both Sonic and Dolby is suddenly Stereo now. Dolby is stereo with some reverb effects, but not the same surround i was used to. Very strange.

    Edit: After more testing it seems to work more as intended now i guess. Before even if games or apps did not support dolby atmos you could still clearly hear some emulated surround. Now it seems to be stereo only in games like PUBG but if content support it you have really amazing surround.

    Wish microsoft could be more open what they changed....
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  7. YJX94
    What exactly is the issue you're experiencing?

    Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos force your Windows speaker settings to stereo, if you set your Window speakers settings to anything other than stereo it will disable Sonic and Atmos. In your game audio settings you must set it to surround sound, depending on the game itself there may be options for surround speakers, 5.1, 7.1 etc.

    Sonic and Atmos force stereo in Windows because they take a surround signal from a game and down mix it to stereo, that is how VSS DSPs work.

    Take MW2 for example, it has 4 speaker settings, Mono, Stereo, 4 Speakers, 5.1 Speakers. I tested it with Windows Sonic, with Sonic off it sounded best in Stereo on my headphones, setting it to 5.1 speakers made everything too quiet. I then turned on Sonic and Stereo mode sounded the exact same but now 5.1 speakers sounded much louder and I noticed that it expanded the sound stage and gave me more positional info. I've tested this in multiple games that have surround settings and they all work the same way. It is proof that with Sonic and Atmos on, if the game is set to Stereo mode then it will not work, the game must be set to surround mode if it has the option otherwise just keep it on Stereo and Sonic/Atmos won't affect it in any way since it's a Stereo signal.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  8. Avean
    Yeah that i know but something has definetely changed since that update. Before PUBG gave virtual surrround with Dolby Atmos for Headphones, now it doesnt, only stereo, same with Sonic. No update to the game and it started right after the Win10 update. But maybe its nothing, not tested other games and Atmos demos do work so.

    Edit: Sea of Thieves alpha is working perfectly with Atmos so maybe its just PUBG afterall.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  9. YJX94
    Well perhaps it is PUBG that's at fault then considering the game is still in early preview. EVERY game I've tested Sonic and Atmos with that has surround audio settings has worked except for MW2 with Atmos for reasons I don't know but it works perfectly fine with Sonic.
  10. Avean
    Yeah maybe, im getting really confused. I tried in several games now and definetely Sonic and Atmos do something...the sound is very different. But for the better? Need more testing. I feel there is little difference between Sonic and Atmos, Sonic is maybe more dynamic but its nothing like a Atmos demo so the virtual surround it does for a game that dont have Atmos support is probably limited.

    But there is a huge difference for me going back to my old Dolby Headphone on my soundcard and selecting 8 channels. That really brings out some atmospheric sound that i feel is better, i need to try out more games to be sure. I think change in sound is enough for people to think the sound is better. Like ive played with Dolby Headphone for many years. Then Microsoft introduces Spatial Sound and there was a huge difference, so been using that since release. But now going back to old Dolby Headphone i feel that is truly the best option, maybe cause its hardware driven, its designed for use with my soundcard.
  11. YJX94
    Sonic is actually 100% compatible with Atmos enabled content, you don't even need Atmos to use Atmos enabled content. If you've got the Dolby Access app watch the demos with both Sonic and Atmos, there is actually no difference.
  12. mindbomb
    I feel like by now someone should have come up with a hack to get a 7.1 default format forced with windows sonic.
  13. Avean
    That is nice but i have yet to hear a game have THAT kind of surround like in the Atmos demos. The demos are amazing. Overwatch have Atmos enabled in-game and that is very good. But i feel Atmos for Headphones and Sonic is just mediocre at best when there is no atmos content like in most games.
  14. Ted23
    Yes this is simply because most games aren't made to have surround sound. Very few are updated for it although if you watch Microsoft and Dolby's presentation on it they claim it isn't much of a change yet the developers have to go back and do it for any changes to be noticeable.

    What people here are telling you is that if the game doesn't have a surround sound option in its menu you're getting stereo sound because Atmos/Sonic won't force a 7.1.4 sound if the game itself isn't encoded for it. They can present it to you like in the demos but they don't create the content like some of the other programs which will try to do that. In this case the developer has to allow 3D sound by making Spatial changes and allowing a y-vertex positionally so you can hear the "atmos" above you effect, and if they don't (like most haven't) you'd get stereo.

    Here you can see the conference where they explain most of this:
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  15. Avean
    Yeah this is must be what is happening .But i thought there was going to be a hidden handshake so even when presented as a stereo device it should handshake and threat it like surround. But from experience this cant be happening.
    So for games that dont have surround i will just use my Dolby Headphone and use Sonic or Atmos for headphone if surround can be enabled through the game.
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