Atmos for headphones. Does it actually have a decoder? How does it work?

gdourado

Standard Member
Hello, good afternoon,
Hope everyone is doing well and keeping safe.

I got a SoundblasterX G6 to uso on the Xbox Series X with my Fidelio X1 Headphones.
The sound is very good and perfect for late night gaming or just plain old immersion.

But after trying Dolby Atmos for headphones and playing around with some demos, movies and games, I don’t understand what that actually is and how it works...

Here is what I know and understand:
Dolby Atmos is a sound format that has positional audio in a 3D space.
It has metadata for the position of the audio on the actual audio tracks.

Taking a Blu-ray movie for example, if it has an Atmos track, the positional audio is on the audio track itself, the TrueHD track I think.
And the info, the metadata has to be decoded so it can be played. In order to decode it, a device capable of such is needed. Either an AVR or a Soundbar with Atmos decoding capabilities.

So from my understanding, this is how to get the REAL Atmos:
Atmos Soundtrack — Atmos decoding device — playback on Atmos speaker setup

So enter Dolby Atmos for headphones on the Xbox and my many doubts and questions...

first, does the App actually have a built in software decoder? Is it actually reading and decoding the Atmos soundtrack?
If I setup Atmos for headphones as the sound output device on the Xbox and play a 4K blu ray with an Atmos soundtrack, am I getting the real Atmos? The real Atmos audio information stored on the audio track?

what about games? There are not many Dolby Atmos games on Xbox. From what I managed to search, only around 10-15 games actually have Dolby Atmos.
On those games, is the app reading the Atmos data as a proper AVR would?
And in the games that don’t have real Atmos? What is the app doing?

second, there is also DTS:X. It is a 3D positional audio like Dolby atmos. It also has an app with dts:x for headphones. Same thing, is it actually decoding DTS:X? If I play a Movie with a DTS:X soundtrack is it decoding it?

And games? From what I can tell, there are no Xbox games with DTS:X soundtrack. So what is it doing?

bottom line and what I am really trying to understand, is Dolby Atmos for headphones actual Atmos? Or is it a lie?

thank you for your help.
Best wishes
 

shodan

Distinguished Member
I've recently bought a pair of the Microsoft Xbox wireless headphones (they are awesome) and works love to know the answers to these questions too!
 

reecie

Well-known Member
Explained at Experience Your Games in Full Audio Immersion with Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos Spatial Sound - Xbox Wire

"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"

The above holds for movies too. But it is a software binaural translation to simulate surround sound in stereo headphones.

DTS:X is pretty much the same but picks up the DTS:X info to be the most accurate.
 

mike7

Distinguished Member
Explained at Experience Your Games in Full Audio Immersion with Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos Spatial Sound - Xbox Wire

"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"

The above holds for movies too. But it is a software binaural translation to simulate surround sound in stereo headphones.

DTS:X is pretty much the same but picks up the DTS:X info to be the most accurate.
Binaural sound has been around for a long time. Previously it was limited to using a dummy head to record live performances rather than a set up of multiple stereo microphones. The BBC have used it on occasion for radio plays which require you to use headphones. The ears are tricked into hearing what they would pick up in the real world. I would expect that the electronics in X Box headphones, or indeed any other make for the same price, are limited to a stereo amp and left/right transducers. The jiggery-pokery is done in the X Box itself translating the psuedo-surround information in the game program to something like a regular binaural performance. There is a touch of 'we saw you coming' attached to this, but then the same applies to soundbars which use a bit of phase alteration and induced delays on the surround channel information to kid your brain that you are hearing depth as well width. Surprisingly it sometimes works, but it can never equate to actual speakers around the room.

There are a number of demos on You Tube showing that phones, correctly fed, can produce spatial effects from a stereo track. Try these for starters:


 
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