The 4K UHD Xbox One S to support Dolby Atmos and bitstream audio
Stephan Jukic – October 27, 2016
Console gamers who want the latest, best and most flexible technology now have one more reason to get their hands on the Microsoft Xbox One S instead of its PlayStation 4 Pro counterpart from Sony.
First, there’s the simple fact that the Sony PS4 Pro doesn’t support 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray at all while the Xbox One S does indeed offer this extra feature for a more than decent UHD Blu-ray experience at a very decent price (considering the inclusion of its gaming capacities). Then there’s the fact that the One S now also offer support for bitstream audio, including the premium and powerful new Dolby Atmos sound format. This at least is what Microsoft recently announced for the new Xbox version at a Windows 10 event the company hosted for their technology.
Yes, you could argue that the Xbox One S is the inferior device next to the PlayStation 4 Pro due to its weaker processing chops and its lack of capacity for native 4K gaming, which the PSR 4 Pro does formally have. But even with this argument, the One S still looks plenty attractive. The Sony console’s claim to native 4K gaming is in any case very weak as things currently and only a small number of Sony-compatible games are being released with claims (no hard user confirmation) of smooth 60fps gameplay in native UHD resolution. A larger but also fairly modest number of games will simply offer 4K upscaling with HDR on the PS4 Pro.
Since the Xbox One S also offers 4K upscaling and HDR for its arguably larger selection of compatible games, that attached 4K Blu-ray player and its attending HDR make the Microsoft platform into a piece of stiff competition to Sony’s toy.
Now, with the above-mentioned inclusion of bitstream audio and Dolby Atmos sound, the One S has even more to make it attractive for fans of cutting-edge UHD home entertainment.
While only a small number of homes in the U.S currently have audio systems with Dolby Atmos capability, there’s almost no doubting the brilliance and quality of the new “object-based” sound format wherever it can be found in a pice of home entertainment technology, be it a 4K TV, soundbar, AV receiver or the Xbox One S. This is what makes Microsoft’s promise of Dolby Atmos so cool for fans of AV technology. The Xbox One S thus now allows you to get the benefits of upscaled HDR gaming on a growing selection of games from the company and its developer partners while also delivering the kind of 4K UHD Blu-ray and audio encoding that was previously found only in pricier stand-alone 4K BD players from Panasonic or Samsung.
The addition of Dolby Atmos is also important to the One S because it boosts the console’s overall 4K Blu-ray chops. This somewhat weak argument was previously used by supporters of the PS4 Pro, who claimed that while the Sony console offers no 4K Blu-ray capacity at all, the player in the Microsoft console isn’t very good to begin with. Well, aside from the consideration that a modest 4K disc player is better than no player at all, Dolby Atmos makes the disc player of the One S a lot less modest at this point. Most importantly however, what Dolby Atmos support will give to audio played through the console is a level of audio performance which is far more robust, professional and rich than almost anything previously developed for consumer home theater systems. The new Dolby technology is still uncommon in the content and TV market ecosystem but it’s slowly being implemented more widely for audio that matches the sheer quality of HDR video now available to consumers.
Another crucial point that gamers who don’t care about 4K Blu-ray will love even more in the Xbox One S’s favor is Microsoft’s additional claim from the same event that the console will not only support Dolby Atmos in movies from 4K Blu-ray discs but also offer the power of this object-based sound format in some of the games that are going to be released for the One S, as long as developer partners are willing to add the necessary support to their game releases (something which they almost certainly will do for competition’s sake).
What’s even more impressive for owners of the older, non-4K Xbox One is that the previous console will also be getting the same bitstream audio update to its firmware.
On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed when exactly these updates will be added to the new and old Xbox One consoles and we’re also not yet sure if the Bitstream audio/ Dolby Atmos updates will be made even more impressive by the inclusion of DTS-X object-based sound as well, since this is the other leading audio format of this type in use today.
Now, if you’re already an owner of an HDR 4K TV and an Xbox One S, you only need to drop a further $1,500 or more on a Dolby Atmos-capable sound system if you want to get the most out of your console/TV package. It will be pricey but the combination of high dynamic range and object-based sound probably won’t disappoint.
Story by 4k.com