Dolby Atmos for Headphones not working correctly on Xbox One. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 159 Old 05-25-2017, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Dolby Atmos for Headphones not working correctly on Xbox One.

I should preface this by saying that I have run Atmos 7.1.4 in my home for over a year now. My current headset is the Astro A50 Gen3, which uses Dolby Headphone (virtual 7.1 from a 5.1 bitstream via stereo). I set my Astros to stereo-only and then enabled Dolby Atmos for Headphones using the Dolby Access application.

Comparing the sound of the two (Dolby Headphone vs. DAfH), something seemed off about the way Atmos for Headphone sounded. Listening to the Amaze and Leaf clips, which I am intimately familiar with in my 7.1.4 home setup, the sounds for the front soundstage were not imaging correctly in FRONT of the listener. To verify this, I used Dolby's CEDIA 2015 Dolby Atmos demo Blu-ray, which has test tones for 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.2, 7.1.4, etc. I then ran these test tones in the Blu-ray app on the Xbox One to see where each test tone imaged in virtual space around me.

1. Using Dolby Headphone on the Astros: Left main images at 45 degrees to left of center, right main images 45 degrees to right of center and center images in front of the listener. The important thing to note here is that the LCR channels were imaging virtually in FRONT of the listener, NOT in between the listener's ears as sounds do in straight stereo. Left surround images at 90 degrees to left of listener, right surround at 90 degrees to right of listener, left rear surround at about 110-120 degrees to left and same for right rear on right. The LFE test tone plays a deep bass note. These angles are roughly where Dolby dictates they should image in space given their speaker placement guidelines.

2. Using Dolby Atmos for Headphones with the Astros in stereo mode: Left main tone images at 90 degrees to the left, right main images at 90 degrees to the right, and center channel tone images in between the listener's ears as if these front three channels were still being sent in stereo rather than virtualized in front as they should. Left surround images behind the listener slightly rather than directly 90 degrees to the side, left rear maybe slightly further back, etc. And the LFE tone doesn't play any bass at all - just a midrange white noise tone - leading me to believe that channel is not being sent to the DAfH renderer for playback at all.

To confirm these findings, I played the Amaze and Leaf clips in both the Dolby Access app and off the Atmos demo Blu-ray using both Dolby Headphone via the Astros and Dolby Atmos for Headphones via stereo. What I'm hearing in the test tones bears out in the demo clips - with DAfH, none of the sound meant to be in the front three channels seems to come from in front of the listener. So basically, instead of the sphere of sound around the listener that Atmos is known for, you're only getting a hemisphere of sound from 90 degrees to either side and behind. I'm assuming that something is off in the implementation here, since it doesn't seem like the LCR channel output is being fed to Dolby Atmos for Headphone so that it is virtualized at all. It seems like those three channels are being output as straight stereo, with only the surround channels receiving virtualization, which is then summed with the LCR output. I don't believe that this is how Dolby intends it to work, as it doesn't even function as the older Dolby Headphone algorithm does.

I ruled out the Astro headset as the problem by running these same tests with earbuds connected to my Elite controller. The results are the same. DAfH is NOT properly steering audio meant to be in the front soundstage and is placing surround channels too far behind the listener. Double-checked with my Turtle Beach 500X headset, using its stereo-only mode and flat equalization. The TB's DTS:X Headphone properly steers audio in the front soundstage, whereas Atmos for Headphones gives the incorrect results described previously. THIS IS CONCLUSIVELY NOT AN ASTRO-RELATED ISSUE.

I also checked Windows Sonic to see if it exhibits a similar behavior. It does not. Test tones meant to be in front of the listener are properly imaging in front of the listener as they should, as are tones from the surround channels. This could explain why people are finding Windows Sonic to have a more spacious sound. Unrelated note: Windows Sonic doesn't pass the LFE channel either. This may be intentional behavior since it is for headsets, where this deep bass may not be ideal. This was tested on the Astros, the Turtle Beaches, and on the earbuds, and Windows Sonic works correctly on all three.

NOTE: I did not focus on height-channel test tones, as the tones when played back from the CEDIA 2015 Blu-ray did not seem to be placed overhead in any way. They seemed to image at 90 degrees to either side in the same way that the L/R channels did. I'm assuming that the Blu-ray app on the Xbox One has not been updated to provide the DAfH renderer with the object metadata from Blu-ray discs. However, that should NOT affect the bed-level speaker channel results that I've described above.

I've posted this in the Xbox Ambassador forums, Reddit as well as in an e-mail to Dolby, as I don't believe this is working as they meant it to. Hopefully, they can get this sorted out (or at least tell me whether this was by design, which I can't imagine as it seems like only a partial implementation of the Atmos for Headphone audio renderer). I'm going to test to see if I get the same results on Windows 10 CU, using Dolby 7.1.4 downloadable test tones from their website. I'm betting that the results will be the same, since they're likely using the same codebase on both.

If you were considering spending the $15 for a license for Dolby Atmos for Headphones on the Xbox One, I would strongly advise waiting to see if they fix this issue. If they don't, then you're better off using Windows Sonic, as it at least steers audio for the front soundstage correctly.

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post #2 of 159 Old 05-25-2017, 11:05 AM
 
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That's one hell of a post right there. I tried not to lean towards the A50's. I actually bought the A40 TR's, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the wireless things.

I guess we'll wait and see what happens!
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post #3 of 159 Old 05-25-2017, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Brad Rossetti of Microsoft's Xbox preview program team is calling their attention to the Reddit post I made on this issue. Hopefully, they'll work it out.

Follow-up update: Brad Rossetti updated me via Twitter. "Update on this the audio team is engaged and aware and working with Dolby"
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post #4 of 159 Old 05-31-2017, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Update: Had a nice phone conference with two engineers at Dolby Labs and will be trying one of their private builds to see what happens. They suspect it may be an issue in the trial/purchase licensing and that I'm not actually getting the virtualization I'm supposed to on either Windows 10 CU or my Xbox One. I'll report back in case anyone here notices the same issue.
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post #5 of 159 Old 06-02-2017, 02:44 PM
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I didn't realize Xbox was going to be getting the Atmos headphone surround update. Sounds like it is not finalized, but I'm hoping it can be sent out optical to a separate DAC/Amp to maximize the possibilities for it. I currently use a Creative Sound Blaster X7 with SBX virtual surround sound (5.1 similar to Dolby Headphone).

Does anyone know if this is universal? Meaning all games will have it, or more for future games that need to have it built in the game?

I've been looking at the Smyth Research Realizer A16 ($1700 pre order, $2,000 regularly). If this Microsoft version can do something similar, especially with UHD Blu-rays being played through the Xbox One S, I'll be one extremely happy person.

Is there a website that describes what Microsoft is attempting? I'll be ordering Project Scorpio in a few weeks, and I'm really hoping the can bring an amazing audio experience for headphone users in the future. SBX is great, but if I can get Atmos/DTX with optical out, I'll be ecstatic! Even if it required an add on device, it'll be what I've wanted from a game console for a very long time.

Thanks for starting the thread and bringing this to my attention!
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post #6 of 159 Old 06-03-2017, 09:41 PM
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Is the Dolby App available on Xbox? I thought it was only working on PC...
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post #7 of 159 Old 06-04-2017, 11:59 AM
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I just downloaded the Atmos headphones app. Played all the demos, BF1 and watched a little John WIck. The Dolby Demos sounds great but that's about it. Will the app provide virtual Atmos for BF1? Or was the conclusion the app isn't working correctly?


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post #8 of 159 Old 06-04-2017, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbyrnes View Post
I didn't realize Xbox was going to be getting the Atmos headphone surround update. Sounds like it is not finalized, but I'm hoping it can be sent out optical to a separate DAC/Amp to maximize the possibilities for it. I currently use a Creative Sound Blaster X7 with SBX virtual surround sound (5.1 similar to Dolby Headphone).

Does anyone know if this is universal? Meaning all games will have it, or more for future games that need to have it built in the game?

I've been looking at the Smyth Research Realizer A16 ($1700 pre order, $2,000 regularly). If this Microsoft version can do something similar, especially with UHD Blu-rays being played through the Xbox One S, I'll be one extremely happy person.

Is there a website that describes what Microsoft is attempting? I'll be ordering Project Scorpio in a few weeks, and I'm really hoping the can bring an amazing audio experience for headphone users in the future. SBX is great, but if I can get Atmos/DTX with optical out, I'll be ecstatic! Even if it required an add on device, it'll be what I've wanted from a game console for a very long time.

Thanks for starting the thread and bringing this to my attention!
It does output stereo via optical, but I can't tell if it's actual stereo or just the L/R channels of a 5.1 container. All games will work with it somewhat, even if they don't provide for the height steering, because they're using Dolby Surround upmixing for non-Atmos sources. No games currently support true Atmos on the X1 yet, but any of them using the Frostbite engine may get support patched in because they have it on PC.

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Is the Dolby App available on Xbox? I thought it was only working on PC...
It is currently available on both, and buying the license enables it on both. There's a 30 day trial to try it for free.

Related update: Microsoft pushed a test build of Atmos for Headphones to me and while it seems to work correctly on PC, the X1 still doesn't sound like it's virtualizing the front three channels as it should, at least to my ears. Overhead steering was definitely improved, but IMHO I think they need to tweak the bed-level channel placement. It doesn't sound as good as the older Dolby Headphone technology. That said, it's still a vast improvement over plain old stereo.

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post #9 of 159 Old 06-04-2017, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by helvetica bold View Post
I just downloaded the Atmos headphones app. Played all the demos, BF1 and watched a little John WIck. The Dolby Demos sounds great but that's about it. Will the app provide virtual Atmos for BF1? Or was the conclusion the app isn't working correctly?


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None of the games have been updated to support it yet. The Blu-ray app hasn't either, so all you're getting there is the bed-level 7.1 audio. Right now, the demos in the Dolby Access app are the only real content, though DAfH does do Dolby Surround processing to create a synthetic overhead sound for all content. Battlefield 1 and all other Frostbite games may have patches in the future to enable Atmos because they have it on the PC versions, but they haven't actually announced anything concrete. Microsoft's E3 conference is next Sunday though, so maybe we'll learn more then.
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post #10 of 159 Old 06-04-2017, 01:01 PM
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So just to be clear, the Headphone app will do a synthetic, (faux Atmos) on games?


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post #11 of 159 Old 06-05-2017, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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So just to be clear, the Headphone app will do a synthetic, (faux Atmos) on games?


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Yes. Dolby's engineers confirmed to me that this was one of the things that made it different from Windows Sonic. It uses DSU to create some ambient overhead with non-Atmos content.
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post #12 of 159 Old 06-12-2017, 01:01 PM
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I have Astro a50s. To use Windows Sonic and DAfH(once I download the liscense) I will need to put my headphones in stereo mode in order to use either format?
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post #13 of 159 Old 06-12-2017, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I have Astro a50s. To use Windows Sonic and DAfH(once I download the liscense) I will need to put my headphones in stereo mode in order to use either format?
Yes. Just press the Dolby button on the right earcup and the Dolby symbol on the base station should go off. Then Sonic and DAfH should work as they're meant to.

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post #14 of 159 Old 06-12-2017, 11:08 PM
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None of the games have been updated to support it yet. The Blu-ray app hasn't either, so all you're getting there is the bed-level 7.1 audio. Right now, the demos in the Dolby Access app are the only real content, though DAfH does do Dolby Surround processing to create a synthetic overhead sound for all content. Battlefield 1 and all other Frostbite games may have patches in the future to enable Atmos because they have it on the PC versions, but they haven't actually announced anything concrete. Microsoft's E3 conference is next Sunday though, so maybe we'll learn more then.
I played John Wick, chose Dolby Atmos in the menu, but the info showed I was getting Dolby TrueHD. So no DAfH support for the blu ray app? Thought the update the other month added that, or was that bitstream support only for AV receivers for Atmos home theater set ups?

Also, you said you conferred with Dolby engineers and MS pushed a beta update to you. When can we expect the fix to be deployed globally?
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post #15 of 159 Old 06-15-2017, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I played John Wick, chose Dolby Atmos in the menu, but the info showed I was getting Dolby TrueHD. So no DAfH support for the blu ray app? Thought the update the other month added that, or was that bitstream support only for AV receivers for Atmos home theater set ups?

Also, you said you conferred with Dolby engineers and MS pushed a beta update to you. When can we expect the fix to be deployed globally?
That only enabled bitstream output from the Blu-ray app. They will need to update it to add the audio hooks for output to DAfH, since it was previously coded to output to their channel-based hooks. I have no idea if/when that is happening though.

The build that I received was in testing... and given that it froze on me multiple times, it clearly isn't ready for public release. It also didn't fix the problem that this post is about, though it did make overhead audio better. I imagine they'll have to do a few more internal builds before they do another public release.
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post #16 of 159 Old 06-16-2017, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Update: I received a new test build last night that sounded MUCH better overall. That sphere of sound that you expect to hear from Atmos was back, and I e-mailed my observations to the engineers at Microsoft and Dolby that have been working with me. I still think they should pull the LCR channels forward slightly more in the virtual space and the side surrounds closer to 90 degrees to either side, but it is at least finally becoming more comparable to the previous iteration of Dolby Headphone (and more similar to what I hear in my actual Atmos setup at home). The only caveat here is that since it's a test build, it did have some stability issues and crashed a few times. Still, once they get it stable enough for a public release, I think most people will be much happier with the way it sounds.

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post #17 of 159 Old 07-02-2017, 03:52 PM
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Even though the app is now available publicly for download at the MS Store for Xbox One and PC, it is a bit of a mess, at least on the Xbox One.

It causes system instability and causes some games and app to either launch very late or not at all. Furthermore, crackling, static-like noise starts to come out of the headphones/speakers at random.

Biggest issue though is the inability to use DA for headphones a second time - meaning if you restart to boot up your console fresh, the Windows Sonic option is checked by default under the headset audio options. It simply won't let you select Dolby Atmos and tells you there is a problem and that you need to check your receiver. Weird.. the receiver is not even a part of the equation. A fresh reinstall fixes this issue, but then you can use it only on a one-time install and use basis, as long as you keep your xbox console on. Clearly the app is still in beta and don't know why Dolby is asking for a $15 fee to continue using the app.
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Tested this on John wich 2 and Hacksaw ridge on Uhd. Sounds darn good great Surround feel crystal clear effects and deep bass. Dts X works aswell and the Xbox ones Netflix app suports Atmos using this app.
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post #19 of 159 Old 07-14-2017, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Anderson View Post
Update: I received a new test build last night that sounded MUCH better overall. That sphere of sound that you expect to hear from Atmos was back, and I e-mailed my observations to the engineers at Microsoft and Dolby that have been working with me. I still think they should pull the LCR channels forward slightly more in the virtual space and the side surrounds closer to 90 degrees to either side, but it is at least finally becoming more comparable to the previous iteration of Dolby Headphone (and more similar to what I hear in my actual Atmos setup at home). The only caveat here is that since it's a test build, it did have some stability issues and crashed a few times. Still, once they get it stable enough for a public release, I think most people will be much happier with the way it sounds.
Nice to know! I have version 1.4.1.0 of the Dolby Access app - just curious if that test build you tried a month ago made it into Windows public release? As At the moment, the Atmos sound feels flat in comparison to GSX 1000.

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post #20 of 159 Old 07-27-2017, 07:07 AM
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Question about how to hook up Headphones to use for Xbox One and PC.

I have Logitech G933, that do have Atmos built in for Windows games etc. Works with wireless usb dongle.

On windows if I use DAfH for content that's not fully atmos, i suspect it will work if using stereo mode? (not tested)

on Xbox One, I hook up the headphones in stereo mode, with a cord plugged into the xbox controller. Is this the correct way to hook it up, as i think its the only way for me?

The Demo video's sound great with it enabled, but the volume is super low, even when volume is maxed out. its like listening at 50% volume overall. If there is background noise, it would overwhelm the headphones easily. I need to somehow boost the volume to increase the effectiveness of DAfH, but I don't think there is a way.
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Optical or hdmi headphones is the only way to Get Atmos from the Xbox one.
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post #22 of 159 Old 07-31-2017, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Optical or hdmi headphones is the only way to Get Atmos from the Xbox one.
Not true. Any set of stereo headphones plugged to your controller can get Atmos for Headphones.

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post #23 of 159 Old 07-31-2017, 08:31 PM
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Not true. Any set of stereo headphones plugged to your controller can get Atmos for Headphones.
This. As far as how I understand windows sonic or the atmos headphones function works is that the Xbox processes the sound and turns any stereo headset connected to the controller into a surround sound headset. So the 7.1 mix amp that comes with an Astros headset or the 7.1 box that comes with a turtle beach headset which converts sound into a simulated surround sound stage for the headset, now the Xbox does all of that instead and pushes it out to the controller. Correct?
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post #24 of 159 Old 07-31-2017, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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This. As far as how I understand windows sonic or the atmos headphones function works is that the Xbox processes the sound and turns any stereo headset connected to the controller into a surround sound headset. So the 7.1 mix amp that comes with an Astros headset or the 7.1 box that comes with a turtle beach headset which converts sound into a simulated surround sound stage for the headset, now the Xbox does all of that instead and pushes it out to the controller. Correct?
Yup. HRTF processing is just done in-console. All "surround sound" headphones are just stereo cans with HRTF applied.
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post #25 of 159 Old 07-31-2017, 09:13 PM
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Yup. HRTF processing is just done in-console. All "surround sound" headphones are just stereo cans with HRTF applied.
Well except the new razer headsets that are coming out that have multiple speakers in each ear cup. I used to have an old set of cans that had 3 separate speakers in each ear cup and they were a pain to configure for surround sound. If they can perfect sound coming from up down left right front back then you would be at a huge advantage for games like pubg against someone with just stereo cans or simulated surround.
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post #26 of 159 Old 08-01-2017, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Well except the new razer headsets that are coming out that have multiple speakers in each ear cup. I used to have an old set of cans that had 3 separate speakers in each ear cup and they were a pain to configure for surround sound. If they can perfect sound coming from up down left right front back then you would be at a huge advantage for games like pubg against someone with just stereo cans or simulated surround.
I didn't know anyone was still trying the multiple drivers in each earcup thing anymore. I know other companies have done that in the past, but they weren't any better at conveying surround than HRTF from stereo cans do. Interesting...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Anderson View Post
Not true. Any set of stereo headphones plugged to your controller can get Atmos for Headphones.
No look at the Atmos app set up...
Optical or hdmi
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post #28 of 159 Old 08-01-2017, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xSAMCOx View Post
No look at the Atmos app set up...
Optical or hdmi
Roll your eyes all you want. Dolby's engineers had me check it with a pair of stereo earbuds connected to the controller, as well as a set of Plantronics stereo cans connected to the controller. The "optical/hdmi" checkbox in settings is so it limits the digital output to stereo, since surround output won't work with HRTF-based surround sound.

From Dolby's page for Dolby Access:
Quote:
Experience it on your headphones

The app lets you try Dolby Atmos for Headphones for free (or buy it for only US$14.99), so you can experience Dolby Atmos using any headphones on your Xbox® and PC.
From the FAQ on that same page:
Quote:
Does Dolby Atmos work with all headphones?

Dolby Atmos rendering works with all headphones. Any set of stereo headphones, including earbuds, that you connect to your Windows 10 PC or Xbox console will give you the full Dolby Atmos effect. Over-the-ear headphones will provide the best listening experience.
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App says if ur Atmos or not conected its rather easy
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post #30 of 159 Old 08-01-2017, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xSAMCOx View Post
App says if ur Atmos or not conected its rather easy
Sure does. Plug in a stereo headset, change the settings and try the Dolby Access app. Works for me every time with regular earbuds to the controller and my Plantronics cans. It sounds identical to DAfH when played via my Turtle Beach 500x or Astro A50 cans via HDMI/optical, without question. Regardless, you're cluttering the thread with an unrelated argument. I've spoken to two engineers at Dolby and a member of the Xbox audio team about this, and I'm 100% certain that it works without the need for HDMI/optical. Xbox's news site says it... Dolby's FAQ says it... and plugging in any stereo headset to your controller proves it.
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