NEWS - Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dolby Digital via optical output not supported on Xbox One at launch

The Xbox One will ship tomorrow without support for Dolby Digital through digital optical, a concern for most headset users. Currently, the next-gen console will only output stereo and DTS through its optical port. The issue here is that Dolby only headsets will have to use stereo for its sound.

Here is what Albert Penello wrote on NeoGAF, Microsoft director of product planning:

Dolby Digital is coming post launch. This was a SW scheduling issue pure and simple, and I know people are disappointed, but we will have it.

Anyone with an HDMI receiver should be fine, as we pass the uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 through HDMI as well as DTS. Even if you have a Dolby only HDMI receiver (which I’m not sure exists), you will still get 5.1 or 7.1 sound since those receivers should accept uncompressed surround.

For the Dolby only headsets, my understanding is that these will work but you will only get stereo audio since we only pass Stereo and DTS through the optical port. I have not tested this myself, but I’m told it works. Regardless, I understand this is an inconvenience, but again we’re going to have Dolby coming.

This is unrelated to the HDMI-IN "Surround Sound" beta. To clarify, we default HDMI-IN audio to be converted to Stereo. However, we do have a feature you can access in TV settings/Troubleshooting that enables Surround Sound in "beta" form. If you check the box, and you get Surround, you’re golden. We found some inconsistencies in STB’s during testing and decided to disable it by default to insure a good initial setup experience for people.

So Dolby Digital is not completely out of the picture. It will come eventually, just not tomorrow when the Xbox One is launched. According to Penello, HDMI receivers will be fine.

HDMI-IN, however, will only support "surround sound" in its beta form. HDMI-IN will be used to connect devices into the Xbox One like your cable or set top box. The Xbox One will default sound to stereo if the user does not opt into the beta toggle.

Astro Gaming has issued a statement regarding the Dolby Digital situation, clarifying that users with an A50 Wireless Transmitter or Wired MixAmp Pro will be able to get surround sound on day one. So good news for those people who own either of these devices. For others, you’ll have to wait until Xbox One’s post launch update is out.

ASTRO Gaming still provides a Dolby® Headphone 7.1 experience on the Xbox One – even from a stereo input.

Microsoft’s decision to drop Dolby® encoding on their SPDIF output at launch does have ramifications for ASTRO’s products. While our products do not process DTS signals, we do have on-board Dolby® encoding in both our A50 Wireless Transmitter as well as our Wired MixAmp™ Pro. An Xbox One gamer will need to select Stereo output for game audio, but our MixAmps will process that stereo signal with Dolby ProLogic II and encode it with Dolby® Headphone – *the* gold standard for simulated 7.1 Surround Sound for gaming headphones.

So have no fear gamers, your ASTRO’s will still provide a Dolby® Digital Surround experience no matter what your console choice.



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