Select windows sonic for headphones spatial sound format

Chris HoffmanEditor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He"s written about technology for over a decade & was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a công nghệ expert on TV stations lượt thích Miami"s NBC 6, và had his work covered by news outlets lượt thích the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have sầu been read nearly one billion times---and that"s just here at How-To Geek. Read more...

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Jun 22, 2018, 6:40 am EDT| 4 min read

Microsoft added “Windows Sonic” spatial sound to Windows 10 bachồng in the Creators Update. Windows Sonic for Headphones is disabled by default, but you can enable it for virtual surround sound. This option is available on the Xbox One, too.

How to Enable Windows Sonic

You can easily toggle this feature on or off from the sound icon in your notification area. Right-cliông xã the speaker ibé, point khổng lồ Spatial Sound, và select “Windows Sonic for Headphones” to enable it. Select “Off” here to lớn disable Windows Sonic.

If you don’t see an option lớn enable spatial sound here or in the Control Panel, your sound device doesn’t tư vấn it. For example, this option won’t be available when using built-in laptop speakers.


You can also access this feature from the Sound Control Panel applet. To launch it, head khổng lồ Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound.

Double-clichồng the playbaông chồng device you want to lớn enable Windows Sonic for, clichồng the “Spatial Sound” tab, and choose “Windows Sonic for Headphones” in the box. You can also enable Dolby Atmos for Headphones on the same dropdown thực đơn. This is a similar spatial sound technology for headphones. However, it uses Dolby’s technology, & requires a $15 in-app purchase lớn unloông chồng.


You can also toggle the “Turn on 7.1 virtual surround sound” option on or off on the Spatial Sound tab.


On an Xbox One, you’ll find this option at System > Settings > Display và Sound > Audio đầu ra. Choose Windows Sonic for Headphones under Headmix audio.


What is Spatial Sound?

As Microsoft’s developer documentation puts it, Windows Sonic is a “platform-level solution for spatial sound support on Xbox on Windows.” Application developers can use spatial sound APIs khổng lồ “create audio objects that emit audio from positions in 3D space.” All applications can take advantage of this—new UWPhường. apps, traditional Windows desktop applications, standard PC games, and Xbox One games.

This is exactly the data that Dolby Atmos-enabled receivers need lớn set their spatial sound, so Windows Sonic enables full Dolby Atmos tư vấn in the lakiểm tra versions of Windows 10. When paired with a Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver and speaker system, sounds you hear can be positioned in 3D space—vertically as well as horizontally—for an improved surround sound experience.

So, for example, if a sound is coming from above you và lớn your right in a movie, TV show, or đoạn Clip game, the upwards-firing or ceiling mounted speakers on the right side of your room will place the sound in that location—assuming you have sầu Dolby Atmos.

The Dolby Access ứng dụng in the Store will help you set up Dolby Atmos trang chủ theater audio with a Windows 10 PC.

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RELATED: What is Dolby Atmos?

How Does Spatial Sound Work in Headphones?


This spatial data would normally only be useful if you have a Dolby Atmos system that can actually use it. Even if you have a traditional 7.1 stereo surround sound system, you’re just getting normal surround sound with eight channels of audio—seven speakers plus your subwoofer.


However, this positional data can provide spatial sound in any pair of headphones. You just need lớn enable either “Windows Sonic for Headphones” or “Dolby Atmos for Headphones.” Both work similarly, but Dolby’s version uses Dolby’s giải pháp công nghệ và has a price tag, while Windows Sonic uses only Microsoft’s technology và is included for không tính phí with Windows 10 and the Xbox One.

When you enable one of these features, your Windows PC (or Xbox One) will set the audio using the positional data, providing a virtual spatial sound experience. So, if you’re playing a game & a sound is coming from above sầu your character & to the right, the sound will be mixed before it’s sent to lớn your headphones so you hear that sound as coming from above sầu you and to lớn the right.

These spatial sound features only work with applications that provide the spatial data to lớn Windows.

RELATED: How lớn Use Dolby Atmos Surround Sound on Windows 10

What About 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound?

When you enable Windows Sonic for Headphones, the “Turn on 7.1 virtual surround sound” feature in the Sound Control Panel is also enabled by mặc định. On the Xbox One, this feature is named “Use virtual surround sound.”

With 7.1 virtual surround sound enabled, Windows will take 7.1 surround sound audio—in đoạn phim games or movies, for example—và mix it khổng lồ stereo sound, taking into account the position of the objects, before sending it lớn your headphones. 5.1 surround sound will also work.


To use this feature properly, you’ll need lớn set your game or Clip player lớn output 7.1 surround sound, even though you’re using headphones. Your headphones will function as a virtual 7.1 surround sound device.


Unlike with true surround sound, you’re still using a standard pair of stereo headphones with only two speakers—one for each ear. However, the virtual surround sound provides more better positional audio cues, which are particularly useful when playing PC or Xbox games.

These tai nghe features function similarly to surround sound technologies for gaming headphones lượt thích Dolby Headphone, Creative sầu Media Surround Sound 3 chiều (CMSS-3 chiều Headphone), và DTX Headphone X. But they’re integrated inkhổng lồ Windows và work with any pair of headphones.

The virtual surround sound feature works with all applications that provide 7.1 surround sound audio. Many games và movies that don’t provide spatial sound vị have 7.1 surround sound support, so this is compatible with many more applications.

How Many Applications Provide Positional Data?

With the “Turn on 7.1 virtual surround sound” feature enabled, you’ll get some mixed positional audio in your headphones with any 7.1 surround sound signal. However, for the best positional audio, you’ll need applications that actually provide that positional audio data khổng lồ Windows (or your Xbox One.)

It’s unclear just how many applications now tư vấn this. However, Microsoft’s documentation says that “many phầm mềm và game developers use third buổi tiệc nhỏ audio rendering engine solutions” và that “Microsoft has partnered with several of these solution providers khổng lồ implement Windows Sonic in their existing authoring environments.”


One thing is clear: Any game or application that advertises tư vấn for Dolby Atmos will also provide spatial data to lớn Windows Sonic for Headphones.

Either way, with Windows Sonic for Headphones enabled, you’ll still get positional sound as long as you have the 7.1 virtual surround sound feature enabled and you’re using applications with 7.1 surround sound. Some applications will just have better positional sound if they provide the data to Windows Sonic.

Image Credit: ktasimar/Shutterstoông chồ

Chris HoffmanChris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He"s written about công nghệ for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The Thành Phố New York Times, been interviewed as a công nghệ expert on TV stations lượt thích Miami"s NBC 6, & had his work covered by news outlets like the Đài truyền hình BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have sầu been read nearly one billion times---và that"s just here at How-To Geek. Read Full Bio »

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