HOW TO USE DOLBY ATMOS SURROUND SOUND ON WINDOWS 10

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Chris HoffmanEditor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He"s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader"s Digest, been interviewed as a công nghệ expert on TV stations like Miami"s NBC 6, & had his work covered by news outlets like 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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chrisbhoffman
UpdatedJun 8, 2018, 2:49 pm EDT| 4 min read
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Windows 10’s Creators Update added support for Dolby Atmos positional sound. This includes two things: Support for Dolby Atmos hardware and virtual Dolby Atmos sound that works in any pair of headphones.

The Dolby Atmos for headphones feature is a bit weird. It appears in the standard Windows control panel as an option, but it requires a miễn phí trial or $14.99 purchase via the Windows Store before you can actually use it.


What Is Dolby Atmos?

Traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound uses 5 or 7 speaker channels, plus a subwoofer. When you watch a movie or play a game with surround sound, that movie or game is actually sending 6 or 8 separate channels of sound to lớn your speakers.

Dolby Atmos is an improved type of surround sound. It isn’t mixed inkhổng lồ several separate channels; instead, sounds are mapped to lớn virtual locations in 3 chiều space, and that spatial data is sent khổng lồ your speaker system. A Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver then uses specially calibrated speakers lớn position these sounds. Dolby Atmos systems may include ceiling-mounted speakers above you or speakers on the floor that bounce their sound off the ceiling, for example.

This feature requires Dolby Atmos-enabled hardware, notably a Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver. Microsoft also just added Dolby Atmos tư vấn to lớn the Xbox One, và many Blu-ray discs include Dolby Atmos audio.

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Windows 10’s Creators Update also added a separate feature named “Dolby Atmos for headphones”. This feature promises improved positional audio in any pair of headphones or earbuds. You don’t need special Dolby Atmos headphones. It’s a type of virtual surround sound built into lớn Windows.


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Really, this is a completely different feature that’s only linked by Dolby’s branding. True Dolby Atmos requires a hardware receiver và special speaker thiết lập, while Dolby Atmos for headphones is a digital signal processor (DSP) that takes surround sound from your PC and mixes it lớn offer an improved positional sound experience in headphones.

Some games have sầu already added tư vấn for Dolby Atmos for headphones. For example, Blizzard’s Overwatch includes built-in Dolby Atmos support, và it works even if you’re not running Windows 10’s Creators Update. You can enable this feature from Options > Sound > Dolby Atmos for Headphones in Overwatch. Blizzard argues that Atmos offers an improved experience that allows you khổng lồ more easily pinpoint where sounds are coming from in the game.

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How to lớn Enable Dolby Atmos on Windows 10

To start using this feature, tải về the Dolby Access app from the Windows Store và launch it.

The ứng dụng will guide you through setting this up. If you have Dolby Atmos receiver you want khổng lồ use with your PC, select “With my trang chính theater”. If you want to use any pair of headphones, select “With my headphones”.

If you select a home page theater PC, you’ll be given a links khổng lồ enable the “Dolby Atmos for trang chủ theater” option in the Windows Sound settings control panel. After you vì chưng, the tiện ích will prompt you lớn calibrate your system. There’s no additional purchase necessary for the trang chính theater option—you just need the hardware.

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If you select headphones, you’ll be prompted to lớn confirm your PC’s sound hardware supports the Windows 10 spatial audio platsize for headphones. Modern PCs should have sound drivers that support this feature, but you may be out of luông xã if you have a much older PC you’ve upgraded to lớn Windows 10.

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The Dolby Atmos for headphones feature isn’t miễn phí. While Microsoft integrated it into lớn Windows, Microsoft clearly didn’t pay the licensing fees lớn allow any Windows user lớn use it.

You can still try Dolby Atmos for headphones for miễn phí, however. Cliông xã the “30-day trial” button khổng lồ enable it.

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Once you’ve sầu enabled the không tính phí trial, you’ll be prompted lớn enable Dolby Atmos for headphones. Click the “Configure PC settings” button và then select “Dolby Atmos for headphones” in the Spatial sound format box.

This option actually appears in the properties window for your audio device even if you don’t have the Dolby app installed. However, if you try to enable this feature without installing the app first, Windows will prompt you lớn install the Dolby Access app from the Windows Store first.

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How to lớn Test Dolby Atmos

The Dolby Access tiện ích will allow you to lớn thử nghiệm Dolby Atmos by playing a variety of videos that tư vấn Dolby Atmos audio.


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While the videos are impressive enough, you’ll want khổng lồ actually thử nghiệm Dolby Atmos by playing some PC games or watching some surround sound-enabled videos before paying for it and see if you can notice an appreciable difference. Some people say they notice an improvement, while others don’t notice much of a difference. It likely depends on the games you’re playing videos you’re watching, too.

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When testing Dolby Atmos, be sure to lớn enable 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound in whatever game or application you use. The application will then produce surround sound, và Dolby Atmos will phối it to lớn stereo sound for your headphối.

You’re miễn phí khổng lồ thử nghiệm Dolby Atmos for 30 days, after which it will cost $14.99 to buy Dolby Atmos for headphones tư vấn from the Windows Store.

How to Try Microsoft’s Free Alternative, Windows Sonic for Headphones

Windows 10’s Creators Update also offers a miễn phí “Windows Sonic for Headphones” option you can enable instead of Dolby Atmos. Just right-click the speaker inhỏ in your system tray, select “Playbachồng Devices”, cliông xã your playbachồng device, and cliông chồng “Properties”. On the Spatial sound tab, select “Windows Sonic for Headphones”.

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You may want khổng lồ chạy thử this feature to see how it compares to lớn Dolby Atmos for Headphones in your games and videos. We’ve seen some people say it doesn’t work quite as well as the Dolby Atmos option in their experience, but we’ve also seen some people say they don’t notice much of a difference.

When it comes khổng lồ sound, everyone often has their own opinion. Audio quality can be very subjective sầu.


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

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