Xbox One – “Dolby Digital [Through Digital Optical] Is Coming Post Launch”, Says Microsoft [Updated]


Astro Gaming has released an official statement on the matter, claiming that a number of headsets in their line up will still provide “a Dolby® Headphone 7.1 experience on the Xbox One – even from a stereo input.” The full statement reads:

“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 willprocess 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.”

Thanks, Adam!

Original Story

Kotaku’s review of the Xbox One caused quite a stir last Tuesday among headset users within the gaming community when it confirmed that devices using the console’s digital optical output would only receive a stereo signal, not a true Dolby Digital 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound signal, downgrading some of the most common gaming headsets (Astro, Turtle Beach, Tritton, etc.) into mere stereo headsets.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I, too, was rather disappointed with the news. That’s why I’m very happy to report that while the feature will be missing at launch, Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Panello has confirmed in a heated NeoGAF thread that “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,” he said.

“Anyone with an HDMI receiver should be fine, as we pass the uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 through HDMI as well as DTS,” he continued. “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.”

Exactly how the feature will be making its way to the console, either via a hardware or software update, has yet to be made clear.

It’s odd that Microsoft didn’t make this clear to begin with, as the news stemming from recent reviews of the console may have swayed a number of headset-using gamers to look elsewhere for their next-gen gaming experience. Regardless, the immersive experience that 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound headsets provide will continue to be able to do so, but at a later date.

  • Jaxon

    The all in-one entertainment machine doesn’t even have 5.1 lol

    • It does, but only through its HDMI output at launch, not for devices using its digital optical output, unfortunately.

      • Enochrewt

        There is a way around this that most newer TVs support. Use HDMI from the XBone to the TV, and then plug your Optical cable into the back of the TV. Xbone passes 7.1 to the TV which outputs to the headphones. I actually have had my 360 set up like this for years.

        • According to my research, only a few TVs include this feature. (Mine does not either.) Most gamers will be out of luck, it seems.

          • mechcell

            In my household, i got three HDTV and all of them got digital optical. My Samsung 23 inch 1080p LCD monitor/HDTV is over 5 years old now and it got one. My other two HDTV is less than two year old and both got it also.

            • Gnazi

              Dat language

            • My TV does as well. Pretty much all TVs have a digital optical output, BUT only a few of them actually output actual 5.1/7.1 surround sound. My TV does not, for example. Again, that’s just from my research.

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  • Spencer

    1 day to go and now they tell me my Tritton Warheads will be stereo only?! FML

    • Yep. As you can tell, I was pretty pissed yesterday. Spent all night looking for clarification or… something.

  • Xarcriloth

    So this can be updated through a software patch??

    • xHDx


  • xHDx

    There seems to be a lot of features missing from both consoles at launch. What have they been doing for 10+ years?

    • roland0811

      Spending more money on hype rather than content? XD

    • SangheiliSpecOp

      Exactly. I assume they were both just rushing their stuff out the doors. I don’t know why they would do this with consoles that will need to last what, 8+ years again. Shouldn’t they take their time? I guess they figured they could just put it in later…

  • Mr. Thuggins

    I recently sold my TB Tango headset in anticipation of this delay (and because the Tangos sucked). I look forward to trying out the new Polk 4 Shot headset that’s coming out in Feb for the Xbox One.


    History still you to never buy a first wave launch console if you’ve been gaming since the late 80’s.

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  • Guest

    Simulated surround and surround aren’t the same thing, but it’s better than nothing. ProLogic II is great for old technology. Then again, stereo is pretty ancient too, so what should we expect?

    Tried some special Turtle Beach Surround Sound headphones that are supposed to be awesome and, as expected, found the actual “surround” experience rather lackluster. It’s two speakers. It can only “simulate” surround and will never rival a true surround experience. (yes, I’m an audiophile with a 7.1 system so probably more picky than most). For a lot less money, I went with the ridiculous looking, but simple to use Afterglow Wireless headset. It works fine with everything. I just plug the usb transmitter into the back of my tv and have wireless stereo no matter the source. Then the mic can plug into any controller, or pc, or phone, or tablet, or work through blue tooth, though I have to admit I haven’t tried it with the PS4’s chat yet (no BF4 so no need for chat yet).

    Still good that Astro is supporting their products. The reviews on them are great and if I decide to give surround sound headphones another chance, i’ll definitely be looking at their products rather than the TB junk.

  • Johnny Neat

    I can’t even get my 2011 Astro A40s to play friendly with my PS4. I get game audio and other player’s voices clear as day, but we can’t chat. When the PS4 feels like recognizing the headset, chat both ways can’t be heard. So for now I have been playing with clear audio and no chat until Astro gets this address or cares to. I’m not forking over $250 for another A40 or A50 headsets.