When we tested the Onkyo TX-NR838 AV receiver a couple of years ago - one of the first to bring Dolby Atmos to the table - we hooked it up to an Xbox One and PS4. Sadly, only the latter could give it a proper workout as it was the only console with Dolby bitstream passthrough for Blu-ray audio playback, and that included Dolby Atmos.
Now, two years later, Microsoft has finally caught up. Those on the Preview programme can now also choose bitstream passthrough for their Blu-ray audio which will correctly serve AV receivers, home cinema systems and soundbars with glorious Dolby Atmos channels.
Calling all audio aficionados. Rolling out to Preview this week: Blu-ray Bitstream pass-through including Dolby Atmos support on Xbox One/S— / Larry Hryb / (@majornelson) December 12, 2016
Both the Xbox One and Xbox One S get the new feature, which is well timed considering there are more sources offering the additional height channels.
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Dolby Atmos adds a couple of extra left and right speakers to a conventional 5.1 setup, either placed above listening height or, more commonly, by firing sound at an angle upwards to the ceiling which bounces back to the listener, creating the illusion of all-encompassing sound. Games are also starting to adopt the audio format.
In addition, Microsoft has updated its Xbox One Streaming application to support Oculus Rift. You can now play Xbox One or Xbox 360 games (via backward compatibility) on a virtual screen through a Rift headset plugged into a PC.
It's probably not for everyone, especially as the virtual screen is effectively standard definition, but if you have a tiny telly for your Xbox or require a spot of privacy, it might improve your gaming.