Windows Spatial Audio Review



Been checking out the new Windows Spatial Audio feature, with and without the 7.1 feature enabled and after a couple games have experienced similar scenarios with each.

Some observations :slight_smile:

  • Ambient environment sounds are incredibly loud, check out the floating platforms in the training area.

  • When inside a building, sounds outside the building become muffled but seem to ignore distance volume dropoff making it difficult to tell how far away the muffled sounds are.

  • Your character sounds are softer than most everything else. While in one sense this is ideal, it messes with distance comprehension when objects far away are louder than your own footsteps or gunshots.

  • Directional sounds really feel like they are being controlled with simple volume rather than any other attributes (increased reverb, change of EQ etc). This caused many sounds to cross the threshold of what normal peak was for my volume settings. Hypothetical Ex: if windows volume is set at 70, without spatial audio is peaking at -3db, with spatial audio enabled peaks are 0db. Leading too…

  • When spatial sound is enabled, everything is much louder.

I’ve played with Dolby Atmos before and did not experience these types of issues. While I can imagine that Dolby Atmos is simply a better designed program than something base built into Windows, I can’t imagine these issues are intended.

Really cool feature though and I hope it’s able to get smoothed out, thanks for the new addition for us audio nerds :slight_smile:

(Scott Lawlor) #2

Hey there, thanks for the review. Are you using Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos for Headphones in your spatial audio settings?


I had the same general experience when I tried the new feature. I was using Windows Sonic for the headphone settings. Turned off spatial sound after 10mins or so and went back to default. I have not messed with the Dolby Atmos so don’t have anything to compare to though.


In my opinion Dolby Atmos is the best sound in Overwatch, at least until this little thing arrives: ttps://

BTW: You can now also Dolby Atmos from Windows 10, instead in Overwatch.

Overwatch has also one of the best audio solutions of modern games, positioning is really good. I only have some trouble to get the height of the audio source right.
But there are still things that have been better in the old EAX days.
For example occlusion seems to be almost nonexistent. You can hear enemies through the walls so good, that it sometimes feels almost like a wallhack.

A good example is Kings Row first point. If someone walks in the building behind the point you hear exactly where the are walking. But this should not be the case, in reality you would hear almost no sound through the wall, but most of it through the doors.

Things like that worked way better in the original Doom 3 with the EAX patch. Back then you really could hear something behind a wall/door, while in Overwatch it sounds more like as if there was no wall, only with lower volume.

Let´s hope things like that will further improve game audio in the future: ttps://

In the last 20 years visual quality in games has improved so much, but generally audio usually does not feel much better then 10-15 years ago, and often even worse.

Overwatch is rather an exception from that. Unfortunately in both directions, with very good audio quality, but visual quality that is very low for a game released in 2016.


When I use the Windows Sonic for spatial the weapon fire tends to be quiet or off and everything else seems loud. I apparently already had it running in Windows as the PTR sounds after the last update were off immediately and drove me up the wall it’s amazing how used to the sounds you can get. You guys did really well with them and when they get bugged it really shows.

With the Dolby Atmos on in game I couldn’t tell a difference between it and normal but, I’m not the most detailed person and the audio may be configured improperly for it.


I just tried out Dolby Atmos for Home Theater, not to actually play, but to just mess around and experience the true surround sound experience. I immediately noticed a “problem” with volume levels. I captured it to share with you in case it helps, and also quickly edited the footage to help contrast the Stereo vs Atmos settings.


I also noticed that destroying a Test Dummy when very close was very loud (but I didn’t record that).

Hope this helps.
[Windows 10 Pro, Marantz NR1608 setup with 5.1.2]

(Scott Lawlor) #7

The problem we encountered was with the in-game Master Volume sound setting. If you turned down your master volume lower than 100, it would throw off the balance of the audio. 2d sounds would be quiet and 3d sounds would be loud.

We have now turned off the Windows Spatial Audio for this patch. We really appreciate the help testing, and we hope to bring it back to PTR at a later date.

Thanks everyone!


Thanks for the update - makes sense since my master volume was set at 80. Hope you get this fixed as i was pretty excited for this update.

(Scott Lawlor) #9

The newest 1.31 PTR has Windows Spatial Audio re-enabled. Please keep the feedback coming on this feature. These reports have been extremely valuable for us.


Sweet - will try it out again