I'm currently working on a project at work where I need to used Spatial audio to play .wav files and 'live' audio to a user with sound cancelling headphones in, well 3D.

I'm really hoping some of you use/ have used Spatial Audio on windows 10 and that this is something I can fix, because going back up the chain right now and telling them I've spent a week coding a solution which won't work on the hardware we have isn't my idea of fun.

Currently after having written the code to produce these sounds I've been able to listen to them and the audio output sounds awfully stereo. (It turns out the "demos" I listened to last week also sound stereo I just have a terrible ear for this sort of thing.

I'm asking here because I don't know where else to ask (and am fairly confident the problem isn't with my code, as like I said the demos aren't sounding very surround either)

To my understanding (from my project brief and what I can find on google), all I should need hardware wise is a windows 10 machine and some headphones.

on which note:

Windows 10 ver: 10.0.17134
System Model: NUC7i5BNK
Sound Device: Interl(R) Display Audio (/Realtek High Definition Audio SST)
Headphones: various in ear and over the ear headphones

1 Answer 1


After a lot of testing I have figured out that Dolby headphone atmos only works with very specific dolby atmos media. It does not work with 99% of the media or games you will be using.

Here's an easy way to test if your computer handles real surround virtualization: https://www2.iis.fraunhofer.de/AAC/multichannel.html If "Front right" sound the same as "Surround right", and you don't have the urge to look behind you when hearing "surround right", then your virtualization is not working. In this example, decades-old tech like CMSS-3D passes with flying colors but Dolby atmos changes absolutely nothing. So if you play a 5.1 surround sound .mkv file on your computer, dolby atmos headphones will not do anything.

Then you can fire up any old game like Skyrim and hear clearly that cmss-3d will do the positional audio but dolby atmos won't (because the older superior technology will have Windows 10 say it's playing 5.1 audio, but Dolby Atmos forces it to say it's playing "stereo" so games will output stereo instead of 5.1).

I was thinking that dolby atmos simply wasn't working. So I launched "Dolby Access" and played their "leaf" trailer where the leaf goes behind you. It does in fact sound different with dolby atmos enabled/disabled. This is the only piece of media where I've been able to hear a difference with dolby atmos.

EDIT: I also tried the old CMSS-3D technology on the exact same Dolby Access video which works with Dolby Atmos Headphone, thereby providing a true a/b comparison... the old technology won hands down, so much clearer sound and the leaf REALLY sounds like it's going behind you -- also, a lot of the distortion and lowered quality in the sound I thought was from the source video itself, was being imparted by the Dolby Atmos Headphone technology.

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    Thanks, Unfortunately I was/ am limited to using Dolby Atmos by the requirements given to me, however I do think that you are correct and that my system was 'working' within the limitations of Dolby Atmos Headphones. So thankyou for you diligence on this.
    – P.Hutt
    Jan 8, 2019 at 11:50

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