Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos vs DTS: Which Should You Go For?

Are you struggling to decide on the best spatial sound software for your headphones? Sonic, Dolby or DTS? Here’s some helpful information to help make the decision easier.

If you want to be blown away by realistic, immersive sound when watching movies or playing games then you need to get yourself some spatial sound software.

Spatial sound software enhances your audio experience by giving the impression that sound is coming from all directions – surround sound. This is the reason we also call it 3D audio. It closely mimics the way our ears perceive sound to give a realistic, multi-directional sound profile.

Spatial sound takes it a step further than surround sound technology. It uses strategic placement of sound dispersion and attempts to replicate how our ears perceive sound. This provides extra depth and multifaceted sound.

When choosing which software to go for you will need to consider the following:

  •   Compatibility
  •   Platform(s) you will be using it on
  •   Media and audio you will be using it for
  •   Free or paid options

The 3 leaders in spatial sound software are Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos and DTS. To help you make the decision between the 3 we have broken each one down for you.

Windows Sonic for Headphones

Windows Sonic spatial sound is available on any Windows 10 device and the Xbox One.

You won’t need any extra equipment or hardware to enable this on your devices. Simply head to your sound settings via the volume icon on your taskbar or your system settings. Head to spatial sound and activate it. You may need to adjust your output devices and activate spatial sound from there. The bottom line is that even the least computer literate of us can access and activate this feature easily. Check out our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide on how to activate Windows Sonic here How To Enable Spatial Sound (Windows Sonic) in Windows 10.

Pros
  • Works with any headphones. But be aware that the quality of sound will be affected by the quality of your headphones. If they sound tinny without spatial sound activated, then they will still sound tinny with spatial sound. But at least they will be tinny from all directions!
  • It’s 100% free and comes pre-installed on your Windows device.
  • Simple to set-up on Windows or Xbox One, especially with this How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Xbox One easy guide.
Cons
  • This software works really well with movies and games, but not so well with music.
  • Only works well with headphones. Causes sound distortion if used with external speakers and no headphones plugged in. It is possible to play sound through both your headphones and speakers simultaneously. Follow our step-by-step guide here How To Use Two or Multiple Headphones on PC (Wired or Bluetooth)

Dolby Atmos for Headphones

Dolby Atmos spatial sound software can be downloaded from the Windows store. It is also available for Windows 10 and Xbox One. But this software also works great with your TV, soundbar or home theatre set up.

Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic work in a similar way. But you will need to buy the software license for Dolby Atmos, and you’ll need specific hardware to support Dolby Atmos’s functions.

Pros
  • It provides a more immersive sound experience than Windows Sonic.
  • Dolby Atmos is more versatile than Windows Sonic. You can use it with headphones, TV’s, soundbars and home theatre set ups.
  • Dolby Atmos is supported by most streaming platforms, multiple device and even mobile phones.
Cons
  • Need decent hardware and speakers to get the full effect of Dolby Atmos.
  • There is a 30-day free trial. But after this you will need to pay $15 for Dolby Atmos’s software licence.
  • The set-up is more complicated than Windows Sonic and once it’s downloaded, you will need to play around with the sound settings to get it working properly.

DTS for Headphones

DTS Sound Unbound for your PC, can also be downloaded from the Windows store at a cost. If you want the headphone version, search for DTS Headphone X or DTS:X in the Microsoft store.

The main difference between Dolby Atmos and DTS is the ratio to which audio metadata is compressed. DTS compresses this data at a much larger ratio, producing higher quality sounds. Again this will be dependent on the hardware that you are using with the software.

Pros
  • Produces the highest quality and most realistic sound out of the 3.
  • Works great with headphones and multi-speaker set ups.
  • Fully customisable sound settings for voice audio in movies and games.
Cons
  • There is a 2-week free trial period and after this it will cost you $19.99 one off payment.
  • Because DTS is relatively new, it is not supported by all mainstream media applications just yet. But that will change.
  • Despite the higher data conversion ratio, DTS and Dolby offer a similar sound profile. Many users struggle to distinguish between the 2. If you are a casual user, Dolby Atmos may be the better option as it’s a little cheaper.

Windows Sonic vs. Dolby Atmos vs. DTS: Which One’s for You?

The decision over which software is best will depend on what you want to use it for, and how frequently.

If you are on a budget, then Windows Sonic is the best from a price point of view. It comes pre-installed on your Windows device and is easy to find and activate. It is available on all Windows 10 devices and Xbox One.

But if you want to experience spatial sound with your TV, soundbar or home theatre set up, Windows Sonic won’t cut it.

For gamers on Xbox One, Windows Sonic will do a basic job. But there is heated debate between Dolby Atmos vs DTS for gamers. Both will work great to give you deep, expanded, immersive sound during gameplay. DTS will allow you to customise your settings for your specific gaming needs. DTS also offers a more expanded sound and spacious sound profile to give you a more realistic gaming experience.

Please note that if your gaming headphones already have surround sound built in then any spatial sound software will give you distorted sound.

If your main motivation for trying spatial sound software is for a 3D, immersive movie watching experience then Dolby Atmos is the best. DTS is not yet compatible with many streaming platforms, and as a result it may end up being a waste of money.

Dolby Atmos has been industry standard for consumers in need of spatial sound for a long time. It works with pretty much all streaming platforms and will give you great 3D sound on your TV. So, it will provide you with peace of mind that you can watch a movie of your choice without any issues.

It should be noted here that spatial sound technology is not recommended for music. Music uses stereo audio which is not compatible with spatial sound technologies.

FAQs

Should I Turn on Windows Sonic for headphones?

If you want to experience a wider soundscape and 3D sound, then enabling spatial sound on your Windows 10 device is essential. It will automatically make any movies or games sound better.

How good is Windows Sonic for headphones?

Users report that Windows Sonic does over-exaggerate sounds in comparison to either Dolby Atmos or DTS. But using Windows Sonic in first-person shooter games and with movies heavy in action or speaking can make a noticeable difference. And let’s nor forget, Windows Sonic is free software. Dolby Atmos and DTS are not.

Is Dolby Atmos worth it for headphones?

You will be able to experience the same extended soundstage and 3D surround sound using Dolby Atmos with your headphones as you will on your TV.

The quality of sound reproduction when spatial sound is activated will depend, in part, on the quality of your headphones. If they weren’t giving great sound reproduction without Dolby, they won’t magically do so with it.

You should also remember that spatial sound is not designed to give greater depth or immersive sound when it comes to music. But for games and movies, Dolby Atmos on your headphones is definitely worth it.

Do you need special headphones for Dolby Atmos?

No. Dolby Atmos does have a set of recommended Atmos-enabled headphones, but they are not necessary to experience the full surround, 3D sound that Dolby Atmos gives.

Conclusion

If you want to experience movies and games with realistic, surround, 3D, immersive sound then you need  some spatial sound software. It really does transform the listening experience.

When it comes to choosing the most suitable software for you, you will need to consider your budget, platforms and hardware you want to use it with, and the purpose that you want it for.

This quick guide should help you with this decision. And if you want to check out how to activate Windows Sonic to try it out today, then head over to our article here How To Enable Spatial Sound (Windows Sonic) in Windows 10.

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