Xbox One March Update Brings Dolby and Bitstream Audio Support

Feb 26, 2014 by

Many made a big deal out of the Xbox One’s lack of Dolby Digital support when the console launched in November. It was an easy way to criticize the console for not living up to true next-gen standards. Those who were looking to point out these deficiencies just ignored the fact that most people would be hooking up the console to a TV (which probably doesn’t have surround sound at all) or an audio receiver that supports DTS Surround Sound (which the Xbox One supported at launch). There was one group of people who had a valid complaint though. That group would be users of certain surround sound headsets. The Astro A50 headset is a very popular wireless surround sound headset that only supports Dolby Digital. Microsoft has revealed many details about the multiplayer enhancements coming in the March update to the console, but while using the preview of the update we’ve found another enhancement worth mentioning. This will be the update that brings Dolby Digital audio to the Xbox One.

Previously the audio settings on Xbox One gave you two areas to adjust: HDMI and optical audio options. Under HDMI you had the ability to select stereo uncompressed, 5.1 uncompressed, 7.1 uncompressed, and DTS Digital Surround. If using optical audio you were only presented with stereo uncompressed and 5.1 uncompressed. With the new update “Bitstream out” is added to the HDMI audio settings. The optical audio settings are changed to only offer stereo uncompressed and Bitstream out. They’ve then added a third setting for modifying the bitstream format. In that menu you can select DTS Digital Surround or Dolby Digital. We tested these options with optical audio and our audio receiver responded to both correctly. You can see photos of the update interface in the gallery below.

While we weren’t expecting the audio settings to be improved with the March update, we’re sure some of you will be quite happy to see these new options. We expect this system update to be released within the next week, so you won’t need to wait much longer to configure them exactly how you would prefer.

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  • Spencer Lamb

    Music to me little ears!

  • bigbrain28

    I have my XBO connected to my AVR via HDMI. I Also have a Turtle Beach headset I want connected via Optical. Am I going to have to constantly go into settings and switch from HDMI to Optical audio? Or will I get sound from both ports at the same time, because having to drill in and switch will not make me a happy camper.

  • jpollarddmz

    That’s a good question. I can try it out tonight. Do you really want audio coming from your TV and your headphones though?

  • bigbrain28

    Here’s the real issue – My current AVR (Onkyo 809) doesn’t have optical out, or I would simply let the AVR do the work for the XBO by plugging the Turtle Beach into the AVR – Something I used to do with my previous Yamaha AVR.

    So I am forced to get headphone audio direct from the XBO optical port. I normally play and watch via XBO & my 7.2 set up via HDMI – But on those late night occasions when I want headset audio I can simply mute the AVR and hear what the headset feeds me.

    I don’t relish the idea of having to make deep settings changes every time, especially since my wife often watches TV via the XBO+AVR set up and would not know how to switch the settings back were I to forget to do so.

  • SikSlayer

    No, you won’t. You can get audio from both ports at once. I’m in the beta, and you have the option to send out different audio formats from the HDMI and optical. So you can do stereo/surround uncompressed (PCM) via the HDMI, or stereo uncompressed PCM/DTS/Dolby via the optical.

  • jpollarddmz

    Good news! The will both output at the same time if you have them configured that way. Or you could set one of them to “Off”, but obviously in your case you won’t want to do that.

  • Diek Bauer

    Thank you, Josh! :)

  • bigbrain28

    Excellent. Thanks for the update!

  • bigbrain28


  • Mark Aitken

    But the BIG Question is why the Hell was this NOT INCLUDED at Launch! Suppose its just ANOTHER thing the 360 got right & XboxOne got SOOOOOOOO Wrong! #XboxFail

  • Matthew

    they did not offer optical with 5.1 uncompressed…since such a thing doesn’t exist…they offered dts compresed and stereo uncompressed

  • CarlosDel

    HI is the Xbox 360 Supporting the same Dolby Digital Bitstream as the Xbox One will – Thanks

  • Osiris11235

    I have the same receiver. If you want a more global option to output optical sound, consider getting an HDMI to optical adapter. Monoprice makes an HDMI splitter that has optical and coaxial audio outs (I got item 5557). You can then connect this device to the second monitor output on your receiver and then loop in your headphones via an optical output.

  • Paubl

    Can you test whether they have enabled/fixed 3D Blu-ray output? I’d have my v1 PS3 still hooked up only for that purpose and like to free up some cabinet space (rarely game so I can live w/o ps3 exclusives)

  • Charles G.

    The question is when will they had native HD bitstream? What is the point of have a high powered machine to play blu-rays on and you can’t play the HD master through bitstream?

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  • Peter

    I can’t get directv to work with Dolby digital movies or broadcasts when connected to xbox one with hdmi. New options work with Netflix or blu ray but not something connected to xbox one through hdmi or only with directv.

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  • Paubl

    Technically, outputting DTS MA & True HD as lossless PCM is exactly the same, as long as they don’t modify the source and is more ‘high powered’ given that it is actually doing more than just passing it through. That all said, that is part of the updated. 3D support, that works fine on my gen 1 PS3, is apparently not part of the update.

  • Charles G.

    Paubl I know that technically lossless PCM is exactly the same as DTS MA & TrueHD. Technically the only difference is that the Xbox One is doing the decoding. However, I find that having my A/V receiver do the decoding delivers a much richer and fuller sound than PCM.

    Xbox One’s update allows for bitstream now but it doesn’t bitstream as HD. It sends it out as DTS SD or Dolby SD and not DTS MA or Dolby TrueHD. Additionally, you have to choose which one, DTS SD or Dolby SD, it is isn’t a native bitstream.

    If you choose DTS as your bitsream and you watch a Blu-Ray that has Dolby TrueHD, the Xbox One will send it to your receiver as DTS SD.

    Likewise if you choose Dolby SD as your bitream and you watch a Blu-Ray that as DTS MA, the Xbox One will send it to your receiver as Dolby SD.

    My PS3 will bitstream in HD and do it in the native format. It only makes sense that a next generation machine like the Xbox One should be able to do the same.

  • Paubl

    Just turned mine on for the first time since the update and found that they seem to have their own definition of bitstream and came back to edit my comment. I wasn’t aware they would do something as dumb and confusing as label something bitstream and not actually do native bitstream. Can’t believe they seem to find it that hard to do given how mature BR tech is now.

    As for PCM vs. DTS MA, I’ve noticed that from my HTPC my receiver plays bit streamed DTS MA louder than if I send it out as PCM for some reason (something Dolby complained about back in the day given upping the loudness made it sound better as upping the brightness on display TV’s works to get more purchasers). But if I match the volume, I can’t tell the difference as I shouldn’t be able to. I haven’t done any searching yet as to what would trigger the receiver to play DTS MA stream at a higher amplitude than the same information sent as PCM.
    Not sure if the Xbox PCM playback is truly unchanged bit depth, frequency, etc as I’ve don’t have a good way to test it and really have no purpose of BR playback on it given my HTPC and the fact that the One doesn’t do what our old PS3′s can do.

  • Trencher

    From what I recall it was a licensing issue from Dolby..

  • Mark Aitken

    I understand License issues but its not like they didn’t know they were bringing out a New Machine, its 2yrs plus since the Xbox 720 was first mentioned so why weren’t All these licenses applied for way back at the start l, or is Microsoft hoping to bring out a Microsoft Evolution of Dolby under its own name? Wouldn’t surprise me tbh!

  • The_Ricky

    I have been trying to figure out why it kept sending the bitstream as Dolby & DTS and not dolby truehd or dts-HD and I believed you’re right the xbox one doesn’t bitstream HD audio.

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  • Andrew Green

    Since the update, if I switch on the Dolby Bitstream option, I get interference which ruins the sound quality, so despite having all the gear, I’m forced to use the stereo setting and can’t benefit from 5.1 surround sound. Its frustrating…..

  • Brad

    Can i have help? I have turtle beaches x12 and i got the mic converter for xbox one to use game sound audio. But the problem is, its worse then the regular tv audio. In cod ghosts it sounds really cheasy and I cant hear grenades and were there coming from. This mic worked on the 360 so i dont know whats wrong. (I also have trittons but those dont hook up to the xbox one anyways) thanks!

  • Kelvin

    This is a fraud. The Xbox One still can’t do native bitstream straight off the disc. Everything gets converted.

  • Mozef Kaddas

    Ok I just pumped to this amazing post, as I was searching which one is better or good LPMC or BitStream. I just want to confirmed that I have many Blu Ray collection and they are mixed between DTS HD Master and Dolby HD True. Ok I know 1st question you will ask me what kind of AVR do I have? I have Harman Kardon AVR-171 and can out put both sounds and every things are connected through HDMI 10.2GB bandwidth speed . Unfortunately Xbox One gives you two options mentioned in that post above. I played both DTS HD master and Dolby TrueHD, my AVR sticks to DTS or Dolby Digital. OK that’s the XBO but my PS4 if you select HDMI and set it to BitStream DTS, my AVR immediately will show depends in the Source just like the following:
    1- If it’s a game it will show DTS.
    2- If it’s movie like Avatar it will Show DST HD master.

    3- If it’s movie like Monsters University it will show Dolby True HD.

    Hope this can confirm and be help for you guys.

  • Jamie Bradford Kirby

    Tritons hook up u need an optical cable. Use wireless. Cords suck