There’s still a lot that we don’t know about next-gen consoles, but we do know that the Xbox Series X will make major leaps forward in terms of graphics and processing power. Now, it’s looking like Microsoft might take things a step further by offering hardware-accelerated audio – a first for Xbox and most other consoles.
This news doesn’t come via a leak, but instead directly from the title for a GDC 2020 panel that reads “Building Audio Gateways Into Immersive Worlds With Spatial Sound (Presented by Microsoft.) The description for said even reas as follows:
“Learn from the audio designers of Borderlands 3 and Gears of War 5 around how a collaboration between Microsoft, Dolby, and our middleware partners kicked off a revolution with spatial sound that turns any pair of headphones into a multi-dimensional gateway to another world. Attendees will dive deep into the audio design pipeline (Project Acoustics) and the relationship to dedicated hardware-acceleration on newer generation Xbox consoles.”
If that’s not a teaser for what some of the Xbox Series X’s new features will be, we don’t know what is. To put this into perspective, though, we should be clear that the Xbox One doesn’t process sound via dedicated hardware. It, like most consoles, process sounds via the same onboard CPU. The only dedicated hardware in the Xbox One is the graphics card. The thing is that most systems and even PCs rely on the moterhboard’s built-in sound chips, and things sound just fine. So, if Microsoft is truly developing a dedicated sound card for the Xbox Series X, then you can expect there to be a major emphasis on sound for the next generation.
For what it’s worth, the PlayStation 5 will offer something similar with what it’s calling 3D audio – something that will “make you feel more immersed in the game as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side.”