Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos: For Your Headphones

When it comes to gaming, the more immersive your gaming headphones are, the better. And if you’re gaming with an Xbox One console, chances are you’re using either a Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos sound. This comparison review of Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos will help you decide which sound technologies work better with your gaming headphones. Let’s start by taking a closer look at Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos.

About Windows Sonic

Windows Sonic is the company's take on delivering spatial sound on headphones. It was first introduced to gaming consoles like the Xbox One and to devices that use Windows 10 operating system. Windows Sonic is free as long as you have an updated gaming console.

Sonic has integrated with Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. For gamers, it's best to use a compatible Xbox One gaming headset to take full advantage of Windows Sonic features.

Windows Sonic for headphones

Sonic creates surround sound for gamers even if you’re using a regular headset. Surround audio has extra depth, with a 3-dimensional sound experience like you’re inside the game. In short, Windows Sonic can transform a regular headset into a surround sound headphone to level up your gaming experience.

To activate Windows Sonic, just go to the audio settings of your Xbox One console. As soon as Sonic is enabled, all the apps and games that are able to provide 7.1 channel audio will work with your headphone as if this is a 7.1 audio device.

Many Windows Sonic users say that sounds made by Sonic seem exaggerated. However, the sound makes first-person shooting games and other POV games more realistic and enjoyable.

Great things about Windows Sonic

  • Windows Sonic is free to use; there’s no need to subscribe or pay for anything.
  • It is very easy to set up or enable Windows Sonic in your Xbox One console.
  • There are some games like POV games that sound better with the Windows Sonic.
  • You can use any kind of headphones or headset.

A few drawbacks

  • The sound seems very exaggerated, over–the–top.
  • Some users complain that there are crackling sounds on the Xbox One dashboard.
  • Not all games sound awesome with the Windows Sonic.

About Dolby Atmos

Dolby is a standard audio technology that's present in most high-end audio equipment such as speakers, home theater systems, televisions, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. Dolby Atmos is the brand's spatial sound tech and the Xbox One console supports it.

This is not a free service as you need to purchase it from the Microsoft Store. Dolby Atmos costs $14.99. There is an available free trial if you’re interested but you need to buy the app once the trial is over to continue using it.

To use this feature on your gaming headphone, you must download the app and install it on your console or device. It may take a while to wait for the download and setup but once these are done you may now use it for all audio applications. 

Related: Dolby Atmos vs. DTS X

What Dolby Atmos does to sound

Dolby Atmos creates surround sound that can be perceived above, underneath, and all around which is similar to Sonic. This is virtualized spatial surround sound but with specialized hardware and headphones that you must use to get the best experience.

The Dolby Atmos is considered to be far better than the Sonic especially when you're playing first-person shooting games. It's great for Grand Theft Auto V, Gears 5, Rise of the Tomb Rainer, and many more titles. The sound you'll hear is like actually being inside the game!

Advantages of using Dolby Atmos

  • You can try the Dolby Atmos for free but this is only for a limited time.
  • There are many games that sound and play better with the Atmos.
  • Works amazing when you use Dolby Atmos-compatible headphones.
  • The Dolby Atmos app will also support other devices and audio equipment capable of surround sound.
  • Offers better, crispier, and more immersive sound than the Sonic.

A few disadvantages to take note of

  • You must buy the Dolby Atmos license for $14.99.
  • You need to download and install the Atmos to your computer or Xbox One console.
  • You need a dedicated headset to get the most out of your surround sound experience.

Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos 

Now it's time to compare the Windows Sonic and the Dolby Atmos when it comes to setup/installation, ease-of-use, sound quality, features, and price.

Related: Microphone array not working in Windows 10

Setup or installation

The Windows Sonic wins hands down when it comes to set up and installation. You don't need to spend time installing or setting up Sonic as this is already integrated into your Windows 10 computer/laptop or in your Xbox One gaming console.

You simply need to enable the Windows Sonic feature on your device or gaming console to start using it. If you no longer want to use Sonic, you can always go to your audio settings and turn this off.

Meanwhile, Dolby Atmos needs to be downloaded from the Windows Store after you purchase it. After waiting for the app to download (it can take a long time especially if you are on a slow internet connection) you still need to wait a few more minutes to install it on your device.

The Dolby Atmos app will need setting up with your log-in details and other information. Once you're finally done, you may now activate the feature and start using it on your computer or Xbox One console.


Both Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos are easy to use once activated in your console or computer. When gaming using the Xbox One, you don't need to mind your headphone's surround sound feature as long as the Windows Sonic is enabled. You can play any game or use any application, even watch videos or listen to music in awesome surround sound.

With the Dolby Atmos working on your PC, laptop, gaming console, or device, you don't need to enable or disable anything. As long as you're using Dolby Atmos capable headphones or headsets, you can surely enjoy the game, video, or movie.

The Dolby Atmos has a special app that you can access from your device. From this app, you can further tweak sound especially when you’re gaming. But if you don’t want to bother with using the app, you can always ignore it and just play your games.

Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic sound quality

This is where most users agree that the Dolby Atmos is far more superior to Windows Sonic. Because Sonic will work even if you're using a regular headset, the sound effects are not as solid and vivid as Dolby Atmos.

Windows Sonic does not sound great in some games played on the Xbox One console and this is even if you're using a good gaming headset. The sounds of cracking and interference are unacceptable in gaming as you could miss many opportunities in a game. Also, cracking can be very irritating especially when your volume is in full blast.

Dolby being a standard in quality audio makes the Atmos superior to the Windows Sonic in many ways. Despite being harder and taking longer to install, the effort and the wait are worth it. Dolby Atmos provides the best surround sound experience especially when you’re playing games that offer this feature. You will feel like you’re really inside the game, playing and walking through the different game levels.

You will hear sound effects like these are near you while people or characters talking seem like they're conversing with you for real. Explosions, gunshots, glass breaking, and other effects are very lifelike and are not cracking or whizzing at all.

You will also notice gaming music is much more enjoyable with the Dolby Atmos so we recommend that you partner your gaming with a compatible headphone device.

Related: USB vs 3.5mm Headset


There are not many features in the Windows Sonic sound effects as you can only enable or disable it from your gaming console or computer. Whereas Dolby Atmos allows you to tweak the program to work for movies, music, game, voice, or using a custom format. You can use the graphic equalizer feature, surround virtualizer, dialogue enhancer, and volume leveler features from the Atmos app.

The Dolby Atmos app is very easy to use as everything you need is at hand. Also, right after download and installation, you will be immediately asked as to how would you like to experience Dolby Atmos? You can select from a Home Theater or a Headphone or you may opt to select later. By doing this, you are customizing your Atmos to work according to your needs.

You can further enjoy Dolby Atmos if you use it with a compatible headset. If you use a regular headset, you will end up with poor sound quality and not enjoying the full benefits of your Xbox One console and Dolby Atmos.


The price is indeed a big factor when choosing gaming audio technologies. But for a serious audiophile and gamer, it's worth paying around $15.00 for Dolby Atmos cost.

  • It has a lot of features.
  • It will let you customize your audio gaming and listening experience.
  • It is compatible with many quality home theater systems, TVs, audio devices, laptops, PCs, and speaker systems.
  • It offers better audio sound quality compared to Windows Sonic.

But if you’re still uncertain if the Dolby Atmos is the best one for you because of the expensive Dolby Atmos price, you can always take the free trial offer. This is a limited trial and will ask you to pay for the service once it’s over. You can always opt to cancel the trial or not proceed with the subscription if you’re not happy with the service.

Meanwhile, for those who want to enjoy surround sound gaming without paying for anything, the Windows Sonic for headphones is for you. It's free and will always be free even if you use it on the Xbox One, laptop, or PC. Windows Sonic is cost-efficient as you don't need to pay for the service and buy a costly compatible headset or headphones. Everything works with the Windows Sonic as it uses spatial sound Windows 10 technology.

Also, if you just want to play games occasionally or watch movies and videos rarely then there’s no use to purchase a costly Dolby Atmos. You will get almost the same results as a Dolby Atmos.


Here are the most frequently asked questions about Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos and their corresponding answers.

  • Is Windows Sonic good?
    The Windows Sonic feature is free and provides the better sound as it uses spatial sound tech without the use of dedicated headphones.

  • Is Windows Sonic far better than stereo sound?
    Windows Sonic offers compressed audio sound and thus is not as good as uncompressed stereo sound. But it may still depend on the user’s preference.

  • Is Dolby Atmos better than 7.1 surround sound?
    Dolby Atmos enhances overhead sound using updated sound calibration software. This can make all sounds better and deeper compared to 7.1 speaker systems.

  • Which is much better, DTS or Dolby sound?
    DTS is a sound that's encoded in a higher bit-rate format and thus provides better quality sound compared to Dolby Sound. Meanwhile, Dolby Digital tech is far more sophisticated and thus, produces better sound at a reduced bit rate than DTS.

  • Is it worth getting Dolby Atmos?
    Many agree that it’s worth purchasing Dolby Atmos as it can create the best real-life audio experience for gaming or movies. It has an object-based system that enhances surround sound through a bubble system.

Last Words

When it comes to Windows Sonic vs Dolby Atmos PC, Windows Sonic wins hands down when it comes to ease-of-use and ease of installation and setup. You just need to enable this feature on your device or gaming console and use a regular gaming headset. But when it comes to sound quality, the Dolby Atmos reigns supreme. It offers better sound immersion, enhanced sound effects and is great for different devices and audio equipment. Get to know Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos to get the best out of your console gaming.

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