Xbox Series X could sport immersive sound to rival the PS5

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Another console, another 3D audio chip? Rumor has it that the hotly-anticipated Xbox Series X could feature the kind of immersive spatial audio that we're expecting to see in the also soon-to-be-released PS5.

A description of a GDC 2020 presentation that will be held on March 18 by Microsoft's Senior Technical Audio Specialist Robert Ridihalgh, reveals that "newer generation Xbox consoles" will sport "dedicated hardware-acceleration". 

Hardware acceleration is the use of a special processor to speed up certain tasks - much like the 3D audio chip that PS5 architect Mark Cerny has confirmed will come with the next-gen PlayStation. 

In an April 2019 interview with Wired, Cerny confirmed said that the PS5 will support what he calls "3D audio" – something he says will "make you feel more immersed in the game as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side".

While Cerny didn't elaborate on exactly how the technology works, he confirmed that it won't require "any external hardware", with the audio chip forming part of the third-generation AMD Ryzen chipset that will power the PlayStation 5. 

Chips at the ready

We know that the Xbox Series X will feature its own custom AMD chipset, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the two consoles will boast very similar audio specs. 

The talk will cover the collaboration between Microsoft and Dolby, and how it "kicked off a revolution with spatial sound that turns any pair of headphones into a multi-dimensional gateway to another world."

That sounds more than a little reminiscent of the kind of audio processing we're expecting from the PS5. It's worth nothing however, that the Xbox One already supports Dolby Atmos upmixing, but this processing is done on their console's own CPU, which only features a separate card for graphics acceleration. 

So, the use of audio hardware acceleration could result in better audio for the Xbox Series X than that of the previous generation, creating yet another rivalry between the Microsoft and Sony consoles – either way, it's clear that both companies are going big on audio for their latest launches. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.