This Hidden Windows 10 Feature Can Give You Virtual Surround Sound
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The Windows 10 Creators Update contains some hidden jewels you may not have found yet. One such jewel is Windows Sonic, a new spatial surround sound tool for Windows 10.

This small program modifies headphone audio to emulate a 3D living room-style environment. That makes it a fantastic addition for both movie and ingame sound design. Best of all, it’s available completely for free when you upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free! You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free! It turns out you can still bag a free upgrade to Windows 10 -- and it doesn't involve the morally-questionable actions of other free upgrade methods. Read More .

Windows Sonic: All-Around Surround Sound

With Microsoft’s new push to create an all-inclusive operating system (OS), they’ve attempted to integrate desktop features in consoles and visa versa. Windows Sonic is one such example.

Available for desktop and console gaming alike (both Windows 10 and Xbox), Windows Sonic promises to add a new dimension to audio. Frankly, this did sound like just another marketing shtick How Microsoft Has Pushed Windows 10 and the Results How Microsoft Has Pushed Windows 10 and the Results Microsoft has been promoting Windows 10 aggressively for over a year. The goal was to get the new operating system running on one billion devices by 2018. We look at Microsoft's methods and the numbers. Read More to me and an aspect of Windows I didn’t think I would want. After having spent time with Windows Sonic, however, I must say that it’s actually a pretty great and seamless audio tool.

Sonic seems to be Microsoft’s answer to Dolby Atmos, the other spatial sound client available in Windows by default. Except for the fact that Dolby Atmos requires a subscription payment, that is.

“The spatial sound APIs allow developers to create audio objects that emit audio from positions in 3D space. Dynamic audio objects allow you to emit audio from an arbitrary position in space, which can change over time.” — Microsoft

Essentially, Sonic simulates a 3D environment using the audio that comes from your device. While this won’t necessarily work as well for movies, it works brilliantly for games.

Keep in mind, it won’t redefine the experience. That depends on the quality of your sound card and headphones. You will, however, note a definite and immediate change in the perceived depth and quality of audio.

The audio technology behind this also isn’t exactly new for Microsoft. In fact, it’s highly reminiscent of the approach Microsoft undertook with one of its newest endeavors; HoloLens.

Except, Windows Sonic doesn’t require a HoloLens. It’s available now on your Windows PC for free!

How to Enable Windows Sonic in Windows 10

Enabling Windows Sonic is surprisingly easy.

Disable Audio Effects

A few motherboard and sound card manufacturers require device software in order to use hardware properly. At times, they work in the background without the user knowing. That includes audio software.

For example, using an MSI motherboard may mean you have the Realtek HD Audio Manager software installed on your computer.

realtek hd

Before using Windows Sonic, disable any effects you may have activated prior.

Once you’ve deactivated any sound effects, you can activate and enjoy using the simulated 7.1 surround sound Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Dolby Digital, DTS, THX: Surround Sound Standards Explained Although there are only three main players in the surround sound industry, each has their own subsets of technology as it relates to surround. Read More of Windows Sonic in its full capacity.

Activate Windows Sonic

To activate Windows Sonic, right-click on the sound icon on the right-hand side of your task bar and select Spatial sound.

spatial sound windows 10

Then select Open Volume Mixer, click the Speakers icon to open Speakers Properties, and switch to the Spatial sound tab. Under the Spatial sound format, click on the dropdown menu and select Windows Sonic for Headphones. Ensure you checked the Turn on 7.1 virtual surround sound option. Select Apply, and then OK.

windows sonic speakers properties

That’s it!

Test the Sound

It might be a bit difficult, or a bit jarring, to test the sound outright without being able to detail the exact changes in the audio. In order to gauge the audio sufficiently, head to the Dolby Labs website and download the 7.1 Dolby Test Tones MP4 file.

dolby labs

With Windows Sonic turned on, attempt to map out the virtual configuration of the audio. Audio direction and location should be more noticeable than using the regular PC audio.

Up Your Audio

Microsoft is trying things out, and that’s always a good thing. With Windows Sonic, however, we see yet another of Microsoft’s attempt to merge the living room console world with Windows. In my opinion, any effort to urge this process on is a step in the right direction.

I’ve also yet to turn the effect off because it does exactly what it’s meant to do: provide an extra bit of depth to your audio.

Have you tried out Microsoft’s new spatial sound experiment How To Customize Your Windows Sound Effects How To Customize Your Windows Sound Effects You could make your computer sound like your favorite TV show, record your own sounds, or turn them off completely. Here's a crash course on changing and recording sound effects for Windows. Read More ? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Mark
    September 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Sonic is amazing. I using everyday with W10 on my PC, and for 5.1/7.1 movies is awesome.
    But with Atmos content, like a movie with 7.1 channels, TrueHD Atmos, Sonic unleash his true potential. We can hear sounds coming from everywhere like overhead, below us, around, really good and takes surround for headphones to a higher level.
    However for stereo it appears to do nothing and leave the source untouched.(music for example);
    And the best thing is, totally free!

  2. Xantes
    September 11, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    "The other way around" synonym is "vice versa", not "visa versa"!