Xbox Series X may push sound more than ever before with "dedicated hardware acceleration"

xbox series x
(Image credit: Future)

You've heard about how Xbox Series X will invest in graphics and processing power, and it sounds like it could also drive game audio forward with dedicated hardware.

The teaser for a potential new Xbox Series X feature comes not via yet another alleged next-gen leak, but rather the description for a GDC 2020 panel. Titled "Building Audio Gateways Into Immersive Worlds With Spatial Sound (Presented by Microsoft)", it specifically teases some features of "newer generation Xbox consoles." Here's the full synopsis for the event.

"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."

To be clear, Xbox One doesn't feature "dedicated hardware-acceleration" for audio. It and most other consoles process sound on their CPUs, only including a dedicated card for graphics acceleration. While discrete sound cards are still used in some of the best gaming PCs, many get along just fine with whatever's built into their motherboard. If Xbox Series X features hardware acceleration just for audio, you can expect Microsoft to put a thunderous emphasis on sound for the next generation.

It won't be alone. PS5 architect Mark Cerny said back in April that the system's chipset will include a custom unit to support 3D audio, which will "make you feel more immersed in the game as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side."

All of this is to say that you may want to invest in some nice new speakers and one of the best gaming headsets before the next generation arrives.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.