Plantronics has partnered with Dolby Laboratories to deliver Dolby Atmos audio technology across its RIG 400LX ($100) RIG 600LX ($130) and wireless RIG 800LX ($150) headphones this September. These headsets will come bundled with codes that will let gamers activate Dolby Atmos for Headphones at no additional cost on their Xbox One, Xbox One X or Windows 10 PC.
Plantronics is debuting its new RIG headphones at E3 2017, including at the Xbox Showcase and the Xbox FanFest.
Dolby worked with Blizzard Entertainment to integrate Dolby Atmos into its Overwatch game, which has become a growing esport. Dolby is working with other developers to support Atmos across many Xbox One, Xbox One X and Windows 10 PC games that will make their debut at E3 this week.
Dolby Atmos provides gamers with advanced spatial precision by changing the way developers treat in-game sound. Instead of pushing flattened audio through 2-D stereo channels, Dolby Atmos gives gamers the full positional data of their surroundings by treating audio as individual objects that realistically move around them. With Plantronics RIG gaming headsets featuring Dolby Atmos for Headphones, gamers can hear audio cues coming from the front, back, above and below.
Spencer Hooks, director of gaming at Dolby Laboratories, told AListDaily that with Dolby Atmos for Headphones, the company is focused on delivering the creative intent of game developers in the most immersive way possible.
“In esports, that immersion is a key part of the competitive environment, and Dolby Atmos can help deliver the critical information a gamer needs to win,” Hooks said. “For example, hearing that a sniper is on the roof of a building rather than just in the building could aid in making split-second decisions.”
Plantronics Global Marketing Director Corey Rosemond told AListDaily that this technology will be marketed across esports leagues and to esports teams.
“If a game is Atmos-enabled, the developers can build maps with an added height dimension so players can hear overhead from left to right,” Rosemond said. “You can now detect and hear those footsteps overhead, which is something we’ll promote to the esports community, because that make a difference in competitive play.”
Hooks said the technology works with Dolby Atmos games and movies but also enhances 5.1 and 7.1 surround games and movies.
Rosemond said that Plantronics is targeting “competitive gamers and practical premium consumers that want to win their matches and have the highest performance.”
“Our audience ranges from the solo player competing at his home all the way to the top esports professionals playing for millions of dollars,” Rosemond said. “We’re adding the greatest amount of quality and value-add for our customers with Dolby Atmos.”
Dolby has switched to a new model for this latest audio technology, which is software-based on Windows 10 and Xbox platforms. Consumers will need to upgrade for a $14.99 activation code. But Plantronics is including that code for free with its LX series of headsets.
“E3 and will be a key driver for where we’re going this fall,” Rosemond said. “We’re doing extensive cross-marketing with Dolby around this initiative. Dolby Atmos will be positioned very well with Xbox One and Project Scorpio. It will be part of the overall messaging starting on Sunday.”
Plantronics headsets will be promoted and featured with Xbox One and possibly with Project Scorpio at E3.
“No other headset is leveraging Atmos in this way,” Rosemond said.
In partnership with Dolby and Microsoft, Plantronics is working with a number of retail partners globally to bring the Atmos messaging to retail. There, consumers will be able to test the headsets and hear the difference.
“We’ll do traditional online marketing, but we’ll work with some influencers in the marketplace to get some engagement going to see where there’s interest with users and scale up the passion we’re getting,” Rosemond said. “The influencers we’ve spoken with are excited about this as the next generation of audio in gaming. We’ll use them to get the message out to the wider audience.”
Once a user has the Atmos license on PC or Xbox, it’s theirs in perpetuity. Thanks to the competitive edge this technology provides to Plantronics headsets, Rosemond sees a much broader audience than just early adopters.
“E3 is where the rubber is going to hit the road with a lot of this messaging,” Rosemond said. “We’re going to amp up the marketing in Gamescom in Cologne for our European friends and then in the fall, we’ll circle back to Australia and New Zealand with a big planned event in September or October. Plantronics is the number one headset brand in that region.”