Bethesda says it will fix reported audio quality problems in Skyrim: Special Edition next week, after fans notice a difference in the sound when compared to the original release.
Even with its improved visuals, it didn't take long for some fans with keen hearing to spot a difference in the audio quality of Skyrim: Special Edition when compared to the original release of Skyrim in 2011. Those playing the remastered version of Skyrim on PC and Xbox One may have noticed it too.
After fans brought the audio quality into question on Reddit almost immediately after launch, Bethesda has responded saying that a fix is on its way soon. A Reddit user who goes by gstaff and who has spoken for Bethesda on Reddit before, posted “We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week.”
The first report of a problem with the Special Edition's audio came from a user LasurArkinshade, who claimed the audio in the PC and Xbox One versions of Skyrim: Special Edition to be greatly compressed compared even to its 2011 original release:
I launched the Special Edition last night and began playing, but something about the audio seemed... off to me. I couldn’t tell whether or not it was a placebo effect since I was going out of my way to analyse everything that could possibly have changed in the SE, but I couldn’t help but notice that the audio seemed... muddier. Less crisp.
LasurArkinshade even took a sound effect from the original release and compared it to the same audio as the Special Edition, which can be heard below.
By pulling the files, LasurArkinshade found that the audio files in the Skyrim Special Edition are in a different format, but more importantly, he claims, much more compressed:
The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format. The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn’t so bad, necessarily - it’s possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels.
Interestingly enough, there does not seem to be any problem with the audio on the PS4 version of Skyrim: Special Edition. In fact, LasurArkinshade notes that the audio on PS4 is superior to that of the original 2011 release:
The voiceover and music audio in the PS4 version of the Special Edition is astronomically higher quality than even the original PC release of Skyrim, to the point where it almost seems like Bethesda intended to push out higher quality audio for the Special Edition but didn’t include those files in the PC/Xbox One versions, possibly by mistake or as an oversight.
There is no further word on when exactly a fix to the audio will be coming or if it will come in the form of a patch, although that is likely. Funny enough, another fan who goes by TI36X has already created a workaround for the problem, modding in the original 2011 Skyrim sound files into the new Special Edition.
Be sure to check out our guides for Skyrim: Special Edition!
Skyrim: Special Edition is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.