Skyrim: Special Edition was released earlier this week, and as a remaster of one of the best entries in The Elder Scrolls series of RPGs, its impressive visuals are major overhaul from the original 2011 release. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the game’s audio. Those playing on PC and Xbox One have noticed a significant downgrade in sound quality, due to the use of compressed audio files.
The original version of Skyrim used uncompressed .wav files for its sounds, whereas the new special edition has been discovered to use a compressed format on the PC and Xbox One versions. This has been noticeable to longtime players of the game, and is especially apparent when wearing quality headphones while playing. The PS4’s version audio, on the other hand, has been greatly improved over the original release.
Reddit user LasurArkinshade was one of the first to notice the problem, and verified difference in quality by extracting the game’s audio files for comparison. “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,” they wrote.
They even went and put together an audio comparison of a sound effect, sharing it on SoundCloud (the first is the original game’s audio, and the second is from the special edition).
Fortunately developer Bethesda has already been alerted to the issue. Reddit user gstaff — who is believed to be Matt Grandstaff, the developer’s community manager — replied to the thread, stating that they were already working on a fix for the audio quality, and hope to release an update before the end of next week.
If you happen to be playing Skyrim: Special Edition on PC and don’t feel like waiting that long, one user has come up with a way to replace the audio files with those from the original version.