You may have noticed that the audio in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition sounds a little off compared to the original title released five years ago. You may even have wondered if it was all in your head, that perhaps you were over analyzing the remastered version. That isn't the case. Other gamers have noticed it too, and Bethesda says it is working on a fix.
The issue apparently has to do with Bethesda using an over aggressive compression scheme on the game's sound assets. That was the conclusion reached by Reddit forum member LasurArkinshade, who brought the issue to widespread attention by posting his analysis and a comparison audio sample of the original Skyrim versus the Special Edition.
"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. What did Bethesda do? They cranked the compression way up to insane levels," LasurArkinshade surmised.
Have a listen for yourself:
The audio used in the Special Edition lacks the same clarity as the original, though whether it is due to over aggressive compression remains to be seen. A staff member at Bethesda responded to the post saying a fix is coming, but didn't go into any kind of detail as to what caused the audio degradation.
"We're currently testing a fix an hop to have an update out next week," the Bethesda staff member said.
If it is due to compression, a patch with all new audio assets is likely headed to Skyrim: Special Edition players. Bethesda may also use the opportunity to fix any other bugs it may have discovered, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.
The remastered release bumps the graphics up on consoles from 720p to 1080p. On the PC, however, the graphics upgrade is less significant. That is especially true if you are running a modded version of Skyrim, which some feel looks better than the remastered release.