Skyrim: Special Edition released this week and with it came some less than expected issues with the audio on both PC and Xbox One. The PlayStation 4 version of the release does not have the same issue as the PC and Xbox One counterparts.
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.
A comparison between the original and compressed versions of the level-up audio shows the obvious quality differences between the two versions.
In response to the thread, Reddit user /u/gstaff who claims to work for Bethesda and has posted previously on behalf of the developer responded saying
We’re currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week.
So if the audio bothers you in the PC and Xbox One version you may want to wait until Bethesda has released the update to improve the overall audio. The developer is also actively looking into other Special Edition bug reports being posted by players.
Skyrim: Special Edition is available now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.