3D audio on the Playstation 5: what is it? How to get it?

3D audio on the Playstation 5: what is it? How to get it?

Instead of using 3D audio technology like Dolby Atmos, Sony chose to develop its own proprietary 3D audio format for PS5, just like it created the 360 ​​Reality Audio format it used for music.

In short, the PS5 should transform your gaming experience through 3D audio. In fact, Sony claims the effect is so powerful that you’ll be able to hear where individual raindrops are falling in the game environment.

Excited? Let’s take an in-depth look at how the PS5’s jaw-dropping 3D audio technology should level up video games.

What is PS5 3D audio?

Stereo and surround sound have their own unique advantages but, for gaming, nothing beats 3D audio. In simple terms, 3D audio lets you hear sounds as if they happen around you. It puts you – the player – at the center of the scene and adds intensity to each scene.

While previous game consoles simulated 3D audio by turning up the volume of an effect as your on-screen character approached, 3D audio uses timed effects, using a series of intelligent audio algorithms to create natural, lifelike soundscapes that they trick your brain into pinpointing the precise location of each sound.

Sony says the PS5 uses object-based spatial sound technology to create some of the most advanced 3D audio available. It is an expansion of the technology used in the PSVR virtual reality headset, which is capable of replicating 50 sound sources. The PS5 adds that to hundreds of complex sounds, and even better quality.

All of this means that PS5 game developers can design both audio and graphic scenes, sonically painting a dripping 3D canvas with detailed acoustics that enhance the action.

Take the rain, for example. Today, the sound of rain in a game is a single audio track. But Sony claims that the PS5 would be able to make you feel individual raindrops, in relation to your character’s position in the game’s landscape.

And imagine a first person shooter with 3D audio for PS5: you could hear the thrilling footsteps as someone crosses a room on the floor above you …

How can I get PS5 3D audio?

Sony first wants to focus on delivering 3D audio through headphones. But, according to Mark Cerny, lead architect of PS5, the console will also be able to deliver 3D audio through the normal setup, be it television speakers, soundbars or surround sound systems.

In short, the plan is that PS5’s 3D audio will someday work with the kit you already own, but there are unanswered questions about this, such as what the delivery format will be and whether there will be any minimum specification requirements. It seems unlikely that every sound system will be capable of delivering PS5 3D audio and inevitably the quality of the experience will vary enormously between devices. A full surround sound system offers better Dolby Atmos than a built-in speaker system on a TV, and you have to imagine that the same will happen with the PS5’s 3D audio.

Sony may launch special PS5 3D audio hardware in the future, with the aim of maximizing the effect of the technology. But Sony’s initial goal is to deliver 3D audio via the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset, which will launch alongside the PS5 on November 19 in the UK (November 12 in the US and Australia) priced at £ 90 ($ 99. AU $ 160). Not bad when you consider that Sony’s PS4 Platinum wireless headphones cost around £ 125 ($ 130).

But while Pulse 3D headphones may be the only headphones wireless to fully support PS5 3D audio in the early days, it is our knowledge that you will also be able to achieve the effect by connecting standard wired headphones to the PS5 DualSense controller.

But the fact remains that to get the best out of 3D audio you will need specially tuned hardware that has been configured to work hand-in-hand with Tempest 3D AudioTech.

What is the Tempest engine?

Sony is doing a lot to equip the PS5 with the Tempest Engine, which uses a completely redesigned AMD graphics chip to process audio from hundreds of in-game sound sources, thus delivering high 3D audio without the need for expensive multi-configuration. speakers.

If you want to learn more from the horse’s mouth, click below to watch the audio portion of PS5 chief architect Mark Cerny’s deep technical insight into PS5. But be warned, it’s really dense stuff, so we’ve simplified it below, if you’d rather keep reading.

The Tempest Engine creates 3D audio using something called a head-related transfer function, or HRTF. HRTF is used to decipher how an individual’s ear receives sound.

The problem is that everyone’s ear canals are different, so everyone’s HRTF is different and everyone hears 3D audio differently (some may not be able to distinguish spatial audio at all).

To get around this, Sony created five HRTF profiles for the PS5 launch, based on data from over 100 people. The PS5 will help you find the best profile and customize it to get the optimal 3D sound effect for your ears.

However, and this is where things get really interesting, Sony hopes to find a way to collect individual HRTF data in the future. This would allow the PS5 to provide each player with unique 3D audio for the shape of their ear.

According to Cerny: “Maybe you will send us a video of your ears and your head, we will make a 3D model of it and we will synthesize the HRTF. Maybe you’ll play an audio game to tune your HRTF, we’ll subtly change it as you play, and you’ll end up with the HRTF giving you the highest score, meaning it matches you the best … Ultimately, we’re committed to allowing everyone to experience the next level of realism. “


This certainly sounds like a worthy lens to us, but there are drawbacks to Sony’s approach to audio.

If you can truly enjoy PS5’s 3D audio just by plugging a pair of standard wired headphones into the DualSense controller, that’s going to be great from the standpoint of making it available to everyone. But telling someone with a full Dolby Atmos speaker system that costs thousands that they have to use headphones to get the best sound will be pretty irritating, even if it’s only for the short term.

And will PS5 3D audio really be compatible with many standard home cinema products in the future? This certainly sounds like a huge undertaking to us – it’s not as if Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format for music has gone far and wide in terms of devices.

There are still short-term questions that we have not yet answered. Are the Pulse 3D headphones the only way to get the full PS5 3D audio experience, or will the standard wired headphones connected to the DualSense controller work? What about standard wireless headphones? How about PS4 headphones like the Platinum wireless headphones (which already offer a more rudimentary form of 3D audio)? Will some headphones deliver 3D audio more effectively than others?

With the PS5 launching on November 12 in the US and Australia and November 19 in the UK, we won’t have to wait long. In the meantime, we’re exceptionally excited about Sony’s commitment to delivering more immersive 3D audio with PS5. This could indeed be a revolutionary technology.

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