You Won’t Need New Headphones To Enjoy The PS5’s 3D Audio

You Won’t Need New Headphones To Enjoy The PS5’s 3D Audio

Sony’s talked up their new PS5 3D audio engine before, but a small detail that’s gotten less attention is how that advanced tech will be broadly available to everyone — provided you’re using headphones.

The natural inclination is that you’ll want a new set of headphones to go with the PS5. And, to be sure, the new Pulse Wireless headset looks sweet. Sony released a new shot of the over-ear cans early Wednesday morning, showcasing some large, presumably comfy ear pads and a neat headband design with a white exterior. It reminds me a little of the design ethos from the PSVR, which is still one of the best engineered VR devices comfort-wise.

But, as Sony stresses, you won’t need the new headset for 3D audio:

On the PS5, you’ll be able to experience 3D Audio with the headphones that many of you already own, either through USB connection to the console, or by plugging your headphones into the DualSense wireless controller’s 3.5mm headset jack. 

Headphone audio is the current gold standard for 3D Audio on PS5, as Mark Cerny mentioned in his “Road to PS5” talk in March. We’re also in the process of working on virtual surround sound through speakers that are built into TVs. Although TV speaker virtual surround sound won’t be available on launch day for PS5, it’s still a feature we are extremely excited about, and our engineers are hard at work on bringing it to PS5 in the future.

Virtual surround sound through TV speakers isn’t something I’d be looking forward to — most TV speakers are genuinely small with poor bass and garbage presence. I’m hoping Sony’s talking about something that’s compatible with soundbars and standard 2.1 channel setups, because that’s more applicable to what a lot of people have.

The Sony blog post also mentioned how these games will use the PS5’s 3D Audio tech in different ways:

ps5 3d audio
Image: Resident Evil Village
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Gran Turismo 7
  • Returnal
  • Destruction AllStars
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Resident Evil Village

They’re not the only games that’ll be using 3D audio, Sony stresses. It’s still not clear at this stage precisely how these (or any other games) will leverage the PS5’s Tempest engine in meaningfully different ways from, say, the Xbox Series X or S.

Crucially, it’ll be interesting to see how the Tempest engine fares in games where audio locality is crucially important — competitive games like FortniteRainbow Six: Siege or Overwatch, where audio cues and the location of audio cues can be crucial. And there’s a question over whether the Tempest engine has any upscaling abilities to improve the precision or locality of sound in older games, like the PS4 titles people might be enjoying on PS5 through their PlayStation Plus subscription.

Either way, we’ll all know more in a few weeks. November isn’t far away now.

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