Don’t Forget To Check Your PS5 3D Audio Profile

Don’t Forget To Check Your PS5 3D Audio Profile
Image: Sony

When you unbox your PS5 tomorrow — or whenever you get it — you’ll also be able to try out 3D audio for the first time. But everyone hears differently, and you can customise the sound to better suit you.

The PS5’s fancy Tempest 3D audio engine was first announced by chief engineer Mark Cerny back in March. When it was revealed, Cerny said the PS5 would ship with five different sound profiles that would cover the vast majority of users.

Cerny’s presentation didn’t outline in layman’s terms what the difference in profiles was. And when you unbox the PS5 for the first time, neither does the console. Plugging in the headphones doesn’t bring up any prompt or warning, but like so many of the next-gen console’s best features, it’s worth digging through the settings.

To get to the 3D Audio Profiles, head to Settings, then Sound. From there, choose Audio Output, then Output Device. If you’ve got headphones enabled, you should see an option called Enable 3D Audio, and a button below that says Adjust 3D Audio Profile.

After that, you’ll be presented with a menu that has five options:

Image: Kotaku Australia

Each profile plays the sound of rushing water, something akin to hearing a lively stream in a forest or a small waterfall. Changing the audio profile adjusts the height or position of the sound — in an aural sense. And it’s important to go through the profiles, because the way everyone’s ears and brains interpret sound — and particularly the precise location of where that sound is coming from — is different.

When the PS5’s Tempest Engine and associated algorithms was being built, Sony put people into a Stargate-esque contraption, inserting microphones into a test subject’s left and right ear canals. That’s not practical to do when shipping a next-gen console, however.

So Sony created five separate profiles that would be the closest fit to most people. Cerny admitted that there will be some users who may struggle to hear much difference between the PS4 and PS5’s audio, largely because their own personal way of hearing is so far from the default 3D sound profile.

The Sony engineer did say that more solutions for helping tune customised audio profiles could be developed in the future. That could be as simple as taking a photo of your inner ear and having it analysed with a neural network, or playing an audio game to help tune your 3D sound profile. It’s something that will be continually worked on over the next few years as Sony’s Tempest Engine matures.

So for now, the best thing to do is to dig into the settings and customise your 3D Audio Profile. And don’t forget that the PS5’s 3D audio will also get better over the years as developers become more familiar with the technology. It’s definitely worth giving a try!

This story has been republished following the release of Eternal, which makes full use of the PS5’s 3D Audio. Try different audio profiles — they can have a massive impact on how the game sounds!

For those who are still yet to pick up a PS5, you can find all the information about the console’s availability via our handy feature.


  • I’ve been using the 3D audio with the PS5’s Pulse headset and I gotta say it can be very hit and miss based on the application. In Returnal it’s phenomenal. In AC: Valhalla, it’s tinny, muddy, misconfigured, left-right inverted garbage that you’re better off turning off.

  • It seems that the Tempest Audio aspect of this console is presently the least understood tech that the Playstation is swinging to the market.
    It is also probably the most game changing and important part too.

    Around twenty years ago we had Aureal A3d sound, based of military technology (helicopter simulations); it traced and occluded sound waves through environments.
    As A3D evolved so did the environmental aspects of it (which was what the competitor was leveraging ; essentially echo /basic DSP. )
    Creative bought out Aureal after a very nasty business tactic/war so that the competitor was gone and NEVER DID ANYTHING WITH THE TECH.
    EAX (creative tech) never TOUCHED what A3D 2 did, and A3D 3 never really got adopted.. so the best WE HAD was over twenty years ago.
    The Playstation Vita was the first console to adopt a hardware 3D sound chip (again, not just ‘echo effects’ etc- that even the first Playstation had), and the Playstation VR had a better version of the tech.
    Killzone Mercenary on the PSVita was pretty amazing in that it used the tech, but, outside of VR, very little in the way of ‘good’ 3D audio has existed in gaming.
    Yes Hunt Showdown has its own software renderer, and yes, we have had some clever sound hardware sound cards (mostly buried when Microsoft Vista launched) that even had RAM that the sound engine could make use of, but to say we have been adrift at sea without wind in our sails, when it comes to game audio evolving, is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

    Given how many gamers HAVEN’T played with VR, and the general lack of consistency in audio platform between the major players on this front, the Playstation 5 is really the first chance we have had to experience an audio platform that will be widely adopted by programmers and made use of. (Half Life and Thief twenty years ago were amazing, but the Tempest 3D hardware in the PS5 has more grunt that the machines that ran those games…)

    Tracking sounds through environments and having them interact with the surfaces as they ‘bounce around’ is an incredible feat.
    Some might say that the Playstation ‘lack of ATMOS’ support in games leaves sound systems ‘lacking’; but it is the opposite- the sound rendered ON THE PLAYSTATION in terms of ACTUAL AUDIO ENVIRONMENTS – (when supported) makes for a sublime experience.
    As an experienced PC builder of many decades, I have zero interest to game on PC presently, due to breakthroughs like the Playstation Audio hardware.
    What I have experienced so far in mind blowing, but then I know what I am experiencing.. having bought most top end sound cards that have ever existed, certainly most by creative, but many better examples as well- the Playstation 5 audio is the best thing to happen to gaming in *forever*. (*not actually ‘eternity’, and just applies to one sensory input)
    The 3D audio rendered on all other platforms is a very distant second, and in no way the same thing- and this isn’t about HRTFs (which anyone can render, and a CD can make use of (prerendered)).

    Wavetracing audio is cooler than light tracing.
    lots of ways to cheat ‘ray tracing’, but actually rendering audio with reflections and having it interact with surfaces is something I have been sorely missing for 20 years now.
    For it to take off it needed to have game engine support and widespread hardware adoption.
    Playstation 5 grants both of these things.
    Good times

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