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:
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.