Just like that, the new console generation is right around the corner, and with the new PlayStation and the new Xbox mere months away, the new features – confirmed and rumored alike – are already being discussed and compared in order to determine which of the two consoles will take the lead at launch.
One of the major new features announced for the upcoming PlayStation 5 is 3D Audio, so what exactly is it? More importantly, does it give Sony’s console a major edge over the competition?
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PlayStation 5 3D Audio – What Is It?
Sony’s 3D Audio technology is made possible with the help of their proprietary new audio engine dubbed Tempest. It is a re-engineered AMD graphics chip, repurposed to deliver immersive and accurate object-based sound. So, what exactly does that mean?
Essentially, 3DAudio can realistically simulate hundreds of sound sources in a 3D environment, allowing you to determine the exact point that the sound is coming from, thus offering unprecedented immersion and precision that you simply have no way of getting with stereo or even Dolby Atmos-powered surround sound.
The way it can achieve this is with the help of a HRTF algorithm, which stands for Head-Related Transfer Function. With subtle alterations to the audio signal, the listener’s brain can be “tricked” into perceiving precisely where the sound is originating from. The best example of this is the famous “Virtual Barber Shop” that you can check out below.
That said, 3D Audio is nothing to scoff at, and many are well aware just how important sound is when it comes to really pulling the player into the game world – sometimes even more so than graphics. In addition to simply enhancing the sense of immersion, it will obviously also allow the user to use sound to pinpoint the locations of other players in multiplayer much more accurately.
Sony Pulse 3D Headset – Do You Need It?
When the console was announced, Sony also revealed several peripherals that will be available for it at launch, including the new Pulse 3D headset. Now, the question is – do you need to buy this headset in order to take advantage of 3D Audio?
In short, no. While 3D Audio will most likely sound the best with Sony’s new headset (at least at first), they have confirmed that they intend on making the feature accessible to everyone. This means that it will work with third-party headsets, soundbars, surround setups, and even your average TV speakers.
Now, while we’re sure that 3D Audio will deliver some benefits even when used with stereo speakers and soundbars, it goes without saying that it’s surround setups and headphones that will be able to make the most of this technology – particularly headphones.
That said, you won’t necessarily have to buy any pricey new hardware to enjoy 3D Audio, but if you want to experience it the way it’s supposed to be experienced, we’d say that a good set of headphones would be a must.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, 3D Audio is a major step forward for Sony, but it remains to be seen how it fares in practice and how many developers take full advantage of the console’s capabilities. As to whether 3D Audio is a major feature to keep in mind when deciding on which console to get (if any), then we’d definitely say yes, especially if you prefer gaming with headphones.
Though, of course, we’ll just have to wait for the console to launch and see how 3D Audio fares in practice and if there are any caveats that we don’t know about yet. In any case, we won’t have to wait long to find out.