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The PS5 could change the game with the way we think about audio

There was a geyser of information on Sony’s next gen console released today, but something no-one expected to take a key role in discussions of the new kit’s capabilities was a discussion of audio.

However Mark Cerny, the lead system architect of this new console in addition to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, seems convinced that audio on Sony’s next-gen kit will change the game.

Part of this is due to ray tracing, according to a Wired article shedding light on the whole process. Cerny mentions that the applications for ray tracing go beyond the visual. “If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that,” claims Cerny. “It’s all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”

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Move past this, and the AMD chip powering Sony’s as-yet-unnamed next-gen console also includes a custom unit for 3D audio that Cerny enthuses will change the way sound can be done in games.

“As a gamer, it’s been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4,” says Cerny. “With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”

For players, this should lead to you feeling more immersed, with sounds coming at you from all directions in a 3D space without any external hardware. This should work through TV speakers just fine, although Cerny admits that the “gold standard” for them will be headphone audio.

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The team behind the probably-called-the-PS5 are chasing one word: presence. The idea is that players will feel like they exist inside a simulated environment through the hardware’s use of audio. How well this is handled will largely be down to the way developers use the kit, but a significant change in the way that audio is done for consoles would be an impressive and compelling reason to upgrade to any PlayStation 5 that Sony might want to release, even if it’s not a feature that is at the top of everyone’s shopping list for next-gen consoles.

With this news, the future feels so close you can hear it. It’s exciting stuff.

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