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Sony PS5 will have 3D audio, but may need a picture of your ears

Sony’s PS5 live stream provided an abundance of information about the next-gen system, including a potentially massive upgrade to the audio experience.

PlayStation boss Mark Cerney announced the ‘Tempest 3D Audio Tech’, which will provide PS5 gamers with a much more immersive experience, akin to Dolby Atmos, but built into the PS5 itself.

The feature is still under development at Sony, but the aim is to provide virtual surround sound, regardless of the audio hardware set up within the console owner’s home.

Cerney told the large audience turning in to the stream that the tech has the potential to make gamers tell as if they’re “actually there”. He used the example of rain, with 3D audio making it appear as if the drops were falling all around the gamer.

Related: Does the PS5 have VR?

Conceptually, Tempest relies on the head-related transfer function (HRTF), which would be individually applied to all gamers, going as far as to measure the gamer’s ears, and size and shape of their head. Cerney actually did say the tech night require gamers to send Sony a picture of their ears. That way, it’ll be mapped to how each PS5 gamer personally perceives audio.

Unlike tech like Dolby Atmos, which requires a heavy investment in audio tech, Tempest will work with all stereo headphones and eventually with sound bars and TV speakers.

Cerney said: “The first goal was to create audio for everyone, not just VR users or sound bar owners or headphone users. That meant audio had to be part of the console, it couldn’t be a peripheral.

“The second goal was to support hundreds of sound sources. We didn’t want developers to have to pick and choose which sounds would get 3D effects and which wouldn’t. We wanted every sound in the game to have dimensionality.”

The ramifications could be mega, and would offer a VR-like spatial audio experience to gamers, as Cerney went on to explain. He added: “Back in the day if you played the game using the TV speakers, you could tell that there was one last enemy growling and hunting you down, but it was difficult to tell quite where that enemy was.” That’s all about to change.

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