What is 5D audio

Tempest 3D AudioTech: How the PS3's 5D audio system works

If you are an audiophile then you should know that this is not a technical article. Rather, we're going to provide a pretty comprehensive look at what 3D audio is compared to other more traditional sound setups and how Sony's implementation works on the next-gen console. The Japanese manufacturer wants to sell us this feature as an exclusive product of a new generation. We'll see if it really does, or if it's just a marketing strategy to get the audiophile users buying their console instead of the competition.


What is the so-called 3D audio?

Traditional sound reproduction is divided into channels. For example, in the 1960s, when the Beatles started releasing their music records, they did so with single-channel audio known as mono. That is, if you listened to these recorded music through headphones, you heard exactly the same in the left headphone as you heard in the right.

Nowadays, music is recorded and released in stereo, which means two-channel audio. So if you listen to recorded music with headphones, you will hear two different audio outputs (really only slightly different), one for the left channel. and another for the law. This allows musicians and artists to significantly increase the complexity of their creations by customizing what a listener hears for each ear.

Surround sound is simply more channel audio, often available in 5.1 or 7.1 settings, with five or seven referring to the number of speakers in the setup and one referring to a single subwoofer for bass sounds. While not often used in music, when using a TV, movie, or game, the audio is split into many different channels. This way you have a directional sound and feel right in the middle of the action.

3D audio is a reinterpretation of the idea of ​​channels in audio. Rather than having a series of dedicated speakers that output sound according to the action on the left side of the screen opposite the right side, 3D audio uses object-based spatial sound to digitally generate sound from many, many individual sources. .

For example, instead of playing a track with rain sounds when it rains in the scene and adjusting the volume of the rain as it approaches or moves away from the sound source, the 3D audio simulates the sound of raindrops. Rain falls individually in relation to where the user is in the world of the screen.

This is how 3D audio works on PS5

First, 3D audio is not a substitute for traditional audio, and you don't have to choose between one or the other. These technologies work together. So if you are listening to stereo audio with a soundbar under the TV, the 3D audio will be output from both channels of your soundbar.

Sony's 3D Tempest Engine Audio on the PS5 is like a proprietary hardware accelerated version of Dolby's Dolby Atmos 3D Audio. It is software based on the PS5 hardware. Over time, you can enable them with the console through any audio system, be it surround sound, stereo, or just speakers as it doesn't depend on your physical sound system, but the channels and audio sources at the software level. Note, however, that this is not yet possible. Although Sony has promised to enable this option in future console updates, it is still not possible.

Currently, 3D audio support on PS5 is only possible with headphones, although you won't need the brand's official Pulse 3D headphones. Once activated, there are a few different audio profiles to choose from that can be used to personalize the experience. However, the fidelity of the headphones generally leaves a lot to be desired even with these settings.

As 3D audio support reaches other devices and becomes more configurable, this technology is likely to have a lot more traction. With next-gen 3D audio positioning, it makes little sense to forego the fidelity of a high-end speaker system to experience new technology in every headphone you lie around.

So is it real or just marketing?

Unlike the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers of the PS5 DualSense controller, 3D audio can redefine the way each gamer interacts with games.

Although the technology has very limited use at the moment (as it is only available in headphones), as developers use 3D audio in games and Sony has more support for this technology in other sound systems, the immersion of sound in the PS5 console can go way beyond beyond what the competition offers.

It really has a lot of potential to significantly improve the gaming experience in the future, and the PS5 is ready for it thanks to its hardware acceleration, so that large number of additional audio sources have no impact on performance. .