The PlayStaton 5 will feature a 3D audio chip

The PlayStation 5 will ship with an AMD CPU, an AMD Navi GPU, and a 3D audio chip

Immersive gaming is a growing trend, and immersive audio is a technology in development. The rise of object-based surround sound features like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in the movie industry is now translating into the video game world.

Sony’s lead tech architect Mike Cerny revealed the company’s next console would support what he calls “3D audio.” He says the future improvement will “make you feel more immersed in the game as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side”.

Let’s see what all of this means to the world of gaming.

Sony's lead architect Mike Cerny
Sony’s lead architect Mike Cerny. Source: Push Square.

How will PlayStation 5’s 3D audio improve the gaming industry?

Cerny didn’t elaborate on how the 3D audio chip works. However, he confirmed it wouldn’t need any extra hardware, like peripherals, for the audio chip to work.

The technology is part of the third-generation AMD Ryzen chipset that will power both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Two. So far, the American company has called it “AMD Gonzalo.”

As Cerny said, the PS5 will be something of a revolution, and, as it seems, Sony’s primary work is regarding audio. The improvements the console is achieving will inevitably leak into Nvidia GPUs and drivers, Intel processors, and rivalling consoles.

On that regard, let’s talk about the improvements:

“Atmos-pheric” audio

“Atmos-pheric” audio is similar to Dolby Atmos. It’s an audio format that positions sounds in a 3D space without the requirement of external hardware. Dolby Atmos requires a compatible soundbar to propel the sound into the walls around you.

Many of the PS5’s games will be cross-platform, so it would be challenging to ensure all game designers tweak the soundtrack and effects in such a way. Furthermore, the PS5 will have backwards-compatibility with the PS4, so there would be a lot of games that wouldn’t support Sony 360 Reality Audio.
Instead, the PS5’s 3D audio chip will handle all the enhancements from within the console’s system. It won’t need any further effort from game designers nor any extra hardware for it to work.

Clever audio chips

We’re assuming the PS5’s 3D audio chip will also work similarly to Creative’s SXFI technology. SXFI uses a holographic algorithm that imitates the immersive soundstage of a complete surround system in a pair if stereophones.

The company also sells an app that transforms an ordinary pair of can headphones into super-immersive SXGI holographic heaphones.

Such technology could exist as a built-in feature on the PS5 and put through different systems. The console’s 3D audio chip would affect TV speakers, headphones, earphones, surround systems, and anything you use to play your sound through.

PS5's 3D audio chip enables immersive sound
PS5’s 3D audio chip enables immersive sound. Source: Tech Radar.

Our verdict: how the 3D audio chip improve your gaming experience

Imagine playing a game where sounds come from behind, from above, and from the sides. It would give you a complete experience of being within the game and sensing where the objects and enemies come from.

Imagine how it would feel playing your favourite battle royale game if you could hear the footsteps of your enemies as they approach you.

Or, better yet, because we should have some class. Imagine revising Bioshock’s Rapture and hearing where all of the sound effects are coming. The floor cracking, the water leaking through the pipes, the cold wind is bouncing on the glasses; the water’s pressure, just outside the abandoned city; and the lonely, crazed scream of a psycho waiting for you on the room next door.

Overall, it’s a significant improvement form the PlayStation 4, albeit the PS5 is not coming in 2015.

What do you think about this feature?

2 COMMENTS

  1. So all of us that have invested in an actual Dolby Atmos / DTS:X system (and by that I do NOT mean a “sound bar”, but an actual 5.x.4 or 7.x.4 or greater system with real overhead speakers) should be ‘happy’ to hear that instead of supporting Atmos or X (or even Auro-3D which I also have via my Marantz AVR but hardly anything supports) that our expensive home theater systems already support, we have to put up with another cheeseball “me too!” product from Sony that doesn’t even use real speakers (Yeah, I have that here too, it’s called DTS Virtual X. It works for one person sitting in the center and not as well as real speakers, but does sound pretty good even so. Sadly it cannot be used with Atmos content, only Neural X and DTS:X).

    Excuse me if I don’t get too excited. I’m betting XBox will continue to support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (the existing standards). Clearly, Microsoft would rather have my money than Sony, a company who shot themselves in the foot by not supporting their own patent owned ‘standard’ of UHD Blu-Ray on their own PS4!!! (‘We think streaming is the future’ –um does the Playstation team know how much Sony makes on selling actual discs versus streaming??? That was a STUPID financial decision even if it has truth in it for the future. Ironically, Microsoft DID support UHD!)

    Meanwhile, it’s just a matter of getting actual games to use Atmos or X (or Auro-3D…yeah probably not unless you live in China as they seem to be signing some deals there) and that’s a real uphill battle regardless of what system you have.

    • I understand your point, and there’s no word yet whether the PS5 will support these technologies.

      I would assume the upcoming 3D-audio chip will enhance the sound on any surround system as it means the immersive audio is not only in the output but in the input as well.

      Of course, selling discs makes a lot of money for gaming companies. But just like the music industry did over six years ago, they are about to make a transition into all digital and find other ways to make money -like annoying DLCs and purchasable characters.

      I’ve said before the Xbox Two might be the next console to have, so you can check that article and see everything Microsoft is doing for the gaming industry as, so far, Sony is only presenting hardware improvements for the next-gen console.

      That’s for reading and for leaving a reply!

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