Sony’s Next-Gen Audio Plans Detailed During GDC PS5 Talk
On Wednesday Sony presented the future landscape of PlayStation 5 technology. During the presentation, PlayStation hardware architect Mark Cerny detailed the next-gen changes coming to audio. The PS5 will have its own dedicated system board for audio this time around. Sony’s aim is to create immersive 3D audio for all. Regardless if you are playing from the speakers on your TV, headphones, soundbar or a full system. Sony is looking to deliver audio that can help you identify where the sound is coming from within games.
Tempest 3D Audiotech Engine
Sony has dubbed the PS5 audio system architecture the Tempest 3D AudioTech Engine. This system board will process all of the consoles 3D audio, HRTF, and surround sound. Sony’s aim is to leverage unique technologies to elevate the PS5 in the marketplace versus going head to head with Xbox’s monster 12TF GPU. Sony recently became a marketplace leader in 3D audio with the additional system board packed in with PSVR. The PSVR breakout box is used as a secondary audio processing unit to deliver 3D audio to PSVR games. This is something that I have personally become passionate about after playing games like Resident Evil 7 in VR. When combined with VR, 3D audio completes the emersion. Being able to hear sounds in distances and directions is truly an evolution in games.
Head Related Transfer Function
On day one, PS5 users will be tasked with calibrating the audio to their devices as well as their physical ears. That’s right, the PS5 will come preloaded with five different HRTF configurations. You are probably wondering what the heck is that? Head Related Transfer Function is the science of defining how audio is delivered to our brains. Each of our earlobes are unique, the bends and shapes in our ears, twist and turn the frequencies to tell us how far away sounds are and what direction. Sony has run hundreds of people through HRTF exercises to come up with sample medians on what frequencies to deliver. Cerny talked about allowing users to create custom HRTF settings down the road. This would give each PS5 owner their own unique audio settings tuned specifically to the physical makeup of their ear.
Accessible 3D Audio
Cerny also promises that these features will not be restricted to just headphone users. Sony plans to bring full 3D audio to standard TV speakers by creating a “sweet spot” in front of the TV. The PS5 will be able to point the game audio by adjusting frequencies giving the feeling of 3D audio at no cost. Cerny illustrated that 3D audio is incredibly complicated from TV speakers as each ear is able to pick up both speakers at the same time. The calculations required to adjust each speaker to each ear were a big factor in requiring a dedicated audio system board. While they hope to expand the sweet spot over time, Sony hopes to launch the PS5 with TV 3D audio.