Culture Technology

PlayStation 5 doesn’t just look amazing, it should sound fantastic too

It’s official: November 19 is PlayStation 5 launch day, and gamers have already swooped on the first shipment.

Two versions of the console will be available. The PlayStation 5 with integrated 4k Blu-ray player is priced at £450, while the disc-less digital version sells for £350. While preorders are open, supplies are limited with many retailers now posting Out of Stock notices.

Disk drive aside, there’s no difference in performance between the two editions. They are 4k capable, have visually appealing ray-tracing support, and the same high-speed SSD hard drive.

It’s not just the PS5’s hardware specs which are futuristic. When it comes to design, this high-end console will leave the rest of your home entertainment gear playing catch-up. But is that a good thing?

The fluid silhouette of the PS5 is stark contrast to the monolithic simplicity of the Xbox Series X console – and the look is divisive. Even here at TLR Towers the team is split, opinions polarised. 

PlayStation 5: to disc or not to disc…

For owners of the 4k UHD disc edition, there’s also an optional media remote (a successor to the media remote sold with the PlayStation 3), for more conventional disc control and playback.

The Playstation 5 can stand upright, or on its side.

The console will ship with the new PS5 DualSense controller. The most advanced yet for PlayStation, it features adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. There will also be a create button to share gameplay. 

What is PlayStation 5 3D Audio?

Not only will the PS5 offer 4k HDR gaming as standard, it will also have 3D audio, but to enjoy it you’ll need headphones, hence the Pulse 3D Audio gaming headset which will also be available at launch. From what we’ve seen of the immersive worlds Sony is offering gamers, this could prove to be an invaluable accessory. 

The Pulse 3D headset could be an invaluable PS5 accessory…

PlayStation 5 remote with haptic feedback and a sense of style

Unlike the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5 will not support Dolby Atmos in games, (although we suspect there will be support for discs played in its 4k Blu-ray player). Instead it will use its own object-based 3D audio system, courtesy of a so-called Tempest engine. Sony has chosen to restrict 3D audio to headphones at launch because ‘implementation is more straightforward.’

There will be a virtual surround sound mode for the PS5 for soundbars and home cinema systems.

Speaking earlier this year, PlayStation’s Mark Cerny said: “The first goal was great audio for everyone, not just VR users or soundbar owners or headphone users. The second goal was to support hundreds of sound sources. We didn’t want developers to have to pick and choose what sounds would get 3D effects, and which wouldn’t. We wanted every sound in the game to have dimensionality.”

He cites an example of rain. Rather than just use a generic rain sound, the game designers could implement lots of sources of rain. Sony describes this as a sense of Presence. “At some point your brain takes a leap, and you begin to have this feeling of real presence inside the virtual world of the game.”

“It would have been a simpler strategy if Dolby Atmos peripherals could have achieved our goals, but we wanted 3D audio for all, not just those with a licenced soundbar,” adds Cerny. 

The result was the Tempest 3D audio engine. Much of which sounds remarkably similar to Sony’s 360 Reality Audio solution for immersive music audio. Cerny even suggests that individual players could photograph their ears for precise HRTF (head-related transfer function) binaural audio, a tweak Sony already offers via a smartphone app for 360 Reality Audio.

Home cinema fans will have to wait some time before they can immerse themselves in PS5 3D audio.

“The player might be using headphones or TV speakers or have a higher end surround sound setup with six or more speakers, That’s a lot of variations, all of which need different approaches. While it’s nice to have the computational resources of the Tempest engine, it’s clear that achieving our ultimate goal with 3D audio is going to be a multi-year, step by step process.”

Also planned as part of the PlayStation 5 launch catalogue of games is a DualSense Charging Station, and an HD camera.

Also read: PS5 reveal: 7 of the most exciting games revealed

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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