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The PS5, with 3D sound

The PS5, with 3D sound

We are still a long way from the expected launch of PlayStation 5 for the 2020 holidays, but Sony gave us some information to chew on this week while we are locked in our homes.

Sony

Conducted a live briefing called "The Road to PS5" Wednesday afternoon. The 52-minute presser focused heavily on specs, with no explosive game demos or announcements.

You shouldn't be surprised to hear that the PS5 is incredibly powerful, but the way it handles audio, not images, is what really caught our attention.

The specifications of the PS5

Eurogamer took a first look at the details about the audio-focused Tempest engine. Console chief architect Mark Cerny spoke about the system's ability to deliver vivid and realistic 3D sound that could allow gamers to hear where individual virtual raindrops fall in the game environment, rather than just playing a constant rain sound effect like most video games do now.

Sony wants to use

The head-related transfer function, or HRTF, which is an existing term in 3D audio space. They all have their own HRTF profile, because the head and ear shapes differ from person to person. You may not hear a sound the same way someone else does, and Sony wants to take this into account with PS5.

How does Sony plan to do that?

Cerny said the company could potentially have players upload photos of their ears, which they could then filter through a neural network to choose the correct HRTF settings for each individual. At launch, the PS5 should have five different HRTF presets based on data collected from approximately 100 people.

Whether you're literally sending your ear photos to Sony or not, there will be some sort of setup test in the PS5 setup to help each player determine which HRTF profile is best for them. If all this churns out as Sony expects, it could make games sound more immersive, even on TV speakers.

Maybe it revolutionizes the game's audio, or maybe it's another overrated new console feature that doesn't really change much, like Nintendo Switch's HD Rumble. Either way, we can't wait to find out.