Sony Will Demo PS5’s Most Underrated Feature – And You May Miss It

If the excitement of a new date for the PS5 showcase wasn't enough, Sony has teased a look at one of the console's most underrated features.
Posted in: Gaming
Published:
June 9, 2020 10:08 AM UTC
  • Sony will host a rescheduled PS5 showcase this Thursday, June 11.
  • A PlayStation Blog post sharing the news recommends that players wear headphones if at all possible.
  • The request implies the gaming giant will showcase the PS5’s 3D audio Tempest Engine.

With a rescheduled date confirmed for Sony’s PS5 event, fans are back to speculating about what’s on the cards for Thursday.

In an update shared on PlayStation Blog, Sony offers a hint that it will demonstrate a somewhat forgotten PS5 feature.

Much of the attention so far has been on the console’s ultra-fast SSD aided by countless developers reminding us as much by gushing about the storage solution’s game-changing marvels.

Yet, a third of Mark Cerny’s PS5 deep dive back in March focused on the PS5’s audio capabilities, namely the Tempest Engine.

Sony reschedules PS5 showcase for Thursday. Source: Twitter

Dedicating so much of a highly-anticipated technical reveal implies the Tempest Engine will be a cornerstone of the next-gen experience Sony hopes to offer gamers with the PS5. And, it sounds like we may very well get our first taste later this week.

The updated post reads:

It’s also best if you watch while wearing headphones, if you can — there’s some cool audio work in the show, and it might be harder to appreciate if it’s pumped through your phone or laptop speakers.

PS5’s Tempest Engine

The Tempest Engine is Sony’s most ambitious audio solution to date. That’s not to say previous consoles have neglected audio, but the PS5 aims to offer a comprehensive next-gen progression akin to that usually reserved for graphics.

PS5 has an entire compute unit dedicated to audio. Source: PlayStation

Sony’s new 3D audio solution aims to offer hundreds of situational sounds to create an immersive sonic experience that outclasses industry-leading counterparts such as Dolby Atmos. Think heightened realism, presence coming from all directions, and more convincing sounds.

The Tempest Engine is hardware powered thanks to a dedicated compute unit on AMD’s bespoke APU equivalent to the processing power of the PS4’s eight cores.

HRTF

Alongside, Sony is pushing the envelope even further with Head-Related Transfer Function profile mapping. HRTF is a map of sorts that tracks how a person perceives sounds. Sound perception changes depending on the physical shape of the ear and head. This means that the way we perceive sound varies from person to person.

PS5 will configure to the HRTF most suited to each individual players. Source: PlayStation

Sony says it is taking this variation between players on board to ensure all can benefit from the PS5’s upped 3D audio capabilities.

As Cerny explained:

The audio is at a higher level of realism. Which is to say that when using headphones and my HRTF, I occasionally get fooled and even think a sound is coming from the real world when it’s actually coming from the game.

Cerny said players might have to send in pictures of their ears, allowing a neural network to determine or even synthesize a suitable HRTF profile. The PS5 architect also mentioned an audio game in passing, which would assign and tune an HRTF.

It’s unclear if these solutions will morph into a real-world feature or remain passing comments. But, Sony says to expect some form of simple configuration test to pick the best locality when firing up the console.

Sony explains the console will have five different HRTF profiles at launch pooled from a sample group of one hundred people. More will be available as Tempest matures throughout the lifespan of the console.

Treat For The Ears

Much like all the other next-gen features extolled by Cerny, we’ve yet to see Tempest in action. It’s hard to pick through the purposefully woolly hype building for Sony’s next flagship product and get a real sense of what the Tempest Engine will mean for the average player.

As Cerny explained, Sony has optimized the PS5 for headphones. Which makes the gaming giant’s call for viewers to don a pair of headphones a pretty clear indication that a full-on demonstration of the Tempest Engine in action is on the cards.

Based on Sony’s request for headphones, it appears it’s pretty confident about what we’ll be hearing.

Samburaj Das edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

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Thomas Bardwell @TomBWrites

UK-based writer covering the video game industry. Email me | Bug me on Twitter | Website | Muck Rack