Sony snubs established licensed audio tech in favor of the PS5 Tempest 3D AudioTech with confirmed broad headphone compatibility.
While Microsoft has successfully incorporated Dolby Atmos support into the Xbox Series X in time for launch, and Dolby Vision arrives later next year, Sony’s embarked on a far different audio journey for the PS5.
The Japanese giant has been hard at work fitting the PS5 with a bespoke audio technology known as the Tempest 3D AudioTech. With attached taglines like a ‘deeper sense of immersion’ and ‘a greater sense of presence and locality,’ Sony says you’ll be able to hear individual raindrops.
Such a departure from established audio standards had many questioning whether the PS5 would usher in a compatibility mine-field, forcing many to abandon their trusty headphones for a PS5-ready alternative. At one point, there were even concerns Sony planned to do away with a headphone jack on the DualSense altogether.
Today, Sony puts much of those concerns to rest. The company reveals in a PlayStation Blog post that the PS5 is compatible with all headphones that feature either a USB connection or 3.5mm headset jack.
While plugging its upcoming 3D Pulse headset, Sony explains:
“With a refined design, dual noise-cancelling microphones, and an array of easy-access controls, the Pulse 3D wireless headset offers a seamless experience for both the PS5 and PS4. We think it offers a fantastic audio experience for the PS5, but it isn’t the only way that fans can experience the increased presence and locality that we discussed in our last technical update. On the PS5, you’ll be able to experience 3D Audio with the headphones that many of you already own, either through USB connection to the console, or by plugging your headphones into the DualSense wireless controller’s 3.5mm headset jack.”
This means any old stereo headset with a headphone jack can benefit from the PS5’s 3D Audio tech. The same applies to USB headsets, and presumably wireless equivalents using USB dongles plugged into the console itself. Sony did warn that virtual surround sound through TV speakers won’t be available at launch.
The bottom line is that if your headphones work with current-gen consoles, then they’ll be compatible with the PS5. So, while the PS5 won’t support Dolby Vision and Atmos, Sony is ensuring more or less universal compatibility.
As for the Tempest 3D AudioTech, we’ve heard the buzzwords and listened to Mark Cerny talk about HRTF profiles, but we’ve yet to truly get a sense of what it entails for the average player.
Given it’s not necessarily a technology that can be faithfully communicated through a showcase or gamer trailer, it’s increasingly likely we’ll have to wait for early previews and even launch day to get a firm understanding of how Sony hopes to compete with established licensed technology such as those from Dolby.