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So, from what I'm understanding, PS5's 3D audio is basically all software similar to 3D audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS-X? Maybe it's better quality? 3D audio still has to be converted to a speaker configuration. Do we know if the headphones are stereo, thus producing "virtual 3D" which like "7.1 virtual surround" is gimmicky, or are they similar to real surround headphones with multiple speakers per ear?
I have to agree, I don't see where this article answered the '3d' question for me.
This article states: "Sony wants to focus on delivering 3D audio through headphones first. But, according to Mark Cerny, PS5 lead architect, the console will also be capable of delivering 3D audio through your regular set-up – whether it be television speakers, soundbars or surround sound systems." I'm no expert here, but I thought headphones are a stereo sound delivery system to the ears.
Then later, "Sony says the effect is so powerful that you'll be able to hear where individual rain drops are landing in a game's environment. " .. well, in headphones, stereo sound gives you a good indication of where a sound came from in terms of left and right, but it can't distinguish from 'behind' or 'in front'. That's not 3d, that's 1d.
If there were positional sensors on the headphones that indicated the tilt of your head, then the software could adjust the audio according to your head position, including up to 3d in a kind of "mario kart on SNES was 2.5d" sense, giving you a more immersive experience, but I don't see these sensors or that experience mentioned in this article in the same breath. Maybe I missed something, there are details on HRTF and some very vague statements about the Pulse 3D headset, but nothing substantial.
While I understand what you are saying with relation to sensors in headphones, the purpose of sound in the game is to direct you relative to your characters head position. Naturally, you would expect someone playing a game to be looking at the screen. The exception here is VR where you are the character.
Regarding the raindrops and 3d. Currently, you could be standing in a field and raindrops off a building to your right. In your headset, you will hear the raindrops to your right and know that is the direction. With 3d audio, the intensity of the sound is dictated by the distance fro the source as well as the direction. That's the 3d bit. Also with 3d audio, they can give each drop a sound source as opposed to current games where there is just a rain soundtrack.
Imagine you are running from outside to a large bus shelter while it's raining. Rain all around you until you get under the right corner of the shelter. The 3d sound will have rain noise from behind to your right and in front, but the noise from the left will be more muted due to the length of the shelter meaning the rain noise is further away. (sorry this is very hard to explain). That's not to mention the noise now above from rain hitting the shelter. Each different part can be a sound and can have depth. This will make the environment feel much more like your are in it.
I read a report on people who have tried it, they were taking their headsets off when someone spoke to them from behind In the game, they took it off because they actually thought someone was in their room speaking to them. I actually think this 3d audio could be the biggest party trick Sony has.