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Next gen audio - Sony's 3D audio, Dolby Digital - what's going on?


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So now the PS5 is out and people can experience Sony's revolutionary new 3D audio - is this something exclusive to Sony? Is there an Xbox equivalent? Is this a hardware thing that only exists in the PS5? Help me understand.

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3D audio is by no means Sony exclusive. On Xbox you can get Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, both 3D formats, to output through headphones or a surround sound system. (There is a cost to acquiring the license to get it to work however)
 

Sony are using their own solution, presumably to save on licensing costs.

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Xbox has always had built-in 3D sound support through any pair of standard headphones, via the controller jack or USB. By default it uses Windows Sonic which is pretty good but for a small fee you can get Atmos or DTS:X which are genuinely excellent. This is the same on both the Xbox One and the new X|S consoles.

 

This is just a case of Sony playing catch-up and claiming it as an innovation. Surprised they haven't been called out on this more.

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I've only played Astrobot so far but nothing much about the 3D audio has popped out to me. I do use the Dolby Atmos headphones equivalent on Xbox though so maybe that's why nothing about it has struck me as anything noteworthy. I've heard Demon's Souls has an excellent sound mix so will give that a go later today.

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1 hour ago, Garwoofoo said:

Xbox has always had built-in 3D sound support through any pair of standard headphones, via the controller jack or USB. By default it uses Windows Sonic which is pretty good but for a small fee you can get Atmos or DTS:X which are genuinely excellent. This is the same on both the Xbox One and the new X|S consoles.

 

So I can actually pay money to get better audio from my existing headphones? How do I do that?

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1 hour ago, Garwoofoo said:

Xbox has always had built-in 3D sound support through any pair of standard headphones, via the controller jack or USB. By default it uses Windows Sonic which is pretty good but for a small fee you can get Atmos or DTS:X which are genuinely excellent. This is the same on both the Xbox One and the new X|S consoles.

 

This is just a case of Sony playing catch-up and claiming it as an innovation. Surprised they haven't been called out on this more.

 

Thanks for this, I had no idea I could purchase better sound quality for my Xbox! I just started the Dolby Atmos trial. I couldn't work out if it improves all games or whether only some games take advantage.

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The atmos and dts apps both have two week trials which I'd recommend at the very least. 

 

In my experience DTS has a stronger sense of spaciousness but isn't as versatile. Atmos is great for films, amazing for games like gears 5 which are specifically encoded in Atmos, and still really good for everything else. The DTS one does have lots of profiles you can use to perfectly match your pair of headphones. 

 

I believe the new xboxes have dedicated sound hardware much like the ps5 which might make them better than they were last gen? I haven't done a comparison. 

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Just now, Pob said:

 

Thanks for this, I had no idea I could purchase better sound quality for my Xbox! I just started the Dolby Atmos trial. I couldn't work out if it improves all games or whether only some games take advantage.

 

It should work (and sound great) on all games that have surround sound - but games (and movies) that have Atmos or spatial sound will take even greater advantage of it.

 

Worth playing around with the different presets in the Dolby Access app too. The Movie preset is pretty striking but with my Sennheisers I ended up settling on Game mode, Performance mode off, equaliser set to Warm. Will probably depend greatly on the headphones you are using.

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My PS5 hasn't turned up yet but as I understand it, I can use any old headphones and just plug them into the controller to get 3D sound - Is that about right?

 

If I want wireless headphones, what do I need to look out for (apart from the official Sony ones of course) to make sure they're compatible?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Pob said:

No, thanks for the links. I really just wanted to start a separate thread to hear people's first-hand experiences now both consoles are out, and as a place for people to ask questions and understand how it all works. I think it's quite a confusing subject.

Sure, so the idea is to simulate sound as it is in the real world.

I play competitive games online (not that i'm very good) and good quality simulated surround sound really helps me to pinpoint the direction and distance of enemy gunfire.

Even in single player games, horror for instance, if you hear sounds coming from behind you, or a wall to your left/right it really adds to the atmosphere.

There's also material based sounds, walking on a steel or wooden floor for instance but i wouldn't say that is 3d sound, maybe how sound deflects/reverberates from these different materials would be.

I think the push Sony is making is to take it one step further were sounds from above and below you are also represented in the 3d space.

This would require headphones as even a surround sound system doesn't have speakers directly above or below.

I'm not sure Atmos has this, if it does, I haven't heard a good representation of it.

 

I'm hoping to have my PS5 today (fingers crossed) and i've heard Demon Souls has great sound so i'll report back once i've played for a bit.

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1 hour ago, cubik said:

My PS5 hasn't turned up yet but as I understand it, I can use any old headphones and just plug them into the controller to get 3D sound - Is that about right?

 

If I want wireless headphones, what do I need to look out for (apart from the official Sony ones of course) to make sure they're compatible?

 

 

My understanding it that you can use any headphones, although the type and quality of the experience will depend a lot on how well those headphones are suited to the job.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole have look here:https://www.head-fi.org/threads/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-10-27-2020-drop-x-hifiman-he-5xx-review-added.534479/

A monster thread on various headphones and headsets used for gaming.

Don't forget to enable the sound setting in the PS5 menu, i'm not sure its on my default.

 

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17 minutes ago, Underwurlde said:

 

I think the push Sony is making is to take it one step further were sounds from above and below you are also represented in the 3d space.

This would require headphones as even a surround sound system doesn't have speakers directly above or below.

I'm not sure Atmos has this, if it does, I haven't heard a good representation of it.

 

 

It's exactly what Atmos is. In atmos home cinema (and actual cinema) setups you will have speakers above you, or pointing upwards. In headphones it vritualises it very effectively. 

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23 minutes ago, Underwurlde said:

 

I think the push Sony is making is to take it one step further were sounds from above and below you are also represented in the 3d space.

This would require headphones as even a surround sound system doesn't have speakers directly above or below.

I'm not sure Atmos has this, if it does, I haven't heard a good representation of it.


Dolby Amos is full 3D so it does simulate sound above and below you. DTS:X also does this.

 

Probably worth noting that so does Windows Sonic.

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8 minutes ago, deerokus said:

It's exactly what Atmos is. In atmos home cinema (and actual cinema) setups you will have speakers above you, or pointing upwards. In headphones it vritualises it very effectively. 

 

6 minutes ago, metallicfrodo said:


Dolby Amos is full 3D so it does simulate sound above and below you. DTS:X also does this.

 

Probably worth noting that so does Windows Sonic.

I thought that, but then how does that work with home cinema systems?

You can't have speakers below you? Is there any games you can think of that represent a good example?

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I think it’s worth emphasising that although both Sony and Microsoft had scope for 3D audio in the last gen (as mentioned earlier in the thread) neither of their consoles had the CPU power to use it to a terribly meaningful extent.
 

Almost all games on PS4 used an ordinary discrete 7.1 mix, ie a circle of speakers around you, and you needed a headset with a virtual surround function or some actual speakers to hear that. A few games on PS4 explicitly used 3D audio but only for a few objects against a standard surround sound background. And you could only access that if you owned a specific Sony headset.

 

I don’t know that anything on Xbox One actually had 3D audio, although you could use the Sonic or Atmos plug-in to get a virtualised version of the 7.1 surround. I would be happy to be corrected but I just don’t remember a single game supporting it.

 

The new consoles are a massive leap forward in this regard, able to render dozens (hundreds?) of 3D audio sources in real time, and with Sony not locking the headphone output behind a specific accessory purchase.

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17 minutes ago, Underwurlde said:

 

I thought that, but then how does that work with home cinema systems?

You can't have speakers below you? Is there any games you can think of that represent a good example?


Dolby realised a while ago that putting speakers on the ceiling by itself doesn’t really give you a sense of the sound moving up and down. But they can be used to help shape the apparent sound field around you, and so can speakers that point upwards at your ceiling. And you then combine that with auditory illusions that mimic the distortions your ear applies to audio coming in from different directions, and the air pressure waves that actually reach your eardrums matches what would happen if the sound really was coming from that direction, even if there’s no speaker anywhere near that spot.
 

Old-school discrete sound very much assumed you had seven speakers and a subwoofer in clearly defined positions relative to the audience. These 3D audio systems abstract that all away and basically use whatever tricks they can to “render” the sound out, whether it’s through a sound bar, headphones, physical speakers or whatever. It’s exciting stuff.

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37 minutes ago, metallicfrodo said:


Gears 5 does.
 

In fact these games all supposedly support proper 3D positional audio with Dolby Atmos on Xbox One.

 

https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-one-dolby-atmos-games-list

 

Cheers. Seems like quite a small and random selection of games. Assassins' Creed Origins but not the more recent ones, Battlefield 1 but not V.

https://www.dolby.com/experience/games/

 

I'll give it a go later on Forza!

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@Pob and anyone else. Here is a quick guide.

 

There are two types of headphone surround sound. 

 

1: Hardware 7.1 etc sets - these are where smaller physical speakers are built into the cans - they've never really taken off and can give very mixed results due to the small individual speakers not providing the best sound quality for a range of uses

 

2: Normal 2 speaker headphones that use software solutions to direct sound around the soundstage afforded by the headset. These software solutions come via 

 

a) an external means of processing to any pair of stereo headphones - ie the xbox/PC or PS5  - Windows Sonic is alright but frankly not great- try and use Dolby Atmos or DTS X which have their own solutions. The PS5 solution I've not had much of a chance to get using but it doesn't seem far off the Dolby or DTS solutions. To be honest - the software solution is only as good as the headphones you use them with - Atmos or DTX or sonys solution won't sound great on low quality drivers or headphones with a limited or poor soundstage. The highest quality open air cans you can buy with a wide soundstage will work best. Many games also have their own built in headphone mixes

 

b) You can also buy external USB sound solutions and some headsets will use built in sound cards/hardware and will use a range of types of surround depending on the company (Eg creative use their own surround tech). These are your Astros/Artics or solutions like this or entire USB external USB soundcards like this: https://uk.creative.com/p/amplifiers/sound-blasterx-g6#buy-menu - these use their own processing solutions for the surround and items like the soundcards allow you more tweaking with the EQ essentially.

 

Plenty of choice out there -for anyone with high quality good stereo wired headphones - I would recommend getting a software licence or using the onboard sound with the PS5. If you want wireless and don't have good quality headphones already - the latter would be better 

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I tried out the free trial of Dolby Atmos on Series X with earphones and was very impressed, even for games that aren’t coded specifically for it. I use an expensive pair of Shure sound-isolating earphones for 90% of my gaming so it’s a tenner very well spent. The luxury user experience of next-gen gaming on consoles continues unabated.
 

Just remember to plug your ‘phones into the controller jack otherwise it won’t utilise it.

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I've got the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 wireless headphones - am I going to get much better audio?

 

Tbh I probably need someone to actually tell me as I doubt I'd be able to tell the difference myself :)

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To hijack with a PC question, if I get the Dolby Atmos license to use via headphones, do I select 5.1 in games to benefit from it (I appreciate it will be an approximation if a game isn't specifically coded for it)?

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Is the interest in 3D audio due to the FOMO of Playstation finally getting it?

I've been using it on the Xbox One for yonks and I don't remember this much fuss about it.

 

Anyway, if you want truly voodoo levels of headphone surround sound you should try some Apple AirPod Pros with an Atmos film or show.

I watch shows on Netflix on the iPad Pro when I'm on the rowing machine and it's as close to my Atmos home cinema set up as you can get in regards to the sound positioning.

Amazing.

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