09 Jun 2021 12:29 PM +00:00

PS5 3D Audio vs Dolby Atmos: Which is Better?

Are you wondering which is better out of PS5 3D Audio and Dolby Atmos? You're not alone. As more people finally get their hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X amid the latest restocks, more people are looking for those best PS5 headsets or best PS5 monitors to further enhance their next-gen gaming experience.

Making use of 3D Audio is a surefire way to upgrade your setup, but the PS5’s 3D Audio is not the only impressive audio tech in town. Dolby Atmos has received high praise for its gaming implementation – especially on the Xbox Series X and as a speaker.

With that in mind, what are the differences, and what should you look for in your PS5’s audio setup?

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PS5 3D Audio vs Dolby Atmos

The answer to this isn’t so simple. In terms of gaming, the two audio technologies are available on separate platforms, with Dolby Atmos focusing on its Xbox license, and the PS5 3D Audio being exclusive to the PS5.

Ultimately, both offer high-quality, crisp soundscapes for gaming. If we had to pick, the PS5’s 3D Audio is better for headset users, especially due to its Head-related Transfer Function (HRTF) profiles.

Currently, five different profiles exist for the PS5 that allows users to fine-tune the settings depending on their head and ear shapes. Mark Cerny, the PS5's Lead System Architect, even stated that they could expand this personalisation further in the future, perhaps by getting players to send in images of their head and ears.

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Sony's PS5 3D Audio technology does not currently work through TV speakers. Sony stated this should come after launch, but support has yet to appear.

However, if you prefer using a soundbar or TV speakers, Dolby Atmos is the better choice of the two. Sony's PS5 3D Audio technology does not currently work through TV speakers. Even on the best 4K TVs, the PS5's 3D Audio can only be used via headsets. Sony stated this should come after launch, but support has yet to appear.

Does PS5 support Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is the next step up from surround sound, also offering its own 3D Audio of sorts. The best description for Atmos comes from Dolby itself, explaining: “Wherever you hear it, you’re in the center.”

Essentially, Dolby Atmos also offers players more audio immersion within their gameplay.

However, it is currently unavailable on the PlayStation 5, with Sony opting to develop its own audio technology. Dolby Atmos instead offers support for owners of the Xbox Series X/S, partnering with Microsoft to add Dolby Vision and Atmos to the latest Xbox consoles and games.

Is PS5 3D Audio the same as Dolby Atmos?

According to Mark Cerny, the PS5’s 3D Audio can utilise hundreds of sound sources to create its soundscape. In PlayStation's The Road to PS5 showcase, Cerny compared this to Dolby Atmos, which he stated could only use 32 objects for its 3D audio setups. This would suggest the PS5's 3D audio functions slightly differently from the Dolby version, given it can use lots more audio sources.

However, Dolby responded to Cerny, stating that “Dolby Atmos can support hundreds of simultaneous objects”. Dolby also cautioned that “too many objects in motion can create a confusing soundscape”, further complicating the audio mixing debate between PS5 3D Audio and Dolby Atmos.

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Another major difference comes when looking at different audio options. The PS5’s 3D Audio is currently only available for headset users, not through TV speakers or soundbars. While it was first thought that only PlayStation/Sony headsets would support 3D Audio, the technology also works on other headsets, too.

Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, works with several TVs, headphones and soundbars for gaming, the full list of which you can see here.

What is 3D Audio PS5?

The PlayStation 5’s 3D Audio is Sony’s proprietary audio technology designed specifically for the next-gen console. Using the Tempest 3D AudioTech engine, this audio setup ensures its users can ‘feel’ which direction the sound is coming from. This should deliver a more immersive gameplay experience, with players being able to locate where exactly footsteps are coming from, for example.

Many PS5 headsets support 3D Audio technology, but Sony’s own PULSE 3D wireless headset is “specifically tuned” for the 3D Audio experience.

Interestingly, following the announcement of the PS5 3D Audio, Dolby released a statement in support of the technology:

We are thrilled that Sony is dedicated to using 3D audio in its new console. This can only be interpreted as a validation of the work we have done across all entertainment genres in implementing Dolby Atmos on the devices consumers use today.

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