PS5 killer feature won’t be ready for TVs at launch — here's why

Sony PS5 Pulse 3D wireless headset
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony's 3D audio tech for its PS5 could be one of the standout features to give it the edge over the Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, it'll only work with headphones when the PS5 launched on November 12. 

In a PlayStation blog post, Isabelle Tomatis, the senior director of PS VR, eSports, Peripherals Marketing and Licensing, explained how Sony's plans to bring Tempest 3D AudioTech support to TV speakers won't be in place when the console launched. Instead, people who want Sony's high-end surround sound will need to use a pair of headphones or Sony's own Pulse 3D wireless headset

"On the PS5, you’ll be able to experience 3D Audio with the headphones that many of you already own," said Tomatis. 

But frustratingly, Tomatis did not name which other headphones will support the PS5's 3D audio.

PS5 games with 3D audio

Despite this small hiccup in Sony's plans for widespread 3D audio tech support, a suite of games will work with the Tempest 3D AudioTech. 

"Some of the PS5 games with 3D Audio features include Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, Astro’s Playroom, Gran Turismo 7, Returnal, Destruction AllStars, Demon’s Souls, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Horizon Forbidden West, Resident Evil Village and many others," said Tomatis. 

The good news is that nearly all of the biggest launch (and early release window) titles (save for Bugsnax) are represented. The downside, though, is that this pretty much confirms that 3D audio is a feature that won't be universal, but one that developers, presumably, need to opt into.

Why 3D audio is a big deal

Immersive audio is one of the three big improvements for the next generation of consoles. If your headphones present the sounds of the game as something that you're moving through — and not just audio being blasted at you — the game can feel more alive.

Alongside faster load times that make the world seem more present (and less like it's being transferred off of storage) and ray-tracing for natural-looking lighting, the PS5's Tempest 3D AudioTech tricks our brains into feeling more like we're inside a game world.

Personally, I've found 3D audio to be a mixed bag of a feature for TV and movies, as I tested Apple's AirPods Pro spatial audio by watching shows with Dolby Atmos audio. 

As I moved my head left and right, the dulcet tones of Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso continued to come from the direction my phone was placed. That sound even moved when I adjusted the position of the phone. At best, it felt cool, but when I stopped to think about it, it felt gimmicky.

But that's just a TV show. I have a feeling that games — a much more interactive medium — will have much more substantial benefits from 3D audio. 

The Xbox Series X will come with dedicated immersive audio hardware as well, but from what Tom's Guide has heard so far, it's not looking like it;ll quite as technical or as high-end as Sony's 3D audio. With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launching November 10, we've not got long until we find out which console offers the most aural pleasure. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.