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Dolby believes less is more but welcomes 3D audio on PS5

(Image credit: Sony)

Last week, we were told that PlayStation 5’s dedicated Tempest 3D audio could make in-game audio sound more realistic and true to life. In short, Sony implied it was superior to Dolby Atmos.

During the PS5 reveal event, lead system Architect Mark Cerny said that Dolby Atmos could only simulate sound for 32 objects in a 3D space. Sony’s tech, meanwhile, had the ability to support hundreds of simultaneous objects at one time, with rain drops being one example. 

But according to Dolby, that’s not the case. In a blog post on the Dolby Developer site, the audio company clarified that Dolby Atmos can also support hundreds of objects, however while “more is good” it “may not necessarily be ‘better’”.

“We fall back on sage advice from developers of some of the first Atmos games: objects are a fantastic tool, but restraint should be shown with respect to the number of objects active at any time,” the post reads. “Too many objects in motion can create a confusing soundscape.”

Video game developers have also stated that making sound appear more vertical - where you can hear objects more clearly above and below you - is a time-consuming and labor-intensive effort.

3D audio for all

Dolby, and the developers they’ve worked with, then, believe that having more objects simulating sound is good, but not necessarily better. 

Despite Sony ditching Atmos for their own proprietary tech, Dolby is excited about the PS5 bringing 3D audio to more people. 

“We are thrilled that Sony is dedicated to using 3D audio in its new console,” said Dolby. “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.”

In a final note, Dolby said that similar to Microsoft’s Windows Sonic spatial audio, the real winner is audio teams who work on PS5. 

While 3D audio is still a relatively new technology, the benefits for gamers and movie lovers are clear. Great sound can transform an experience, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for both Dolby Atmos and Sony’s Tempest 3D audio.

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