Connect wired or wireless headphones to your PlayStation 5, then head to Settings > Sound and run the setup under 3D Audio for Headphones. Alternatively, use the 3D Audio for TV Speakers setup process to fine-tune your TV speakers to your surroundings using the microphone on the DualSense controller.
The PlayStation 5 isn’t just capable of impressive 4K HDR graphics but immersive audio too. This is thanks to Sony’s 3D Audio technology which allows you to use almost any headphones to get surround sound in select titles.
What Is 3D Audio?
Officially named Tempest 3D Audio (or Tempest Engine), PlayStation 5 3D Audio is a proprietary Sony 3D audio technology not unlike Dolby Atmos (as seen on the Xbox Series X). It’s made possible using the AMD GPU Sony put inside the PS5 to enable hardware-driven object-based spatial audio.
The technology is designed to simulate a more realistic soundscape with audio coming from all directions, much like the technology Sony first rolled out in the original PSVR headset. With 3D Audio enabled you can better distinguish the direction of a sound and experience more immersive object-based sound effects like echoes and reverb.
3D Audio works on many but not all PS5 games. You can expect the biggest “system seller” releases (like God of War Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Miles Morales) to include support for the feature. On top of this many third-party titles (like Resident Evil: Village) also support the feature.
With 3D Audio enabled, the PS5 can also map 5.1 and 7.1 channel surround sound to the current audio output device. While not “true” object-based surround sound, this may provide a more immersive audio experience when compared with simple stereo output.
Some players may prefer to toggle the feature on a per-game basis since there are claims that 3D Audio can muffle sound in unsupported titles. Luckily, you can quickly enable or disable the feature under Settings > Sound on your PS5.
What Do You Need to Use 3D Audio?
3D Audio works with standard headphones, Sony’s PULSE 3D headset, and other wireless headsets designed for use with the PS5. It also works with TV speakers using virtual surround sound.
Arguably the best way to experience 3D Audio is by using headphones. The beauty of this feature is that any wired headphones can be used simply by connecting them to the 3.5mm stereo jack on your PS5 DualSense controller. The headphones featured in our best PS5 headsets roundup should all work with Tempest 3D Audio.
Headphones that connect directly to the PS5 (over a USB connection, or using a low-latency wireless dongle) will also work with 3D Audio. The PS5 doesn’t officially support Bluetooth headphones, but there are some workarounds you can use to get Bluetooth headphones working in this way (with support for 3D Audio).
Sony also added support for virtualized surround sound using TV speakers. Your results here may vary, with standard built-in TV speakers often sounding lackluster. If you have a soundbar underneath your TV or surround-sound setup, you’ll probably have more success but for best results, it’s a good idea to break out your headphones.
Is 3D Audio Worth It?
The overall quality of audio that comes out of your PS5 largely depends on what you’re using to output the audio. With that in mind, we tested 3D Audio using bog-standard Apple EarPods plugged into a DualSense controller and still managed to be impressed. Even though the earbuds had poor sound reproduction, the surround sound effect worked great.
Picking out where sounds were coming from was easy. The sound of buildings and lamposts whooshing past in Spider-Man Miles Morales made the feature more than worth it, and the technology even made it possible to locate a vehicle using sound alone in one particular side mission. With a quality headset like the PULSE 3D or SteelSeries Arctis 7P+, the sound quality would be much improved.
SteelSeries Arctis 7P+
Best Wireless PS5 Headset
$45 $150 Save $105
It’s not cheap, but the Arctis 7P+ offers a gorgeous design, 3D Audio support, and luxurious construction that’s unrivaled on the market.
3D Audio for TV Speakers wasn’t quite as impressive, at least not on our setup. This greatly depends on the sound quality of your TV, monitor, or external sound device. For us, it made the audio sound a bit more hollow and tinny than it already did. The surround sound effect was nowhere near as effective in terms of being useful. Your mileage may vary, and you’ll likely have better results with better TV speakers.
How to Set Up 3D Audio on Your PS5
Turn on your console and head to Settings > Sound to see two options: 3D Audio for TV Speakers and 3D Audio for Headphones. Both allow you to set up and fine-tune your 3D Audio experience, just make sure that your headphones or soundbar (if you’re using one) is connected before you pick the relevant option.
You can head back to these settings at a later time to disable 3D Audio for headphones or TV speakers independently. This means you can leave the setting enabled when using headphones but keep standard stereo sound for TV speakers if you’d prefer (or vice versa).
Set Up 3D Audio for Headphones
Run through the headphones setup process by choosing a 3D Audio profile that sounds best to you. This involves selecting which “height” sounds most natural (closest to ear level) and don’t forget to toggle between the samples using the triangle button on your controller.
On the next screen, you’ll be able to listen to a comparison between standard stereo sound and 3D Audio. Press X on your controller to select the one that sounds best, then hit the circle button on your controller to finalize the process.
Set Up 3D Audio for TV Speakers
This process involves measuring room acoustics using the microphone on your DualSense controller. Hit “Next” on the setup screen to get started and make sure there are no cables plugged into your controller.
You’ll now need to sit in your normal playing position, with the controller held in front of your face at ear level. Turn off any additional source of noise like fans, close the windows, then hit the “Start Measurement” button.
You’ll hear a weird zapping sound and the measurement will be taken. Hit “OK” and switch between “Stereo” and “3D Audio” to hear a comparison of both outputs. Hit X on your controller on the output setting you prefer.
If you change where you’re playing, move your room around, or buy a new TV or audio output device you’ll want to run the measurement again under Settings > Sound > 3D Audio for TV Speakers > Measure Room Acoustics Using TV Speakers.
How to Use 3D Audio With Bluetooth Transmitters and DACs
The PS5 allows you to send a 3D audio signal to any connected USB device, including a Bluetooth transmitter and digital-to-analog converter (DAC). To do this, connect the output device then head to Settings > Sound > Audio Output and select “USB Audio Device” from the list. You should be able to experience 3D Audio using external audio devices, with a few caveats.
For Bluetooth, latency will be your biggest problem. For best results, make sure you grab a Bluetooth 5.0 or better transmitter (like the Avantree Oasis Plus) and pair it with a pair of headphones that support the same low-latency standard. It may be cheaper and more cost-effective to simply purchase a dedicated headset, like Sony’s PULSE 3D.
Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset
Best Gaming Headset for PS5
Sony’s in-house PS5 headset is the best choice for most PS5 users, offer great sound, comfort, and style at a reasonable price.
On top of this, many popular wireless headphones (like Apple’s AirPods) don’t make use of low-latency hardware. This will introduce a delay between the audio coming out of your console and what you hear. You also won’t be able to use any microphone found on your Bluetooth headphones for in-game chat.
If you’re going the DAC route, make sure your DAC supports UAC 1.0 (USB Audio Class 1.0). The PS5 doesn’t support the newer UAC 2.0 standard used by modern DACs. There’s an excellent guide on the PS5 subreddit explaining how to output a signal that UAC 2.0 DAC can use with a cheap aftermarket chip if you’re hunting for a solution.
If you’re looking for a DAC that works natively with the PS5 with no additional fiddling, the Sound BlasterX G6 is a popular choice.
Sound BlasterX G6
UAC 1.0 DAC for PS5
$120 $160 Save $40
Get superior audio quality with the Sound BlasterX G6 DAC while retaining support for PS5 3D Audio over standard headphones.
Making the Most of Your PS5
3D Audio is just one of the many PS5 features you should be taking advantage of. The ability to use any old headphones you have lying around should give you more money to spend on upgrading the internal storage on your PS5 with an aftermarket NVMe drive.