May 27, 2024

The PlayStation 5 Finally Gets Dolby Atmos For More Than Just Blu-Rays

It’s been on the wish list of many PlayStation 5 console owners for so long now that many had started to assume it just wasn’t ever going to happen. Suddenly, though, with no warning or fanfare, Sony PlayStation has finally used its latest Beta software update to add Dolby Atmos sound to the PS5 that extends beyond the Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray support for it that’s been available since the console’s launch.

The new Dolby Atmos support forms part of the latest PS5 beta firmware that’s just started rolling out in select countries, and appears from what’s been explored so far to extend Dolby Atmos functionality to both streaming apps and, most excitingly and unexpectedly, games.

Looking at the situation with games first, it’s important to clarify right away that the PS5’s new Dolby Atmos support doesn’t mean that any of its games are going to start turning up with Dolby Atmos soundtracks built into their code. Instead, according to an explanation on Sony’s latest PlayStation blog, the Tempest 3D AudioTech sound system that Sony chose to develop for its latest console (rather than joining Xbox in onboarding existing third party Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound systems) will render to Dolby Atmos audio devices such as soundbars, TVs and home cinema amps and receivers. The blog confirms that this rendering process will include support for the overhead channels associated with the Dolby Atmos format.

While it might be surprising that Sony has suddenly made this move after putting so much store in its console’s proprietary sound engine for so many years, anything that makes it easier for more people to game in full 3D audio is welcome. Especially since for me anyway, not even the best surround sound headphone experience can beat the visceral immersiveness of a powerful surround sound speaker system.

The Dolby Atmos support for apps should mean, it seems, that video streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ will now have the potential to update their PS5 apps so that, at long last, they’ll be able to support the Dolby Atmos soundtracks now available on so many of the shows and films they carry.

If you have the version of the PlayStation 5 with a built in 4K Blu-ray drive, you (hopefully) realise that while Sony didn’t exactly make it easy to set the feature up, you’ve actually been able to play Dolby Atmos tracks from 4K and HD Blu-ray discs since the console’s launch. That has until this new Beta software release, though, been the only way to enjoy Dolby Atmos from the console.

If you want to make sure you’re geared up for the PS5’s new wider Dolby Atmos support, you need to go to the Settings menu, choose Sound, then choose Audio Output, then choose the Audio Format [Priority] option, and within that submenu you should, if the Beta is installed, find a selectable Dolby Atmos option.

If you don’t have/can’t get the latest PS5 Beta software, experience suggests it should appear as part of a general, finished firmware roll out in a few months – once Sony is happy from the beta testing that everything is working as it should.

The expanded Dolby Atmos support isn’t the only new feature introduced by the new PS5 Beta update. There’s also, most significantly, new support for 8TB SSDs (double the previous upper storage limit) so long as they’re capable of handling data speeds of at least 5,500MB/s.

There are various UI improvements too, to help you get to games and relevant console usage tips more rapidly; new multiplayer connection and customisation options; and the ability to sign two controllers to one profile so that you can use a second joystick as an ‘assist’ controller. In other words, the PS5 console sees the two controllers as essentially one controller to enable more collaborative play – handy for, say, helping a young child get past a tricky part of a game they’re playing.

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