Maximizing Surround Sound Experience for Your PS5 🎮

Enhance your PS5 gaming experience with surround sound audio 🎚 Learn how to optimize your console’s audio for a truly immersive gameplay 🎛

Get Immersive Surround Sound on Your PS5

The PlayStation 5 console provides thrilling next-gen gaming experiences, with stunning 4K graphics and immersive sound when properly set up. While the PS5 doesn’t natively support advanced surround formats like Dolby Atmos, you can still get great multichannel audio by optimizing your system. This guide covers how to set up the PS5 for the best surround sound.

Enable Surround Sound Output on the PS5

The first step is designating your audio output device in the PS5’s settings. Go to Sound > Audio Output and set it to AV Amplifier if you have a home theater system. Choose the number of channels your system supports, like 5.1 or 7.1. The PS5 can output up to 7.1 surround sound.

For headphones, select Headphones under Audio Output. You’ll also want to enable 3D Audio here and adjust the audio profile. This tests various sound cues and you select the option that makes the audio seem closest to ear level for personalized 3D surround effects.

Set Audio Format to PCM for Gaming

In your PS5’s sound settings, under Audio Format (Priority), set it to Linear PCM. PCM is an uncompressed format and has the least lag, which is ideal for gaming. The PS5 will output surround sound channels via LPCM.

For video playback like Blu-rays, Bitstream (Dolby) may provide a better experience as the PS5 doesn’t have to decode the audio. But for low latency with games, LPCM is best.

Connect PS5 Directly to TV

To get the highest quality visuals, connect your PS5 directly to your TV’s HDMI port. However, this means the PS5 can’t directly output audio to your AV receiver or sound system.

So use your TV’s HDMI ARC or eARC port to pass sound to your home theater. eARC supports higher bandwidth audio like Dolby Atmos, while standard ARC has more limited capabilities.

Optical Cable as Alternate Audio Connection

If your TV has an Optical Out but lacks ARC/eARC, you can get 5.1 surround by connecting that to your sound system. Under your TV’s Audio settings, change Digital Audio Out to Pass Through so it outputs raw digital audio without processing.

However, optical cables are limited to Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 formats. So you won’t get true Dolby Atmos or DTS:X this way. ARC or eARC is preferred, but optical works if your equipment is older.

Bitstream for Blu-ray and Media App Surround

While LPCM is best for gaming audio, you may want to use Bitstream for media playback if your receiver can decode surround sound formats like Dolby Digital Plus.

The PS5 actually has two Dolby Atmos settings – one for Blu-ray and one for media apps. Enable these for the best movie and streaming surround quality.

Note that the PS5 only supports Dolby Atmos on discs and media, not for game audio. PlayStation games utilize Sony’s own 3D spatial audio solution instead.

Surround Soundheadsets

Gaming headsets can deliver immersive surround effects when used with the PS5’s 3D Audio feature. This places sounds around you in a virtual sphere for greater immersion. Enable 3D Audio in your settings for compatible headsets.

To fully customize the audio profile, use the Adjust 3D Audio Profile option. This plays various sound cues and you pick the one that makes the effects most convincing. Dialing this in makes a dramatic difference in surround headset quality.

Connecting Your Sound System

When setting up your PS5, you’ll need to make sure it’s properly connected to your sound system or home theater for surround sound. There are a few options:

HDMI directly to an AV receiver – This gives you a direct digital connection, but you’ll miss out on 4K/120Hz video unless your AV device supports HDMI 2.1. You may need to select the input on the receiver the PS5 is plugged into.

HDMI to TV first, then ARC/eARC to receiver – Using the TV’s ARC port sends audio back to your AV receiver while getting full 4K/120Hz if your TV supports it. You’ll need to enable HDMI-CEC and ARC/eARC on both devices.

Optical digital audio – If your TV has an optical output, you can send 5.1 surround sound to older receivers. Change the TV’s digital audio setting to Pass Through. Quality won’t be as high as HDMI ARC or eARC though.

Soundbar – For a simple plug-and-play surround system, connect a soundbar via HDMI ARC or optical. The PS5 recognizes it as a stereo device but can still send 5.1 channel audio. Enable pass through on the TV.

Headsets – For late night surround sound gaming, use a stereo headset plugged into the DualSense controller. Enable 3D Audio on the PS5 and calibrate the profile for personalized immersion.

Getting Multi-Channel PCM Output

The PS5 can send uncompressed surround sound via LPCM over HDMI. However, your AV device needs to support 5.1 or 7.1 LPCM input for this to work correctly. If you only get 2-channel stereo, try changing audio settings:

  • On the PS5, set Audio Format Priority to Linear PCM
  • Enable 5.1 or 7.1 audio channels in Sound Settings
  • On your TV, set HDMI Audio Format to PCM or Auto
  • Disable any virtual surround processing on the TV
  • Use the TV’s Bitstream, Pass Through, or PCM audio output setting
  • Select the input on your receiver the PS5 is connected to
  • Turn off any upmixing or virtualization on the receiver

If you buy an HDMI splitter, make sure it can pass through multichannel PCM. Some older splitters may only output 2-channel stereo.

Blu-ray and Media App Audio

While LPCM is best for latency-sensitive gaming, Blu-ray movies and streaming media can benefit from bitstream output. This allows your receiver to decode advanced formats like Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, and Dolby Atmos.

On your PS5, select Bitstream (DTS) or Bitstream (Dolby) in the Audio Format Priority setting. Then enable Dolby Atmos in the Blu-ray app and media settings.

If your sound system can’t handle the full HD audio bitstream, the PS5 will automatically downmix to standard 5.1 Dolby or DTS. Make sure to still select the multichannel input on your receiver.

Bitstream output also avoids console audio processing, allowing your AV gear’s superior decoders to handle sound. You may get lower latency as well. Try switching between Bitstream and LPCM during movies to see which you prefer.

Troubleshooting Issues

If you aren’t getting proper surround output, first check your PS5’s audio settings. Make sure your AV device is selected with the right number of channels. Test different Audio Format options as well.

Also verify your receiver or sound system is configured correctly and set to a multichannel stereo mode. Try connecting the PS5 directly to your AV device if going through the TV.

Finally, check your TV’s audio output settings. Turn off any processing like virtual surround. Make sure digital audio out is Bitstream or Pass Through. Your specific TV model may also need certain options enabled for multichannel ARC/eARC output.

With the right setup, the PS5 can deliver engrossing surround sound to make modern gaming truly come alive. Take the time to optimize your audio settings and equipment configuration for the best immersion.

Surround Professional Magazine
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