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I've recently bought a PS5 and I was planning to buy a Pulse 3D headset to benefit the most from the system. But before that, by curiosity, I plugged my Logitech G432 headset to the system and got granted an impressive 3D audio rendering from Returnal and other games that supports 3D audio.

How is it possible? My headset doesn't support Tempest 3D.

Would a Tempest 3D headest bring even better 3D audio?

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Tempest 3D is a console feature, not a headset one.

According to ITIGIC, Tempest 3D does not change how audio is played. It changes how audio is stored.

Traditionally, audio is pre-recorded using multiple microphones, and each audio track (aka channel) is then played by the respective speaker in your system. For example, the track recorded by the left microphone will be played on the left speaker, and the one recorded by the right microphone will be played on the right speaker instead.

With Tempest 3D, you don't have multiple channels. You only have a single channel and a 3D position from which the sound came. From there, the hardware (the PS5) will calculate what each channel should play to give the impression that the sound indeed came from that location.

And this is why your headset can render Tempest 3D without supporting it. It doesn't have to.

And if you look at the official description for the PS5 Pulse headset:

Fine-tuned for 3D Audio

The PULSE 3D wireless headset has been specifically tuned to deliver the 3D Audio made possible by the PlayStation®5 console.

It doesn't say that the Pulse headset supports 3D audio, only that it was tuned to deliver it.

This naturally leads us to the next question: How can a device with only 2 speakers produce sounds that feel like they're coming from any direction other than left, right, or center?

Thanks to a technique known as "virtual surround", which works precisely because humans have 2 ears.

Unfortunately, I'm no expert in acoustics, so I can't go too deep into the technical details, but when sound waves hit the human ear, they're transformed by the human earlobe.

Depending on the direction from which the sound waves came from, they're transformed differently. Virtual surround attempts to simulate that effect by transforming the sound before it reaches the ear, providing the illusion that the sound came from a specific direction.

Just like with Tempest 3D, virtual surround does not need to be supported on the audio device.

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  • Actually, the G432 does the virtual surround processing itself, at least if connected via USB. It presents as a 7.1 channel sound card properly configured for surround, and spatializes things itself. This is increasingly common on decent USB headsets these days, though it’s hardly new (for example, the now practically ancient Logitech G35 had the same setup, albeit with a noticeably different spatialization algorithm from the modern Logitech models). Sep 12, 2022 at 1:59
  • > when sound waves hit the human ear, they're transformed by the human earlobe => this is modelled as a head-related transfer function (HRTF).
    – Bob
    Sep 12, 2022 at 2:33
  • @Bob: Here's an example for headphones : youtube.com/watch?v=CepeycyGhwE Sep 12, 2022 at 12:09
  • @Bob, thanks for the info. Like I said, I'm no expert in acoustics. This was very informative nonetheless.
    – Nolonar
    Sep 12, 2022 at 18:36

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