PS5 outclassed? Xbox Series X's next-gen audio tech revealed

“Audio ray tracing” could change the game for Microsoft’s Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Microsoft)

 Although the PS5 is still a mystery, we know comparatively a great deal about the Xbox Series X. Thanks to a recent blog post by head of Xbox Phil Spencer, we know it’s set to carry 12 Teraflops of graphical power, it’ll be backwards compatible with previous Xbox One titles, and it’ll use next-generation ray tracing technology to make its games look more immersive than ever. However, there’s one more detail set to put the icing on the cake for Xbox fans. 

 According to Spencer, the Xbox Series X will pack 3D audio, otherwise known as “audio ray tracing”. Audio ray tracing is the Xbox team’s codeword for directional sound: if a phone is ringing in one corner of the room, the Xbox Series X is capable of playing sound through your TV or speakers intelligently to convey which direction the phone is in. 

These possibilities are generating a lot of buzz among game developers. The Microsoft-owned studio Ninja Theory, creators of the upcoming Xbox Series X game Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, are particularly enthused by the new technology. In an interview with VGC, senior sound designer Daniele Galante and studio head  David Garcia revealed all:

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II

Ninja Theory's incredible-looking Senua's Saga: Hellblade II

(Image credit: Ninja Theory)

Galante: “It’s extremely exciting. We’re going to have a dedicated chip to work with audio, which means we finally won’t have to fight with programmers and artists for memory and CPU power.”

Garcia: “We take for granted that graphics are powered by their own video cards. But in audio, we haven’t had anything like that. Now we have some power dedicated to us.”

 This is brand new information: although it’s not the first time we’ve heard about directional sound, this is the first time we’ve heard Xbox Series X is getting its own dedicated audio chip. 

How this will stack up with PS5’s offering, we’re not yet sure: we do know PS5 head Mark Cerny is looking forward to making similar leaps with audio as have been made for graphics with previous generations. However, it’s all theoretical at this point because, of course, no information has yet been released about the console. Any day now...

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