With the PlayStation 5 release imminent (well, this year, anyway), Sony has announced details of existing hardware compatibility with the new console. Whilst the lack of Dualshock 4 compatibility has grabbed the headlines, something appears to be absent thus far… any suggestion of an optical audio port.
Why do I need an optical audio port?
If you’re asking the question then, chances are, you don’t. But an optical connection provides digital surround-sound output via fibre-optic. This is separate from the HDMI, often the sole connection from your console to a TV. The port offers an additional way to share the console’s audio output. Many owners use it to connect their console to a sound bar or speakers. Many surround-sound headphones will also make use of it – I have a set of Astro A50 wireless headphones and these use the optical port.
The connector is also known as S/PDIF. The ‘S’ in that stands for ‘Sony’ as it’s full title is ‘Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format’, so you’d expect Sony to support it.
Does the PlayStation 4 have an optical audio port?
The initial release of the PlayStation 4 had an optical port but it was removed from the later version. It was included, however, on the pricier PlayStation 4 Pro.
What has Sony said about the optical audio port on the PlayStation 5?
As we haven’t seen any images, or even a technical specification, for the available connectivity, all we can do is read between the lines from its peripheral announcement.
The Platinum and Gold Wireless Headsets, as well as third-party headsets that connect via USB port or audio jack, will work on PS5
This is the only mention of headset connectivity, and it’s missing any mention of the optical port, as is the rest of the announcement. In fact, it doesn’t even mention Bluetooth, so it looks as though Bluetooth headphones are excluded too (Sony’s own headsets use Bluetooth but via an external dongle).
Why would Sony exclude the optical audio port?
In the past, it’s been said that it was done to save cost. With the PlayStation 4 it was clearly an incentive to opt for the pricier PlayStation 4 Pro, with everyone else left with Sony’s own headsets being the only way to gain surround-sound output.
My poor old Astro’s – which use USB for the microphone and power and the optical port for surround-sound audio output – will be needlessly redundant.
For a console that is already likely to be approaching £500, the lack of an optical port is hard to swallow.
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