Sony for a very long time has spearheaded the effort to standardise loudness in games. The recent PS4 SDK update (2.500) includes a mastering suite — Sulpha analysis tools — to help developers master their titles for a variety of playback systems, from full range surround sound systems to TVs, to mobile devices.
It features a 4-band equaliser, a 3-band dynamics processor, gain and limiter controls and loudness management and analysis tools. The interesting thing about the toolset is that it utilises resources from the operating system and is therefore compatible with game audio middleware, third party engines and all PS4 titles.
I briefly interviewed Garry Taylor, Audio Director at Creative Services Group, Sony Worldwide Studios and Marina Villanueva-Barreiro who is a senior engineer at SCEE Research and Development. I found it interesting that about 50% of users listen to PlayStation titles through their TV speakers. I was expecting the percentage to be much higher.
DS: Sony in many ways has been spearheading the loudness standard for games. Did the development of these tools seem like a natural progression from the development of the standard?
Garry: Very much so. Having a loudness standard is all well and good, but we needed to make it as easy as possible for developers to hit the PS4 loudness target without having to spend big money on new equipment. Loudness metering has been part of the PS4 operating system for a couple of revisions now, and this is the next logical step, allowing developers to manipulate overall EQ , dynamic range and loudness easily and quickly. Smaller teams working on PlayStation titles may not have the resources or technical knowledge required to conform to a standard, so having one easy-to-use audio mastering tool that works on every single title made a lot of sense.Read More