AudioMedia - February 2012 - (Page 16)
OHN BROOMHALL asks PlayStation Technical Audio Guru, Jason Page (Senior Audio Manager – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe R&D) for the full SP. Audio Media: How did Sony go about deciding VITA’s capabilities for audio? Jason Page: The audio working group designed a synthesizer based on their collective experiences from PS. There were a wide range of requirements from our Worldwide Studio teams to ensure the design could meet the audio needs of many existing PS games – such as the Uncharted series, MotoStorm, and Gran Turismo. We also considered the needs of third party developers. From the developer support side, we had a lot of information regarding how developers handled audio – things like the minimum number of expected audio channels, which DSP effects are a priority (and now considered the ‘norm’ for current gen games), codec requirements, average audio asset memory footprints, etc. Once we had collectively decided upon audio features, my team went ahead with development – initially on PC, until we had access to early PS Vita hardware. We decided to call the synth ‘NGS’. At this stage, we also contacted a number of middleware partners to gauge their initial feedback to NGS’s features and API. AM: So what’s under the hood?
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– Game-Changer for Game Audio
PS Vita is Sony’s brand new handheld games console. Successor to the PSP, Vita boasts serious computing power to deliver a Playstation3-like gaming experience via an exquisite visual display with pro quality audio.
JP: There are two sides to audio processing on PS Vita – the ARM processing and the Codec Engine processing. The ARM side is also where the main game is processed, so it’s been very important to keep CPU use to a minimum here. The Codec Engine is where the serious audio processing happens (mixing, resampling, DSP fx…). I can’t go into detail regarding the hardware, but suffice to say, it’s powerful! Developers aren’t allowed direct access to the Codec Engine (as with the PSP’s ‘Media Engine’). We had to ensure that the design of NGS took this into consideration allowing the synth to be configurable (synth DSP module routing and buss routing, for example), and we made sure to include the high-priority DSP effects as standard, a s i t wo u l d n’t b e possible for developers to write their own on the Codec Engine. AM: How about memory and storage for audio? JP: There’s no actual audio memor y (similar to both PS and PSP), and we’ve got a number of codecs that allow for compression ratios comparative with that of current gen memory footprints. From speaking to many developers, we concluded that a budget of around MB for current gen audio assets is quite normal (RAM being reserved for in-game sound effects, streaming audio buffers, and such). We needed to ensure, where possible, developers could
dedicate the same RAM budget on Vita and achieve similar results. AM: So will it deliver PS quality audio? JP: It depends which PS games you compare with – but the goal was to allow our own Worldwide Studios PS titles to work on PS Vita with minimum changes… Games process hundreds of audio channels, as well as high quality reverbs, etc. We consider a ‘game voice’ would have re-sampling, volume changing, filter, and some kind of codec-decoding all active. So when I say ‘hundreds of audio channels’, I mean real ‘game voice’ audio channels. The main audio difference is obviously that it’s a portable unit with stereo output, rather than fullfat .. But in terms of fidelity, it’s up with PS, and in terms of scope, I think that the synth design is actually more flexible. Of course, PS is a home console. It plugs into the mains and has a fan to keep it from overheating! PS Vita is a battery-powered unit so you have to be sensible when making comparisons. Sure, if you used the whole PS to do something amazing with audio only then yes, PS delivers more. But if you consider what resources are normally available for game audio on a home console (memory, CPU use, DSPs) then without a doubt, PS Vita can deliver to that level. AM: Is PS Vita redefining handheld game audio? If so, what do you think the long term effect will be on other devices? JP: With regards to the knock-on effect, portable audio can no longer be seen as the ‘simpler option’ or ‘poor relation’. In future, budgets for portable game audio may rise to meet that of home consoles, although re-using assets across the two will also be a viable option and, as such, could make portable console development easier overall. Does PS Vita redefine handheld game audio? I think so, yes. If I look at current pre-PS Vita portable devices, their audio capabilities are around years behind that of home consoles. So, comparing the audio capabilities of PS Vita to other portables on the market (whether game devices or mobile phones), PS Vita audio is a staggering achievement. ∫
AU DIO ME D I A FE BR UARY 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AudioMedia - February 2012
Audio Media - February 2012
Special Report: BVE
Cut Scene: PS Vita
New at NAMM
NAMM Show Wrap-Up
RND Portico 5024
Untrason Signature Pro
Final Cut: Drive
Allen & Health GS-R24
Product Sampler: Broadcase Consoles
ClassicCut: The Haunting
AudioMedia - February 2012
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