Hands-on time with the Oculus Crescent Bay headset—now with positional audio

By Lee Hutchinson

Ars Senior Gaming Editor was the first member of the Ars staff to try out Oculus’ updated Crescent Bay head-mounted display back in September, and since then the Facebook-owned VR company’s technology demonstrator has learned a new trick: its integrated headphones can output highly accurate positional audio.

This might not seem hugely significant at first, but Oculus wants its Rift headsets to provide a sense of total immersion, and audio sources that sound like they actually come from a consistent location even while the wearer twists their head around are crucial to that immersion. Oculus ran us through a neat updated demo loop that had us standing on the edge of a skyscraper like Batman, running from giant T-rexes, and watching two big robotic arms zip around and fight a magic wand duel, and as near as we could tell, the sound remained solidly anchored to where it should be even as we wandered around and moved our head in and out of the scene.

In fact, the audio’s positioning and tracking was good enough that I didn’t really notice it until it was pointed out to me by the Oculus folks. That’s some of the highest praise it’s possible …read more

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