Fix: How to connect your PS5 to old optical audio headphones

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Game streaming has certainly come a long way in the past decade. What used to require external streaming platforms is now replaced with streaming software. The most popular of these is arguably Twitch, and both the PS5 and Xbox Series X emulate the leading brand with ‘share’ buttons. However, one common streaming platform some opt for, instead of services like Twitch, is Open Broadcast Software (OBS).

OBS is a Windows, macOS, and Linux based open-source streaming service. This platform allows console gamers to plug into their computers and gain a streaming setup. By allowing multiple sources to work on a single scene, you get a pretty reliable streaming setup. However, some PS5 find fault with the way the connectivity works this generation.

The main issue is the absence of an optical audio jack in the PS5

The PS5 is a leading, premium gaming console designed for 2020. It features 4K gaming resolution support, a powerful SSD and a decent Input/Output (IO). That said, it has several relevant ports for conventional needs, such as USB 2.0, HDMI Out and Ethernet.

What is missing this generation is a jack for optical audio cables. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it is a cable with several decades of usage.

PS5 audio

Even as far back as 20 years ago (an eternity in the evolving field of tech), the optical audio cable was widely used. It made use of a fiber-optic connection to transmit audio to receivers, and game consoles like the PS2 even implemented them. Currently, OBS allows mainly an optical audio input along with other sources.

The only way to transmit audio is through HDMI Out

Sony did not phase out the optical audio support blindly. Since the PS4 Slim, the jack has been removed, due to declining relevance. In fact, contemporary alternatives to audio, such as both HDMI and even ARC, relay significantly better sound. The optical cable just doesn’t perform as well, and HDMI is now the gold standard. With HDMI 2.0 on the upcoming horizon, the audio will be leaps and bounds better.

Keeping that in mind, the PS5 only needs HDMI Out. Like the Xbox Series X, its main competitor, the console is geared towards usage with 4K televisions, preferably those at 120 Hz. However, most recent 4K displays typically lack optical inputs themselves, favoring the HDMI. Thus, Sony opting to remove the nearly obsolete jack makes sense.

Sony’s implementation of the change is problematic, however. The company never formally announced this decision, just quietly made the change. This is why countless PS5 owners now discovered, to their surprise, that their old external audio setup is useless. That means headphones, amps, and OBS will need a workaround to work with the console.

The easiest fix for those needing to use OBS is purchasing a custom HDMI to Optical Splitter

Sony recently acknowledged the issue and assured gamers that their old hardware wouldn’t become useless. In the case of gaming headphones, a proprietary HDMI to Optical Splitter will hit retailers soon. This device essentially allows a device, like the PS5, to output from the HDMI as an optical cable. Thus, that other end of the optical cable should plug right into your old headphones or OBS. These will retail for about $40 from Astro. Additionally, using the serial code on your old pair of Astro headphones will net you a $15 discount on their website, here.

For more on the PS5 and other handy guides, stay tuned!

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