The Top 5 PlayStation Start-Up Sounds

by Blake Hester on Oct 20, 2020 at 04:11 PM

New consoles sure are exciting. It's basically like looking into the future, getting our first glimpse at cutting edge technology. Of course, we're not talking about boring stuff like ray-tracing, 4K displays, or even subsurface scattering here. No, the most exciting part of buying a new video game console is getting to hear the latest technological advancements in start-up sounds. The sweet, sweet chime that greets us every time we turn a console on.

The PlayStation 5 is right around the corner, set to be released to the public on November 12. Soon it'll fill our homes with its shiny new start-up sound, like an old friend welcoming us home after a long day, saying, "Here, friend, take a load off. Let's game." In anticipation, we decided to look back at all the best PlayStation boot up sounds over the years, doing our best to whittle them down to only our five favorites. After much consideration, deliberation, and pontification, we here at Game Informer are proud to bring you the definitive list of the five best PlayStation start-up sounds of all time.

Number 5: PlayStation 1

Hey, this sucks. I just played this on my laptop with my speakers only set to 32-percent and it was still the loudest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. And I don't mean to be crass, but someone's gotta say it: The beginning of this sounds like a big long fart. Which is bad enough on its own, but four seconds in we also get the harsh tinny sound of 64-bit windchimes, creating a dissonance from Hell that only increases in volume. Just when you think it's finally dying down, there comes the PlayStation logo, and there come those sounds again, each harsher than the last. The PlayStation start-up sound mimics Sony's marketing direction from this era: brash, in your face, and obnoxious. Like those old ads, this has aged terribly. 

I didn't have a PlayStation growing up, but my friend Cory did. The speakers on Cory's tiny 10-inch CRT TV were blown out, ostensibly from the sheer volume of the PlayStation's boot up sound rocking the miniscule inch in diameter speakers within, which somehow amplified the harshness of this boot-up sound. Like all children, Cory was an idiot, and insisted on having his TV turned up as loudly as possible at all times. Hearing this 20-some years later elicits a Pavolovian response in me to immediately cup my ears, cry, and ask my parents to pick me up and take me home rather than staying the night here. It also reminds me of Cory, my old friend, who I now realize has left deep psychological scars on my brain, for which I can never forgive him. Cory, if you're reading this, I lied when I told you I didn't know what happened to your Goku action figure. I stole it when you weren't looking and I'd do it again. 

Number 4: PlayStation 5

We have now seen into the future. And it's fine, I guess? But also, like, kinda nothing. The PlayStation 5 start-up sound begins kinda cool, it's got a bit of a mysterious vibe to it that makes me think about all the new unexpected fantasy worlds I'm about to inhabit, but then it transitions to just nothing. It's a slight swell of sound with a couple notes on a keyboard. This isn't what I was promised! This doesn't sound like the future of gaming! This sounds like the self-checkout at the grocery store.

I'm a little disappointed, honestly. I expected more from the next generation of consoles, but sadly this is like watching a cover band rather than a headliner. The sound has a lot of build-up but no climax, like eating a hotdog without mayonnaise, or watching a movie and skipping the credits. 

Maybe I'm missing something here. It could be that I'm using my tiny laptop speakers to listen to this, and not truly experiencing the power of the PlayStation 5. Perhaps when I finally get my hands on Sony's next console and some new headphones, which I will of course allow to analyze my ear using 360 Reality Audio Setup, then I'll feel this start-up sound. Check back here after the PlayStation 5 is released for moment-to-moment updates. 

Number 3: PlayStation 3

Here we see Sony at its most restrained. Which is kind of ironic considering how brazen it was when marketing the PlayStation 3, pricing the console at $599, and literally telling people they might need to get a second job to pay for this thing. Do you remember that? What a truly wild thing for a company to say. 

Anyways, I like this one, it's got a nice string rise that quickly dies out. It doesn't stick around too long, giving players a nice welcome to the gamerzone before getting out of their way. And as a gamer, I appreciate that. The ensuing swirl of sound and strings that plays under the PlayStation 3 home screen is a nice touch, too. It's kind of like the soundtrack to my browsing, a little song that makes choosing whether I'm going to watch Netflix or play Resistance: Fall of Man all that more interesting. 

You might be saying to yourself, "Wait a second, he's now praising the exact same thing he just criticized with the PlayStation 5!" To which I say that this is my list, not your list. 

Number 2: PlayStation 4

The day I got my PlayStation 4, one of the first things I did after plugging it in was turn off the start-up sound. The second thing I did was download the YouTube app. I didn't have the money to buy any games, so I had to do something with my new box. I think I watched an A$AP Ferg music video, perhaps "Shabba." That song was really big back then. Anyways, I haven't heard the boot-up sound for the PlayStation 4 since. Well, until just now when I listened to it for research.

I got nothing against the sound, it's nice enough. But honestly, hearing any sound that much is kind of grating. I'm gaming every day and so it's better to just turn that stuff off rather than hear it over and over and over again. I don't want to start my game sessions annoyed because I heard the same sound for the 100,000th time, you know? 

So actually, the silence of turning my PlayStation 4 on is what I'm ranking here in the second-highest spot. I recommend everyone do it. It's a nice feature on the PS4 and I hope it comes to the PlayStation 5. 

Number 1: PlayStation 2

You hear that? That's the sound of gaming, baby. That's the sound of getting home from school on a Friday, throwing your backpack across your bedroom, turning on your PS2, popping in your copy of Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, crushing no less than eight Mountain Dew Voltages, and getting to business. 

(Ed. Note: business here = gaming the heck out on the weekend)

This isn't even a song or a chime. When you boot up a PlayStation 2, it's an all-out attack on the senses. The crash of sound mixed with the fall through the cube-scape into the black abyss before landing suspended in time and space at the console's menu, it's a little scary. It feels like your traveling headfirst through the unknown. Where you'll wind up is a mystery as the PlayStation 2 turns on. But chances are, it'll be epic. 

I double checked and can safely say that nostalgia is not affecting my opinion here. This is a completely unbiased take on the PlayStation 2 start-up sound, which is definitely the best PlayStation start-up in history. Every time I hear that iconic sound and whirl of wind I can feel my hands twitching, as if instinctively gripping a Dualshock 2 controller, ready to drop into WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, ready to care about nothing ever again. 

What's your favorite PlayStation start-up sound? PSP and Vita don’t count. Let us know in the comments below!