Sony confirms 360 Reality Audio streaming launch

posted on Wednesday, 16th October 2019 by Steve May

3D Audio  Streaming  Hi-fi 

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Sony 360 Reality Audio, the immersive multichannel sound format, will launch on Deezer, Tidal, Nugs.net and Amazon Music HD this autumn. 

Apparently 1,000 songs have been mixed in the format, from artists such as Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Pharrell Williams. The service will also feature more than 100 songs recorded from an array of concerts by performers such as CHARLI XCX and Kodaline, captured through a partnership with select Live Nation clubs and theatres.

Market leader Spotify is notable by its absence from the launch partner list.

The technology was previewed at CES, and shown in near ready form at IFA. Object-based spatial audio technology allows artists and music creators to map sound sources such as vocals, chorus and instruments with positional information, and place them within a spherical space when listened to using headphones. The service will also work with the new Amazon Echo Studio multichannel speaker.

Collaborating music labels include Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Sony is promising a musical ecosystem around the format, which will include the creation, distribution and playing of music content. Sony will also provide specifications for the 360 Reality Audio music format with the cooperation of Fraunhofer IIS, part of Europe’s largest organisation for applied research.

The format is compliant with MPEG-H 3D Audio, an international open audio standard, and optimized for music streaming.

360 Reality Audio does not require specific headphones, only an app from a compatible service. Sony headphones can use the Sony Headphones Connect app, which can be customised to the listener’s hearing characteristics using images of ear dimensions leveraging Sony’s unique algorithm.

“360 Reality Audio is a proof point that innovation never stops,” said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer, Sony Electronics. “The confluence of deep technical roots, tireless artists and forward-thinking hardware and semiconductor partners illustrates the tremendous draw of this radical new way to make music even more moving. Together with valued industry partners, Sony has architected the most powerful, realistic music experience for listeners and a new medium for artists to create.”

The company has partnered with platform and chipset providers, in order to make 360 Reality Audio usable in a wide range of future connected devices. This includes Amazon Alexa, Google Chromecast and chipsets manufactured by Media Tek, NXP Semiconductors N.V, and Qualcomm.

Sony says it is planning standalone 360 Reality Audio decoders and signal processing technology.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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