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Sony jumps into immersive audio with its new 360 Reality Audio technology

By Marcus Wong - on 8 Jan 2019, 11:05am

Sony jumps into immersive audio with their new 360 Reality Audio technology

Look out Creative and Audeze, Sony’s jumping into immersive audio too. Sony has just announced at CES 2019 that it's working on a technology called 360 Reality Audio. Working on the concept of spatial audio, 360 Reality Audio technology lets you hear audio as though it was all around you.

This is based on MPEG-H object-based audio, so artists can place vocals, instruments and effects all around you, similar to what happens with Dolby Atmos in cinemas. According to Sony, mapping of vocals, chorus and instruments is done with positional information of distance and angle, so when you playback the audio, you can get an experience that’s truly as the artist intends.

Sony says it'd work with the major music labels to prepare and augment music to the 360 Reality Audio format, so existing music that’s already in multi-track sound format can be converted into a 360 Reality Audio-compatible format.

How audio is normally delivered.

How Sony 360 Reality Audio delivers it.

Just as important, Sony says a dedicated device will not be needed to playback 360 Reality Audio content. However, to deliver the best possible experience, your hearing characteristics will still need to be measured so that your individual HTRF can be taken into account.  Sony is working on an app for this that will allow you to use your smartphone to take the necessary photos.

Speaker systems that project sound in all directions will be able to reproduce a 360 Reality Audio experience, and other manufacturers’ audio products that support the distribution format from Sony will be able to playback 360 Reality Audio content.  At the moment, early music streaming services planned are Deezer, nugs.net, Qobuz, and Tidal, but at the moment the format for 360 Reality Audio content has not been finalized yet, nor has there been a definitive rollout date, so we’ll have to wait to hear more.

This is the reference prototype speaker that's used for the demo at CES 2019.

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