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Sony's latest project tackles immersive, 3D audio

Cozy up in a blanket of sound.

Published onJanuary 8, 2019

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Anyone who’s used run-of-the-mill earbuds knows the pain of one-dimensional sound. It’s bland and about as enticing as a soggy slice of white bread. Fortunately for us, Sony announced its latest pet project: 360 Reality Audio which interprets sounds as objects to be placed and manipulated within a space rather than as static channels.

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While the concept seems similar to Dolby Atmos, which also defines sounds as objects, the execution is rather different. Sony is as Sony does. Therefore, the company is taking a vertical approach by tackling music creation, distribution, and playback.

Sony’s partnering with a variety of record labels to augment music into the 360 Reality Audio format, abiding by the MPEG-H 3D Audio standard. Unfortunately, said distribution won’t be vast, as its provision is limited to four streaming services: Deezer,, Qobuz, and TIDAL.

To get the most realistic, or even hyper-realistic sound, users need a multi-speaker system. That said, 360 Reality Audio isn’t just compatible with speakers; it’s also supported by headphones. While Sony envisions broad horizons for the technology, its immediate focus is on its own hardware. The plan is for Sony to use its knowledge of psychoacoustics to render a lifelike sound no matter the genre. If all goes accordingly, we may see an extensive Sony ecosystem built around 360 Reality Audio.

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