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Sony Launches 360 Reality Audio Music Format

Immersive audio continues to make inroads into the music world with Sony’s new format.

San Diego, CA (October 22, 2019)—Sony Corporation has launched 360 Reality Audio, an immersive music format utilizing Fraunhofer’s MPEG-H Audio object-based spatial technology, which will be available for streaming from platforms including Amazon Music HD, Deezer, and Tidal later this fall.

According to Sony’s statement, the format, previewed at CES 2019, will launch with “approximately 1,000 songs” from contemporary artists such as Mark Ronson and Pharrell Williams as well as classics from the likes of Billy Joel and Bob Dylan. The service will also feature more than 100 songs recorded in concert by performers such as Charli XCX and Kodaline.

Sony is working with music labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group as well as Live Nation, music distribution services and other music organizations to provide the technology for building a musical ecosystem around 360 Reality Audio, 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.

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Fraunhofer also released a statement, noting, “Playback of 360 Reality Audio content can now be enjoyed on mobile devices on the go and at home. Meanwhile, a prototype for in-car immersive music playback was recently demonstrated by Fraunhofer, Audi and Sony at the 2019 AES International Conference on Automotive Audio in September.”

“The future of music is here and immersive,” says Yoshinori Matsumoto, director and deputy president, Sony Home Entertainment and Sound Products Inc. “The open standardized MPEG-H audio codec enables us to offer 360 Reality Audio music on a growing number of streaming services and many playback platforms from various manufacturers.”

According to Sony, 360 Reality Audio can be fully enjoyed on headphones from most manufacturers when combined with an Android/iOS smartphone that has a participating streaming services app installed. The service will be initially available at launch through Deezer, and Tidal.

Using select Sony headphones and the Sony | Headphones Connect app, which analyzes the listener’s hearing characteristics using images of ear dimensions leveraging Sony’s unique algorithm, listeners can enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is optimized for each individual user.

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The format can also be played over speaker systems enabled with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio decoder and with multiple speaker units and signal processing technology. Compatible songs can be played back from Amazon Music HD using the Echo Studio immersive smart speaker.

360 Reality Audio •