Sony 360-degree audio format launches this autumn with 1,000 tunes

Sony is going head to head with Dolby.

We've been waiting for more details on 360 Reality Audio ever since the object-based audio format was unveiled at CES earlier this year, and the Japanese giant has just dropped some major news.

Considered a new format, it is meant to mimic live music, complete with instruments and vocals emanating from different directions. On headphones from "most manufacturers", users will need to combine an iOS or Android smartphone apps streaming Deezer, nugs.net or TIDAL.

As for experiencing 360 Reality Audio through speakers, Sony acknowledged that special processing and "multiple speakers" will be necessary. "Powered by Napster's integration with 360 Reality Audio streaming will allow companies to create their own immersive, personalized audio experiences for new and existing customers and become an important feature in our service's tool box".

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At launch, the only such speaker will be the Amazon Echo Studio, which will be able to stream 360 Reality Audio via the Amazon Music HD streaming services.

Listeners looking to experience the sound at launch will be able to do so through Amazon Music HD on the new Echo Studio smart speaker, a $199 device slated for release on November 7. Surprisingly, only Deezer, Tidal and Nugs.net apps will support this at launch - it looks like Amazon Music Unlimited is off the list.

Sony is working with music labels - including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group - Live Nation, and music distribution services to release more content in 2020 and build an ecosystem around 360 Reality Audio, which is based on MPEG-H 3D Audio, an open audio standard developed by Fraunhofer II and optimized for music streaming. Sony has also captured live performances with Charlie XCX and Kodaline and will make them available in 360 Reality Audio. The showcase starts today (October 16) and runs through Sunday, October 20.

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