Sony introduces its new 360 Reality Audio format at CES
Sony Corporation, during its keynote at the CES technology show in Las Vegas introduced “an all new music experience called ‘360 Reality Audio’ that makes listeners feel as if they are immersed in sound from all directions” – complete with participation from streaming services, and other major labels.
This is a new take on surround-sound music, using spatial-audio technology developed by Sony based on the existing MPEG-H 3D Audio standard. Sony will make the tools for musicians and labels to create new 360 Reality Audio content as well as converting existing tracks; and it will also “release a format optimised for music distribution” and ensure that music can be made available “on the premium plans offered by music distribution services”.
For paying music subscribers this an attempt to use "experience" (including audio quality) as an incentive for free listeners to upgrade. For now, four music services are on board: Deezer, Tidal, Qobuz and nugs.net. As with other hi-res music technologies, the biggest streaming services are conspicuous by their absence, at launch. As for labels, Sony Music is on board with 360 Reality Audio, but Warner Music Group was also part of the announcement.