Sony's new 360 Reality Audio technology will launch this autumn with a starter pack of songs and support for at least one Echo device.
Considered a new format, it is meant to mimic live music, complete with instruments and vocals emanating from different directions. It consists of object-based spatial audio, which encapsulates a listener by placing parts of a music track around them in a virtual spherical environment.
There will be around 1,000 songs available in 360 Reality Audio at launch, including tunes from Pharrell Williams, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel. Sony has also captured live performances with Charlie XCX and Kodaline and will make them available in 360 Reality Audio. Sony plans to convert more music from its record label, as well as from Universal, Warner, and Live Nation. And all this will be accessible from a handful of services.
Sony partnered with Amazon Music HD, Deezer, Tidal, and Nugs.net so that you can playback 360 Reality Audio songs. You'll need a speaker with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio decoder, however, which includes Amazon's new Echo Studio. At launch, though, there will be mobile app support through “headphones from most manufacturers", although details on how exactly this will work is not yet clear.
Future support is coming for devices featuring Amazon Alexa, Google Chromecast built-in, or with MediaTek, NXP or Qualcomm chipsets. Users of Sony headphones, like the WH-1000XM3, will also be able to use the Sony Headphones Connect app for granular tuning options.
We're excited to try the new format for ourselves. It was announced at CES 2019 in January and should be available by the end of late autumn.