May 8, 2021

Sony is expanding its 360 Reality audio with editing suite, streaming concert

A new Sony 360 Reality Audio creative suite, and a concert streamed using the standard for the first time are coming.

sony 360 reality audio ces 2021

Credit: Sony
  • A live performance by Zara Larsson will stream in Sony’s 360 Reality Audio on Monday.
  • There’s also a new creative suite plugin for 360 Reality Audio that’s compatible with “popular digital audio workstations.â€�
  • 360 Reality Audio-compatible smart speakers are coming this spring.

Just before the beginning of CES 2021, Sony has made a handful of announcements regarding its 360 Reality audio standard, aimed at getting it in front of more people.

First up, Sony will be streaming a performance by pop musician Zara Larsson on the company’s Artist Connection app. People with compatible headphones that have set up 360 Reality Audio through the Sony Headphones Connect app will be able to listen using spatial audio meant to create the feeling of actually being at a concert. The performance will stream Monday, January 11, 2021 at 5PM EST.

360 Reality Audio is the audio standard Sony introduced in 2019 that can create a 3D audio experience in music instead of the typical left-right stereo mix. There’s a lot of technical wizardry involved, but basically it treats instruments and vocal tracks as objects in 3D space that a producer can manipulate and place in specific positions all around the listener. Getting the audio standard set up is a little involved — you’ve got to take pictures of your ears and go through an analysis process in the Headphones Connect app — but once you do, the music really does sound like it’s coming at you from all angles.

Currently, only Tidal can stream music using the standard, so this could be one of the best chances to experience it without having to spend money on a subscription.

The company also announced a new creative suite plugin for popular digital audio workstations that will make creating 360 Reality Audio content easier. According to the website, this creative suite will let producers place sounds like vocals, instruments, and even audience sounds in a 360-degree spherical sound field based on Sony’s spatial sound technologies. The plugin is apparently coming by the end of the month, developed by Audio Futures, a subsidiary of Virtual Sonics, Inc., and you can already sign up for an invite on the website.

Sony also announced two new speakers coming this spring that will support the 360 Reality Audio, though it didn’t announce pricing. The SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 are both Wi-Fi enabled speakers compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and will use Sony’s algorithms to accurate output spatial audio in a room. Device compatibility has been a big barrier to the adoption of this new standard, so seeing new products that use it is always nice.

Next: 5 things we want to see from Sony in 2021