Sony's immersive 360 Reality Audio format could be coming to Android

Sony 360 Reality Audio
(Image credit: Future)

It's been two years since Sony launched 360 Reality Audio, a format that uses Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology to deliver 360-degree sound. In that time, 360 Realit Audio has become available on DeezerTidalAmazon Music HD  and, with subscribers to those services able to listen to them in all their immersive glory.

Compatible products include Sony's dedicated SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 wireless speakers, Amazon's Echo Studio smart speaker and certain Sony headphones (such as the WH-1000XM4) via the firm's dedicated Headphone Connect app.

Now, however, it seems as though Sony has plans to widen compatibility for the format to more Android devices. In the Android Open Source Project, code reviews and comments from both Sony and Google have directly mentioned Sony 360 Reality Audio, as spotted by XDA Developers. The report highlights a comment by Sony software engineer Kei Murayama: “This is one of the patches mentioned in the meeting ‘Android OS 360RA support’ between Google and Sony." 

That suggests a collaboration is in the works to bring Sony's custom decoder for the format (which is built on the open MPEG-H 3D Audio standard) to the wider Android world, presumably allowing app providers to easily offer 3D audio playback.

While 360 Reality Audio can support up to 64 channels of audio, the code mentions support for a 13-channel audio layout "which uses surround 5 channels, top 5 channels and bottom 3 channels". It also states that a "Virtualizer can place individual sounds in a 360 spherical sound field from these channels on any headphones" – so it looks like the technology may be able to work in a psuedo capacity with any set of headphones or, indeed, speakers.

With that Sony and Google joint venture in mind, plus the fact Sony recently announced video streaming capabilities for 360 Reality Audio and 360 Reality Audio Creative Suite content creation software, we could well be seeing – and hearing – more of Sony's immersive audio efforts in the near future. Look out, Dolby Atmos Music.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.