Sony is offering owners of its premium Dolby Atmos soundbar an upgrade to add support for its 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology, currently only available with the Sony HT-A9 wireless speaker system.
The new technology is expected to be included in Sony's forthcoming Dolby Atmos soundbars, but a retroactive update will bring its immersive capabilities to last year's What Hi-Fi? award-winning HT-A7000.
Sony's 360 Spatial Sound Mapping combines two technologies: Sound Field Optimisation and Monopole Synthesis. The former is an automated calibration that uses two mics built into each speaker to measure the room’s height, speaker distance and location. The latter is a technique that follows similar principles to Ambisonics and Wave Field Optimization to synthesise a soundfield with both real and ‘phantom’ sources.
The technology allows users to be more flexible when positioning speakers creating what Sony refers to as a 'bubble' of sound, which we found remarkably effective when we tested the HT-A9.
To experience 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, users will need to update their soundbar's firmware via USB or WiFi. The new feature can be accessed once the soundbar is connected as part of a surround system to Sony’s new SA-RS5 wireless rear speakers, launching in June 2022, or the currently available SA-RS3S wireless rear speakers.
The SA-RS5 wireless surrounds resemble the cylindrical wide dispersion speakers of the HT-A9 and, unlike the SA-RS3S rear speakers, feature up-firing speakers as well as built-in battery power for up to 10 hours of playback. The SA-RS5 also offer hardwired AC power connections, and 10 minutes of charging will provide 90 minutes of use.
The new SA-RS5 wireless rear speakers have a suggested retail price of £700 ($600, around AU$816), while a pair of surround SA-RS3S speakers currently costs £449 / $350 / AU$649.
A firmware update to add 360 Spatial Sound Mapping capabilities to the HT-A7000 is available here. To update using a physical drive, users need to extract files to a blank USB stick and plug it into the soundbar's USB port, then select the 'USB software update' option on the soundbar interface. Alternatively, if the soundbar is connected to a Wi-Fi network, simply go to the user interface and select software update via Network.
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