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Sony has challenged Dolby Atmos stranglehold on immersive audio technology with the unveiling of its new 360 Reality Audio format coming later this year.

Intitally debuting at CES, the high-resolution immersive listening technology will be made available on over 1000 audio tracks from Sony’s own label, across Tidal, Amazon Music HD, Deezer and nugs.net.

The goal of the project is to recreate the experience of listening to live music; creating a virtual sound stage with the listener right in the middle.

Going one step beyond typical stereo audio, the audio processing technology should allow listeners to distinguish the exact location of an instrument on the sound stage.

Sony says that any pair of headphones is capable of playing the 360 Reality Audio format, though a customised experience has been promised for Sony headphones through the Headphones Connect app, with some currently available headphones able to produce a “custom immersive musical field”, though there are little details on the functionality of the process.

The new audio format is compliant with the open MPEG-H 3D audio standard, and Sony is working alongside Fraunhofer IIS to ensure compatibility.

Thanks to Sony’s partnership with Amazon and Google, the Echo Studio and Chromecast will support 360 Reality Audio content, though it is unclear whether there will be any differences between the audio output from other speaker units or headphones.

Sony Electronics (North America) president and COO Mike Fasulo said in a press release, ‘Sony has architected the most powerful, realistic music experience for listeners and a new medium for artists to create.’

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