Goodbye stereo: Sony’s new 360 Reality Speaker is bringing the future of audio right to your living room.
If you’ve been immersed in the audio world recently, you’d likely see the massive trend that several audio production companies have made towards 3D audio. From iHeartMedia, to Audible, and even Apple — you wouldn’t be remiss to believe that the future of audio exists in the third dimension.
And above all of the other corporations throwing their hats in the ring, Sony is pegging every single hat they own, as well as their suits, ties, and other clothes in amongst their competitors under their new 3D Reality Audio brand.
They’ve thrown one of the most intricate 3D audio soundcards on the market into their PS5, have partnered with streaming services like Tidal and Deezer to remix classic pop songs for an immersive headphone experience, have redefined their approach to headset design with 3D audio in mind, and just announced an absolute game-changer with their new line of 360 Reality immersive speakers.
For a very, very long time, since the line between audiophiles and film-nerds has been so slim, the demand for at-home immersive sound setups have been very low, and unaffordable to the point of exclusion. In 2021, the most simple living room surround sound rig will still set you back a chunk of change, and in so far as Dolby Atmos or other immersive forms of audio are concerned — you’d be in luck if a film that advertised itself as being presented in Atmos ended up being presented in a cinema with aligned speakers.
Essentially, whilst we’ve been chasing that feeling of A New Hope’s Star Destroyer passing overhead for decades, and whilst audio technology has been making leaps and bounds in terms of the way sound can be presented, the concept of a fully immersive audio experience has been somewhat exclusive, and relegated to only a handful of contexts.
The Sony 360 Reality Speaker RA3000 and 5000 units are speakers designed with the intention of “filling your whole room with sound”. Using an internal mic and an AI algorithm, it’s able to map your room, and diffuse sound throughout it by bouncing sound off the walls and roof. The RA5000, in particular, has a total of 7 drivers: 3 angled vertically, 3 angled horizontally, and an LFE unit, with all speakers working together disperse the sound.
From here, the speaker uses immersive mixing techniques to map individual channels or instruments to a particular location within this space. You’ll be listening to Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, and you’ll suddenly be surrounded by invisible musicians — the pan flute will be coming from over your left shoulder, the bass from overhead, the drums from way out underneath your TV unit.
And with this, your living room becomes a jam space, audio producers have a physical medium to play in, and the future of immersive mixing is knocking on our door. Not to mention that all of this is available in a single unit. No multicore looms no messy wiring — just a central speaker unit pumping out audio throughout your whole living space.
The 360 Reality speaker brings the endless possibilities of immersive audio into your own living room, and as for where we’ll go from here who knows.
Find out more at Sony.