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The Echo Studio smart speaker from Amazon will be able to play Sony’s immersive 360 Reality Audio. (Amazon Photo)

Sony’s effort to replicate the immersive soundscape of a live musical performance is coming to listeners this fall, and Seattle-based Napster and Amazon are among several partners teaming with the consumer electronics giant.

Called “360 Reality Audio,” Sony first introduced the concept at CES 2019 in January. The object-based spatial technology allows artists to map sound sources such as vocals, chorus and instruments with positional information and place them within a spherical environment around a listener.

Sony has partnered with streaming services Amazon Music HD, Deezer, nugs.net and TIDAL, and listeners will be able to access around 1,000 songs at the start, including tracks from Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Pharrell Williams and Mark Ronson. More than 100 songs recorded from various concerts, captured through a partnership with select Live Nation venues, will also be available.

Sony is also working with Napster, the digital music and streaming technology platform owned by Rhapsody International, to expand the reach of 360 Reality Audio to more providers through “Powered by Napster,” the company’s audio technology platform for businesses.

“The first time I experienced 360 Reality Audio I got chills. A telltale sign Sony’s mind-bending service is a serious game changer,” said Brian Ringer, executive VP and GM of Rhapsody’s Asia Pacific Region. “Powered by Napster’s integration with 360 Reality Audio streaming will allow companies to create their own immersive, personalized audio experiences for new and existing customers and become an important feature in our service’s tool box.”

Listeners looking to experience the sound at launch will be able to do so through Amazon Music HD on the new Echo Studio smart speaker, a $199 device slated for release on Nov. 7. On headphones from “most manufacturers,” users will need to combine an iOS or Android smartphone apps streaming Deezer, nugs.net or TIDAL. Select Sony headphones will work with the Sony Headphones Connect app.

Read the full Sony news release to learn of more plans regarding content and licensing.

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