Tidal Drops Support For Sony’s 360 Reality Audio Format

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Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format was only released a few years ago, and its support is now being discontinued on one of the two major music streaming platforms that supported it, Tidal.

Tidal announced it would discontinue support for the format this month, July 24, 2024. The only remaining major streaming service that still supports the format is Amazon Music.

Niche streaming services, such as Nugs.net and Artist Connection also still support the format. Deezer removed support back in 2022.

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is an object-based audio format, that allows music to be recorded, mixed, and delivered to consumers, in full surround sound.

It provides an alternative to Dolby Atmos in regard to multi-channel music recordings.

With Tidal dropping support, artists will now only have one option to deliver spatial audio tracks to fans on a wide range of music streaming platforms, Dolby Atmos.

Sony has yet to comment on the decision, however, Tidal said, “After careful consideration of relative catalogue coverage, distribution frequency, and subscriber listening experiences, we decided to discontinue hosting MQA, 360 Reality Audio, and all podcasts on TIDAL. Music fans can continue to access over 110 million songs available in HiRes FLAC, FLAC, and Dolby Atmos on TIDAL for U$10.99/month (or local equivalent) on an Individual Plan.”

sony 360ra headphones Tidal Drops Support For Sony’s 360 Reality Audio Format

The Individual Plan in Australia costs A$12.99 per month.

The dropping of MQA from Tidal has been expected, and the platform’s selection of podcasts has always been limited.

The selection of songs in 360RA has also always been limited. Sony claimed there are currently over 7,000 music tracks available in 360 Reality Audio, however, Dolby Atmos is available in tens of thousands of music tracks.

Hardware support for 360 Reality Audio has also been limited, with few devices capable of playing back music in the format over speakers.

On some of Sony’s own products, the only way to support the format is via Chromecast Built-In or Google Cast. The listener would need to load a compatible music streaming app on their phone and then cast the 360RA tracks to a receiver or soundbar via Google Cast.

But when it comes to the new BRAVIA Theatre Quad, BRAVIA Theatre Bar 8 and Theatre Bar 9 products, Chromecast Built-in support has been dropped.

This means the listener would need to connect a third-party streaming device to the soundbar or speaker system.

The only compatible playback devices are Amazon’s FireTV Stick 4K, 4K Max or FireTV Cube, and the only supported music app for delivering tracks in 360RA is Amazon Music.

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None of the music streaming apps on Sony’s 2024 TVs support 360RA output over the HDMI eARC output. This connection is used to connect the TV to a home theatre receiver, speaker system or soundbar.

Dolby Atmos music tracks are available on Amazon Music, Apple Music and Tidal on multiple devices across multiple platforms.

Dolby Atmos music tracks are also supported on the TIDAL app on Sony BRAVIA TVs, via a Sony BRAVIA Theatre Quad speaker system.

Most phones and other devices are able to pass the binauralised (two-channel) version of 360RA tracks to any standard pair of headphones.

This process captures the mix into two channels and uses psychoacoustics processing to simulate a sound field from a pair of headphones.

Sony’s headphones feature the ability to measure the listener’s specific ear shape and customise the HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) processing for their ears.

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