Google and Sony team up to add 360 Reality Audio support in Android
Sony has been developing its 360 Reality Audio technology for a while now, based on the MPEG-H 3D audio codec. The tech is mostly limited to some of Sony’s own smartphones, and only works with compatible apps, but now it looks like broader 360 Reality Audio support could be coming to Android.
A series of code reviews in the Android Open Source Project mention 360 Reality Audio, with code submitted by developers from both Sony and Google. Some of the work is to bring MPEG-H 3D support to Android’s MPEG4Extractor system component, while other code is specifically for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio.
There’s also a comment on the code reviews from Kei Murayama, a software engineer at Sony, that seems to confirm this is a joint venture between Google and Sony. “This is one of the patches mentioned in the meeting ‘Android OS 360RA support’ between Google and Sony,” it says.
Sony 360 Reality Audio currently requires the music provider to explicitly support it, as well as compatible speakers or headphones. Sony’s website lists Amazon Music HD, Nugs.net, and Tidal as the only music streaming services that offer 360 Reality Audio tracks. While the technology does work with any headphones or speakers, the 3D effect will be most noticeable with speakers built for 360 Reality Audio, like Sony’s SRS-RA5000 speaker, the Amazon Echo Studio, and Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar.
The ongoing work between Google and Sony means that Android will get a built-in decoder for MPEG-H 3D audio, so it will be easier for any apps to add 3D audio playback. As with the apps that already have 360 Reality Audio, you won’t necessarily need special headphones or speakers—one of the comments mentions that a virtualizer “can place individual sounds in a 360 spherical sound field from these channels on any headphones.”
Here’s hoping the changes will be finalized in time to ship with Android 12, otherwise we’ll likely have to wait until next year for enhanced 3D audio in Android.
Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer luca020400 for the tip!