Sennheiser announced (opens in new tab) that the Ambeo, a $2,499, 13-driver monster of a soundbar, will gain 360 Reality Audio playback upon installing its latest firmware update. Using the soundbar’s built-in Chromecast, Ambeo owners are now able to play compatible songs with Sony’s spatial 3D tech.
If you’re unfamiliar, 360 Reality Audio maps the constituent parts of a music piece — namely different instruments and vocal parts — to a digital 360-degree sphere around the listener. It requires songs to be mastered for it, so not every track is compatible, but when it works it aims to create an immersive 3D effect. 360 Reality Audio is also specifically made for music, as opposed to Apple’s similar spatial audio, which currently only works with video content.
Sony initially introduced 360 Reality Audio on headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and WF-1000XM3, but has recently started applying the concept to speakers as well. In a sense it’s almost a music equivalent of the movie-focused Atmos, which bounces sound off your walls and ceilings to create a 3D effect.
With the Ambeo, 360 Reality Audio gains an extra feather its very expensive cap, as it now offers 3D formats for both music and video. However, the Chromecast requirement could make finding compatible songs a little trickier for the time being: Deezer, Tidal and nugs.net are all good sources of 360 Reality Audio songs when you’re listening with your phone and a pair of headphones, but right now only nugs.net delivers that same compatibility over Chromecast. So your choice of tunes may be somewhat limited.
Then again, Sennheiser also said that “additional services and content expected to follow,” so with any luck there’ll soon be a lot more 3D-ready tracks to listen to on the Ambeo.
Next: Find out what our audio editor, Lee Dunkley, made of Sennheiser's Ambeo soundbar in our 5 best TV sound upgrades.