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Most Exciting Music Tech From CES 2019

Music has been center stage this week at CES 2019, the latest edition of Las Vegas’s international annual consumer electronics bacchanal. As smart speakers and smart home devices become ubiquitous in households around the world, audio-tech companies new and old are now fighting to show off fresh-off-the-line premium technology at the show, an event that usually serves as a good indicator of trends — or at least fads — to come in the year ahead. Here are a few of the innovations in music that caught our eye this time around.

Sony Debuts Speakers That Can Mimic a Live Concert
Pharrell Williams led Sony’s CES press conference this year to announce “360 Reality Audio,” which sounds like vaguely nonsensical marketing lingo but is actually an intriguing idea that’s garnered many favorable reviews from tech critics so far: Sony is trying to expand high-resolution music by adding a spatial dimension, which will build upon the MPEG-H 3D audio format to place vocals, instruments and other certain sounds on a track “around” a listener. By being recorded and distributed in this new splintered format, songs will ideally be delivered to listeners sounding like they’re being performed live.

The new format will be available on a special new Sony speaker, but the idea is that music fans will also be able to hear 360 Reality Audio music with any speaker system that can project sound in a number of directions, as well as audiophile-grade headphones. Stay tuned for more details out of the Japanese tech company in the next few weeks. Sony says it’s currently working with streaming services that already offer high-res listening tiers, like Tidal and Deezer, to bring the format to the mass market.

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