360 Spatial Sound Mapping

Sony, one of the world’s top technology brands, designs everything from high-tech appliances to home theatre devices like TVs, speakers, and sound bars. They’re always creating new technology and pushing boundaries for technology we already own, so it’s no surprise they’ve designed a new audio experience for your home theatre. It’s called Sony 360 Spatial Sound. Available on compatible Sony sound bars and speakers,  this technology has the power to make your home theatre audio more immersive than you thought possible.

What is Sony 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology?

A standard 3 channel sound bar has 3 speakers, and most sound bars use channels to distribute audio. Depending on what you’re watching, one channel will handle background audio, one channel will handle dialogue, and one will handle sound effects. That means any vocals or dialogue will always come from one speaker on the sound bar.

If you’ve ever read about Dolby Atmos, you know how sound bars with this technology are slightly different. They use sound objects placed within a sound field instead of single-channel output. For example, in a Dolby Atmos sound bar, a sound engineer will place a sound effect like the rev of a motorbike engine on your sound bar’s left speaker. It will then move to your center speaker, and then continue moving along the sound timeline to your right speaker. The different sound object placements will make it feel as though the motorbike is cruising right past your TV.

Dolby Atmos technology can also project height, so you’ll feel as though sound is coming from the ceiling too. This type of technology gives you the sensation you’re in a 3D sound bubble, with sound objects realistically moving all around you.

Sony 360 Spatial sound mapping uses sound object technology, just like Dolby Atmos, but they’ve taken the concept quite a few steps further to create a 360 sound experience. With a compatible Sony sound bar or home theatre system plus rear speakers, Sony 360 Spatial sound mapping adds phantom speakers all around the room, creating a dome of audio that surrounds everyone who’s watching.

How does Sony 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology work?

To achieve the feeling of 360-degree sound, Sony 360 Spatial sound mapping utilizes a few different Sony technologies. Sony Sound Field Optimization uses built-in microphones to measure both the height and position of your sound bar and speakers. Sound Field Optimization also analyzes the room, so sound placement will be customized for your space.

Four Sony speakers can create twelve phantom speakers

Once it’s analyzed your audio set up and the room it’s in, Sony 360 Spatial sound mapping will add virtual or ‘phantom’ speakers in key areas of your space. It can create twelve phantom speakers from just four real speakers. These speakers create an ultra-wide 360 sound area that doesn’t just come from your TV—it surrounds you from the top of the room to the bottom, with audio coming from all sides. With Sony 360 Spatial sound, every seat in your living room will enjoy the same amazing audio experience as the person who is front and center.

Speakers compatible with Sony 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology

Sony 360 Spatial Sound mapping is available in select Sony sound bars and rear speakers. When choosing, you’ll want to keep in mind you must use compatible rear speakers to achieve the effect.

You’ll find Sony 360 Spatial Sound mapping available in the following Sony models:

To use this technology with a compatible Sony sound bar, you’ll set up the compatible Sony rear speakers in your room. You can also choose the Sony HTA9 home theatre system that includes a control module and four rears speakers. Once you have unpacked it, you can place the control module under or near your TV. You’ll plug it in via HDMI, and your Sony speakers will wirelessly connect to the control box.

Set up will take a few minutes depending on your room, but you’ll be walked through every step of the process including Sound Field Optimization. During this process your control module or sound bar will ‘ping’ your rear speakers, measuring the relative location and height. Because it analyzes where your speakers are located in the room, you’ll need to provide clear access to them during Sound Field Optimization. If you have a couch or chair in the way, you’ll need to move it temporarily so your speakers can be properly mapped.

Once Sound Field Optimization is complete, Sony 360 Spatial Sound mapping will add phantom speakers to your room. In addition to your four physical speakers, you’ll have added phantom speakers that will surround you as you watch. These speakers will provide height and a depth of sound that’s so immersive, you’ll feel as though you’re in the theatre and not on your living room couch.

Upgrade your home theatre with Sony 360 Spatial Sound 

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading the audio in your home theatre, you definitely need to check out the range of sound bars and speakers compatible with Sony 360 Spatial Sound mapping technology. You can find all compatible Sony speakers right now at Best Buy.

Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag