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David Bowie's producer shows off 360 Reality Audio mixes at New York pop-up

Tony Visconti says the star would have "absolutely loved" the remixes of the five albums.

Tony Visconti produced 11 David Bowie studio albums.
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Five of David Bowie's later albums will be released on select music streaming services on Jan. 21, remixed in Sony's 360 Reality Audio format. 

The records -- Heathen, Reality, A Reality Tour (Live), The Next Day and Blackstar -- have all been helmed by long-time producer Tony Visconti, and will be released on Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer and Tidal.

Bowie would have turned 75 on Jan. 8, and to celebrate, the producer spoke at the Bowie75 pop-up in the Manhattan suburb of SoHo last night. Visconti worked on Bowie's biggest albums and produced hits such as Ashes to Ashes, Space Oddity and Fame. 

Visconti says that the pop star, who died in 2016, would have "absolutely loved" the 360 Reality Audio format "because it's spatial." He said the new versions of Reality and Heathen are faithful to the original 5.1 mixes, which were made while Bowie was still alive. However, he said that the version of Bowie's final album saw the biggest changes.

"If you hear Blackstar in 360 it sounds radically different from the stereo version because we don't have to cram everything in the front -- it's a very dense album," he said.


The Bowie75 retail popup.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Visconti is enthusiastic about the format, which can be listened to on headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 as well as Dolby Atmos-enabled systems, saying it enables artists and producers to break the rules.

"The one thing pop and rock have over classical and jazz is that we can do anything: If we want to put a string section behind our heads we can do it," Visconti said.

The Bowie75 retail pop-up is one of two, the second being in London, and it features memorabilia, vinyl records and CDs plus a large listening area featuring the 360 Reality Audio remixes. The store opened in October 2021 and will run through late January 2022.