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Dolby Atmos Music comes to Jay-Z's Tidal service

Dolby takes on Sony's 360 Reality Audio by bringing its immersive Atmos Music format to Tidal Hi-Fi subscribers.


Sony's 360 Reality Audio isn't the only surround-sound music game in town: Dolby Atmos Music takes the company's established movie format and applies it to music streaming. And Jay-Z's streaming service Tidal is now on board.

Tidal Hi-Fi subscribers can now stream Dolby Atmos tracks from Universal and Warner Music artists such as The Weeknd, Ariana Grande and Blondie in immersive audio. Don't have a Tidal Hi-Fi subscription? The company just announced new users can get five months of any Tidal tier, including Hi-Fi, for $5

Dolby Atmos is a surround format that features height channels and is typically played back on surround systems and some soundbars, but part of the appeal of the two competing formats is that they can be played on mobile phones. Compatible Atmos devices include Android smartphones and tablets such as the Samsung (Galaxy S10, S10+, Galaxy Fold, Tab S5 and others), Huawei (Mate 20 x, Mate 20 Pro, and others), Oppo (Reno ACE and others), RAZER Phone 2, and Sony Xperia 1 and 5. A Dolby spokesperson told CNET: "We're working with TIDAL and our device partners to bring this experience to more devices in the future". 

By comparison, Sony's 360 Reality Audio is supported by the Amazon Echo Studio and Denon's Heos system for subscribers of Amazon Music HD. 

Dolby Atmos tracks on Tidal will be identified by a Dolby logo and a Dolby Atmos symbol appears when the song is selected. You can also find compatible tracks under the Explore tab on the Tidal app's homepage.

It's early days for immersive audio, and while surround music formats like DVD-Audio and Quadraphonic have failed in the past, both Dolby and Sony are confident that immersive formats will take off. Devices like the Echo Studio may help with adoption, but mobile headphone use is only simulated surround and may not work as well as dedicated systems.

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