Google may challenge Dolby Atmos with a new 3D audio format


Dolby’s Atmos 3D-audio format has been gaining a lot of momentum in music thanks to its adoption by Apple Music, Amazon Music and Tencent Music’s QQ Music among others.

In August, Dolby said that Atmos was now being used by two thirds of the artists in Billboard’s top 100 chart. One of Atmos’s prominent competitors is Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, but another may be on the way… from Google.

Tech site Protocol reported that Google is developing two new ‘open media’ formats for 3D audio and HDR video under the working title of ‘Project Caviar’.

It suggested that the goal is to make these formats available for Google’s own services (e.g. YouTube) but also for other device makers and digital services “without the licensing fees hardware manufacturers currently have to pay Dolby”.

Would a new Google 3D-audio format be adopted by music services however? Amazon already supports both Dolby Atmos and 360 Reality Audio, so in theory it is open to competing formats.

Apple Music might be a stretch, but Spotify has famously yet to launch its long-promised hi-res tier. Having worked closely with Google in other ways (smart speaker integrations for example) could it be waiting for ‘Project Caviar’ to reach fruition?

Written by: Stuart Dredge