Panasonic Avionics to partner with HEAR360 to bring Spatial Audio to the air

There is a lot of buzz in audio markets about ‘spatial audio’ at the moment and many companies are opting to benefit from the boost in interest by offering some iteration of the concept.

If you’re not familiar, the biggest player within this market is Dolby Atmos, others include  Sony 360 Reality Audio which is based on MPEG-H.

An announcement publicized this week is Panasonic Avionics partnering with HEAR360 to offer a proprietary spatial audio solution to airline passengers. The partnership will mean that all in-flight entertainment content (IFE) using the Panasonic Avionics IFE platform will benefit from HEAR360’s proprietary 3D audio solution.

This would be very interesting to hear. The quote used in the press release describing the system as “state-of-the-art” is debatable in my opinion. Anecdotally, I have never been able to experience an enjoyable sound on an airline unless using a pair of high-end noise-canceling headphones as it compliments the audio greatly. Agreed, some passengers will have high-end headphones, however, a high percentage will not. With this in mind, the partnership is unlikely to grab much traction until it becomes widely realized that Panasonic Avionics and HEAR360’s solution is available and passengers make purchases of high-end headphones to bring onboard.

As it stands, it risks segregating passengers based on their ownership of high-end headphones. After all, why shouldn’t the “state-of-the-art” audio be available to all passengers if they are likely paying high airline ticket fees?

Please note that I can not validate the quality of the spatial audio from HEAR360 and Panasonic Avionics as I have not heard the system. My remarks are based on audio systems experienced over varied qualities of headphones/headsets. The HEAR360 and Panasonic Avionics system will likely sound very good. The point I am making is that this experience can vary greatly depending on the quality of headphones used. This applies to many examples.

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