Netflix steps up its sound quality
James R | On 14, May 2019
Netflix is stepping up the quality of its sound streaming.
In an age of 4K and HDR, the subtlety of sound can easily go unnoticed, but it can have a major impact on the atmosphere of a scene in either a film or TV show. Netflix has long committed to trying to enchanted the mix of sound and visuals with features such as 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos and Netflix Calibrated Mode. Now, it’s upping its ear game with high-quality audio.
“We gave it this straightforward name because it fits: high-quality audio delivers audio that sounds closer to what creators hear in the studio, so every little detail is captured for a richer, more intense experience,” explains Netflix. “Additionally, if you have bandwidth or device limitations, we’ve made the feature adaptive so that we will deliver the best possible audio to match your capabilities. This is similar to what we already do for video.”
The feature began in late 2017, when reviewing Stranger Things 2 with the Duffer brothers in a living room environment, to understand how viewers would experience it.
“At one point in the first episode, there was a car chase scene that didn’t sound as crisp as it did on the mixing stage,” adds Netflix. “We immediately got our sound expert involved, spun up the engineering teams and were determined to make it right, no matter how much effort it was going to take. Fortunately, we were able to address the problem for Stranger Things 2 by delivering a higher bitrate for the audio, and since then have been working diligently to roll out improved audio more broadly.”
Most TV devices that support 5.1 or Dolby Atmos are capable of receiving better sound. Depending on your device and bandwidth capabilities, the bitrate you receive may vary: for 5.1, from 192 kbps (good) up to 640 kbps (great/perceptually transparent); or for Dolby Atmos, from 448 kbps up to 768 kbps (Dolby Atmos is available for members subscribed to the Premium plan).
Here’s a video outlining Netflix’s changes: