A New Netflix Sound Upgrade is Coming
Today, Netflix announced that they’re bringing “studio quality” sound to the public. With an increase in audio bitrate, your sound is becoming master quality. Adaptive streaming for video is also coming to your speakers. Of course, your audio bitrate is based on your network conditions and device performance limitations.
Officials want the sound to be more crisp, more immersive, and able to bring viewers closer to the story. For anyone with slow internet connections, the adaptive streaming can help to scale down audio quality instead of stopping the video altogether. I think we’ve all experienced that streaming lag and blur in video quality. Let’s not make sound one of the problems as well.
Changes to sound were inspired by the Duffer Brothers. After viewing Stranger Things 2 in a living room mock up, they weren’t impressed with the audio presentation. If there’s anyone to blame for the increase in subscription fees, it’s them (jk!).
According to Netflix, a high-quality sound feature is not lossless; it is perceptually transparent. This means that even when audio is compressed, you won’t allegedly notice the difference when your surround sound system blasts it compared to a studio version. Netflix ran internal tests and determined that 640 kbps is the sweet spot.
For devices supporting 5.1 surround sound, their audio bitrate is increasing up to 640 kbps. For Dolby Atmos products, you’ll see in increase up to 768 kbps but you’ll need to be a Premium subscriber. Bitrates higher than that would only slow devices so this is the best we’re going to get.
“The challenge is bringing this to the most members possible,” Sean Sharma, Netflix’s director of engineering
Obviously the media provider cares in delivering brilliant experiences to us like the playback starting right away or previews to shows. With all the advances in video, something needed to be done with audio as well. Smart TVs, set-top boxes, and game consoles are taking over and appropriate audio compatibility is necessary.
Check out the promotional video from officials below.