Published: Thu, May 02, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Netflix brings high-quality audio to 5.1 and Atmos titles

The feature is now available for 5.1 and Dolby Atmos titles.

What just happened? Netflix on Wednesday announced a new feature created to take sound quality to the next level.

High-quality audio is supposed to deliver sound into your living room that is closer to what show creators hear in the studio. This means, that even if a user has bandwidth or device limitations, the sound quality will be able to scale to offer the best streaming audio performance that a customer's setup is capable of.

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Note that Netflix had launched support for 5.1 surround sound in 2010. That could see a show or video you're watching needing to buffer because the audio is stuck at a higher bitrate, or getting lower-quality audio. That's a machine learning algorithm that analyzes your connection to adapt video streaming in real time. The company says that it will be maximizing the bitrate audio of a 5.1 audio mix to 640 kbps, and a Dolby Atmos mix to 768 kbps.

The company explains that improved audio quality has been implemented as an adaptive stream, meaning that users with compatible devices - and a fast enough internet connection - will automatically get improved quality. After receiving feedback of audio issues with Stranger Things 2 streaming by Duffer brothers, Netflix started to find a way to solve the audible degradation in some scenes. To enjoy Dolby Atmos you must subscribe to Netflix's "Premium" plan. The streaming giant's newly improved audio is a result of it trying to please partners and the artists who create content for it. At one point in the first episode, there was a vehicle chase scene that didn't sound as crisp as it did on the mixing stage. 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, ' it states.

For the second season of the hit series, Netflix delivered a higher bitrate for the audio, and has since been working to roll the advancements out to the rest of the platform.

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