The streaming service Netflix has already gone all out to prove it stands out with its programming. Now it’s ready to punch up its audio quality to another level. The company announced today that it would increase its audio bitrate to a “studio quality” level with a forthcoming update. With it, devices that support 5.1 surround sound and up to 768 kbps for Dolby Atmos will be able to tell a difference. That is, if you’re a Premium subscriber, as the feature will be exclusive for that tier.
With this new service, Netflix hopes to improve sound quality across the board. And it should “bring the viewer closer to the story,” according to the company.
The “high-quality sound feature is not lossless, but it is perceptually transparent,” it explained. It then broke down sound quality making a difference on some devices. Usually, it starts out around 640 kbps for Dolby Digital Plus. However, taking it up to the 768 kbps level is an improvement.
While speaking with Engadget, Sean Sharma, director of engineering for Netflix, explained further. “The challenge is bringing this to the most members possible. When we think about how much we care about delivering brilliant experiences, that’s when playback starts right away, it’s at great quality and never stops unexpectedly and never re-buffers… We had to take a same approach for audio. In the TV space, we’ve brought it to smart TVs, set-top boxes and game consoles.”
Now the real question is which devices will get the most out of the feature. More than likely, Netflix will provide a list once the feature goes live, so you know the bare minimum when it comes to increased performance.
And who can we thank for this? Actually, the Duffer Brothers, the creators of Stranger Things. Following a field test with audio quality, they provided input that helped Netflix push the feature in the right direction. (Granted, they probably just want the forthcoming third season of the show to sound really good.)
We’ll let you when the feature goes live!