Netflix adds high-quality audio for home theater systems

According to a blog post on Netflix's website, the company believes high-quality audio encoding will be able to restore some missing details (think of sounds like squealing tires, ringing telephones, crumbling debris) that you've been missing. After the feedback, Netflix chose to further improve the audio quality to match the experience the creators originally intended. As a result, "the vast majority" of Netflix subscribers will be able to access the higher-quality almost lossless sound instead of the lower quality tracks. Sound is supposed to be "more crisp and more intense" so that it gets you more immersed in the story. Today the company is rolling out new "high-quality audio" for devices that support 5.1 or Dolby Atmos.

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The bitrate on 5.1 surround will increase from 192 Kbps to 640 Kbps. Through internal tests, Netflix determined that, for Dolby Digital Plus, 640 kbps is the point at which additional quality is imperceivable, and for Dolby Atmos, Netflix says the threshold is 768 kbps.

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Importantly, like 4K video streaming, Netflix says that high-quality streaming will be adaptive - meaning, if you don't have a great connection right at the moment, you'll hear lower-quality audio to avoid buffering and, when your connection improves, you'll go back to hearing the more pristine-sounding audio. To enjoy Dolby Atmos you must subscribe to Netflix's "Premium" plan. The company is also updating adaptive engine to deliver the best quality sound to match your internet speeds - similar to how it optimises videos. Netflix said that it had received "critical feedback" from the makers of Duffer brothers about the audio degradation of high frequencies in some of the scenes of Stranger Things 2. To remedy the issue, the team utilized a higher bitrate.

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