Netflix offers a crisp image, as long as you’re paying for the access and have a fast enough internet connection. And now the company is announcing an upgrade to the audio experience, too.

Netflix on Wednesday officially announced, via Medium, that it is rolling out a change to its audio systems. Namely, it is upgrading its audio streaming technology that maximizes the bitrate of streamed audio based on the internet connection accessing it. 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. All of this will scale based on the internet connection, with Netflix noting it can augment the stream down to a bitrate of 192 kbps.

That will make sure the video doesn’t have to buffer, too.

“Among those who understand the vital nature of sound are the Duffer brothers. In late 2017, we received some critical feedback from the brothers on the Stranger Things 2 audio mix: in some scenes, there was a reduced sense of where sounds are located in the 5.1-channel stream, as well as audible degradation of high frequencies.

Our engineering team and Creative Technologies sound expert joined forces to quickly solve the issue, but a larger conversation about higher quality audio continued. Series mixes were getting bolder and more cinematic with tight levels between dialog, music and effects elements. Creative choices increasingly tested the limits of our encoding quality. We needed to support these choices better.”

Up until this point, Netflix has utilized a methodology for audio that sets the tone for the bitrate at the start of a stream, with no way to change it. 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.

So, why did Netflix choose these lows and highs? Netflix explains:

“Our high-quality sound feature is not lossless, but it is perceptually transparent. That means that while the audio is compressed, it is indistinguishable from the original source. Based on internal listening tests, listening test results provided by Dolby, and scientific studies, we determined that for Dolby Digital Plus at and above 640 kbps, the audio coding quality is perceptually transparent. Beyond that, we would be sending you files that have a higher bitrate (and take up more bandwidth) without bringing any additional value to the listening experience.”

Netflix says the higher-quality audio is rolling out today.

Our Take

This is a nice upgrade for Netflix. It’s obviously working to make that recent price hike more worthwhile, and this, for some users, could indeed help with that.

[via Netflix]