If you log into Netflix today and find that your favorite films or TV series sound a little different, it’s not your ears playing tricks on you. Rather, the world’s biggest streamer announced today that the entire service had received a new sound upgrade, which they’re referring to very simply as “high-quality audio.”
According to Netflix’s announcement, high-quality audio “delivers audio that sounds closer to what creators hear in the studio, so every little detail is captured for a richer, more intense experience. Additionally, if you have bandwidth or device limitations, we’ve made the feature adaptive so that we will deliver the best possible audio to match your capabilities. This is similar to what we already do for video.”
This particular audio upgrade apparently arose out of a scenario with Stranger Things creators the Duffer brothers, who were viewing Stranger Things 2 in a living room setting when they requested that Netflix tweak certain aspects of the show’s audio. According to Netflix: “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. Fortunately, we were able to address the problem for Stranger Things 2 by delivering a higher bitrate for the audio, and since then have been working diligently to roll out improved audio more broadly.”
How noticeable will this really be to the average user? It’s hard to say, although those of us with decent sound equipment will no doubt reap the most benefits, per usual. Still, it’s cool to see Netflix focused so intently on one of the most important, and often overlooked, elements of the cinematic experience. Check out the video below for more information on Netflix’s new audio upgrade, and this blog post for more technical specifications.