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Netflix’s High-Quality Audio Makes Streams Sound Better

by Dave Parrack

The next time you watch something on Netflix you may notice it sounds better. This is thanks to Netflix’s new “high-quality audio”, which is designed to bring studio-quality sound to Netflix streams. Appeasing audiophiles everywhere.

Netflix Introduces High-Quality Audio

On The Netflix Blog, the company explains how high-quality audio was born. While reviewing Stranger Things 2 in a living room environment, Netflix realized that the sound wasn’t quite up to par. The engineers fixed it by delivering the sound at a higher bitrate.

The problem is higher bitrates require more bandwidth. So rather than trying to deliver the master recordings, which are 24-bit 48 kHz with a bitrate of around 1 Mbps per channel, Netflix figured out the optimum bitrates to balance quality and bandwidth requirements.

Netflix’s high-quality audio isn’t lossless but is “perceptually transparent”. Which makes it “indistinguishable from the original source.” Therefore, delivering audio at a higher bitrate would “take up more bandwidth without bringing any additional value”.

In terms of the numbers, the high-quality audio bitrate you’ll receive ranges from 192 kbps to 640 kbps (for 5.1), and from 448 kbps to 768 kbps (for Dolby Atmos). Netflix considers even the lowest bitrate of 192 kbps to represent “good audio”.

High Quality Audio Adapts to Your Network

As well as delivering better quality soundscapes, high-quality audio is adaptive. Until now, the quality of the audio you hear on Netflix has been set from when you start streaming. However, from now on, the sound will adapt to your network conditions.

This means that if you start streaming while you’re suffering from low internet speeds you won’t be stuck with that poor audio for the duration of the stream. Instead, if and when your speeds improve, the audio will improve with it, just as the video already does.

The overall result will be better potential sound quality that adapts to your network conditions. And if you want to delve deeper into the technology behind Netflix’s new high-quality audio and how adaptive streaming works, check out The Netflix Tech Blog.

Should You Pay More for Netflix?

While Netflix has annoyed users by upping the price regularly, high-quality audio makes it clear the company is investing heavily behind the scenes. And that’s on top of all the original content. This is why we think you should be happy to pay more for Netflix.

Image Credit: Lauri Rantala/Flickr

Read the full article: Netflix’s High-Quality Audio Makes Streams Sound Better

Source: makeuseof.com

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