Netflix's new studio-like sound adapts to network and device capabilities

Netflix's improvements over the past few years focused mostly on the video quality of its TV shows and movies, with the launch of 4K streaming support in 2016 followed by HDR support on Windows 10 in late 2017. It's not as if the video streaming provider hasn't put some effort into the audio side of things: in fact, it rolled out support for Dolby Atmos in early 2017, but that was available only on the Xbox One and compatible home theater systems.

Now, Netflix has introduced what it describes as a "studio quality sound" for its content, providing a "richer, more intense experience" to audiences. The company says it works to achieve that by raising the bitrate from 192kbps to 640kbps on devices that support 5.1 surround sound. For Dolby Atmos-enabled devices, Netflix increases the bitrate from 448kbps to 768kbps, although this audio quality is available only to premium customers.

This particular improvement is inspired by Netflix's work with the Duffer brothers on Stranger Things 2. In 2017, the company reviewed the science fiction horror TV series with the duo from the perspective of viewers in a living room setting. The sound quality, however, was found lacking. So the team fixed the problem by increasing the audio bitrate and Netflix has since made that improvement more widely available.

Additionally, the new feature is adaptive to network conditions and device limitations. This feature has already been implemented on the video quality of movies and TV shows for quite some time, and it's a welcome development for audio as well.

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