Netflix produces massive amounts of rich video content laden with special effects, deep color, and vibrant sound. The quality of that output, however, is dependent on your internet connection. Understandably, the company wants to raise the ceiling on its audio game for its TV users — it's now rolling out a new adaptive technology that will boost Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround sound to its best levels yet.
The streaming service is rolling out what it plainly calls "high-quality audio." It allows the company to scale output between 192kbps and 640kbps on standard 5.1 setups. Dolby Atmos-compatible rigs will require anywhere between 448kbps and 768kbps of bandwidth (plus a Netflix Premium subscription).
You still won't be getting master copy sound — original files are mixed in 24-bit 48KHz sessions with an average bitrate of 1Mbps per channel. But Netflix considers the best rates you see above to be perceptibly transparent to the original files. That said, those rates may change as it continues to tweak the parameters.
For those who want the best experience possible without a big hit to their metered data plan, throughput quality will adapt to the content being played out, just like how Netflix already adjusts video quality on the fly.
The new algorithms have been in the works for more than a year. The project was conceived after the Duffer brothers were reviewing cuts of Stranger Things 2 from a living room environment to experience what average users might see and hear. They found certain scenes didn't bring audio as crisp as they had heard it while mixing. What came out of discussions, research, development, and testing — lots of testing, considering the variety of internal components from television set to television set — is what you may hear on Netflix with your TV today.