If you’ve suddenly noticed improved sound in the midst of your latest Netlix binge, thank “Stranger Things” creators Matt and Ross Duffer. Starting today, the online streaming giant has rolled out “studio quality sound” on its platform by bumping up the bitrates by which audio is delivered, all with the intent of creating a “magical combination of sight and sound [that] brings viewers closer to the story.”
In an official statement, Netflix has shared that it is now using “high-quality audio, which takes our sound quality to another level,” adding that it “delivers audio that sounds closer to what creators hear in the studio, so every little detail is captured for a richer, more intense experience.” For subscribers who have “bandwidth or device limitations,” Netflix has made the feature adaptive to “deliver the best possible audio to match your capabilities,” similar to what the company already does for video.
The genesis of the audio improvement can be traced back to 2017 to an early internal review of the first season “Stranger Things.” As Netflix brass tell it, they were reviewing the show with the Duffer brothers “in a living room environment so they could understand how viewers would experience it. At one point in the first episode, there was a car chase scene that didn’t sound as crisp as it did on the mixing stage. 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.”
For the second season of the hit series, Netflix delivered a higher bitrate for the audio, and has since been working to roll the advancements out to the rest of the platform. That change is in effect as of today, and Netflix has provided a handy guide to explain the changes. (Also of note, Netflix shares that subscribers can expect these bitrates to only improve and evolve over time.)
Per Netflix, depending on your device and bandwidth capabilities, the bitrate you receive may vary:
- 5.1: From 192 kbps (good) up to 640 kbps (great/perceptually transparent)
- Dolby Atmos: From 448 kbps up to 768 kbps (Dolby Atmos is available for members subscribed to the Premium plan)
You can read more about the change right here and check out a video straight from Netflix HQ that shares the “employees’ perspective” on the new update below.