Netflix has been a front runner in adopting new living room technologies and making them available to the masses. We've seen upgrades from HD streaming to 4K Ultra HD, then HDR was added to the mix as better TVs began to hit the market. Now the streaming service is upgrading again, although this time the focus is on better audio rather than visuals.
Since Netflix first launched its streaming service, it has supported 5.1 surround sound, some Netflix shows and movies even support Dolby Atmos. Now, Netflix is upgrading to ‘high-quality audio', increasing the bitrate and utilising an algorithm that will adjust it depending on your network performance.
Previously the highest bitrate available for 5.1 surround sound on Netflix was 192 kbps but that is now getting upgraded to 640 kbps. For those fortunate enough to have a Dolby Atmos capable set up, the bitrate for that is getting bumped from 446 kbps to 769 kbps. Further changes down the line could come as Netflix continues to work on making its encoder more efficient.
This is essentially the same idea that Netflix implements on the video side, where resolution and bitrate will adjust based on the available network bandwidth. Now, it means those with capable internet connections will also benefit from higher quality audio. This upgrade should already be available for all content that has a Dolby Atmos or 5.1 surround sound option available.
KitGuru Says: High-grade audio tends to only gear towards a niche audience. If you are using built-in TV speakers, then this upgrade is going to mean very little to you. However, if you have a decent surround speaker system set up in your living room, then you should start to notice a difference.