Starting 1 May, films and TV shows on Netflix should sound a lot better to you. The streaming giant's newly improved audio is a result of it trying to please partners and the artists who create content for it. Apparently, when Stranger Things' second season debuted, the show's creators, the Duffer brothers, were not happy with the sound quality of the premiere.
Specifically, when the brothers first heard an opening car chase played back in a living room, they noticed the sound quality wasn't as crisp as the original master they heard in the studio. To temporarily fix the issue, Netflix streamed the show at a higher bit rate. And then Netflix immediately went about creating a more efficient high-quality audio feature.
Netflix high-quality audio is basically a higher bit rate audio optimised to the speed of your internet connection. Just think about when you have a slow connection and video playback isn't great - until it buffers and goes up to a higher quality. High-quality audio does exactly this: Increase and decrease the bit rate while scaling the audio quality in real time.
The new high-quality audio feature is coming to television sets and streaming media boxes that support 5.1 (with a playback bit rate of 192 to 640 kilobits per second) or Dolby Atmos (448 to 768 kbps). Netflix suggested these bit rates might very well change as the company improves its encoding. It also thinks that anything streaming around 640 kbps is perfect.
At that point, there should be no perceived differences between Netflix's compressed high-quality audio and the film or TV show's studio master. We're interested in testing this ourselves. Tell us in the comment what you experience.