What just happened? Netflix on Wednesday announced a new feature designed to take sound quality to the next level. The appropriately-named high-quality audio is meant to deliver sound that is closer to what the creators intended. It’s not lossless, but rather, what Netflix describes as perceptually transparent.
Based on internal listening tests, scientific studies and listening results from Dolby, Netflix determined that anything above 640 kbps for 5.1 – a 10:1 compression ratio compared to a 24-bit 5.1 channel studio master – wouldn’t deliver any additional value to the listening experience. For Dolby Atmos, the ceiling has been pushed to 768 kbps.
“That means that while the audio is compressed, it is indistinguishable from the original source.” Meh, I’m not so sure that audiophiles would agree with that statement.
Note that these are the maximum bitrates you can experience. Like its video offering, high-quality audio is adaptive and will vary based on your device and bandwidth capabilities. The range for 5.1 is 192 kbps to 640 kbps and for Dolby Atmos, it is 448 kbps to 768 kbps.
Worth mentioning is the fact that Dolby Atmos streaming is only available to members subscribed to Netflix’s premium plan.
Netflix said it expects the bitrates to evolve over time as their encoding techniques become more efficient.
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