Netflix introduces spatial audio for Stranger Things and other originals
Netflix has announced that, beginning today, it’s rolling out spatial audio for select original programming. The feature should deliver more immersive sound, particularly for customers who are listening to a TV show or movie with headphones. Netflix has collaborated with Sennheiser to convert surround sound mixes into an expansive spatial audio presentation that can be played through stereo speakers or headphones; you don’t have to buy anything new or own a proper surround system for this to work. According to Netflix, spatial audio “is compatible with all devices, all streaming plans, and does not require surround sound speakers or home theater equipment.”
“Netflix spatial audio helps to translate the cinematic experience of immersive audio to any stereo, so the work creators do to bring you into the story happens no matter what device you use to watch Netflix,” the company said in a blog post. There’s a fairly limited selection of content supporting the new audio experience on day one, but you can browse what’s available by searching for “spatial audio” in the Netflix search bar. Early choices include Stranger Things 4, Red Notice, The Witcher, and more.
On supported content, regular stereo output will now be replaced by Sennheiser’s Ambeo 2-Channel Spatial Audio. Ambeo pulls from whatever surround sound or Dolby Atmos audio track is available for the selected content and mixes it into a more immersive stereo profile. “Crucially, this process preserves the original sound mix and respects creative intent with a remarkably clean sound,” said Scott Kramer, Netflix’s manager for sound technology. Sennheiser goes into this a bit more on its website:
While Ambeo 2-Channel Spatial Audio is not a separate mix, creators still have granular control over spatialization. Mixers can define the amount of Ambeo processing for each group separately. Re-recording mixers can dial-in the desired amount of processing, from standard stereo mixdown up to full Ambeo effect and anywhere in-between. Dialog can be left untouched, while maximum spatialization can be applied to ambience and sound effects.