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Netflix Expands Spatial Audio Content and Access


Netflix is certainly experiencing a lot of headaches in 2022 including a downturn in subscribers, employee layoffs, and lower stock prices,  but there has been some scattering of good news, such as the latest season of Stranger Things, expanding its gaming presence, and the forthcoming lower-priced ad-supported subscription tier

In another possible entry in the “good news” category, Netflix is offering a bonus to all its subscribers: Spatial Audio

Netflix Teams with Sennheiser

Up until now, Netflix had been testing spatial audio on a limited basis for those who subscribed to specific subscription plans, using a device that works with Dolby Atmos, and a compatible set of earbuds. However, in partnership with Sennheiser, Netflix has brought a more cinematic immersive audio experience to any stereo playback device using Sennheiser AMBEO technology.

When watching a Netflix AMBEO-enabled title, subscribers who normally receive stereo will automatically access an improved audio experience. AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio replaces stereo on select Netflix TV shows and movies, such as ‘Stranger Things Season 4. Search for “spatial audio” in the Netflix app and try AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio.

To promote its spatial audio format, Netflix is pointing to two samples for subscribers to check out:

Spatial Audio adds to Netflix’s support of other video and audio content enhancements that have been available, such as 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos®, and Netflix Calibrated Mode

Sennheiser AMBEO Tech Overview

More content is being produced in immersive formats like Dolby Atmos® or MPEG-H Audio, while the majority of users still only have stereo playback devices. 

To bring a more immersive listening experience to those who may only have two-channel stereo playback devices Sennheiser AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio is employed. 

AMBEO Spatial Audio is designed to translate (or map) an original immersive mix within two channels of audio that deliver a spatial experience far beyond stereo. It allows any stereo speakers or headphones to deliver an enhanced spatial experience, no equipment upgrades are required.

AMBEO Spatial Audio is not another special mix that requires additional decoding by playback devices. AMBEO’s spatial audio tech outputs a standard two-channel audio file that can be delivered as a drop-in spatial audio replacement within a standard stereo platform.

Netflix Spatial Audio Rundown

Netflix uses Sennheiser AMBEO technology to enhance stereo audio with an immersive surround sound experience that is compatible with all devices, and all streaming plans and does not require surround sound speakers or home theater equipment.

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If you don’t have to surround sound speakers, spatial audio is enabled automatically when watching a compatible TV show or movie using stereo audio.

If you have a surround sound speaker setup, watching TV shows and movies in 5.1 surround sound or Dolby Atmos is recommended, if available, instead of Netflix Spatial Audio

Tip: Some TVs default to 5.1 audio output. This will disable spatial audio. If your TV or other playback devices don’t have surround sound speakers, it is recommended to change your TV or device settings to stereo audio. 

Spatial audio enhances stereo audio on compatible titles. If the content is being provided in 5.1 or Dolby Atmos (check the icons associated with the content title) spatial audio won’t be provided because your device is requesting 5.1 or Atmos.

Tip: If your playback device has its own surround sound processing, such as Dolby Prologic II/IIx or DTS Neo:6, that will expand any incoming non-spatial audio stereo-only signals to a generic surround sound field. 

Not all titles or every season of TV shows are available with spatial audio. Enter “Spatial Audio” in the Netflix search bar to see the most current spatial audio title listings. Unsupported titles will be provided in standard stereo audio.

For more details, including tips when using Apple devices, go to the Netflix Spatial Audio Help Page.

Related reading: Sony 360 Reality Audio Tour at Sony Pictures Studios


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