Netflix brings spatial audio to every device

ByLance T. Lee

Jul 8, 2022

Netflix announced today that it is bringing Spatial Audio to all devices. It will allow users without multi-channel speakers to enjoy surround sound with only stereo speakers.

On a non-Apple device, the feature can take the standard stereo audio track and turn it into 3D spatial audio. To do this, Netflix has partnered with Sennheiser to incorporate the same 3D audio technology found in the Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar.

Spatial audio will work on any non-Apple device, such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs, as long as you access the stereo track. No special functionality is required on the playback device, as all processing is done within the Netflix app.

Currently, only a limited amount of content is available in spatial audio. To find all supported content, you need to search for “spatial audio”. For now, the only content available is created by Netflix.

Netflix brings spatial audio to every device

To tell if content is playing in spatial audio, you need to make sure there is no 5.1 or Dolby Atmos logo on the title screen. If you see these logos, it means the device will play the surround sound audio track instead and spatial audio will not be enabled. On most TVs, for example, the device automatically plays the surround soundtrack without the ability to manually switch, so you won’t experience Netflix spatial audio, just the TV’s internal audio processing.

If that sounds unnecessarily complicated and counter-intuitive, that’s because it is. Fortunately, things are much simpler on Apple devices. Here, Netflix just uses the built-in spatial audio feature present in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS devices and works on all content with 5.1 or Dolby Atmos tracks. All you need is a recent device with spatial audio support and compatible Apple headphones, including AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and select Beats models.

Spatial audio content is now available worldwide for all subscription levels and can be accessed by searching for “spatial audio”.

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