Netflix launches Spatial Audio for Premium Users | What is Spatial Audio?
Netflix partnered with Sennheiser, one of Audio Industry’s most recognised brand to power Spatial Audio in their content to please more and more audience to move their subscription category towards Premium tier. This was a win-win deal for Sennheiser who aims to power their Ambeo line of Easy Plug and Play Soundbars meant for improving Sound Experience in the homes.
As of last year 2022, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video shared the top spot of market share in India with 20% each while Disney Hotstar was not far behind. It held almost 17% of the OTT share. This move of introducing Spatial Audio is important for Netflix to continue their dominance across the world with majority concentration towards the millennials who are consuming their content on 2 channels soundbars, built-in TV Stereo systems and majorly on their headphones and airpods/earbuds.
Not just that, more and more content is being produced in immersive formats like Dolby Atmos and is available in Netflix premium category along with other OTT platforms. But the hard truth is - not everyone has the luxury to buy Atmos compatible Home Cinema Setups and equipments as they are still on the premium side. So, to compensate for these viewers, Spatial audio comes to the rescue.
But wait, what is this hype about Spatial Audio all about? And wasn’t it just a fancy term promoted by Apple for their Apple Music devices? Let’s find out!
What is Spatial Audio? How does it work?
Spatial Audio comes in two formats, Binaural and Object Based.
Binaural format is an audio that has depth and direction. This feature is more relevant to headphone listener who wants to create distance and movement. For example, a car coming from the back to the front on your screen will also move in a similar format in your headphone channel. Not just that, the head tracking and movement while wearing the headphones changes the way you get an output of the sound. This one thing, led brands like Apple Airpods Pro, Apple Airpods Max, Yamaha YH-L700A and many more sell their products claiming the 3D Sound and Dynamic Head Tracker.
Object Based format is an audio that has multi-dimensional output. Imagine the 3 axes figure like X, Y and Z, wherein the sound occupies a specific place in a soundscape and gives a feeling of things actually around you or enveloping you in real world. For example, an airplane flying overhead or a bee buzzing around you. This feature of Object Based format similar to Dolby Atmos (though not as great as Atmos) is possible to recreate using Spatial Audio.
Thus, Spatial audio experience with dynamic head tracking and object-based surround sound brings theater-like sound from the movie or video you're watching, so that sound seems as if it's coming from all around you.
Devices Supporting Spatial Audio in India
Now that we know what is Spatial Audio and why Netflix launched it, let us see which products are compatible for using Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio is compatible to any device that has got Stereo system. Right from your TV’s built-in Stereo Speakers to the Bluetooth/Wifi Stereo Speakers, Soundbars or Home Theater Systems to the Headphones. Yes! You read it right. Each and every device that mentions stereo speakers or stereo sound or stereo system in their product catalogue can now play Spatial Audio. It’s an audio codec file and not just a hardware compatible technology.
Having said that, Apple was one of the first major mobile manufacturer to introduce Spatial Audio codec in their Apple Music Platform followed by Apple TV+ Streaming. Google Pixel products and Android’s latest January 2023 Update (Android 13) has also managed to release their support to Spatial Audio platforms and products.
To turn On Spatial Audio in Android follow these steps –
Step 1 – Update to the Latest Version of Android. The January 2023 security update
Step 2 – Once the update is completed Turn on Spatial Audio by heading to Settings –> Sound & Vibration –> Spatial Audio
Step 3 – Enjoy Immersive Audio. Spatial Audio works with any media that supports Dolby Audio or 5.1 surround sound. In this case, go to Netflix and search for Wednesday
For Apple Users using Airpods Pro, Airpods Max –
Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth > Personalised Spatial Audio
For Apple Music Spatial Audio – Settings > Music > Audio Quality > Lossless On
How to enjoy Spatial Audio in Netflix?
For first, subscribe to Netflix Premium plan of Rs. 649/- month.
Spatial Audio is enabled automatically when watching a compatible TV show or movie on Netflix. You do not have to follow any settings. All you have to do is search for Spatial Audio in Netflix search bar and check for the Spatial Audio icon next to the Title’s Description.
So go ahead and try this cool new feature from Netflix and let us know if you are excited to know more about Dolby Atmos vs Spatial Audio in the comments below along with the movie you wish to watch in Spatial Audio on Netflix!
Btw, if you are looking to build or design your dream home cinema experience, then this tool can change your life!