Netflix has begun to roll out a massive upgrade to the audio of some of its most popular shows including Stranger Things, The Witcher, The Adam Project, the Fear Street trilogy and Castlevania that will enable you to hear them in spatial audio without a Dolby Atmos speaker.
Thanks to some help from Sennheiser, Netflix is enabling standard two-channel speaker systems — like, say, your basic soundbar, headphones or even your TV’s built-in speakers — to produce spatial audio sound without the need for a surround system. Spatial audio adds extra immersion by creating a 3D sound space, making noises sound like they're coming from above you as well as on the left and right.
"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 post.
To find spatial audio-enabled content, all you have to do is search for “spatial audio” in the Netflix search box and you should be able to see a list of all the titles available.
You can also read about how I tried the free Netflix spatial audio upgrade — and it blew me away.
Is this the death of Dolby Atmos?
Not at all. While the roll out of spatial audio support on two-channel audio devices might seem like it could be a death sentence for higher-end systems and formats, you’re still going to be limited by the power output, speaker direction and clarity of your audio system.
Although clever audio algorithms might allow you to play spatial audio from two 10W TV speakers, it won’t hold a candle to full 5.1.2 systems with upfiring speakers. To that end, you’ll still probably want to invest in one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars at some point to get the most clarity out of the spatial audio content.
What it does do, however, is introduce people to the idea of spatial audio who might not have tried it before. It’s a similar tactic to what Apple has done in the past by making spatial audio available via Apple Music and it opens the door to future innovation in the audio space.
Next: Thinking of cutting the cord? I just canceled cable TV and replaced it with this. And see why the MCU is floundering with Thor: Love and Thunder, and how one Netflix show is proving popular despite being torn apart by critics