Netflix has announced that a new high-quality audio bitrates for their service, with the highest service reserved for premium accounts and premium devices. The changes means that customers should have a noticeably better audio experience, especially on devices that support Dolby Atmos technology.
Most TV devices that support 5.1 or Dolby Atmos are capable of receiving better sound. Depending on your device and bandwidth capabilities, the bitrate you receive may vary:
5.1: From 192 kbps (good) up to 640 kbps (great/perceptually transparent)
Dolby Atmos: From 448 kbps up to 768 kbps (Dolby Atmos is available for members subscribed to the Premium plan)
We expect these bitrates to evolve over time as we get more efficient with our encoding techniques.
The technology behind this will leverage the best audio that is available for your particular TV device, even if your device is bandwidth limited.
As Netflix explains, this project began in 2017 shortly before the release of Stranger Things 2. Upon reviewing the first episode, where there is a car chase, both Netflix and the Duffer brothers were not overwhelmed with the audio experience in a living room setting versus the mixing stage. Netflix brought in sound engineers to resolve it and thus kicked off the broader effort to improve the audio experience.