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Netflix introduces spatial audio for original content; Stranger Things, The Witcher top choices

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Netflix is rolling out spatial audio to select original content for a more immersive sound experience, especially for users who watch a TV show or film with headphones. The rollout began in the US on Thursday.

The US-based streaming giant collaborated with Sennheiser to convert surround sound mixes into an expansive spatial audio presentation to be played through stereo speakers or headphones. Netflix said that spatial audio was “compatible with all devices, all streaming plans, and does not require surround sound speakers or home theatre equipment”.

The company said in a blog post: “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.”

While there is a limited selection of content to support the new audio experience, users can browse the available content by searching for “spatial audio” in the search bar. Early choices for the spatial audio experience include Red Notice, the recently released fourth season of Stranger Things, and The Witcher.

Regular stereo output will be replaced by Sennheiser’s Ambeo 2-Channel Spatial Audio on supported content. Ambeo pulls from the surround sound or Dolby Atmos audio track available and mixes it into a more immersive stereo profile.

Sennheiser described the technology on its website in detail: “While Ambeo 2-Channel Spatial Audio is not a separate mix, creators still have granular control over spatialisation.”

“Mixers can define the amount of Ambeo processing for each group separately. Re-recording mixers can dial-in the desired amount of processing, from standard stereo mixdown up to full Ambeo effect and anywhere in-between. Dialog can be left untouched, while maximum spatialisation can be applied to ambience and sound effects.”

Spatial audio is less noticeable and can be underwhelming when listening with standard laptop or TV speakers.

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