Netflix has partnered with Sennheiser to bring spatial audio to the streaming service’s original programming, including the recently released Stranger Things season 4.
“Spatial audio will roll out across our catalog beginning today, and you can hear it for yourself by typing ‘spatial audio’ into the search bar and selecting a show or film that supports it in the search results,” a Netflix blog post no. The feature uses Sennheiser’s Ambeo technology.
Spatial audio involves arranging all sources of sound in a model 360-degree sound field around the listener’s position (in some cases, it involves vertical spatial positioning, too). Spatial audio then uses that data to deliver sound on various devices, including TV speakers or headphones that typically offer only stereo sound instead of a traditional multi-channel surround setup.
It has previously been seen in many consumer devices, from Apple’s AirPods to Sony’s PlayStation 5.
While spatial audio through stereo headphones doesn’t quite match what you’d get with a robust surround sound system in your home theater, it typically offers a perceptive improvement in immersion in situations where you don’t have a full surround setup.
To that point, spatial audio will automatically be enabled when using stereo audio moving forward. However, Netflix still recommend using 5.1 surround sound or Dolby Atmos if you have actual surround sound speakers.
Previously, Netflix already supported spatial audio on specific Apple headphones, including AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Beats Fit Pro, and third-generation AirPods, provided the viewer is watching on streaming hardware that also supports it, like the Apple TV 4K or most recent iPhone or iPad models.
The addition of Sennheiser Ambeo support brings that feature to non-Apple devices, albeit in a different implementation.