Netflix improves sound on Android with a new codec for studio-quality audio

Netflix improves sound on Android with the new codec for 'studio-quality' audio

Netflix has announced the integration of a new audio codec in its Android app, HE-AAC extended with MPEG-D DRC (xHE-AAC). This codec allows the sound to adapt to a greater extent to the conditions of the transmission to make it easier to understand dialogues in noisy environments, also to obtain studio-quality audio whenever the smartphone allows it.

Netflix improves sound on Android with the new codec for ‘studio-quality’ audio

With the popularization of streaming content, we have saved ourselves from carrying large multimedia files since, as long as there is an Internet connection, we can play a multitude of songs, movies, or series with the simplicity of hitting a button. Netflix is one of the services that have the most popularized streaming, it is also one of those that apply more technology to playback on smartphones. On Android, it now supports the xHE-AAC audio codec.

Sound will be capable of adapting to the playback conditions

Netflix users has at some point encountered drops in playback quality due to the instability of internet access. Generally, these drops result in the ‘pixelation’ of the image, there may also be a loss of quality in the audio, an aspect where Netflix especially affects with the latest change in its app for Android.

As Netflix claims on its website, the company has introduced the HE-AAC audio codec extended with MPEG-D DRC on Android to improve audio adaptation to the playback environment. The said codec is developed by Fraunhofer, the famous German research institute (creators of the MP3 format). It enables a higher quality sound in all transmissions while adapting to the swings in the connection to provide stereo bit rates above 500kbit/s.

Netflix improves sound on Android with the new codec for 'studio-quality' audio
Netflix improves sound on Android with the new codec for ‘studio-quality’ audio

Thanks to the this codec, Netflix can upscale the audio to studio-quality provided the conditions are met (the internet connection is stable and offers sufficient download speed). Also, Netflix claims to have improved the dynamic range of the audio so that it sounds clearer even in noisy situations. This should prevent conversations from being lost during the high points of action movies, such as when there are explosions.

The new audio codec cannot be selected manually: it is the Netflix app that takes care of choosing it automatically if the appropriate conditions are present

Support for the xHE-AAC codec is now available within the Netflix app for Android. To have it, it is required that the phone has Android 9 as a minimum, also that the phone offers sufficient quality in the sound hardware. And it can not be selected: it will be the application that will adapt the audio automatically.

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