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New audio experience now streaming on Netflix

OTT giant Netflix and audio specialist Sennheiser Thursday announced a massive audio improvement for all viewers who access streaming (OTT) content with standard stereo equipment. 

AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio is now streaming on Netflix and delivers an incredibly immersive audio experience with standard stereo speakers. The AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio renderer translates original immersive mixes into two-channel audio with a spatial experience far beyond stereo. During development, Sennheiser worked with Netflix and other industry partners to fine-tune the system, which is now available to license from Sennheiser. Netflix is the first streaming platform to deliver this significantly improved experience for select titles. 

“Sennheiser firmly believes in the immersive future of audio,” says Dr Renato Pellegrini of Sennheiser’s AMBEO team. “Creators all over the globe have been using our tools to create outstanding immersive works, pushing the boundaries of music and film production. With AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio, we are now taking the next step – making this new audio reality accessible to everyone.” 

Drawing on Sennheiser’s decades of research and innovation in immersive sound, AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio provides immersion far beyond what two-channel speaker systems can normally deliver, but without impacting the mix or tonal balance.

According to Netflix Sound Technology Manager Scott Kramer, “We feel AMBEO Spatial Audio offers a meaningful improvement for Netflix members. Re-recording mixers often tell me that it better translates their detailed immersive mix work to stereo. Crucially, this process preserves the original sound mix and respects creative intent with a remarkably clean sound.”

“What sets Sennheiser apart from other solutions is that the AMBEO rendering respects the original mix, tonal balance and dialogue integrity, which is exactly what the re-recording mixer is looking for,” explains Pellegrini. “The processing is in line with Sennheiser’s reputation to deliver tools that are ‘transparent’ and do not interfere with the original sound. In a nutshell: Sennheiser 2-Channel Spatial Audio seeks to translate mixer intent, not to overpower it.”

The rendering software runs in the streaming service’s cloud-based encoding pipelines and produces AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio from existing ADM or IAB files, both industry-standard, open formats. It does not require another separate mix. A preview tool enables the re-recording mixer to compare stereo to AMBEO during postproduction and adjust the rendering settings by stems/groups. The renderer offers patented granular control of the spatialization, ranging from full AMBEO effect to standard stereo mixdown, while specific channels can be excluded from modification. For example, dialogue can be preserved 100% or modified slightly to match neighbouring immersive scenes. 

Total loudness is preserved, too, and a music mix can be kept for left and right channels while adding the immersive AMBEO rendering to all other channels. Naturally, all signals are properly time-aligned to match the original content.

"I’m a huge fan of AMBEO. I experimented with it a lot on the ‘Fear Street’ movies and was impressed with how the surround channel information was represented. I’m always looking for ways to get that Cinematic sound at home and on ‘The Adam Project’ I was able to make the mix sound really immersive on everything from high-end soundbars to iPhones which I believe helps the audience connect more emotionally. It’s been a perfect format on ‘Stranger Things’. In the Atmos mix, Vecna’s voice wraps around you which is an important part of making him scary and larger than life. The fact that AMBEO is able to help recreate that in stereo is very impressive to me,” said Re-Recording Mixer Mark Paterson.

Content that supports spatial audio can be found by typing “spatial audio” into the Netflix search bar.

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