With sound being a vital component in movies and series, it’s frustrating when you’re not able to fully immerse yourself in a story thanks to some poor speakers. Perhaps those people who suffer the most are the viewers who have to consume their content via Android smartphone, which obviously cannot compete with background noise. A problem I’ve not really encountered too much as I listen with my headphones, but it is still a problem apparently faced by many people.
To solve this dilemma, Netflix has finally brought its xHE-AAC codec to its mobile app, which will “improve intelligibility in noisy environments, adapt to variable cellular connections, and scale to studio-quality” on Android devices, after being available on iPhones and TV apps since 2019. This essentially means that Netflix found a way to reduce buffering to make audio sound better, especially against background noise.
Netflix has already produced some rather innovative video codecs that allow its content to buffer more seamlessly than other streaming services, but this new update shows similar progress on the audio front. In the blog post, the company revealed how the xHE-AAC codec offers better Dynamic Range Control (DRC), a technology that reduces the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of a show. Quiet content is made louder and loud content is brought lower to prevent clipping. Something which is not too uncommon, but Netflix claims to have found a way to do so without reducing the audio fidelity in the equation, which is a remarkable achievement.
Along with DRC, this new codec also supports “seamless bitrate switching,” which means it should work better in environments with inconsistent internet speeds. It is a pity that Android phones have been without this for so long, but nice to finally see them gain some feature parity with iPhones and offer a better listening experience for Android users.
Last Updated: January 27, 2021