Netflix now delivers “studio-quality audio” on Android devices
After rolling out an audio-only mode late last year, Netflix is now adding support for the xHE-AAC (Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC) audio codec to offer studio-quality audio on Android devices. The new codec will offer improved intelligibility in noisy environments, scale audio to studio-quality, and adapt to variable cellular connections to offer a better listening experience on devices running Android 9.0 Pie or above.
According to a recent blog post from the streaming service, the codec brings better dynamic range control and loudness management to offer consistent audio output across titles and better intelligibility in noisy environments. It also supports seamless bitrate switching, which helps it deliver studio-quality audio when sufficient bandwidth is available and scale back on a choppy network connection.
To quantify the benefits of using xHE-AAC, Netflix performed a comprehensive AB test before the rollout and made the following observations:
- At a high level, xHE-AAC with default loudness and DRC settings showed improved consumer engagement on Android mobile.
- Overall, time-weighted volume levels of xHE-AAC were lower and fewer users had the volume at maximum levels. This meant that fewer users were dissatisfied with the overall volume level.
- Volume change interactions were noticeably down for xHE-AAC, indicating that DRC did a good job of managing the volume changes within shows.
- Users switched away from built-in speakers 7% less often when listening to xHE-AAC. When the content was high dynamic range, they switched 16% less.
As mentioned earlier, xHE-AAC support will be available on Android devices running Android 9.0 Pie and above. In case you have a supported device, you can update to the latest Netflix release by following the link below and see if you notice any difference in the audio output. For more details on what xHE-AAC support brings to the table, check out the Netflix TechBlog post linked above.