Netflix introduces 'optimised audio quality' for Android mobile devices in latest update

Digital content streaming platform Netflix has introduced a new audio optimisation in order to better the audio possibilities of the application while using Android devices. In the latest update of the app, Netflix will now stream Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC (xHE-AAC). This is applicable for only compatible Android mobile devices which is any smartphone running on Android 9 and newer. According to a company blog, the audio will be able to adjust in accordance with variable cellular connections providing studio-quality sound. Also, the xHE-AAC will improve “intelligibility in noisy environments”.

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Explaining the metadata MPEG-D DRC of xHE-AAC, the post authored by Phill Williams and Vijay Gondi said that Netflix uses APIs described in the MediaFormat class to control the experience in decoders. The new addition will affect the loudness aspect as well as the dynamic range. Also, the latest update will bring loudness management as a feature.

The blog says that in their “imaginary playback scenario”, users will no longer have to reach for the volume control when switching from any programme to another, even if it is as widely different as it is while switching from an action programme to some musical concert.

Netflix will be employing xHE-AAC to control the metadata and decode-side gain to normalise loudness. Thus, the undesirable harmonic distortion faced when the amplified sound of a thriller or action movie was watched on a mobile phone on a higher output level will no longer be there.

The company is still retaining the option to enjoy the audio in a ‘pure’ mode where loudness normalisation is not required, for example, while one is seated in a home theater setting. Another aspect of xHE-AAC is the dynamic range control (DRC). As per Netflix, when loudness management and DRC are grouped together, they can provide an “optimal listening experience even in a compromised environment” something the streaming platform aimed for with this update.



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