Netflix brings spatial audio to hundreds more titles, but only for Premium subscribers

a pair of headphones sitting next to a keyboard

As we move into 2021, it’s become abundantly clear that streaming services are the way of the future. With traditional cable packages becoming increasingly more expensive, and apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ offering more and more content, it’s no wonder that so many people are cutting the cord. But as these services continue to grow and evolve, it’s important to remember that not all streaming platforms are created equal. Take, for example, Netflix’s recent announcement that it will be bringing spatial audio to more than 200 titles for Premium subscribers.

For those not familiar, spatial audio is a type of 3D audio that allows sounds to be positioned anywhere in a virtual space. This means that, when used correctly, it can make it feel as though you’re right in the middle of the action. It’s an immersive experience that has been used in movies and video games for years, but it’s only recently that streaming services have begun to adopt it.

Disney+ was one of the first streaming services to offer spatial audio, with Hulu and Amazon Prime Video soon following suit. But Netflix has been notably absent from the spatial audio party – until now. Starting today, Premium subscribers will be able to enjoy spatial audio on a growing list of titles, including Stranger Things, Soul, and The Crown.

To be clear, this is a Premium-only feature, which means that if you’re not paying for the higher-tier subscription, you’re out of luck. But for those who are willing to shell out an extra few dollars per month, Netflix’s spatial audio offerings are sure to disappoint.

The first issue is the limited selection of titles. While Netflix does have a few hundred titles with spatial audio, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of movies and TV shows that are available on the platform. And when you consider that many of those titles are not recent releases, it becomes even less impressive.

But the biggest problem with Netflix’s spatial audio offerings is the lack of support for Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos is the gold standard for 3D audio, and while it’s not required for spatial audio, it is widely considered to be the best way to experience it. The problem is that Netflix only supports a handful of devices that are capable of playing Dolby Atmos audio, which means that many people will be stuck listening to lower-quality audio.

It’s worth noting that Netflix is not the only streaming service with these issues. Disney+ and Hulu also have limited selections of titles with spatial audio, and neither one supports Dolby Atmos. But given that Netflix is the biggest streaming platform in the world, one would expect it to be leading the charge when it comes to adoption of new audio technologies.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Netflix’s spatial audio offerings are a step in the right direction, but they’re still far from perfect. Here’s hoping that the company continues to expand its selection of titles and devices in the future.

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