Netflix recently announced the availability of spatial audio to all devices, but this feature does not require a surround speaker system as it is through a two channel audio configuration.
Since it is two channel audio based, the availability of spatial audio will be rather wider unlike Dolby ATMOS also available in some of the titles available on Netflix.
Dolby ATMOS is already available in many TVs and Soundbars and Netflix also supports some titles, but it is not widely supported possibly due to the following reasons.
Dolby ATMOS requires streaming in multi-channel audio whereas most audio systems are two channel audio based. Another factor could be the limited availability of titles available in Dolby ATMOS.
Netflix partnered with Sennheiser to enable spatial audio using AMBEO immersive audio which is proprietary technology from Sennheiser.
It is a quite interesting move from Netflix in two aspects. Firstly, what motivated Netflix to enable spatial audio based on widely available two channel audio systems rather than using multi-channel audio systems which still have compatibility issues in terms of hardware.
Secondly, there could be many proprietary two channel based spatial audio features available from many technology providers such as Dolby, DTS, etc., but why has Netflix partnered with Sennheiser as the technology provider behind it.
The recent movement from Netflix will give certain challenges to Dolby in terms of Dolby’s plan on expanding Dolby ATMOS.
The latest update to SAR’s 3D Audio study is due to be published soon where we discuss well known technologies and other proprietary formats on the market. You can see the project scope here.