Netflix supports Dolby Atmos passthrough from external audio output devices to TVs and other supported audio systems. If a movie or TV show is available in both formats, Netflix will automatically pick up the best audio format available.
This statement was made by a Netflix representative. So it can be trusted.
The company does not support any of its own apps that provide an Atmos listening experience directly through the device (e.g., NVIDIA SHIELD) nor is there any expectation that they will add such support in the future.
“We don’t plan on adding native support for our own apps like Playstation, Amazon FireTV, Xbox One, and Android TV,” continued the spokesperson. “This is because we recognize that most consumers will use these devices to playback content with another app that supports Atmos.”
Netflix is a streaming service that allows users to watch movies and TV shows from a computer or internet-connected device. The Netflix library contains thousands of options in 1080p and, as of April 2016, more than 500 titles in 4K UHD, with a growing number being offered in HDR.
What is Atmos?
Dolby Atmos is an advanced sound technology that was announced in 2012 and has quickly become the gold standard for surround sound in cinemas all over the world.
All of the major Hollywood studios are now releasing their films on digital formats with Dolby Atmos surround, and more importantly, they’re also increasing the bitrate on these tracks so you get a higher-quality listening experience.
Why does this matter for Netflix?
Right now, Netflix offers some movies and shows with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround in both 4K and HD (480p/720p/1080p). This means that when you playback your favorite TV show or movie, you will enjoy high definition surround sound, and it’s also exactly the same technology that we use for 3D Blu-ray content.
What about Atmos then? Well, while Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is great (and really improving on a daily basis), this format cannot be upgraded to add Atmos support without re-encoding the entire soundtrack (which would add significant file size).
Netflix has been taking steps towards updating their catalog with more HD content in 4K and HDR – but even if they did, there simply isn’t enough room on a standard 50GB Blu-ray disc to include all of these new tracks and keep the bitrate high enough for our needs (especially given how cheap storage space has become).
This brings us to the next logical question – why aren’t they just using Atmos in 4K? Well, even though there’s great progress being made with frame rates and higher dynamic range, the truth is that no one would notice any difference between a 4K video stream encoded with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 vs the same stream encoded with Dolby Atmos.
Why? Because right now Netflix uses an incredibly standard encoder that’s only capable of outputting 8-bit color depth (the same as DVDs) which can also be downscaled for streaming on lower-end devices.
However, this doesn’t mean you’re getting shortchanged! While our eyes are certainly more sensitive to changes in resolution and HDR, the human ear is actually far more sensitive to changes in audio – especially higher frequencies.
This means that Atmos tracks give you a better listening experience than standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 tracks (and may even provide an additional virtual surround effect because certain sounds can “hover” over your head).
What about DTS-HD Master Audio?
DTS-HD Master Audio is a similar technology to Dolby Atmos – but it’s not as widely supported right now. As a result, Netflix would need to encode its entire catalog with this new codec as well. If they don’t do this at all, then support for this format will never happen.
That’s why we’re seeing Netflix continue to focus on Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 – it’s also why we’re not getting a new streaming device from them any time soon. Seriously… who wants another Roku when the technology hasn’t even been updated since 2008?
|Apple TV 4K||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Amazon Fire TV||No||No||No||Yes|
How can you get better sound without Atmos?
While we still have quite a bit of work to do before we see plenty of movies with Atmos support, we actually can improve your listening experience right now. Let’s take a look at how you can bring Atmos into your home and what you need to know:
1. Make sure you have an AV Receiver that supports HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re simply wrong. If you don’t have these features, the only way to get Atmos is through software upgrades on your existing hardware – which likely won’t happen anytime soon.
2. Make sure that the AV Receiver in question supports “Dolby TrueHD”, “DTS-HD Master Audio”, or both formats (and if not, make sure it’s capable of decoding them down to something it can be passed via HDMI)
3. Next, make sure that the specific Blu-ray disc has an Atmos track encoded into its sound mix. Some movies are even available with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X tracks… So keep this in mind when you try watching a movie for the first time – you may need to manually select the correct one (don’t worry, that’s usually very easy).
4. Now it’s time to configure your AV Receiver. If everything above was done correctly, it should automatically detect both formats and pass them through via HDMI (we recommend using the speakers connected directly to your AV Receiver for best results). This can be done in either “auto” or “direct” mode.
5. To get the best results, we almost always recommend watching content with Atmos-enabled on a 4K/HDR TV whenever possible. While this won’t apply if you’re watching standard 1080p Blu-rays, every single 4K Blu-ray disc is encoded with HDR data.
This means that you’ll automatically have a better HDR experience when watching movies with Atmos-enabled.
6. If for whatever reason this setup doesn’t work for you, post a comment below and let us know. We can help troubleshoot any problems as well as provide recommendations on what to buy next.
7. Lastly, if you want to learn more about how your home theater works – make sure to check out our 5 part video series on the different features and technologies commonly found inside of audio/video receivers.
Do you know anything about this?
Netflix began encoding/decoding Dolby Atmos with season 2 of Daredevil. Since then they’ve released more and more content which includes Atmos, such as House of Cards season 3, Marco Polo season 1, and Jessica Jones. Going forward any new Netflix original series and movies will include Atmos support.
Netflix is one of the most popular media platforms available around the world today and home to a great many movie titles for people to look through. If you’re thinking of buying an entertainment system anytime soon perhaps we can help with that too. You won’t be disappointed.
What does this mean for customers who don’t have access to Dolby atmos?
At this time not much to be honest. If you don’t own an Atmos capable sound system, then you probably won’t need to worry about it for a while. Not until more TV’s and receivers support the format in your region anyways.
What do you need in order to play Netflix Dolby Atmos content?
To watch Netflix content in Dolby Atmos you need the following: A compatible device with support for Dolby Atmos. This includes most modern Blu-ray players, built-in smart TV apps, Apple TV 4th gen, and Roku 4.
Your AV receiver also needs to be compatible with Dolby Atmos. Most of the newer AV receivers have this but it’s always best to check before buying one just in case.
What are some benefits of listening to Netflix with Dolby atmos enabled on my sound system?
With Atmos, you’ll experience more powerful audio that puts you right into the middle of your screen with dynamic surround effects. You can even hear clear sounds above you like birds flying overhead or an airplane passing by.
What are some downsides of watching Netflix with Dolby atmos enabled on my sound system?
One downside is that not all Netflix content will support Atmos, so you’ll need to check first before buying or renting something if you want the best experience possible. Atmos isn’t for everyone either as it takes some getting used to but it’s definitely worth trying out.
If you’re already using an entertainment system with 3D enabled, then you’ll probably enjoy things even more than before I would think.
What do you use to watch Netflix Dolby Atmos movies? You can use any device that supports at least 5.1 surround sound and is also supported by Digital Plus (like Macbooks, PCs, or the latest iPhones).
You can also watch Netflix in Atmos on any of the latest TVs that support this format. To my knowledge most popular brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, and Panasonic all have their own platforms with built-in apps to stream Netflix content in Atmos.