Greg Peters, chief product officer at Netflix, recently announced that the platform will make the movie Okja by Bong Joon-ho available for streaming in the Dolby Atmos audio format.
Netflix is known for proposing content with optimal image quality, notably by adopting 4K UHD technology and HDR technology for its most recent productions. The platform has taken another step toward offering a truly immersive journey to the heart of the image by adopting the Dolby Atmos audio format. In complement to realistic and richly colorful images, this format adds three-dimensional sound with sound effects placed all around the viewer, and even above his or her head. This immersive sound experience hasn’t been available for dematerialized video formats until now, as it was previously necessary to purchase Blu-ray discs to enjoy Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
Okja won’t be the only Netflix movie to benefit from Dolby Atmos, and the online streaming platform has announced other feature-length films including BLAME! (July 28, 2017), Death Note (August 25, 2017), Bright (December 2017) and Wheelman (2017).
What is Dolby Atmos?
As a reminder, the Dolby Atmos audio codec adds a vertical dimension to the soundstage and introduces the concept of the sound object, in addition to relying on traditional 5.1 or 7.1 channel systems. While viewing a film with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the viewer benefits from a more immersive listening experience and much more realistic three-dimensional audio effects. In addition, the different sound elements comprising each scene, whether stationary or moving, on screen or off, are rendered with a more precise localization. Sounds move around and above the listener in a three-dimensional sound field. Sound effects can be positioned independently and combine with classic surround effects to offer viewers a more realistic and immersive experience.
Enjoying Dolby Atmos with Netflix
For the moment, only owners of a Dolby Atmos enabled LG OLED TV display or Xbox One or Xbox One S gaming console can enjoy Netflix movies in Dolby Atmos. An Internet connection speed of at least 30 MB/s and a “4 screens + Ultra HD” Netflix streaming plan are also required.
Note that these LG OLED TVs use their integrated audio systems to diffuse Dolby Atmos soundtracks but cannot transmit these soundtracks to a home theater receiver via an HDMI ARC connection (the HDMI 2.0 norm doesn’t allow this).
For their part, the Xbox One and Xbox One S gaming consoles must be connected via HDMI to a Dolby Atmos enabled home theater receiver paired with a speaker pack including at least two Dolby Atmos enabled speakers. In the absence of such a home theater system, it is possible to enjoy Dolby Atmos sound spatialization with headphones via the Dolby Access app available for download on the Xbox Store.
Enjoying Dolby Atmos with a Blu-ray player
If you do not own a Dolby Atmos enabled LG OLED TV display or Xbox One/Xbox One S console, or if your Internet connection speed is not fast enough to enjoy Netflix in Dolby Atmos, you can always fall back on the option of purchasing a Blu-ray disc with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack to enjoy a truly immersive 3D listening experience. In this case, you’ll need a Blu-ray player or a 4K UHD Blu-ray player paired up with either a Dolby Atmos enabled compact home theater system, a Dolby Atmos enabled soundbar, or a combination of a Dolby Atmos enabled home theater system and a home theater speaker pack. And of course, you’ll need to choose Blu-ray discs with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.French