01 February 2021
Netflix has updated its Android application to improve the audio quality performance. The update brings support for Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC (xHE-AAC) audio codec that will work on devices running Android 9.0 or higher. It means as long as you have a phone that launched in the last three years or so, there is a good chance that you will be receiving this update anytime soon.
The official blog post says that the newly added codec will deliver "studio-quality sound" on Android devices. It will be able to tweak the sound intelligibly depend on the level of noisy surroundings. It means even if you are watching something through the phone's speakers, you should be able to listen to dialogues a lot more clear. This will be helpful when you do not have earphones with you or there is something you want to watch with others.
Netflix has further added variable bitrate support for audio streaming. It means the codec will be able to adapt the audio bitrate based on the internet connectivity. It will scale down the bitrate on slow internet connections without compensating for the audio quality. Another noteworthy change is that the codec will also be able to deliver a consistent level of sound regardless of the content type a user is watching.
This particular feature is called loudness management as it will reduce the probability of a user manually adjusting the volume level for different content types. It means let's say you increased the volume level while listening to a quiet documentary and then you move to watch an action-packed movie, you end up hearing a really loud noise that ruins the experience. Such instances should not take place anymore as it will "play all titles at a consistent volume, relative to each other."