As Engadget reports, Netflix just switched to streaming audio using Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC, better known as xHE-AAC, on compatible Android devices. Compatibility simply means any device running Android 9.0 or newer, which should account for the majority of devices being used today to watch streaming video content.
Phill Williams and Vijay Gondi, Senior Software Engineers on Audio Algorithms at Netflix, go into great detail about the audio upgrade on the Netflix Tech Blog. The switch to xHE-AAC brings with it the capability to “improve intelligibility in noisy environments, adapt to variable cellular connections, and scale to studio-quality.” It allows loudness management and dynamic range control (DRC) to work together to provide “an optimal listening experience even in a compromised environment.”
If the Netflix app has just installed an update, chances are you’ve now got an xHE-AAC-enhanced audio experience to look forward to. So pick your favorite Netflix show, go sit in a noisy environment, and see if you can notice the difference it makes. Then do the same thing in a quiet environment. How much better is it?