Netflix and Sennheiser have announced that Netflix users can experience Spatial Sound, thanks to Sennheiser’s AMBEO technology, regardless of their playback device, irrespective of the physical speaker setup.
Obviously, the hardware is still relevant in regards to the sound quality. However, this means that any speaker or headphones hardware can output ‘some’ spatialization. AMBEO is a large umbrella for Sennheiser’s spatialization and sound rendering.
Sound Rendering is a relevant concept to understand here. The idea is to “render” (compute) a sound signal similar to how computer graphics compute a synthetic 3D image. Older spatialization technologies relied on different recording and playback channels (front/back/left/right etc.). Instead, sound rendering can compute the final sound signal your ears should receive.
Only a limited number of Netflix content currently support Spatial Audio, but users can look for “compatible titles” with the 5.1 or ATMOS icons. There’s a dedicated help page.
There’s no question that spatial sound can significantly improve the overall movie experience, which is a welcome addition. In time, we hope every new title will support it, along with updated/remastered versions of older content.