Netflix Licences xHE-AAC Audio Codec


By Jonathan Easton

Netflix is now using the xHE-AAC audio codec.

The move was confirmed by Fraunhofer, which has licenced the high-quality codec to Netflix. Netflix is using the xHE-AAC software to encode its entire catalog of TV series, documentaries and feature films across a variety of genres and languages.

One of xHE-AAC’s key features for Netflix is mandatory MPEG-D loudness and dynamic range control metadata. This, Fraunhofer explains, allows service providers to embed content and endpoint-specific metadata in the audio bit stream for transmission. This in turn can be used on the playback side to achieve a consistent loudness level and optimal dynamic range whether that is on a home cinema or a mobile device.

The tech is also designed for improved coding efficiency at low bit rates, and promises to scale up to “perceptually-lossless quality at high bit rates, and the built-in seamless bit rate switching”.

This allows viewers to stream with an audio bit rate that matches the currently available internet speed and minimise buffering.

Director of Fraunhofer IIS, Bernhard Grill said: “Our xHE-AAC audio codec has been designed from the ground up to improve the consumer experience for entertainment content especially in environments with limited Internet bandwidth. With Netflix as the leader in video streaming worldwide, we couldn’t have found a better launch partner for xHE-AAC in this market segment.”

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