Big fail for stereo music fans

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by itouch rulz, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    #1
    I think I've found a massive flaw in the new appleTV (for me).

    I use my appleTV primarily for a music source in my lounge room (I use it for movies, TV, podcasts, youtube and photos a bit too, but primarily music). All my music is on my imac and is synced to my appleTV. Now I could stream, that's probably ok but a couple of years ago I decided to ditch surround sound and go back to stereo. I'd had 5 years+ playing with surround and (for me) I found it gimmicky, hard to set up right, only truly suits purpose built rooms and is bad for music. I sold my surround gear on ebay and now have a marantz stereo amp and a pair of B&W speakers (plus (a b pair) of ceiling mounted SpeakerCraft speakers in an outdoor area). It works great with my appleTV; HDMI to my plasma TV and RCA stereo out to the amp (there is no optical input on stereo amp because you don't need all that dolby processing rubbish with a stereo amp). I can control the music sitting out the back using my iphone or ipad, sounds great and it's really simple to use.

    The new appleTV has no RCA audio output or even a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Big fail in my book - I'm probably in the minority these days but looks like I'll be keeping my old faithful appleTV for a while yet.
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    I'm thinking maybe they wanted to seperate the ATV from the Airport Express which will do exactly what you want. Maybe they had to make that decision of pairing down the new ATV so it would be smaller and to distinguish itself.
     
  3. macrumors 601

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #3
    You said it. You are in the minority. Everything is going digital and the industry has been moving forward.

    Nothing is stopping you from getting stereo signals via HDMI, only your gear. And if you sold your gear, well....not sure what to say.
     
  4. macrumors 601

    jaw04005

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    AR
    #4
    1. Most HDTVs have an analog output jack (or at least a headphone jack) somewhere. Locate it and use that instead and you’ll also get more accurate video/sound sync since your receiver doesn’t use HDMI.

    2. Most receivers sold in the last 7+ years or so include an optical S/PDIF port. My Panny receiver from 1999 even has one optical input.

    Between point 1, point 2 and the fact that most people are probably just going to use the built-in TV speakers, Apple has the vast majority of possibly configurations covered. Of course, there will always be those that want composite video too.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    #5
    Thanks Jaw:

    1. routing the sound through my panny panel and back to the amp using 3.5mm jack doesn't sound like it would encourage fidelity but I guess it is possible. Also it relies on the panny panel's audio conversion hardware which (if the on-board speakers are anything to go by) isn't a big focus for panasonic.

    2. I don't have a receiver, it's a stereo amp - about 20 months old. In fact even the current Marantz stereo amps don't have optical inputs (it's really not necessary for stereo).

    Keebler - yeah, kind of weird about the airport express - they could have easily included a 3.5mm audio jack on the new appleTV like the express and that would have solved it.
     
  6. macrumors 601

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #6
    A 3.5mm to optical adapter solves it too. They sell for like a couple of dollars on Amazon.

    Edit: Oops, if you're looking for a 3.5mm to stereo RCA out, then that might be a bit more complicated.
     
  7. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #7
  8. macrumors 601

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #8
    1.) To be fair, i don't think he mentioned anywhere that he uses lossy mp3s/AACs.

    2.) If said files are not lossy, the fact that it's being steamed OTA should not be relavant, I would think. What it ultimately boils down to at the end of the signal chain is the quality of your D/A converter on your receiver.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    #9
    mr b - I do have a (fairly decent) CD player hooked up to the amp as well so if I'm in a super fussy mood I'll use that. However, for convenience it's handy to have everything on hand juke-box style and would like to preserve what fidelity is retained in the compressed format (I actually currently sync not stream and have cabled for cat 6 ethernet to the AppleTv location (although have to have that unplugged to use the iphone as a remote for the AppleTV)).

    Good suggestion about the HDMI to RCA cable, however, I need to use the HDMI output to go to the TV (as I do use the video functionality somewhat and wouldn't want to input as composite).

    Basically, I'll be sticking with the old AppleTV and maybe when it's fully obsolete moving to a mini.
     
  10. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #10
    I use my Apple TV in a similar fashion. I have a 3 year old Yamaha receiver which I use to send analog audio thru Zone 2 output (there are few if any -that I'm aware of - that allow Zone 2 digital connections) to a selectable speaker box (or whatever it's called..ha ha) to 4 outdoor speakers covering my patio and backyard. I connect the Apple TV to my LCD with HDMI connectin for audio/video in living room (mostly audio - we play a lot of music) which in turn connects wirelessly to two different Airport Express (which need their own AV receiver or powered speakers) to cover other parts of the house.

    The new Apple TV would cripple my current setup in support of music outside...unless I buy another receiver and connect an Airport Express. If they would have just retained analog audio connectors....

    Oh well....the new ATV is not for me for other reasons...but I am going to buy one for my 65 year old mother. She dropped cable a year ago due to cost.....but now she misses seeing certain broadcast TV shows. She has Itunes...wireless router....so I think she'll be in the sweet spot of ATV v2 with simple interface...wants to rent shows, occasional movie....stream photos of grandkids. At least this way I get to have a little fun...but keep my setup going for how my family uses it.

    I guess that's the crux of it....jumping in (or staying pat) really depends on how you use the equipment and what you're trying to accomplish.

    Cheers!

    Kevin
     
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    #11
    Aha - been looking at this: http://www.apple.com/au/itunes/airplay/

    a little closer, and it seems I'll be buying a new amp soon when they integrate AirPlay. Now that is cool and will alleviate my concerns with the new AppleTV.:D
     
  12. macrumors 68020

    8CoreWhore

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Big D
  13. macrumors 68020

    8CoreWhore

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Big D
    #13
  14. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    #14
    Rca

    OP

    You have all that nice high end gear and you actually like the old appleTV RCA output? :rolleyes:

    Optical to external DA converters are your best bet.
     
  15. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    #15
    I've just realised this myself (and it makes me think I should cancel my preorder).

    I currently have HDMI to my TV and the RCAs going to my hi-fi to make it a 'home cinema' but also to stream music from my Mac to my hi-fi.

    But, unless I'm mistaken, with the new ATV, I won't be able to do this. How many hi-fi's have an optical input anyway?!
     
  16. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #16
    I'm confused...

    I would think that anyone who is bothering with apple tv and the required hdtv would have a decent home theatre stereo receiver. I'm definitely buying the new apple tv and when I'm just listening to music I will change the audio output on my receiver to 2.1 stereo. Movies will be 5.1. Super simple.

    This new box is the perfect product for me. I'm sick of having to hook up my macbook pro to the tv to watch movies. I've been using an airport express to stream music to the home theatre for a while now and the apple tv will let me move that upstairs to a powered speaker setup in the bedroom...so cool.
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #17
    Like you itouch rulz, I mainly use my ATV as a music server.. well an ALAC "Apple Lossless" music server.
    The main reason I bought the ATV was for the RCA analog jacks.
    I got sick of connecting the MacBook to the HiFi through the 3.5mm headphone jack.

    I prefer RCA jacks over 3.5mm jacks.

    Although I'm not surprised that Apple has dropped the RCA jacks.

    This new device does raise a number of questions though for those serious about SQ.

    I have only used the analog outlets..
    I gather in relation to the HDMI outlet of the current ATV, the ATV converts ALAC "lossless" to PCM.
    And, this will continue to be the case for the new ATV????
    As for Airplay, will there be "Airplay-enabled" receivers that decode ALAC???
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #18
    I also have concerns about the lack of analog outputs, mostly for Zone 2 support. Here's a thread I started yesterday on the topic:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1005627

    Whoever mentioned that modern receivers have digital inputs misses the point that they won't output digital inputs to zone 2 (there are some high end units that do this, but they're very expensive).

    It has been pointed out that there are optical to RCA adapters available, which might work fine. My only concern would be: do these add any latency? Not that it's critical for the two zones to be 100% in sync, but it can be weird when you're in a location that can hear both.

    Here's a link to a MonoPrice adapter that's less than $30:

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/p..._id=1042302&p_id=6884&seq=1&format=4#feedback

    The other big downside for me is that I sync all my music to my AppleTV. I don't want to have to have my computer on whenever I want to listen to music. The lack of local storage is a major negative.
     
  19. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    #19
    Really? A £99 ATV and a £149 "HD ready" TV and you think they should have a decent home theatre receiver???
     
  20. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #20
    Buy a DAC if you're serious about Stereo/Hifi.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    ovrlrd

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    #21
    Exactly, the analog outputs on the Apple TV and the AirPort Express are very poor and sound like crap honestly.

    Digital Optical Output -> DAC -> AMP -> Speakers is the only way to go if you really want good quality sound.
     
  22. macrumors 68020

    8CoreWhore

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Big D
    #22
    If someone wants better sound - don't rely on aTV to do the D/A converting... better to let it pass through and get converted in a higher-end D/A converter like found in a decent pre-amp/amp.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    #23
    Most audiophiles use a pre-DAC as well
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    #24
    I have 2 ATVs connected to 2 Marantz SR 8*** receivers by optical.

    My itunes is recorded "Lossless" and synced to the 160gb atvs.

    Coming through my Von Schweikert speakers, SWEET!!!:p

    I'm not changing anything as nothing needs fixing!:D
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #25
    No one is saying the analog audio outputs are stellar sounding ....but in the case of pumping audio signals to outdoor speakers through zone 2 on today's A/V receivers such as Denon, Yamaha, etc (which again...can't accept digital inputs).......it works great and sounds good too. The point I was trying to make (as is the case of others)....is there is a loss of functionality with their removal.

    Sure, it can be corrected with DAC converters, buying powered speakers or another powered amp/receiver (using Airport Express)...but it will cost you more $$....lessening the advantage of ATV 2 vs. ATV1.
     

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