What IS the purpose of the optical audio-out port on Apple TV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by kavika411, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Alabama
    #1
    Thank you for reading this. A few other posts have touched on this but I don't believe it has been directly addressed. This inquiry is based upon the assumptions (perhaps mistaken) that (1) Apple TV has an optical audo out port, and (2) optical audio can carry surround sound signals. So...

    Given the fact that you cannot rip or buy a (SACD/DVDAudio) song or (5.1) movie into iTunes and maintain its surround sound capability, what is the purpose of Apple TVs optical audio-out port? Put another way, what surround/5.1/SACD/DVDAudio/whatever content can you drop on your Apple TV to begin with? Again, the answer may be that one of my above assumptions is inaccurate. If not, is Apple about to roll out a surround-friendly version of iTunes? Would surround-friendly iPods be next?

    I appreciate anyone's thoughts.
     
  2. jsw
    Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #2
    I think that's reasonable speculation, given that the currently listed supported formats don't support surround (IIRC).

    I think surround is sort of a must-have for the movie downloads to compete, esp. now that people will have this attached to their televisions in, presumably, home theater setups for many.
     
  3. macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #3
    Well, I suppose that there's ease of integration into existing home theatre setups for one. And it makes sense for them to not limit what they can offer, content wise, in the future by selling devices that won't support it. By that I mean they could offer 5.1 audio on movies/TV shows from the iTunes store without much difficulty, but it would be a bit pointless if nothing could play them back.

    I can see them doing that, btw. I'm hoping that the Apple TV get Apple to change up the selection in iTMS a bit. I'd like to see a 320x240 stereo (iPod) version of movies for ~$5 and TV shows for $1 and then offer an HD or at least widscreen DVD quality 5.1 surround version (Apple TV) for $10 and $2, respectively. The higher priced one would, of course, scale onto your iPod fine, and be an "OK" deal, as far as that goes. A low res, 4:3, stereo audio movie/TV show though is only worth about $5/$1 and I think would sell (I'd probably buy some of them as opposed to the nothing - video related - I buy from iTMS atm).
     
  4. macrumors 68020

    atszyman

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    The Dallas 'burbs
    #4
    I think the previous two replies have it correct, it's basically future expansion, and just compatibility with current standards. I have my DirecTV hooked to my receiver via the optical cable despite very little TV actually using surround sound. I'm not a great audiophile but some my notice a difference in digital sound hookups vs analog and have a strong preference one way or the other, I just do it so that when I do watch something with surround or if more things start to offer surround I don't have to re-do the wiring behind the TV which is a royal pain in the neck. If I ever get an :apple:TV I'll most likely hook it up via optical as well to guard against future surround content that would require re-wiring, and since it handles non surround audio just fine it keeps connections to a minimum.
     
  5. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #5
    You don't need surround sound content to take advantage of S/PDIF, you still get the nice clean digital interconnect. QuickTime can do 5.1 and so on with AAC, so if you have stuff like that, the machine ought to play it.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    OldSkoolNJ

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    #6
    I guess its beating a dead horse after the last two posts but optical will carry a better sound quality. Digital sound does not have to be surround sound. Not only does it bring over a purer sound but it also has less tendancy to get interferance along the way through the cable. Only interferance optical can get is from less than acceptable quality cables, a dirty connectiong at the ends of the cables or broken optics.

    Kevin
     
  7. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    #7
    Who says it doesn't support surround sound? AAC has a 6 channel 5.1 format and if you would bother to download one of their many HD trailers, you'll see that they are encoded with AAC 5.1. Now why would Apple do that if you couldn't take advantage of that.

    Furthermore, it's an expensive solution but If you're willing to fork out $150 Cinematize 2.0 Pro + QT Pro. With that combo you can convert the AC-3 to AAC 5.1 and it should work with the AppleTV from what I understand from the specs so far. Hopefully some great programmer out there can make the same solution for free.
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    #8
    Possible test for Apple TV / Surround Sound

    OK, I've googled until my fingers bled and there is so much contradictory information about Surround Sound on the Apple TV, There are many posts saying "it's possible but currently it can't be done. What the hell use is that??? The bottom line is, as a current Apple TV user, I can't listen to my movies and TV programs with surround sound. Personally I think Apple have a lot to answer to. Many Apple TV users have only found out about the lack or surround sound AFTER purchasing an Apple TV with Apple's PR, hinting that the device, "supports" surround sound. The posts by the Apple Fan Boys have simply muddied the water. It's like saying, the current iMac is capable of using 8 GB RAM. Currently this is NOT possible but who knows if 4 gig sticks are produced then this "may" be possible.

    Anyway, enough of my rant.

    What I'm suggesting, as a way to find out if the Apple TV can play surround sound is: Booting the Apple TV from OS X and playing a DVD from an external DVD drive. As the Apple TV supports external HDs I see that it should be possible to do this.

    What do you other Mac Rumor / Apple TV users think???:confused:
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #9
    I dont feel duped by apple at all. I know what the specs said and purchased it off of what they said.

    Optical digital does not mean surround sound. Listening to a stereo source in processed surround sound isnt surround sound. Stereo is still the most common audio format used for television. Even alot of stuff prodcast in HD is in stereo.

    There is a difference between regular stereo and dolby digital stereo. DD is a better sounding signal. Cleaner sounding and a little bit warmer. Dolby NR has been around for years and became popular when C20 and metal tapes became popular.

    As far as SACD and DVD-A are concerned they cannot be played through a digital cable. The signal is passed through 6 or 8 ANALOG cables and not via a digital cable. Now many SACD and DVD-A discs carry a digital capable track set and therefor can be played through a digital cable but that is not at the higher quality that DVD-A and SACD allow. it is a processed down standard that allows it to be played with standard systems.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #10
    forgot the 2nd part.

    Do I agree that they should sell 5.1 capable content, i certainly do. That is what is keeping me from buying any movies from the iTMS. I love sound, I love surround sound. Music is not meant to be listened to in surround sound from a stereo source. However people have come to expect surround sound from movies and are submit to processing when it does not. If Apple wants to compete they will need to add this to their downloads. I like the 2 tiered plan presented above.

    Unfortunately the sad truth is that audio has taken a backseat to video in this day of HDTV. People are very happy to get their HDTV and plug a DVD player in via HDMI and listen via the TVs speakers. Now some have a processed fake surround sound but even that is at such a low quality.
     
  11. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    #11
    I beg to differ

    Sorry Peanut but that comment "People are very happy to get their HDTV and plug a DVD player in via HDMI and listen via the TVs speakers." is garbage. Peaple arent happy to do this at all. The whole "home theatre revolution has come around because if the surround sound. The HD is only a new technology and although it's better than SD, it doesn't give you the same "experience that a 5.1 surround sound home theatre does.

    Do you actually have an Apple TV Peanut.? I do and I love it but the single biggest let down is the lack of surround sound. I can buy a $29.95 DVD play that allows me to play 5.1 surround sound. I think Apple has really let users down buy omitting this on the current Apple TV. You only need to type "Apple TV surround sound" to see the thousands of posts that back this up.

    That said, I think this post got a bit lost. The optical port is simply a digital connection for the sound signal. If you have a digital input on your Amp or TV then use it, if not, use the Red and white analogue RCA type connectors
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #12
    I actually have 2 appleTVs in the house. Whats your point? If you have read any of my posts you will see that I do not watch movies on it. I use it for music and TV shows. The reason being that there is no surround sound. However, I knew that going in and have not purchased any movies because of it. Which is why I am a big supporter of apple opening up the USB port to allow for the addition of some sort of optical drive for CD, DVD or one of the high def options.

    But you are wrong about the home theatre revolution. Yes the sales of home theatres have gone up, but usage has not. People are buying Home Theatres in a box which usually include a full system and most do not hook up the tv to play via the surround sound. They turn it on for CD or DVD play but not for TV.

    If you also look at the data that says that more than half of all HDTV owners do not use a HD source it supports the lack of interest in sound and an emphasis on picture quality.


    So the basic: I knew for a fact that the AppleTV would not do surround sound on anything that I could buy from the iTMS and encoding anything to play surround sound via the AppleTV would be a huge mess and not worth the time. I have a dedicated SACD player for those discs, a dedicated DVD-A player for thoses discs (I purchased them before dual players were available) and I have a dedicated upconverted DVD player. No HD disc source yet but that should happen soon.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Passante

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2004
    Location:
    on the sofa
    #13
    Optical audio out is there so you can SEE the music as you listen to it. ;)
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    #14
    My point was.....

    Peanutt,

    But you are wrong (your opinion NOT fact) about the home theatre revolution. Yes the sales of home theatres have gone up, but usage has not. (Huhh??? That's contradictory. How can sales of home theatres go up but not use??????

    What exactly do you think a Home Theatre is??

    People are buying Home Theatres in a box (everything comes in a box :D but I assume you mean the cheap Amp/Speaker combos in which case the whole purpose of these is...... DRUM ROLL PLEASE......... SURROUND SOUND) which usually (NOT usually at all, your opinion) include a full system and most do not hook up the tv to play via the surround sound. They turn it on for CD or DVD play but not for TV.

    So let me get this right? You've just said that "People buy home theatres but most do not hook up the TV to play surround sound"

    Ahhh excuse me Mister Nut Man. Do you even know what a home theatre consists of??? VISION & SURROUND SOUND. Take away the "surround sound and it's not home theatre. It's just TV!!!!!


    If you also look at the data (what data?? back it up please) that says that more than half of all HDTV owners do not use a HD source (what does HD video quality have to do with sound???) it supports the lack of interest in sound and an emphasis on picture quality. (NO, it doesn't. It simply states that TVs and monitors are going HD. I suppose that means that people who enjoy beer simply have no interest in wine??? Or maybe you equate that to mean that the recent move to dual core processors means that people aren't interested in RAM any more??)


    So the basic: (what does that mean???)

    I knew for a fact (what fact??? Yyour guess or opinion, NOT FACT) that the AppleTV would not do surround sound on anything that I could buy from the iTMS (you are assuming everyone puts iTunes content on their Apple TV, they don't) and encoding anything to play surround sound via the AppleTV would be a huge mess and not worth the time. I have a dedicated SACD player for those discs, a dedicated DVD-A player for thoses discs (I purchased them before dual players were available) and I have a dedicated upconverted DVD player. No HD disc source yet but that should happen soon.
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #15

    please read the items in bold
     

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