2018 MacMini vs AppleTV 4K best for Sound Quality?

SMC23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 15, 2019
23
6
I’ve got a fairly high end AV setup and want to simplify my sources for music and home theatre. What I use now is a 2012 MacMini that does both duties and I have been really pleased with it. I use Tidal, Roon, Netflix, Disney+ as my main streamers

Since getting a new 4K projector I want to take advantage of the higher resolution and newer audio codecs I.e Atmos, DTS-X, etc.

I would like to bitstream the multichannel audio to my Mcintosh MX170 and have full HDR support. Also would like Tidal to output MQA audio.

I am leaning towards the new 2018 MacMini as it supports 4K. Would I be missing anything over the AppleTV 4K, as far as the absolute best picture and sound?
 

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
3,587
455
Estonia
With aTV 4K there is no audio bitstreaming from HDMI out. So forget about DTS:X et al.
Best you will get is DD+Atmos where DD+ becomes decoded by tvOS and audio objects added as Dolby MAT.
Long story short - maximum audio output from aTV is PCM 7.1 and Dolby MAT if the DD+ source contains Atmos (encoded in JOC).
3rd party players (eg. Infuse) decod all non-Dolby Digital audio locally and send as PCM. Plex does it on server side.
PS Once decoded into PCM, I do not think aTV sound is any worse than decoded by AVR.
 

SMC23

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 15, 2019
23
6
On appletv at least Plex will decode the audio stream to LPCM but that sucks it’s only limited to 7.1 output. Agree that the sound quality will be pretty much the same between LPCM and bitstream out in this case.

On MacMinI I found it doesn’t even support Atmos at all. Even more so, no Macs seem to be able to pass it through.

 

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
3,587
455
Estonia
On appletv at least Plex will decode the audio stream to LPCM but that sucks it’s only limited to 7.1 output.
Plex converts on server, as far as I know. But yes, maximum LPCM output from tvOS is 7.1
On MacMinI I found it doesn’t even support Atmos at all. Even more so, no Macs seem to be able to pass it through.
I think it comes down to application level. It should be possible for apps to bitstream to HDMI. Then again, it was also possible on tvOS until Apple plugged that hole.