I've noticed several of these iOS/OS X Airplay threads that gloss over one of the most important aspects of Airplay - audio playback. I prefer the "OS X based" iTunes-ATV-Home Sharing option and audio is one of the most important reasons. All of the A/V files I own have: (1) a 2-Channel AAC Audio Track; and (2) a 5.1 Channel Dolby Digital Surround Sound Track. Apple conveniently sells iTunes A/V files with the same audio track set-up, but creating a 2.0/5.1 track arrangement is trivial after ripping a BR. My "primary" ATV is hard-wired to an Airport Extreme via ethernet. That ATV plays video on my Home Theater set-up, and the receiver decodes the 5.1 Dolby Digital track. Notably, I do not have a a true "NAS." The vast majority of the A/V files in my iTunes library are stored on a USB 2.0 drive attached to the Airport Extreme, while 20 or so newer files are stored on my MBP's SSD.
I certainly could stand corrected -- but as I understand the airplay protocol - the only way to get 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound out of the target loud speakers is the solid-as-a rock "iTunes/ATV/Home Sharing" solution. I use my iPhone as a "home sharing remote" for 2 different "entertainment hubs" in the house. Anyway, have I missed something about Airplay, or perhaps an alternate technology, with respect to DD 5.1 audio playback?
Several threads have discussions about streaming A/V files that are physically stored on an iOS device via Airplay to an Apple TV (which is presumably attached to a HDTV). Also, there are threads which discuss apps I have heard of, but never used -- such as Beamer, Air Parrott, and Air Mirror. But isn't a major limitation of these solutions, the lack of 5.1 DD audio playback?
Of course, I stream 2-channel podcasts, music tracks, phone calls, etc, over Airplay every day from iOS devices. We can't expect YouTube (yet) to serve up an alternate video file with a Dolby Digital track. So I get that a lot of iOS deice Airplay streaming (of files all over the internet) is just going to be 2-channel audio. I suppose, it all depends on the "source." But that doesn't mean that there are not "better solutions" if some people will evaluate their options.
For example, I can open the Netflix App on my iPad and stream a Movie (over Airplay) to my Apple TV. The best audio I will hear in that case is 2-channel stereo. Or, I could open the "Remote" App on my iPad, open the Netflix App on the Apple TV, and watch the exact same movie but with the audio output in glorious 5.1 Channel Dolby Digital Surround Sound. I guess "audio output" can be a matter of personal preference, but why choose the former example, when the latter is just as easy (and *could* drastically improve the Movie's audio experience)?