AppleTV 3 - 5.1 surround - new speakers: recommendation?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by arnoz, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. arnoz macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2007

    I read quite a few articles about this but I'm a bit lost...
    I'd like to get a 5.1 speakers set to have speakers around the room and if possbile have surround sound on HD movies supporting this. Here's my setup and I'd like to check if this would work.
    Also if you have any recommendations for not too expensive 5.1 set that would work with this I'm all ears.

    Basically I stream music or movies from Mac to Apple TV (VLC or QuickTime).
    TV is plugged in to the TV via HDMI. At the moment I use the TV output jack and have plugged a 2.1 speaker set to it.
    Could I simply use the same set-up with an SPDIF/optical out from TV to speakers to have regular sound when listening to music and surround sound when watching a movie that support 5.1?
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    That won't work. You will need an audio/video receiver (AVR) to decode the 5.1 signal and send it out to the 5.1 speaker setup.

    You can get some pretty decent HDMI switching receivers now to handle this for a reasonable price.

    Ideally you would want ATV>HDMI in>AVR>HDMI out>TV

    Then wire up the 5.1 speakers to the AVR.

    The other issue is I'm not sure if playing movies with VLC or QT like you are will send the 5.1 signal to the ATV. You might search around for others experiences with that specific playback method.

    For a 5.1 speaker system on a budget, it is hard to beat the Energy 5.1 system here.

    Pretty good deal on last years low end Onkyo unit here that would do the trick for you.
  3. arnoz thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2007
  4. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    airplay mirroring does not support 5.1, so playing in VLC will not send surround.

    airplay mirroring also tends to be poor video quality, with stuttering and lower resolution.

    look at an app like beamer to get better quality video and audio.
    or converting the movie using something like handbrake, you can then import the movie to your iTunes library, and play it that way.

    A lot of TVs do not pass 5.1 from HDMI to their optical out port.
    you can run optical directly from the aTV to your speakers/receiver, and it the receiver has more than one input*, you can also hook it up to your cable box, as most shows are 5.1 these days.
    *you can also use a manual toslink switch if you only have one input.

    when buying HDMI, optical, or other cables, don't go to best buy or other big box store, you can get the same thing at monoprice for a small fraction of the cost, even with overnight shipping from monoprice.
  5. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    You might want to read through this thread:

    Basically, to get true 5.1 sound, you have to have an AV Receiver (AVR) that will process the digital data into the analog audio we hear.

    Any setup that does not use a "decoder" is only playing the stereo feed to multiple speakers. It is basically "faking it", and you are really only getting the same sounds from extra speakers. True 5.1 is engineered such that specific sounds are sent to specific speakers.

    The center channel gets the vast majority of the sound and is where dialog comes from. The center carries probably 75-80% of the load.

    The left and right front channels then add to the sound stage and provide for additional effects such as music, sirens, screams, etc.

    The left and right surround channels are for those sounds that provide for that enveloping effect, allowing us to hear bullets fly behind us, doors slam off to the side, etc.

    The .1 is the low frequency sounds handled by the subwoofer that your regular speakers simply cannot produce.

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