AppleTV going back - issues with Apple Music and remote

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
This is the first Apple product in many years that I've returned.

In the short time I had to try and get this thing working, it's been an epic fail on many fronts. But I wonder if it's me or this is truly a crappy product on Apple's part.

First off, I simply cannot for the life of me get it to play any of my Apple Music. It will play Apple Music Radio stations, but any music (lots) I've added from Apple Music over the last several months it will not play. It just stalls trying to play any such song. It will also not play much of the music I purchased via iTunes prior to Apple Radio coming along this summer. It will play some really old music of mine, but that's pretty sad. It's pretty sad when my Yamaha AVR will Airplay Apple Music all day long from my iPhone and my AppleTV can't play a single song.

Then it seems that every time I turn it on, the remote fails to work properly. Only the menu button works. The touch pad is completely inoperative. It requires a power cycle of the ATV... and of course, it's the only component in my AV Rack which lacks an actual power switch, so it means a cord pull. FFS. And on top of this, it requires some obscure remote button combination to tell the AppleTV to ignore IR so I can use my Harmony with my Mac Mini. Doesn't anyone at Apple also have a Mac Mini in their entertainment system? Why not make ignoring IR commands a basic system setting? Or have it disabled by default given the damn thing doesn't operate using IR?

On top of that, it doesn't look like its handling black levels correctly... although I didn't spend a huge amount of time on this. I know what I'm seeing and it wasn't good. I've spent countless hours with Kodi on OpenElec ensuring proper video levels are preserved through the signal chain. Regardless of which HDMI colour encoding method used (RGB or 4:2:0) the black level just doesn't look like proper reference black (RGB 17) compared to my other video sources without adjusting my TV, which would just cause black level issues on other sources. It's maddening.

There are a few other niggly problems that I would normally overlook in an Apple product, but either I'm running out of patience, or this product is a clear indication that Apple is losing it's "just works" aspect which I came to love.

Is this product really not up to normal Apple standards, or is it just me?

One way or the other, this may be the beginning of the end of my relationship with Apple products. :(
 

T5BRICK

macrumors G3
Aug 3, 2006
8,102
2,095
Oregon
Is this product really not up to normal Apple standards, or is it just me?
My aTV 4 plays music I've purchased from iTunes, I don't use Apple Music though. The remote works just fine, with the occasional missed swipe on the touchpad. The image looks great to me, but I'm not going to claim I'm any kind of an expert.

Sounds like something is wrong with the unit you bought.
 
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gunthermic

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2010
256
2
After the first hiccup of having to restore device after going out to buy a USB-C cable, it runs pretty dang good. I hate that it is trying to take control of my stereo system. Even if you turn off in settings to not control Volume. if you hit the button it then prompts you. if you want to control volume on stereo. If I wanted that I go into settings. It should disable the volume buttons. The Blacks are just fine. I will not claim to be an expert. But I am a serious movie watcher, and rip and Encode all my movies(2456 and counting) and my blacks look just fine to me so far.
 

matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,213
1,862
Wow! Such an extraordinary bad experience.

1. Apple Music works.
2. Remote works.
3. Black level is fine.
 
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BradWould

macrumors 6502
Apr 11, 2015
272
252
Nova Scotia, Canada
This is the first Apple product in many years that I've returned.

In the short time I had to try and get this thing working, it's been an epic fail on many fronts. But I wonder if it's me or this is truly a crappy product on Apple's part.

First off, I simply cannot for the life of me get it to play any of my Apple Music. It will play Apple Music Radio stations, but any music (lots) I've added from Apple Music over the last several months it will not play. It just stalls trying to play any such song. It will also not play much of the music I purchased via iTunes prior to Apple Radio coming along this summer. It will play some really old music of mine, but that's pretty sad. It's pretty sad when my Yamaha AVR will Airplay Apple Music all day long from my iPhone and my AppleTV can't play a single song.

Then it seems that every time I turn it on, the remote fails to work properly. Only the menu button works. The touch pad is completely inoperative. It requires a power cycle of the ATV... and of course, it's the only component in my AV Rack which lacks an actual power switch, so it means a cord pull. FFS. And on top of this, it requires some obscure remote button combination to tell the AppleTV to ignore IR so I can use my Harmony with my Mac Mini. Doesn't anyone at Apple also have a Mac Mini in their entertainment system? Why not make ignoring IR commands a basic system setting? Or have it disabled by default given the damn thing doesn't operate using IR?

On top of that, it doesn't look like its handling black levels correctly... although I didn't spend a huge amount of time on this. I know what I'm seeing and it wasn't good. I've spent countless hours with Kodi on OpenElec ensuring proper video levels are preserved through the signal chain. Regardless of which HDMI colour encoding method used (RGB or 4:2:0) the black level just doesn't look like proper reference black (RGB 17) compared to my other video sources without adjusting my TV, which would just cause black level issues on other sources. It's maddening.

There are a few other niggly problems that I would normally overlook in an Apple product, but either I'm running out of patience, or this product is a clear indication that Apple is losing it's "just works" aspect which I came to love.

Is this product really not up to normal Apple standards, or is it just me?

One way or the other, this may be the beginning of the end of my relationship with Apple products. :(
I applaud you for returning it. So many people just decide to talk about how awful it is for a year. You always hear: it doesn't to this. It doesn't do that. It's laggy. Siri doesn't work. But I'll just continue to use it and complain for a year or so.
 

GlenK

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2013
834
252
St. Augustine, FL
Sounds like you got a bad unit. Would try exchanging it first. Mine plays all my Apple Music, playlists, music I have in iTunes, and music that I only have added through AM just fine. Remote works just as advertised and I haven't found any function that doesn't work as it should.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
Thanks for the comments, it may be that I have a unit which is bad but either way, it's going back today. I may try it again after some firmware updates are out. Life is too short for this kind of nonsense (which is what I use to say about competing products).
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
Using eyes.

It isn't any different than my Blu-Ray player (compare a disc with unconverted rip through Plex). I'm anal about this. If it's different I'd notice.
If you think they are right, I'd be interested in seeing or hearing what the included SMPTE test pattern shows.

I set my TV black levels using the AVS HD 709 test patterns on my Mac Mini with OE/Kodi so that reference black (RGB 16) is "black"... This was not a trivial undertaking to get the YCbCr video levels properly maintained through the signal chain, but I was able to do it.

Yet the SMPTE test pattern included on the ATV is not displaying blacks properly regardless of what HDMI/levels mode is selected. On YCbCr mode, it's showing blacker than black (but lighter shade of grey than reference black) - really f'd up! If I adjust my TV to match, my Mac Mini will crush blacks. On one RGB mode (forget if it was high or low), the blacks were crushed (no visible black bars in the test pattern). The other RGB mode was the same as YCbCr. So none of them were correct as far as I could tell. It was a mess.

Interested in hearing others reports on black level calibration.
 

matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,213
1,862
If you think they are right, I'd be interested in seeing or hearing what the included SMPTE test pattern shows.

I set my TV black levels using the AVS HD 709 test patterns on my Mac Mini with OE/Kodi so that reference black (RGB 16) is "black"... This was not a trivial undertaking to get the YCbCr video levels properly maintained through the signal chain, but I was able to do it.

Yet the SMPTE test pattern included on the ATV is not displaying blacks properly regardless of what HDMI/levels mode is selected. On YCbCr mode, it's showing blacker than black (but lighter shade of grey than reference black) - really f'd up! If I adjust my TV to match, my Mac Mini will crush blacks. On one RGB mode (forget if it was high or low), the blacks were crushed (no visible black bars in the test pattern). The other RGB mode was the same as YCbCr. So none of them were correct as far as I could tell. It was a mess.

Interested in hearing others reports on black level calibration.
You should test it with a proper unit. The one you have seems broken judging from many problems you're having.
 

sailermon

macrumors member
Apr 7, 2015
67
8
Northern California
I am sure the problems described by the OP are not the norm.

I have to say that the music experience I am enjoying with Apple Music via Apple TV thru my surround sound system is the best I have ever experienced. The Apple generated playlists, artist stations, rich UI, etc. make enjoying music thru Apple TV more than I expected. This music experience justifies the cost of Apple TV alone, not to mention all the other options of viewing photos, videos, streaming services and games with a improve custom UI. I thought Apple TV 3 was great, but this little box is fabulous and has so much future potential!
 

matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,213
1,862
I have to say that the music experience I am enjoying with Apple Music via Apple TV thru my surround sound system is the best I have ever experienced. The Apple generated playlists, artist stations, rich UI, etc. make enjoying music thru Apple TV more than I expected. This music experience justifies the cost of Apple TV alone,
Wow! I need to use it more. Usually I just AirPlay from my iPhone out of habit.
 
Last edited:

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
You should test it with a proper unit. The one you have seems broken judging from many problems you're having.
No doubt it's broken. Will maybe try another one when time permits and it's a couple of point releases down the road.

I am sure the problems described by the OP are not the norm.

I have to say that the music experience I am enjoying with Apple Music via Apple TV thru my surround sound system is the best I have ever experienced. The Apple generated playlists, artist stations, rich UI, etc. make enjoying music thru Apple TV more than I expected. This music experience justifies the cost of Apple TV alone, not to mention all the other options of viewing photos, videos, streaming services and games with a improve custom UI. I thought Apple TV 3 was great, but this little box is fabulous and has so much future potential!
Apple Music is great... When it works.

I'm sure my problems are not wide spread, but the fact they existed at all is a bit of a surprise.
 

gunthermic

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2010
256
2
There is always issues with Apple products when they first come. Not a total surprise. With tech tbh, it's expected now a days. Wish it wasn't, but it is....
 
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