ATV3 or ATV4

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Mordo, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. Mordo macrumors newbie

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    Mar 11, 2011
    #1
    Hi, I'm nearing completion of my multimedia setup and I'm looking for a device that will let me mirror my Macbook and my iPad on my tv, while also allow me to directly stream music to my audio system, peferably without needing to open my tv.

    I was wondering which model of ATV would be best for my needs. I like the optical audio output of the ATV3, and since I don't have cable tv, the new tvOS and all the apps available looks interesting as well.

    Could you help me out figuring the pros and cons of both model for my needs?


    Thanks
     
  2. benjitek macrumors 6502a

    benjitek

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    Sep 23, 2012
    #2
    Sounds like you've familiarized yourself with the features of both products and now it's just a matter of deciding. Pros and cons...? You just listed them ;-)
     
  3. JeffPerrin macrumors regular

    JeffPerrin

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    Jul 21, 2014
    #3
    ATV3 is fine for streaming and Airplay duties, but will never run tvOS. This means it will never be able to run apps or get Siri features or whatever else Apple introduces to the Apple TV platform in the coming years.

    So... ATV4! :)
     
  4. AFEPPL macrumors 68020

    AFEPPL

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    #4
    ATV3 worked better for me from a streaming point of view.
    I ended up returning the ATV4 as it was constantly buffering and just not fit for purpose.
     
  5. Mordo, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016

    Mordo thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 11, 2011
    #5
    As you have figured out I looked at the specs. What I don't know is if the ATV4 would let me stream audio without needing to open my tv. And what are the big difference between the app in both model. My experience with ATV come from a friend of mine who had an ATV2 a while ago.
     
  6. rolsskk macrumors 6502

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    Sep 1, 2008
    #6
    What you need to do, is find a receiver with AirPlay if you just want to stream audio without turning on the TV.
     
  7. Mordo, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016

    Mordo thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    I've spent a few thousands to build my audio system, I'm not sure I want to replace it with a cheaper audio-video receiver. If an ATV is not the right product, then I'll just pass on streaming lossless music from my mac to my audio system. It would have been nice because there are some albums I don't physicaly own.

    The best solution may be getting one of each, but I don't want to have to, if only one could do the trick
     
  8. davidoloan, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016

    davidoloan macrumors 6502

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    #8
    You can do the Airplay. I use an external dac and a traditional stereo amplifier so I have to have the TV on. But - there are plenty of threads on here with people discussing how you can have the TV off using an AV amp.

    Or you can use an Airport Express for airplay only and not use it for access to the internet. You can connect it to your amp either digitally or by analogue. This is what I do. I use Apple TV if I want the TV on, Airport Express otherwise - just change the input on the stereo amp.

    The old model Apple TV is limited to the apps that Apple put on it. The new model has access to the App store. If you mean the Airplay app (difference between the two Apple TV's) you don't actually use an app on the Apple TV for airplay. No matter what is showing on the Apple TV screen, you just toggle the Airplay symbol on your phone or your computer to the Apple TV, and the music starts playing through the Apple TV. You can make adjustments on your phone or computer. You can also use the Apple TV controller to rewind, pause etc but in practice the controller is much more reliable on the new Apple TV.

    The Airport Express works in a similar way. You configure the express and give it a name like Mordo's speakers, but then you never touch it. You just toggle Airplay on your phone or computer to the speakers. You control it fully from the phone or computer.

    I have both the old and new Apple TV's. I would advise you to buy the new one. Its a big step ahead, the old one is limited and feels a bit clunky buts its OK. The new one doesn't have digital audio out, as you noticed, but you can digitally pass it through your TV either by HDMI or send it to your AV amp by HDMI, or like me, by Optical from the TV to your DAC and then by analogue interconnects to your traditional amp. This works flawlessly. I did this even with the old model Apple TV3 (never used its digital sound output).

    The 32GB new Apple TV, rather than the 64GB seems to be fine for the minute. There is a lot of discussion on here over how much storage people are actually using, and most people are hardly using any. This may change if some popular apps actually start taking advantage of the storage, but as it stands I can't use the storage even if I wanted to.

    You could get the old model plus an airport express for just a bit more than a 32Gb new model Apple TV, and use them both for audio airplay, but I would go with the new model Apple TV.

    The main thing you need to have a nice experience using your mac through the apple Tv is a great network. Ideally ethernet from both the Apple TV and Mac to your router, but at least excellent wireless signal and a good router. Airplay iTunes homesharing without a solid network is extremely frustrating.

    Also, if you are using stereo equipment rather than an AV amp, it might have a DAC built in and digital inputs since you have spent a lot of money. Some of the newer stereo amps do now.
     
  9. AFEPPL, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016

    AFEPPL macrumors 68020

    AFEPPL

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    #9
    Airplay completely sucks right now.
    I'm having to drop wifi connection and re-establish if i youtube a video to the ATVs.
     
  10. Mordo thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 11, 2011
    #10
    Thank you for the detailed answer.
    I never thougth about using an airport express plugged in my DAC for streaming music.

    As for more detail on my setup, I've got a Rega Brio-R stereop amp and a Rega Saturn-R CD player/DAC combo. As the Brio-R is a minimalist stereo amp, it has only analog input. So my tv goes through my DAC via optical link, and the Saturn-R - Brio-R is done with RCA cable.

    At first I was considering using the optical lynk on the ATV3 to connect directly to my DAC. In the case of the ATV, it would need to go through the TV as the Saturn-R don't have any HDMI port, being an audio product and not an A/V.

    Edit: I just had a look at the export express, and the back end picture list an analog/optical port. I'm pretty confident it acts as a 1/8" jack output, but is it trully acting as an optical port as well?
     
  11. bluespark macrumors 65816

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    New York
    #11
    Mordo, the AirPort Express does indeed output optical -- even the old one had that feature. Just run a TOS-Link cable into your DAC and you are good to go. Audiophiles have used the AirPort Express-to-DAC-to-amp/receiver approach for many years. Note also that for traditional high-quality source files (e.g., lossless rips of CDs), the AirPort technically is a *better* approach than the AppleTV because the latter upsamples to 48k. Most people can't hear the difference, but I mention it because you have good gear.

    As between the ATV3 and ATV4, I would opt for the 3 if music streaming were the primary purpose because: (1) most DACs will take a digital input, but few take HDMI audio (which is all the ATV 4 has), and (2) the ATV 4 doesn't currently allow digital pass-through, so the data that goes out does not match the data that comes in. The second factor is one I and many others can hear quite clearly, and there are some threads on this issue.

    So, as someone who has all three devices (and also uses them with a DAC and good equipment), my order of preference for stereo audio alone is: AirPort Express, ATV3, ATV4.

    Any of these can be used without turning on the TV screen, BTW.
     
  12. davidoloan macrumors 6502

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    Apr 28, 2009
    #12
    Your DAC / CD and amplifier are nice. I like the DAC and CD in one and the reviews are great. My DACs are standalone - Arcam. I don't use a CD player anymore.

    My understanding (based on stereo / DAC setups) is that Apple TV4 decodes stereo audio and two uncompressed PCM channels are sent over HDMI to the TV. The TV (set to output PCM via Optical in settings) passes this onwards to the DAC.

    I think there is no loss of quality in a stereo system with a capable DAC. I think things are more complicated for 5.1 and 7.1 systems.

    The 48K issue is true I believe. The DACs can handle the 48ks/s though.

    Bluespark : are you sure that in a system like mine (Apple TV - TV via HDMI- Dac via Optical) that there is a way to send sound from the DAC with the TV screen off? My Panasonic Plasma's have to be on to output via Optical unless there is a setting I haven't found. I thought you could only leave the TV screen off if the Apple TV was connected to an AV amp via HDMI and then onwards to the TV from the AV amp.

    Mordo: Another thing to consider is that on both Apple TV3 and 4 there is an app called "Computers" and you can browse your iTunes music library (as well as Movies, TV shows etc) without bothering to use Airplay. It accesses the music and displays album art while it plays along with the name of the track. The app is a bit dated, compared to the remote app on IOS; its basically in list form with album art for each piece of music, plus the name. I have approx 350 Apple Lossless encoded CD's in iTunes and it works pretty well even with that many. I don't airplay from my Mac to any of the TVs. I access it via the "Computers" app on the Apple TV. We also can have 3 iTunes libraries available at the same time, 2 of which are on one Mac and 1 which is on another. You can switch between them.

    You can also use the IOS Remote app which has a more up to date layout than the "Computers" app on Apple TV. When you load this up on your IOS device you will see all your Apple TV's (if there are more than one) and all iTunes libraries (if there are more than one). You select your iTunes library and for example "albums". You select an album and then a track and it starts playing on your computer. You can then toggle the Airplay symbol on the app on your ios device and select an Apple TV or Airport Express and the sound will stop playing through the computer, and will play through an Apple TV / Airport Express. The App is free on the App store, and you can try it out without buying an Apple TV or Airport Express.

    Another thing is in Itunes on your Mac, you can toggle the Airplay symbol from Single to Multiple. You can then select all your Apple TV's and Airport Expresses (if you had multiple) and the music will play all over the house including from the computer, or just from the devices you want.
     
  13. Starfia macrumors 6502

    Starfia

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    #13
    Apps are the only thing you mentioned within the new AppleTV's exclusive domain.

    I don't agree with the person who said AirPlay sucks right now – I've had occasional, but rare drops at worst. Then, my devices are all within metres of my base station. But between the competing options, it seems about the same to me. And streaming audio works about equally well on both, too.

    There's actually one potential pro to the third-generation device: optical audio out. In my situation, I was actually able to run that audio directly to my audio amplifier without having to go through the TV. With the new device in my setup (as-is, at least), I actually have to have my TV on to get that streamed audio playing.

    So, if it's truly just audio and AirPlay, I'd say the third-generation and the implied saving seems like an option worth considering. If you're tempted to get into apps and games and be equipped for some future surprises from Apple, maybe it's worth going with the current one.
     
  14. bluespark macrumors 65816

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    #14
    With that setup, it would depend on the TV, but you probably are correct that most TVs wouldn't output an optical audio signal if the screen is off. I run my ATV 4's HDMI into my Arcam AVR's HDMI in and then out from there to the TV, so I don't have that issue.
     
  15. Mordo, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016

    Mordo thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Thank you everyone! I've got a better idea of the pros and cons of each device. And my apologies to the first posters, I should have stated my complete setup from the beginning.
     
  16. Tech198 macrumors G4

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    Mar 21, 2011
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    Australia, Perth
    #16
    I think Apple made that choice for you... Unless it's on the reburb store or when they will phase it out... there will be only one choice.

    I've heard issues on both...> Netflix having issues on ATV 4, and problems on Apple TV 3rd..

    As a 3rd gen user, I haven't' had any of them. apart from the "error loading content" but that's cleanly a software issue, as i found out tonight.
     
  17. rolsskk macrumors 6502

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    #17
    I've found that the netflix issues have been resolved for now, it's not popped up in awhile.
     
  18. zorinlynx macrumors 601

    zorinlynx

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    #18
    I highly recommend the ATV4. There is really no good reason to gimp yourself with a several-years-old product when the dollar difference is so small.

    I gave my ATV3 to my mother after I upgraded to the ATV4, and I find it painful to navigate on it after having gotten used to the ATV4. The speed and improved interface; there's just no comparison.

    Plus, ATV4 has Plex. Of course if you don't use it that's not a factor in your decision, but look into it. Plex is awesome. :)
     
  19. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #19
    I was irritated that the ATV4 got rid of the optical because I too like to use that as a music-only listening option. In the end though, the new ATV is much better than the old one and I just use one of my old Airport Express devices for music streaming.
     
  20. Mordo thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    As I'm not currently using Netflix, or any other streaming app, not playing game that often (I've got a Wii that is accumulating dust on the shelf), I don't see any use for Apps, but as with anything, as soon as you got used to it, it's hard turning back. I must say that most of the TV shows or movie I watch are through websites, or from less than legal sources, hence why I'm looking to use the ATV for mirroring as some of those files aren't reconized by iTunes.
     
  21. davidoloan, Jun 13, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016

    davidoloan macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Try one of the Apple TV apps like Infuse and watch it natively (streaming from your computer) rather than mirroring. It will be much nicer. Your only limited to iTunes friendly formats on the Apple TV3. https://firecore.com/infuse
    Mirroring is OK, but in practice its of more use as an extra display for your computer / for demonstration to others.
    I couldn't imagine not having one of the streaming set top boxes. I had the Apple TV disconnected from the main TV for a week to test out a new projector and the TV suddenly became like something out of the dark ages.
     
  22. zorinlynx macrumors 601

    zorinlynx

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    #22
    Plex is what you want.

    http://plex.tv/

    It's actually free on the Apple TV 4. The server runs on Linux, Windows, OS X and can serve up pretty much any media on your system. It even grabs metadata for most things, but truthfully, this feature is a big buggy and it sometimes gets things like episode names and summaries wrong.

    But it's pretty damn nice otherwise!
     
  23. rolsskk macrumors 6502

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    #23
    That happens primarily because the user fails to follow the prescribed naming conventions.
     

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