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Comparison: iTunes 4k vs 1080p bluray vs 4k bluray

Macalicious2011

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UPDATE 1st Dec 2020:
I have upgraded to a 1000nit HDR TV and UHD discs look jaw dropping with HDR enabled.

After taking an 18 month sebatical from blurays and watching iTunes movies instead, I now have an UHD player. It's an Xbox Series X.! 😎

I have bought a few UHD movies to compare against iTunes movies and bluray that I already own. Here are my thoughts from watching on my non-HDR 4k TV.


TLdr: Which is the superior choice, iTunes movies or UHD bluray?

It depends on your priorities. As a rule of thumb iTunes provides the best image quality.

However, UHD discs provides a more cinematic and superior sound experience if your sound system can decode DTS MasterAudio, Dolby TruHD or Dolby Atmos.

Image quality: Overall iTunes is superior and is the best bet for highest possible image quality.

It's as if the movies run at a higher Bitrate. In some scenes colours pop more, close ups of faces are significantly more high res looking. 👀

The image quality of UHD discs is movie and studio dependent. Some movie are lazy remastered versions of the bluray version while others are 2-4k rescans of the original film.

For the Dark Knight, I actually prefer the clarity and original film grain of the bluray movie over the slightly smudgy looking and perhaps over-processed UHD disc. 😮

Sound quality: When watching movies, my 7.1 Yamaha YSP-2500 soundprojector decodes DTS Master Audio and Dolby Tru HD.

There is no contest, these sound formats are far superior to Dolby Digital steamed through iTunes.

When watching musicals it feels like you are experiencing a live performance rather than listening to a song. Romantic scenes in restaurants feel more intimate as the sound of toasting glasses and dialogues are more expressive.

When watching action movies lossless audio bring my subwoofer to life. It's as if someone has secretly upgraded it to a more powerful one. Explosions, door thuds and car engines sounds are punchier and more nuanced.

Basically it's a big audio upgrade in every movie and every scene.🙌

I have yet to do a detailed sound comparison between bluray and UHD discs but will let you know.

Should you upgrade your bluray movies to UHD discs: You will have to do your homework on individual movies to find out whether the UHD version meet your threshold for improvements in image quality and HDR.

For some movies a UHD disc cost £14-24 compared with £2-4 for the bluray version.

6FB0C872-7CE3-4CF1-B4B2-7C6D0B9DAB71.jpeg
 
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priitv8

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Jan 13, 2011
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Estonia
My brief comparison of Blade Runner 2049 iTunes vs UHD bluray made me convinced Bluray image is far superior over iTunes.
it carries double the bitrate, after all. And the difference is obvious esp in dark areas.
Even though the bluray is HDR10 and iTunes is Dolby Vision, on my display DoVi has no significant advantage over HDR10.
I still am positive about optical still outperforming streaming, in both audio and video.
 
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MauiPa

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Apr 18, 2018
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My brief comparison of Blade Runner 2049 iTunes vs UHD bluray made me convinced Bluray image is far superior over iTunes.
it carries double the bitrate, after all. And the difference is obvious esp in dark areas.
Even though the bluray is HDR10 and iTunes is Dolby Vision, on my display DoVi has no significant advantage over HDR10.
I still am positive about optical still outperforming streaming, in both audio and video.
very true if you have low bandwidth, most streaming services auto compensate. Netflix will go down to 480p with a bad signal
 

MPclk2006

macrumors 6502
Sep 20, 2013
316
148
Kentucky
After taking an 18 month sebatical from blurays and watching iTunes movies instead, I now have an UHD player. It's an Xbox Series X.! 😎

I have bought a few UHD movies to compare against iTunes movies and bluray that I already own. Here are my thoughts from watching on my non-HDR 4k TV.


TLdr: Which is the superior choice, iTunes movies or UHD bluray?

It depends on your priorities. As a rule of thumb iTunes provides the best image quality.

However, UHD discs provides a more cinematic and superior sound experience if your sound system can decode DTS MasterAudio, Dolby TruHD or Dolby Atmos.

Image quality: Overall iTunes is superior and is the best bet for highest possible image quality.

It's as if the movies run at a higher Bitrate. In some scenes colours pop more, close ups of faces are significantly more high res looking. 👀

The image quality of UHD discs is movie and studio dependent. Some movie are lazy remastered versions of the bluray version while others are 2-4k rescans of the original film.

For the Dark Knight, I actually prefer the clarity and original film grain of the bluray movie over the slightly smudgy looking and perhaps over-processed UHD disc. 😮

Sound quality: When watching movies, my 7.1 Yamaha YSP-2500 soundprojector decodes DTS Master Audio and Dolby Tru HD.

There is no contest, these sound formats are far superior to Dolby Digital steamed through iTunes.

When watching musicals it feels like you are experiencing a live performance rather than listening to a song. Romantic scenes in restaurants feel more intimate as the sound of toasting glasses and dialogues are more expressive.

When watching action movies lossless audio bring my subwoofer to life. It's as if someone has secretly upgraded it to a more powerful one. Explosions, door thuds and car engines sounds are punchier and more nuanced.

Basically it's a big audio upgrade in every movie and every scene.🙌

I have yet to do a detailed sound comparison between bluray and UHD discs but will let you know.

Should you upgrade your bluray movies to UHD discs: You will have to do your homework on individual movies to find out whether the UHD version meet your threshold for improvements in image quality and HDR.

For some movies a UHD disc cost £14-24 compared with £2-4 for the bluray version.

View attachment 1672282
Great review but you will find that some movies are better to watch on disc. Take Dark Knight for example, you will not get those expanded (imax) scenes on the iTunes version, but you will on the UHD disc.
 
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Packers1958

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UHD discs, IMO produce a vastly superior image, compared to iTunes via the ATV4K. Streaming still can not produce as good of a 4K image as a UHD disc. I have 200 Mbps connection and even with those speeds, 4K streaming is about equivalent as 1080p disc as far as image quality. I have well over 100 UHD discs, both DV and HDR10, and every one of them is better than the same movie streaming on itunes via the ATV4K. Not by a little, but by a lot. Bitrate is significantly higher on UHD disc, and itunes just can't match that. My choice will always be UHD discs on my OPPO 203 over itunes, unless the movie is not that good and only worth the $5.99 that Apple charges. Throw in the elevated blacks with DV via the ATV4k, and it's a no brainer. UHD discs for the win.
 

Macalicious2011

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Great review but you will find that some movies are better to watch on disc. Take Dark Knight for example, you will not get those expanded (imax) scenes on the iTunes version, but you will on the UHD disc.
Home come the iTunes version doesn't have the imax scenes? They are amazing and very a cinematic.

My brief comparison of Blade Runner 2049 iTunes vs UHD bluray made me convinced Bluray image is far superior over iTunes.
it carries double the bitrate, after all. And the difference is obvious esp in dark areas.
Even though the bluray is HDR10 and iTunes is Dolby Vision, on my display DoVi has no significant advantage over HDR10.
I still am positive about optical still outperforming streaming, in both audio and video.
The Blade Runner on UHD discs are the best of the breed when it comes to image quality. The original movie has been rescanned in 4k and 8k. Basically they are full fat UHD movies.

In comparison, I just found out that Batman Begins in UHD uses the same 2k scan as the 1080p bluray. This explains why I dont find the UHD version to be an upgrade in detail.

This goes back to my previous point that the quality of UHD can vary greatly by movie.

I have the Greatest Showman on both UHD and iTunes 4k. For the most part, the image quality is very neck and neck. However some scenes, especially close ups of face or dim settings look better in the iTunes copy. Higher resolution, less murky colours and more pop.

The Xbox Series X disc player doesn't do Dolby Vision right?
Not currently. Hopefully it will be available in an update next year. If not, it's not a deal breaker as I can simply buy a dedicated UHD player when I upgrade to an HDR OLED.
UHD discs, IMO produce a vastly superior image, compared to iTunes via the ATV4K. Streaming still can not produce as good of a 4K image as a UHD disc. I have 200 Mbps connection and even with those speeds, 4K streaming is about equivalent as 1080p disc as far as image quality. I have well over 100 UHD discs, both DV and HDR10, and every one of them is better than the same movie streaming on itunes via the ATV4K. Not by a little, but by a lot. Bitrate is significantly higher on UHD disc, and itunes just can't match that. My choice will always be UHD discs on my OPPO 203 over itunes, unless the movie is not that good and only worth the $5.99 that Apple charges. Throw in the elevated blacks with DV via the ATV4k, and it's a no brainer. UHD discs for the win.
I am building an UHD collection so feel free to recommend movies with 9/10-10/10 image quality.

So far this week I have taken delivery of:
-Nolan Batman trilogy
-Fury
-1917
-Harry Potter UHD Collection
-The Greatest Showman
-Mamma Mia the Movie
-Mamma Mia here we go again
 

Packers1958

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Home come the iTunes version doesn't have the imax scenes? They are amazing and very a cinematic.


The Blade Runner on UHD discs are the best of the breed when it comes to image quality. The original movie has been rescanned in 4k and 8k. Basically they are full fat UHD movies.

In comparison, I just found out that Batman Begins in UHD uses the same 2k scan as the 1080p bluray. This explains why I dont find the UHD version to be an upgrade in detail.

This goes back to my previous point that the quality of UHD can vary greatly by movie.

I have the Greatest Showman on both UHD and iTunes 4k. For the most part, the image quality is very neck and neck. However some scenes, especially close ups of face or dim settings look better in the iTunes copy. Higher resolution, less murky colours and more pop.


Not currently. Hopefully it will be available in an update next year. If not, it's not a deal breaker as I can simply buy a dedicated UHD player when I upgrade to an HDR OLED.

I am building an UHD collection so feel free to recommend movies with 9/10-10/10 image quality.

So far this week I have taken delivery of:
-Nolan Batman trilogy
-Fury
-1917
-Harry Potter UHD Collection
-The Greatest Showman
-Mamma Mia the Movie
-Mamma Mia here we go again
Here's a start. A list of every DV movie on disc. DV on disc is significantly better than DV streaming. For those that don't have a DV capable tv, you really don't know what you are missing.

https://www.nextgenhometheater.com/dolby-vision-uhd-blu-ray-movies/
 
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priitv8

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DV on disc is significantly better than DV streaming.
This once again can vary by title. There are even DV titles out, where the DV enhancement layer is completely static for the whole duration of feature. So nothing scene-by-scene or dynamic. Not the fault of Dolby but the mastering studio.

PS iTunes streams seem to top out at 30-35Mbps under best condition. UHD optical at 100Mbps. So there is 3x difference.
 

Packers1958

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This once again can vary by title. There are even DV titles out, where the DV enhancement layer is completely static for the whole duration of feature. So nothing scene-by-scene or dynamic. Not the fault of Dolby but the mastering studio.

PS iTunes streams seem to top out at 30-35Mbps under best condition. UHD optical at 100Mbps. So there is 3x difference.
Even if it is static, the increased bitrate produces a superior image over streaming. The advantage of DV, even if static, Allows for proper tone mapping on your tv. If a disc is mastered at 4000 nits, and your tv is only capable of 1000 nits, if it's not DV, highlights over 1000 nits will be clipped. With DV, those peak highlights will be toned map and prevent clipping above 1000 nits. Plus DV is 12 bit, vs HDR10 which is just 10 bit. Thus the 10 after HDR. Also, many DV streaming titles are nothing more than 1080p upscaled to 4K and then DV is applied. Many studios pull that crap when they offer those titles for streaming to the providers.
 
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priitv8

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Jan 13, 2011
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it's not DV, highlights over 1000 nits will be clipped. With DV, those peak highlights will be toned map and prevent clipping above 1000 nits. Plus DV is 12 bit, vs HDR10 which is just 10 bit. Thus the 10 after HDR
This is something manufacturer-specific. According to measurements one user made on avsforum for my Bravia, it behaves even differently in different picture modes. Some clip, others have a knee and with different characteristics.
What is the value of 12-bit video, if the 2 lower-order bits have fixed value? So there is no additional information encoded, just shift-left by 2 bits?
 

Packers1958

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This is something manufacturer-specific. According to measurements one user made on avsforum for my Bravia, it behaves even differently in different picture modes. Some clip, others have a knee and with different characteristics.
What is the value of 12-bit video, if the 2 lower-order bits have fixed value? So there is no additional information encoded, just shift-left by 2 bits?
The 12 bit improves the bit depth of 10 bit HDR. You can get better color gradation and better image with compressed encodes. Also, with my OPPO 203, I can force it to play everything as DV. So even with a disc that is only HDR10, it triggers my tv to think it's DV, and it looks better on my E6 OLED as it prevents clipping. I would recommend those with an OPPO 203 or 205 to do that if your tv is not capable of 1000 nits, like OLED. It does make a significant difference. It's the only player that can do that, and unfortunately they are no longer in business.
 
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Macalicious2011

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Here's a start. A list of every DV movie on disc. DV on disc is significantly better than DV streaming. For those that don't have a DV capable tv, you really don't know what you are missing.

https://www.nextgenhometheater.com/dolby-vision-uhd-blu-ray-movies/
I have been holding off replacing my non-hdr 4k tv until I bought next gen console.

Now I will wait for a price war between LG, Samsung and Sony to break out on 4k/120fps TVs before I strike a target.

I will likely buy a 65 inch LG CX but want to keep an open mind for 2021 TV sets.
 
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Packers1958

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I have been holding off replacing my non-hdr 4k tv until I bought next gen console.

Now I will wait for a price war between LG, Samsung and Sony to break out on 4k/120fps TVs before I strike a target.

I will likely buy a 65 inch LG CX but want to keep an open mind for 2021 TV sets.
I would hold off on the CX. Too many issues. Elevated blacks with DV and HDR being the main issue. It been months and LG has yet to fix that issue. I don't think LG put out a great product in 2020 with these covid issues.
 

Macalicious2011

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I would hold off on the CX. Too many issues. Elevated blacks with DV and HDR being the main issue. It been months and LG has yet to fix that issue. I don't think LG put out a great product in 2020 with these covid issues.
That's good to know. I researched my current TV inside and out for two months before committing and will as scrutinising when buying my next one.
 

Packers1958

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That's good to know. I researched my current TV inside and out for two months before committing and will as scrutinising when buying my next one.
I heard they are working on a fix for the elevated blacks. The beta seems to have fixed it, but people are still waiting for the official release. If your want DV, you have to drop Samsung off your list. They refuse to support DV.
 

priitv8

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Jan 13, 2011
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The 12 bit improves the bit depth of 10 bit HDR. You can get better color gradation and better image with compressed encodes.
That is so, in theory. But if you take a 10-bit HDR10 layer and add to that static 2 bits, that won't change throughout the feature, they will not contain any new (additional) information. So where can this better gradation come from?
PS on my ZD9 I can not discern any significant differences between DoVi and HDR10.
 

GrumpyCoder

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Nov 15, 2016
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Image quality: Overall iTunes is superior and is the best bet for highest possible image quality.
I find that kind of surprising as it's the opposite of my experience. Out of curiosity, have you calibrated your inputs for each of your sources of are you using the same settings for all of the sources?

In comparison, I just found out that Batman Begins in UHD uses the same 2k scan as the 1080p bluray. This explains why I dont find the UHD version to be an upgrade in detail.
That is not true. There's a 4k DI and a native 4k master, while some of the effects were rendered even higher. But yes, it looks rather bad, but that's not because of the lack of a 4k master.
For those that don't have a DV capable tv, you really don't know what you are missing.
Yes and no. It depends on the capability of the display and what additional processing is done. I'd take dynamic tone mapping from a Lumagen processor or a madVR Envy over regular DV any day. Yes, that costs another $5k to $10k for a processor, but is still the better solution as long as the display quality is up to it, no DV capability needed.
 

MPclk2006

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Sep 20, 2013
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Home come the iTunes version doesn't have the imax scenes? They are amazing and very a cinematic.
I dont know why they dont offer the Imax scenes, I found that out after I upgraded my Dark Knight Trilogy to 4K digitally, I ended up buying The Dark Knight on 4K bluray and sure enough it has the imax scenes, just like my regular bluray disc, but not the digital version.
 

Packers1958

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I find that kind of surprising as it's the opposite of my experience. Out of curiosity, have you calibrated your inputs for each of your sources of are you using the same settings for all of the sources?


That is not true. There's a 4k DI and a native 4k master, while some of the effects were rendered even higher. But yes, it looks rather bad, but that's not because of the lack of a 4k master.

Yes and no. It depends on the capability of the display and what additional processing is done. I'd take dynamic tone mapping from a Lumagen processor or a madVR Envy over regular DV any day. Yes, that costs another $5k to $10k for a processor, but is still the better solution as long as the display quality is up to it, no DV capability needed.
Very few people are going to shell out an additional 5 to 10K for an external video processor. So for the 99.99% of the population that doesn't buy external processors, DV will still look better on most DV capable tvs vs static HDR10.
 

JayCar

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Nov 4, 2013
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Houston, TX
Another thing to consider here is the image processing on the blu-ray player. I have personally experienced the difference between the Xbox (one X, not the new series X) and a high quality Blu-Ray player. The image processor on a dedicated unit I found to best the one on the Xbox. IMHO, the Xbox is adequate, but doesn't showcase the full quality of the disc. That could be where some of your visual differences are occurring.

On paper, the disc is better.

As far as new TVs go, I recently picked up a 65" Samsung Q80T (4K 120hz). It replaced a 2016 Samsung QUHD and it's simply outstanding. My advice would be look at it side by side with the OLED before you make your decision. If you're going to do any kind of gaming (which is my primary usage), you'd be remiss if you didn't evaluate it.

As much as I liked the OLED image, it just can't compare brightness to the QLED. There are many things that are debatable btwn the two sets and I'm not here to do that, but the brightness is definitely not one of them. I was also shocked at how black the black is. Quite impressive, give it a look.
 

AL2TEACH

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Feb 17, 2007
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Denver, CO.
Another thing to consider here is the image processing on the blu-ray player. I have personally experienced the difference between the Xbox (one X, not the new series X) and a high quality Blu-Ray player. The image processor on a dedicated unit I found to best the one on the Xbox. IMHO, the Xbox is adequate, but doesn't showcase the full quality of the disc. That could be where some of your visual differences are occurring.

On paper, the disc is better.

As far as new TVs go, I recently picked up a 65" Samsung Q80T (4K 120hz). It replaced a 2016 Samsung QUHD and it's simply outstanding. My advice would be look at it side by side with the OLED before you make your decision. If you're going to do any kind of gaming (which is my primary usage), you'd be remiss if you didn't evaluate it.

As much as I liked the OLED image, it just can't compare brightness to the QLED. There are many things that are debatable btwn the two sets and I'm not here to do that, but the brightness is definitely not one of them. I was also shocked at how black the black is. Quite impressive, give it a look.
I agree that the Q tv is outstanding and the brightness is a wowser and compares to an OLED but it's not an OLED.
 

Macalicious2011

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 15, 2011
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Another thing to consider here is the image processing on the blu-ray player. I have personally experienced the difference between the Xbox (one X, not the new series X) and a high quality Blu-Ray player. The image processor on a dedicated unit I found to best the one on the Xbox. IMHO, the Xbox is adequate, but doesn't showcase the full quality of the disc. That could be where some of your visual differences are occurring.

On paper, the disc is better.

As far as new TVs go, I recently picked up a 65" Samsung Q80T (4K 120hz). It replaced a 2016 Samsung QUHD and it's simply outstanding. My advice would be look at it side by side with the OLED before you make your decision. If you're going to do any kind of gaming (which is my primary usage), you'd be remiss if you didn't evaluate it.

As much as I liked the OLED image, it just can't compare brightness to the QLED. There are many things that are debatable btwn the two sets and I'm not here to do that, but the brightness is definitely not one of them. I was also shocked at how black the black is. Quite impressive, give it a look.
Vincent on youtube will likely do a comparison of the new consoles against dedicated UHD players.

How does HDR look in your TV given the lack of support for DV?
 
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