Has Apple TV 4K fallen behind in the UHD/Atmos age?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by shinseiromeo, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. shinseiromeo, Mar 27, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018

    shinseiromeo macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2017
    Let me preface by saying since digital copies have been around for the past 7-8 years, I've 100% always chosen Apple and iTunes for my code redemptions. Back in the days when Fox and Lionsgate forced you to pick UV or iTunes, iTunes was always chosen. I currently have about 1,100 movies on iTunes, and near 1,300 on VUDU (thanks to UV and MoviesAnywhere). Today I stand at a fork on the road. There's an anomaly I cannot figure out and I'm concerned that the Apple TV 4K is a much lesser product now than ever before. Let me explain...

    My prior setup was a 50in Panasonic Viera, and Onkyo SR705 home theater with 7.1 setup. I tested countless movies and the A/V, LFE and fidelity were clearly better on Apple TV 3 vs VUDU movies.

    My current setup is a 65in LG B7 OLED, and Denon X1400 with 7.1 setup. Now in my testings, VUDU movies on the TV built in app absolutely obliterates the Apple TV 4K version of the movie. I'm not even talking slightly better, I'm talking 5x fidelity, LFE, and color accuracy.

    My TV is calibrated using rtings suggested settings, and the receiver using the built in app and microphone. With VUDU, Dolby Vision & Atmos, the VUDU 4K versions of movies play smoother, have brighter colors, and the audio literally shakes the floors whereas the same movie on the same audio level is barely a whimper on my Apple TV 4k.

    Besides ATV4K missing Dolby Atmos, is there some setting off with the Apple TV that dulls colors and slows motion when compared to VUDU versions of movies? Ultimately here's my issue and where I'm lost... same TV and settings... playing a digital movie on ATV4K with Dolby Vision produces dull colors, and a 'normal' framerate, whereas playing on the LG built in VUDU app produces much more vivid colors, and also the motion is A LOT smoother, like 60fps video compared to 24p video. Same goes for Netlflix on ATV4k compared to the TVs built in Netflix app, it's smoother and more vivid.

    As far as I can tell, every setting on the TV modes are the same, so I'm at a total loss on how the same movie can look and play so differently using different services, especially the motion part.
  2. Macalicious2011 macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2011
    Interesting. I would give Vudu a shot if it was available in the UK.
  3. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    I starting to feel this new sound thing will wither on the vine just like the older 3D settings a couple of years ago!
  4. BODYBUILDERPAUL, Mar 28, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018

    BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
    WOW! Interesting and in a way, why I decided against spending my money and, more importantly, time on big screen TVs and the lot - I see so many unhappy with their choice of hobby!

    Here in the UK, we don't have VUDU and we've never had the option when buying BluRay/DVD of redeeming codes in iTunes.
    My findings have shown my eyes that iTunes films in HD definitely look better than Amazon, Google etc offerings. VIMEO is on par with iTunes.
    I always found the sound of Netflix HD films to be horribly compressed compared to iTunes/VIMEO films. I no longer have Netflix - I've other hobbies which take my free time up :)
    Yesterday I cleared out all of my DVDs which were making my home look untidy etc and now i've gone 100% streaming. Makes sense as I like watching parts of film on my MacBook on a weekend morning in bed with a double espresso. I watch a film on a TV with friends once a week on a Thursday with a big dinner party gathering :)

    From what I can see, it's the whole industry that's in trouble with itself. Go on any forum or YouTube review and people are bitching the their Sony A1 isn't doing this, their customer service is rubbish, LG OLED has burn it, streaking, banding on 4K BluRay machines. This 4K BluRay sounds dull compared to this. So many people who have this a hobby seems to be truly miserable and unsatisfied. Maybe that's materialism as it's a quick 'fix' like heroin for example. What I do know, is that sports/boating/weight training/surfing/hikers/nature lovers seems to be more content and alive with life!

    TV sizes have become so vulgar in size thanks to the USA, that people are just not satisfied as these things show up faults that probably don't exist. Houses / apartments in Europe and the UK tend to be small. 55" in a UK house tends to look truly revolting!!! Often placed in front of a house window!

    Personally, I felt that iTunes was the best streaming method and blame sub standard quality more on the film distributors. Just look at people moaning about the sub quality on 4K BluRay releases!

    I took my nephews to see Peter Rabbit at the movies last Monday and on the big screen, the image was 'waxy' and lacking sharpness compared to watching film at home on my 40" Panasonic EX700 with Apple TV 4K. We all agreed that it's more fun to watch the experience at home!

    I've come very close the buying a SONY A1 TV 55" but the whole deciding, looking just makes me completely miserable and i've turned my back on it. Too many other beautiful interests out in the great outdoors that make me happy at the end of the day!
  5. HobeSoundDarryl, Mar 28, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    OP, there's a LOT of variables that could explain the situation. I doubt VUDU is THAT superior to the equivalent iTunes file. I suspect you have settings to adjust to get playback on an equal playing field and/or the (guessing) few movies you tested just happened to have superior versions via VUDU, which would not mean ALL movie files would automatically be as superior.

    I suggest trying to cut down the potential variables and see if something shows itself. For example, instead of TV VUDU app vs. :apple:TV iTunes, try TV VUDU vs. :apple:TV VUDU app to see if both runs of the same file look the same. If the latter looks inferior, you will get clues that the TV app settings are different than the :apple:TV settings. You could do the same kind of thing by testing maybe TV YouTube, Amazon, Netflix apps vs. :apple:TV YouTube, Amazon, Netflix apps. The point here is to eliminate as many variables as possible and it may show you the way to optimize your :apple:TV setup.

    The dulling of colors sounds like maybe you have HDR options on with a TV that doesn't support it (that will make everything look very dull)... OR your settings on that HDMI jack are simply not the same as the TVs settings for playing from TV apps. For example, if the HDMI port to which your :apple:TV is connected has video settings optimized to something toward "standard" or "cinema" or "night (watching)" but the TV's Apps use video settings like "dynamic" (where brightness and similar are cranked up (too) high to look brightest and most colorful on a show room floor), naturally the latter is going to look brighter and more colorful than the former- no matter WHAT you have feeding that HDMI port.

    Ultimate TEST: borrow a 4K Blu Ray player and hook it to the same :apple:TV HDMI port. Put in some reference quality 4K Blu Ray movie and see how it fares head to head vs. the same movie streamed from Vudu. If it too looks washed out and/or inferior, pound through the TV settings to find where TV apps have playback settings jacked up and/or where they significantly differ from the same settings associated with that HDMI port. A 4K Blu Ray disc won't be so compressed like a VUDU or iTunes file, so it should look better than any other consumer source.

    As to sound, no doubt that :apple:TV clings to the past vs. embracing more modern audio codecs available for upwards of many years now. Hopefully that will change- and Apple themselves have at least verbally talked to Atmos coming- but sound is definitely a relative weakness of :apple:TV and iTunes videos. If sound is pretty important to you- strongly implied by your investments in surround sound receivers and thus good speakers hooked to them- other options that play better sound sources will be superior to :apple:TV until maybe/someday Apple decides to better compete with the audio side of video playback. There's no settings to adjust to significantly improve that- THAT takes actually putting the better audio streams INSIDE the source files.
  6. Ritsuka macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2006
    If it "feels" smoother and the color are more vidid, probably you have the smoothing option and some crappy color options enabled in your tv settings.

    Do you want to watch the movie the way it was meant to be, or do you want to apply some filters to alter the colors and the frames?
  7. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    If you really care about quality, you just need to stick to physical media. It is always going to be the best. If you are putting money into a home theater, get an Oppo and buy the disc with the digital codes. The only reason I have the ATV is to stream things like HBO and Showtime that are not built into the TV streaming services.

    "My current setup is a 65in LG B7 OLED, and Denon X1400 with 7.1 setup"

    Use that physical media man!

    The problem you described is not uncommon at all across streaming services and different devices.
  8. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    As someone already mentioned, you probably have some image "improvement" options activated that are applied to the internal app but not the HDMI input. Almost all iTunes movies are encoded in correct 24p framerate, and if you have auto framerate switching enabled the ATV4K will correctly output the signal to the TV. If there is some difference in smoothness, it's the TV screwing around with the video. Something similar may also affect the color reproduction, or there is some mismatch in the HDR settings.
    I noticed that iTunes makes aggressive use of Dialnorm in many movies, which causes them to be played at a lower volume. That doesn't mean that the dynamic range is lower. Just turn up the volume to compensate.
    Exactly. There must be some difference in the settings. Remember that many TVs can store different settings per source.

    In my experience 4K iTunes movies look excellent, surprisingly close to 4K Blurays.
  9. shinseiromeo thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2017
    I want to thank everyone for the assistance so far. I did some deep diving yesterday and believe I solved the visual issues.

    So as I stated, I used the rtings.com recommended settings for different sources. Now why I have not tested VUDU on ATV4K vs iTunes on ATV4K is because the VUDU app is broken on the device, many movies only play in stereo audio.

    I digress, the issue I found was exactly what Rigby mentioned. My PS4 standard and HDR mode was calibrated, ATV4K various modes were calibrated, yet the TV in apps kept defaulting to standard settings with TruMotion on. Then when playing content that has Dolby Vision, the TV again kicked backed to default picture settings. I had to go in each visual mode and set the proper calibratons.

    Again, thank you everyone for your input. Now my gripe is the VUDU Atmos audio vs ATV4K basic audio. With my AVR setup it truly is a substantial difference.

    As far as physical media, I do own an LG UP970 and only two 4K BDs. I stopped buying physical years back when the cost really hit me. I own over 1,000 BDs and always tracked my purchases. When I saw I was in over $15,000 USD in discs and now 4K is prevalent, plus the video is really close in quality, I made the switch to digital.
  10. cardsdoc, Mar 28, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018

    cardsdoc macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2007
    Shaker Hts, OH
    I have pretty good audio set up with a Denon x4300h, Klipsch RP speakers in a 5.2.4 atmos setup and 2 potent SVS PC-4000 subs. OLED is professionally calibrated and audio is calibrated with Audyssey xt32 plus further optimized with REW measurements. While visually itunes movies are pretty good I have found the sound tracks often lacking in dynamics and LFE. It's variable but there can be a marked difference between the HD audio on disc and itunes. Vudu's DD+ and Atmos audio also tends to be much better. I recently compared Blade Runner 2047 UHD disc and itunes. It is know to be a bass monster audio track but the LFE was neutered on itunes for some reason. So in this regard I agree with OP.
  11. BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
  12. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    I'm not hearing a big difference. I have a Denon x3300w 5.1.2 with floor standing speakers and very large bookshelfs all around for surrounds. And most movies the atmos track is no better than the TrueHD track. I feel as if most movies just aren't taking advantage of what atmos offers. Which isn't to say all of them are that way. Some are downright amazing in atmos. Just not most.
    I am referring to my own rips with the lossless tracks or using UHD discs in my oppo 203 and testing.
    I also find in many cases I prefer using the receivers upmix ability for non atmos tracks rather than using the atmos track itself. It just sounds more accurate to my ears.
    Of course this is all opinion.
  13. shinseiromeo thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2017
    Archer, so far I’m demo’ed Pacific Rim 4K and Blade Runner 2049 on VUDU with my LG OLED built in app, and ATV4K iTunes movie. I played the same scenes back to back multiple times, LFE and acoustics are like watching two different movies. Voices are like a whisper, and I have no LFE with ATV4K on a medium volume. Same audio level on VUDU with an Atmos track shakes the walls and is quite loud. I can crank the volume for the ATV4K though that doesn’t help much with LFE.

    I tested some Netflix shows as well TV built in and ATV4K, specifically Altered Carbon. Same thing applies.

    I haven’t tinkered with my Denon X1400 setups besides calibration in the beginning. Are there some tweaks you can recommend?
  14. archer75, Mar 29, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018

    archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    Volume isn't a sign of good audio. Just because it's louder doesn't mean it's better.

    I don't purchase anything on itunes or vudu. So it's just whatever codes i've redeemed. But I don't watch those anyways. Well I have but typically just for testing. Not often.
    All I test with is an actual UHD disc itself or my rips with lossless audio played through infuse on the ATV or plex on the shield. I do some non lossless audio from shows in plex on the ATV. I'm not having any audio issues. Nor am I with netflix.

    I also have a LG OLED. The 2016 model. So feeding back audio from that over ARC to the receiver just gives me dolby digital. Not even dolby digital plus or atmos so it's not an apples to apples comparison to use that. The 2017 model is needed for atmos.

    From what someone else stated on the AVS forums is that netflix dolby digital is using a higher bitrate than dolby digital plus on netflix. Though netflix atmos is a higher bitrate than both. However I think only xbox gets atmos from netflix currently? I may be wrong on that. Netflix supports atmos only on a few devices at the moment. Vudu does support atmos on my shield.

    Aside from turning off all and any audio processing on the receiver there isn't much else you can do. I typically start with the audyessy calibration and then use a sound meter and just the levels of the speakers individually.
    Make sure audio on the ATV is set to best available and not dolby digital.
  15. Hoosier317, Mar 29, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018

    Hoosier317 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2016
    ...that is NOT a calibration. You just used someone else's settings on a display that was properly calibrated with a genuine meter and calibration software. Those settings are only accurate for the display the calibration was performed on. A calibration requires you either hiring a professional or learning to do it properly yourself with the necessary equipment.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 29, 2018 ---
    You probably have the audio settings on the Apple TV 4K set incorrectly. Make sure it is set to "Best Quality Available" and that "Reduce Loud Sounds" is disabled.
  16. shinseiromeo thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2017

    Thank you for the clarification. Best quality is selected and reduced sounds are off.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 29, 2018 ---

    Ah okay. I was ecstatic to find out the 2017 OLED line got the ATMOS over ARC update. I can confirm Netflix and VUDU apps built in the TV do output Atmos, as my receiver displays it on screen.

    By all means I agree louder is not better. The difference between the two tracks is substantial. There is much more fidelity and low end, I can tell that there is audio in the sides and rear I missed since I've always watched on the ATV4K instead of VUDU. Now I feel I need to go back and re-watch all the movies that have Atmos enabled on VUDU!
  17. priitv8, Mar 30, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018

    priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Perceived better quality over Atmos can be related to the fact that Atmos is run over DD+ and DD+ uses more bitrate than classic DD.
    Atmos can also run over Dolby TrueHD but I dont”t believe this lossless format can be sent over classic ARC.
  18. vipergts2207 macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2009
    Columbus, OH
    While that's true, you can still get in the ballpark of a proper picture by following most of the setting suggestions, particularly for things color temperature, motion, and turning off most of the picture "enhancers" that are often on by default. Rtings' settings will certainly get you a far better picture than what you'd get out of the box. However, I wouldn't use their suggestions for the more granular settings such as color bias and offset. If not doing an actual calibration, those are likely best left at the default setting.
  19. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    I don't have your TV so this is just a guess, but how sure are you that the settings for the two inputs are the same? I have a Vizio tv, and the "built-in" apps are not a seperate input. It's hard to explain, but Inputs 1-4 are inputs, and the built-in apps are a whole separate thing.

    My guess is you have frame-rate interpolation and color-boosting enabled for the built-in apps.

    I use the ATV5(4k) with Infuse and I trust it is outputting all the right things more than I trust the unknown built-in stuff.
  20. shinseiromeo thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2017

    I concur. It’s better than out of the box, especially with the artificial enhancers you mentioned. I’ve never had a set truly calibrated before and also never owned such a high end TV either. Right now my OLED is my living room TV, it isn’t in a proper home theater with no windows or soundproofing. Would it truly matter that much to calibrate in my current setup?

    You nailed it! That was the issue.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 31, 2018 ---

    From my understanding the 2017 LG OLED line is the first TV to output Atmos over ARC.

    By the way, is it proper for my receiver to be displaying “Multi in” when using Apple TV 4K? During playback on the TV built in apps, it will display either DD+ or Atmos on the AVR display.
  21. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Dunno. My 2016 Sony Bravia does it. Assuming DD+ carrier. Naturally not on TrueHD carrier. aTV is not usable source for this (see below) but built-in apps and USB-storage work like a charm.
    Yes. Beginning with aTV 4 they decode Dolby surround internally and emit Multi-channel PCM from HDMI.
  22. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    I think streaming is getting better, but if quality of sound and picture is the most important aspect of enjoying your media, then I agree with others, having the physical source material is going to give you the better experience.

    I too have spent some money on my home theater setup, but I realize that if I choose to stream there will be compromises. No way around it. Technology is improving, but an OPPO UHD player and an actual disk is still the benchmark in my opinion.
  23. hvfsl, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018

    hvfsl macrumors 68000


    Jul 9, 2001
    London, UK
    I don't buy iTunes movies (because I prefer BluRay), but it is nice to see that for some of the 3D 1080P movies I have bought, I also got a 4K version on iTunes. With 8K just a few years away now, I am hoping they will do something similar with that.

    If you are concerned about quality, BluRay is by far the best option. Plus one of the problems with online video stores is that if they ever close down, you lose everything you have on there. You have also had companies like Disney remove movies from people's library because they removed them from sale.
  24. BODYBUILDERPAUL macrumors 65816

    Feb 9, 2009
    I disagree about BluRay. You only have to look at AV forums and YouTube were people are continuously complaining about this disc, this BD player, thin sound, banding, moan, moan, moan. Personally, I feel that it's tragic. These people are not even enjoying the film or the moment!
    I'm also not convinced that sub £1000 4K Tvs will show any difference in PQ between a iTunes 4K HDR stream and a 4K BluRay - IF the film is available on that format.

    Also, i'm really not worried about my online video store closing down - you know, Apple is quite rich and I really don't think that they'll close down in a year or two or five :) By the time they do, we'll of thrown discs into the dustbin many many years before that!

    Certainly each to their own but at the end of day, the idea is to enjoy the film. Love it. Enjoy the moment. And I seriously am under the impression here that people on these forums are not actually enjoying the film, instead they are critiquing it which surely, misses the point!
  25. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    The complaints you cite about Blue Ray disks and players were things I read about in the early days when Blue Ray first came out. I find the exact opposite is true now. Besides, depending on the movie and disk, Blue Ray and 4K Blue Ray disks offer several audio formats to choose from and the audio is uncompressed. I would really like to see your source claiming "thin sound".

    Streaming media cannot match the sound quality of a 4K blue ray disk. If your reference for your information is Youtube and Forums, then it's just opinions. That's fine. I guess you can say it's real world experiences. Everyone has an opinion I am sure. If that is the case, then my opinion is my OPPO UHD player with a blue ray blows away anything I stream from Apple, AppleTV, Roku, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

    Just one quick search revealed several articles. Here is one that lightly covers most topics:


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