How do you get 5.1 audio from Apple TV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by inspirations365, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. inspirations365 macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2008
    Hey all,

    I've got an aTV3, and managed to in on that sweet fire sale on movies from iTunes.

    So I pop on one of the movies and I'm wondering why I'm only getting 2.1. This happens on HBO Go too when I'm trying to catch up on True Blood. Is this normal? I figured that if digital copies redeemed from blu rays were 2.1 than iTunes movies purchased directly from Apple would be in 5.1. Is this not the case?
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    How are you assessing that you don't have 5.1?

    does the movie have the dolby digital logo?
    the free movies might be SD, and they may not have 5.1 audio, but most of them should.
    if the movie is download to your computer (doesn't work if it's not downloaded) you can hit CMD-I, look at the summery page, and look for channels.

    there is a dolby setting, check the following
    settings -> audio & Video -> dolby digital.

    how is your aTV connected to your surround system?

    direct HDMI aTV to surround?
    optical aTV to surround?
    HDMI aTV to television set and then optical or HDMI audio return? sometimes they don't pass 5.1 back to the surround system.

    are you a netflix subscriber? check something there also be sure to look for the dolby logo. (breaking bad, at the top of my new release window has it. Avengers does not)
  3. Cinephi1e macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2012
    Northwest Ohio
    Firstly, not all iTunes movies have 5.1 audio. The older movies are stereo only, while the newer ones have both stereo AAC and 5.1 AC3 tracks.

    iOS devices, including the Apple TV, can only play stereo AAC audio. So if you are connecting the Apple TV directly to the TV you will only get stereo sound. For this reason many of us connect the Apple TV through HDMI first to a receiver and from there to a TV. By adjusting the settings on the receiver (and turning down the volume on the TV) you can ensure that the 5.1 audio track is played and not the stereo one. Alternatively, you can use the optical port on the Apple TV to connect to a surround sound system.
  4. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Not correct. I connect my aTV to my HDTV via HDMI, and TV's digital out is connected to surround receiver. It plays DD5.1 through very well. I only needed to set my TV's audio settings to "external speakers" to get DD5.1 pass through to TV's digital out.
  5. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    Unfortunately MOST TV's only pass 2 channel audio. It's becoming more common to include 5.1 pass through but you are in the minority. ;)
  6. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Wow, didn't expect that! So I should be happy, instead of complaining about missing DTS-passthru :cool:
  7. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Yep. My Mits also does not pass-through 5.1 audio.
  8. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    We have a Sony Bravia TV. I run HDMI from aTV to the Sony and optically from there to the receiver and it seems to work fine. At other times I run the optical cable directly from the aTV to the receiver because I want to play audio only by airplay.

    In any event, I don't think it is the problem of the Apple TV but something to do with the connections or content.
  9. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Me too. We seem to be among the lucky ones, whose telly can pass through the DD5.1 stream.
  10. z06gal macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2011
    I have an Oppo 103 and am interested in getting an Apple TV to use with it. I want the Oppo to handle all audio processing. Does anyone here have this setup? Thanks :)
  11. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    I have a 6 year-old LG LCD TV and it passes DD5.1 through the optical from both HDMI ports, so long as the source media has DD5.1 encoded.
  12. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004

    This is an interesting thread, and a lot of it has to do with patents.

    I've been researching and found a few things I knew from my previous life in music studios.

    For Dolby Digital, there are encoding and decoding licenses. Or at least their used to be. Encoding was about 5-10x more expensive than decoding in ProTools.

    The AppleTV only passes thru dd5.1/AC-3 while some HDTVs decode it and others encode and decode it.

    I've been checking out some HDTV from Samsung but most under $1000 only support dd5.1 from the cable input or built in apps, hence only a decoding license.

    ..... More to come when I have time
  13. Julien, Aug 20, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013

    Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    There is no extra fee to encode Dolby (or DTS) in consumer products. All you need is a Use Agreement.

    Also if the signal coming in were DD there would be no need to decode and then re-encode to pass through S/PDIF.

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