Lower Quality 4K

donster28

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 5, 2006
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Great White North
I noticed since the stay home order here in Toronto started that 4K movie streams from my App'e TV 4K have been slightly downgraded in quality...rentals and movies I purchased alike. At first glance, I didn't notice it but as I watch, I see pixelations happening on small details on the screen. Compared this to the 4K apps in my LG OLED and it confirmed my suspicion.

Are you experiencing the same? Has Apple officially said they are downgrading streams?
 

waw74

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2008
3,346
272
If you're on a cable modem, it might also be a speed slowdown from extra traffic since everyone else is home too .

try a speed test
 

donster28

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 5, 2006
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Great White North
I'll check later when I get home.

This happens on every 4k movie you tried?
Sounds good...yes, on 4K movies. It was worse with my rental of Midway (the latest move).
- - Post merged: - -

If you're on a cable modem, it might also be a speed slowdown from extra traffic since everyone else is home too .

try a speed test
I'm on Gigabit internet and my speed has been consistently so.
 

donster28

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Original poster
Oct 5, 2006
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Great White North
Just did more testing and I found that my purchased movies didn't lose quality. It's the rentals and the apps like Netflix that are reduced in quality.
 

Audit13

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Apr 19, 2017
5,073
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I tried Midway (Canada iTunes), The Invisible Man (USA iTunes), Lucky Day (USA iTunes), and The Gentlemen (USA iTunes). All are 4k purchases and they looked good. I don't rent from iTunes.

I watched a bit of Disney and Amazon Prime and both looked good in 4k too. Hard to tell if they are reduced quality or internet congestion on my end.
 

plexdk

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2007
491
587
i have only noticed it on some movies.. Us seems fine, but Ford vs Ferrari is pixelated on close up.
 

pob42

macrumors member
Jul 5, 2011
33
8
Sheffield, UK
Using the developer mode HUD, some 4k films aren’t streaming at full 4K resolution. Here are some results from tests I did (UK)

Argo - 3836 x 1596 4K DV

Apollo 13 - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Backdraft - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Batman - 3840 x 2076 4K DV

Batman Begins - 3932 x 1596 4K DV

Beverly Hills Cop - 2560 x 1440 HD DV

Casino Royale - 2970 x 1240 4K DV

Da Vinci Code - 3838 x 1606 4K DV

The Dark Knight - 3832 x 1592 4K DV

Days of Thunder - 2972 x 1238 HD DV

Dirty Dancing - 2612 x 1408 4K DV

Die Hard - 3840 x 1606 4K HDR

A Few Good Men - 2972 x 1238 4K DV

Ghostbusters - 3840 x 1606 4K DV

Greatest Showman - 3840 x 1600 4K HDR

Harry Potter 7ii - 2974 x 1236 4K DV

Hunt for Red October - 2942 x 1250 4K DV

Jurassic Park - 3840 x 2076 4K HDR

Life of Pi - 3836 x 2072 4K HDR

Pitch Perfect - 3840 x 2076 4K HDR

Sully - 3840 x 1600 4K DV

Top Gun - 2972 x 1238 HD DV




The bit after the resolution is what the ATV displays on the info bar while the film is playing. Some only report HD despite being shown as 4K on the ‘Play’ page.
 

Bubble99

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Mar 15, 2015
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donster28

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 5, 2006
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Like the poster said I was reading in news that in some parts of the US and in the UK the ISP have ask netflix and YouTube to lower the quality to save bandwidth.

It is supply and demand problem when it comes to bandwidth.
It seems to be the case but what's weird is that Apple did not officially announce the reduction in quality for Canada...or did I just miss it?
 

Audit13

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2017
5,073
1,282
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Using the developer mode HUD, some 4k films aren’t streaming at full 4K resolution. Here are some results from tests I did (UK)

Argo - 3836 x 1596 4K DV

Apollo 13 - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Backdraft - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Batman - 3840 x 2076 4K DV

Batman Begins - 3932 x 1596 4K DV

Beverly Hills Cop - 2560 x 1440 HD DV

Casino Royale - 2970 x 1240 4K DV

Da Vinci Code - 3838 x 1606 4K DV

The Dark Knight - 3832 x 1592 4K DV


The bit after the resolution is what the ATV displays on the info bar while the film is playing. Some only report HD despite being shown as 4K on the ‘Play’ page.
How were the bit rates for audio and video?

It seems to be the case but what's weird is that Apple did not officially announce the reduction in quality for Canada...or did I just miss it?
I finally got a chance to do some comparison in terms of bit rates between my USA iTunes movies, Canada iTunes movies, and Movies Anywhere.

Here's my comparison:

USA iTunes Mission Impossible 4: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 Dolby Vision, Avg video bitrate = 10.54 Mbps, Audio = 386.27kbps

Canada iTunes Mission Impossible 4: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 Dolby Vision, Avg video bitrate = 10.73 Mbps, Audio = 386.27kbps

USA iTunes Alien Covenant: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 HDR10, Avg video bitrate = 7.45 Mbps, Audio = 642.28 kbps

Canada iTunes Alien Covenant: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 HDR10, Avg video bitrate = 5.90 Mbps, Audio = 642.29 kbps

USA iTunes Mad Max Fury Road: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 Dolby Vision, Avg video bitrate = 10.73 Mbps, Audio = 386.29 kbps

Movies Anywhere Mad Max Fury Road: Display Resolution = 3840x2160 Dolby Vision, Avg video bitrate = 18.16 Mbps, Audio = 640.15 kbps

Movies Anywhere Man From U.N.C.L.E (Guy Ritchie version): Display Resolution = 3840x2160 Dolby Vision, Avg video bitrate = 25.56 Mbps, Audio = 640.15 kbps

The bitrates between USA and Canada iTunes are virtually identical.

The bit rates between USA iTunes and Movies Anywhere are very different with Movies Anywhere having a clear lead.

I didn't get a chance to try Man From U.N.C.L.E (Guy Ritchie version) from USA iTunes but I expect much lower bit rates compared to Movies Anywhere.
 
Last edited:

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
3,621
467
Estonia
I think the playback quality can also fluctuate throughout the day, not only between countries.
Apple uses dynamic bandwidth streaming that adapts to available network throughput.
Lower quality image is better than frozen high-res screen, right?
 

Audit13

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2017
5,073
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
All of the bit rate measurements for iTunes and Movies Anywhere were taken between 21:30 and 21:50 EST on May 20/20.

I'm not sure why Movies Anywhere rates were so high compared to iTunes. I used the same equipment and network to examine the bit rates.
 

EugW

macrumors G3
Jun 18, 2017
8,133
5,477
I have noticed a quality reduction in Netflix on my Apple TV 4K, and I am in Toronto as well. Note that I am on Rogers Gigabit internet, and every single time I've tried benchmarking, I see no speed reductions. I consistently get 800-900 Mbps or higher on machines that can handle those speeds.

However, it's inconsistent as I don't always see quality reductions in Netflix. Either I'm not noticing it in all titles due to the encode and type of content, or else the reductions in quality vary due to varying bandwidth congestion. One of the spots it's most easily noticed is with night scenes. Scenes that should have a nice grey black gradient are showing more black crush, with ugly dark grey blocking. Also, even in bright scenes, I sometimes see some noticeable blocking which just shouldn't be there on even 1080p material, much less 4K.

Note that my main viewing is in Netflix, and as mentioned, that's where I've noticed it. I have not really noticed it with Apple TV+, but I reserve judgement on that because I don't watch Apple TV+ much. If Apple TV + got more and better content, perhaps I'd be able to give you a better assessment of it. :p Same goes for Amazon - I can't really comment on Amazon since I haven't watched much Amazon in the recent months.

However, the quality reduction in Canada on Netflix on my Apple TV 4K is definite, even if it isn't consistent.

The other factor is that Apple TV + titles had higher bitrates to begin with. Netflix maxed out around 15 Mbps HEVC, whereas Apple maxed out over 40 Mbps! So, even if Apple halved their bitrate on Apple TV + titles, it could still meet or beat Netflix's pre-Covid max bitrates in some cases.

I won't comment on purchased iTunes movies either. The asshats at Disney won't provide 4K titles to us on iTunes in Canada, so my Marvel movies (mainly from 4K Blu-ray purchases) are all 1080p on iTunes in Canada. To watch in 4K I either have to watch on Disney+ or else the original 4K Blu-ray. At this point I have given up on buying streaming Disney titles in Canada, aside from kids' movies, unless I can get them for uber cheap. (I paid something like 15 bucks to get a half-dozen Star Wars titles on iTunes. Only 1080p but at that price I'm not complaining.)

How were the bit rates for audio and video?

I finally got a chance to do some comparison in terms of bit rates between my USA iTunes movies, Canada iTunes movies, and Movies Anywhere.
Can you test See on Apple TV +? Pre-Covid, it was 29 Mbps, with a peak of 41 Mbps. :oops:

 
Last edited:

Duncan-UK

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2006
209
168
Using the developer mode HUD, some 4k films aren’t streaming at full 4K resolution. Here are some results from tests I did (UK)

Argo - 3836 x 1596 4K DV

Apollo 13 - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Backdraft - 2942 x 1252 HD HDR

Batman - 3840 x 2076 4K DV

Batman Begins - 3932 x 1596 4K DV

Beverly Hills Cop - 2560 x 1440 HD DV

Casino Royale - 2970 x 1240 4K DV

Da Vinci Code - 3838 x 1606 4K DV

The Dark Knight - 3832 x 1592 4K DV

Days of Thunder - 2972 x 1238 HD DV

Dirty Dancing - 2612 x 1408 4K DV

Die Hard - 3840 x 1606 4K HDR

A Few Good Men - 2972 x 1238 4K DV

Ghostbusters - 3840 x 1606 4K DV

Greatest Showman - 3840 x 1600 4K HDR

Harry Potter 7ii - 2974 x 1236 4K DV

Hunt for Red October - 2942 x 1250 4K DV

Jurassic Park - 3840 x 2076 4K HDR

Life of Pi - 3836 x 2072 4K HDR

Pitch Perfect - 3840 x 2076 4K HDR

Sully - 3840 x 1600 4K DV

Top Gun - 2972 x 1238 HD DV




The bit after the resolution is what the ATV displays on the info bar while the film is playing. Some only report HD despite being shown as 4K on the ‘Play’ page.
Wouldn't some of these differences come down to aspect ratio? If you have a film that's wider than 16:9 then presumably there's a way of encoding the video so you dont encode the black borders and so only use bits on the actual picture space?

BTW - anecdotal but we watched For All Mankind in 4K a few weeks ago and it looked great. Despite the various companies saying they have reduced the bit rate I can't say I've noticed any differences at all, whether that be via Apple TV, Amazon Firestick or internal TV apps.
 
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Audit13

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EugW

macrumors G3
Jun 18, 2017
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See attached picture for See's bitrates taken today at 16:30.
I wonder if the higher bitrates reported by MacRumors are comparable or if they're outliers, cuz they reported bitrates almost twice what you got.
 

Audit13

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2017
5,073
1,282
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I wonder if the higher bitrates reported by MacRumors is comparable, or if they're outliers, cuz they reported bitrates almost twice what you got.
I really couldn't say.

I know that bitrates for movies off iTunes are consistently lower than rates for the same movie using the Movies Anywhere app at the moment.

Perhaps Apple has temporarily throttled rates.
 

ledzep1

macrumors regular
Jan 24, 2016
171
38
Maybe you haven't noticed just yet but do try to focus on a small object on the screen and see the jagged edges.
Not sure if the same issue, but I have recently noticed jaggies on Netflix, Disney + and Apple TV content.

At the start of any show that displays lettering like "netflix original series" or the Apple TV logo before a show starts I see that the edging on logos or lettering is not smooth but has jaggies.

I'm in the UK and I do know we have the throttled bandwidth currently so it could be the cause.

Do you notice jaggies on lettering at start of shows or a good test is Apple TV + logo that displays at the start of any content?
 

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