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Roughly Drafted: 5.1 audio on Apple TV

Ten Myths of the Apple TV: 5.1 Audio

Via my internet puppetmaster, Brian Hogg, comes another very good (and very long) piece from Daniel Eran on the Apple TV that runs down some of the details on 5.1 audio and attempts to clear up some ongoing confusion about what works, what doesn't, and why.

So really, the Apple TV doesn't need to decode 5.1 audio, it only needs to hand the surround audio stream to a receiver than can decode those formats. Can it do this...?

In addition to stereo cables, Apple TV also features a Toslink digital optical port. Since we can send raw digital audio data over the Apple TV's optical output, can't we send DTS digitally encoded 5.1 as well?

Of course we can. Download a DTS sample file in WAV format, drop it into iTunes, and Apple TV will happily sync it and play it. Unlike Pro Logic audio, it will sound like static over regular stereo speakers, but hooked up to a DTS receiver, it is decoded into 5.1 channels of sound and played back in real DTS 5.1 surround.

I don't personally have a 5.1 setup so I have no way of verifying this, but I'm curious what you audiophiles are discovering -- especially given that some of the Scott Bournes out there have cited lack of 5.1 audio as one reason for holding out on an TV purchase.

Any luck getting 5.1 working satisfactorily with your Apple TV? Is the lack of 5.1 content on iTS a dealbreaker for you?

Nick's picture

The lack of 5.1 (or...

The lack of 5.1 (or better) on purchased movies/shows is one of the major deal breakers for me. Fortunately I have Minis on 3 of my TVs and they work amazingly well with VLC and optical out. But I am in the process of putting together a major upgrade for my parents who have finally decided to go HD. I was looking seriously at an AppleTV for them, but even my relitivly novice father said "whats the point if I the downloaded stuff doesnt do surround?"... I think he's right. Whats frustrating is that it really shouldn't require any extra hardware, just encode the media with 5.1 Apple! I've got a nice 30mbs FiOS pipe coming into my house, so the day they make HD content with surround sound available, I'll be all over it, until then, its a bit like getting a porche with a honda engine.




An Oblique Strategy:
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