I have been an HTPC person for years and just recently purchased an Apple TV (4K), pretty much solely to run the Channels DVR app (which works great). I also have a Plex server that stores blu-ray rips (.mkv).
I thought I would be able to ditch my aging HTPC and just use the Plex app, but I quickly discovered that the ATV will not let me bitstream to my receiver (Yamaha TSR-7810, hooked up via HDMI from the ATV). My speaker set up is 5.1.2 at home. Some threads on Reddit led me to Infuse, which I purchased and installed on the ATV before I realized that the passthrough is no longer working as it was a few months ago.
When I play back a ripped Blu-Ray that has 7.1 or 5.1 sound, it still sounds pretty damn good in my limited testing. The receiver is showing “PCM” (instead of DTS or something similar), but it’s not clear to me if I’m actually missing out on anything or if I’m actually getting LPCM and it’s just the ATV doing the decoding.
My dumb question - what am I actually missing out on by not being able to have the 7.1 audio be bitstreamed/passed through to the receiver?
As is it now, Infuse decodes the audio and send it to the receiver as PCM. It’s the same process your receiver would use on the audio, and the quality is exactly the same. What you’re missing is Atmos and DTS:X spatial audio metadata.
Your receiver should be able to do an upmix with Dolby Surround or DTS Neural:X. Those work pretty well (I prefer Neural:X) to move audio up to the spatial speakers and to speakers without an audio channel.
Thanks for the info. I ended up returning my Apple TV (and cancelling Infuse, sorry) and buying a Nvidia Shield. Not quite as nice of a UI, but everything works and the damn audio passthrough works exactly as expected. Now my receiver recognizes DTS, Atmos, etc, just like when I had my HTPC hooked up to the receiver. Once again I am reminded of why I don’t generally buy Apple products.
DTS Neural:X and Dolby Surround are upmixers. Basically they take the audio and simulate DTS:X/Atmos from any given source that’s below DTS:X or Atmos. For example if you have an AAC 2.0 track, it will simulate surround and spatial audio to all of your speakers.
As for DTS Neural:X working on Dolby source files that is dependent on your receiver. The Denon X4200 that I have didn’t have the ability to do DTS Neural:X with Dolby sources or Dolby Surround on DTS sources initially, but that changed with an update. Apparently (if you believe people on avsforums) next year the new Denon receivers won’t have the ability to do that.
For Infuse that doesn’t really matter since it’s sent as PCM and you can use whichever upmixer you like with PCM. I generally go with DTS Neural:X over Dolby Surround, but it’s personal preference. DTS Neural:X seems to be a little more aggressive which I like, but others like the Dolby approach. They’re both really great upmixers.
I have a Shield too, and it has it’s own quirks like no color space switching which was a lot more of an issue before the 7.0 update. Their Hulu interface is from like 6 years ago (well, maybe 2…) and other apps like DTVN aren’t available. There’s a give and take on each platform.
That seems fair. For my needs (non-HDR/4K TV, Atmos set up), the Shield is the best fit right now. If Apple ever decides to support passthrough, I’ll probably come right back. I’ve been an Android person ever since I had to jailbreak my iPhone 3GS to use it with my car stereo. It seems like every time I try an Apple product it ends up with something dumb like this that drives me away.