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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Macworld: First Look: Apple TV Diary: Final thoughts

Macworld: First Look: Apple TV Diary: Final thoughts

Includes details on true HD vs not, and most importantly to me, the skinny on 5.1 audio:

During my original briefing with Apple, I was told that the Apple TV would not play 5.1 audio. Rather, it would pass any audio as a Pro Logic II encoded stream. Yet RoughlyDrafted’s Ten Myths of the Apple TV demonstrates that the Apple TV can indeed output 5.1 DTS audio through its digital audio port. I’ve tried one of the test files linked to in the article and, sure enough, my AV receiver’s DTS indicator lights up and the file plays from the Apple TV in 5.1.

So what’s really going on? To get a clue, I and some of my colleagues threw a few AC3 5.1 audio files at the Apple TV and no 5.1 goodness resulted—they were output as Pro Logic II streams. I checked in with Apple and they clarified their original comment this way:

Some formats encoded at certain bit rates may work as 5.1 files, but slip outside those specs and you and 5.1 part ways. The files referenced by RoughlyDrated work. The multichannel files I tried don’t. Rather than confuse customers with a “this may work, that may not” standard, Apple has chosen to say that, generally, 5.1 audio is not currently supported.

And this is probably just as well given that today’s tools for ripping commercial DVDs don’t extract multichannel audio. Rip a favorite DVD with HandBrake, for example, and you’ll wind up with an audio track that contains just the left and right channels. Now that we have a tool as cool as the Apple TV to play our digital video, the next step is getting a tool to help us convert audio as well as video into the richest format possible.


-mike

8 comments:

KillJoy said...

I have a 7 DTS 5.1 CD's that I've successfully converted and played on the AppleTV. I couple of issue ensue though. I don't want these tracks to play through my normal iTunes as they are nothing but static (how to keep iTunes from playing them or syncing them to my iPod). Also since I have the AppleTV plugged into the HDMI port of my TV I get the same static on the TV Speakers (must remember to turn the speakes down!). Great find. I believe that Apple will come through with HD Movies with 5.1 encoded eventually. I will not participate in the HD-DVD/BluRay format war if Apple will allow me to sidestep the whole issue, so much the better.

Cheers!

KillJoy

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rita said...

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