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HTPC's (or PC's) cannot decode Atmos surround sound

GXAlan

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I also don't need more than 8 channels, Atmos and DTS-X: 2.2 for music and 5.3 for HT, with hi-res music (without Dirac downsampling) being the priority. Honestly, while more work to set it up, it's really tempting to go down this route.
- Is there any way to connect the SPDIF coming from the TV to the HTPC, to somehow get the 5.1 sound of my PS5 and Apple TV 4K (both connected to the TV via HDMI)? Or do I need a Motu Mk5 or Okto DAC8 for the loopback via the DAC?
- Do you have your silent PC build / components described somewhere? (adequate for both Dirac+DLBC and music streaming, TrueHD and DTS HD decoding)
- Do you know by any chance, if multichannel Dirac supports 5.2 or 5.3 configurations? I don't see it listed on their website but maybe there's a workaround, preferably with individual DLBC sub channels.

If you have a TV, PS5, and Apple TV, why bring everything back into the PC? Why not just get a Dirac-enabled AVP/AVR and run your PC output to that?
 

soerenssen

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If you have a TV, PS5, and Apple TV, why bring everything back into the PC? Why not just get a Dirac-enabled AVP/AVR and run your PC output to that?
I have an old AVR for both HT and music currently. No HDMi, no RC. I just bought the desktop version of Dirac stereo with DLBC. Currently I have a 5.1 speaker setup (used for 2.1 as well), the sub cannot be properly integrated with the mains with this AVR (either full range mode or 90Hz high pass) and I have a bad room too. I'm playing 4K BluRay remuxes from a Zidoo Z9x Pro, I'm streaming Netflix from an Apple TV 4K and I'm streaming music from a Wiim Pro. Everything connected to an LG Oled, the LG to the AVR via SPDIF.

So I'm starting almost from scratch.

I am fine with an AVR for HT purposes, but for music I want to build a clean, higher quality fully balanced pipeline with a better DAC and with a PC as input (for music streaming and DLBC processing without any downsampling). I will also add sealed subwoofer(s) for music for a better extension complementing my mains, and use my old ported sub only for movies (5.3).

Then I bumped into this thread and started adding up the numbers (Euros) for a silent HTPC that I could use for music, for HT, and for other purposes too. A Streacom FC8 Alpha with the Ryzen 7 or 9 costs around 1500-1700 EUR, but I can build it myself and parts are available used too. It wouldn't be my first PC build, but I didn't know what would be adequate for 4K HDR playback when DLBC is running on the same PC too. I also don't know what power consumption I can expect (65W TDP and 160-200W PSU). My current AVR consumes 270W and it's on all day long for background music.

Then there is the DAC, either the Motu but I lean towards the Okto DAC8 Pro, so I can connect my TV's SPDIF too. I would sell the Wiim, the Zidoo and the Apple TV streamer if it works as expected.

The alternative (only for HT) would be the Denon x4800h, which costs more or less the same as the price difference between the Topping DM7 and the Okto DAC8 Pro here in the EU. I wouldn't have to sell the Zidoo and the ATV, would have the options for Atmos / DTS:X later on, but I won't buy Dirac twice, so I would rely on Audyssey. I would add a power amp for the mains and it would be shared between the Topping and the Denon, along with the subs.

I like the HTPC-based solution because it's such a nice clean and modular setup.
 
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ppataki

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I have an old AVR for both HT and music currently. No HDMi, no RC. I just bought the desktop version of Dirac stereo with DLBC. Currently I have a 5.1 speaker setup (used for 2.1 as well), the sub cannot be properly integrated with the mains with this AVR (either full range mode or 90Hz high pass) and I have a bad room too. I'm playing 4K BluRay remuxes from a Zidoo Z9x Pro, I'm streaming Netflix from an Apple TV 4K and I'm streaming music from a Wiim Pro. Everything connected to an LG Oled, the LG to the AVR via SPDIF.

So I'm starting almost from scratch.

I am fine with an AVR for HT purposes, but for music I want to build a clean, higher quality fully balanced pipeline with a better DAC and with a PC as input (for music streaming and DLBC processing). I will also add sealed subwoofer(s) for music for a better extension complementing my mains, and use my old ported sub only for movies (5.3).

Then I bumped into this thread and started adding up the numbers (Euros) for a silent HTPC that I could use for music, for HT, and for other purposes too. A Streacom FC8 Alpha with the Ryzen 7 or 9 costs around 1500-1700 EUR, but I can build it myself and parts are available used too. It wouldn't be my first PC build, but I didn't know what would be adequate for 4K HDR playback when DLBC is running on the same PC too. I also don't know what power consumption I can expect (65W TDP and 160-200W PSU). My current AVR consumes 270W and it's on all day long for background music.

Then there is the DAC, either the Motu but I lean towards the Okto DAC8 Pro, so I can connect my TV's SPDIF too. I would sell the Wiim, the Zidoo and the Apple TV streamer if it works as expected.

The alternative (only for HT) would be the Denon x4800h, which costs more or less the same as the price difference between the Topping DM7 and the Okto DAC8 Pro here in the EU. I wouldn't have to sell the Zidoo and the ATV, would have the options for Atmos / DTS:X later on, but I won't buy Dirac twice, so I would rely on Audyssey. I would add a power amp for the mains and it would be shared between the Topping and the Denon, along with the subs.

I would just use the PC as the only source (you can stream music via Tidal, play 4K HDR movies via stream or download; all through Jriver's DSP)
I have just built my brand new HTPC for around 1000 EUR (Intel i5-13400, 32GB RAM, Asrock Sonic B760M motherboard, Seasonic 650W fanless PSU and a used GTX 1660 Super GPU, all built into an Ikea Besta furniture and I can use Jriver's JRVR engine with all settings on max with 4K HDR movies + state of the art multichannel DSP with VST plugins)

You connect your TV to the HTPC, connect a Topping DM7 then add the power amps and the sub(s) and you are done (you already have DLBC)
Then you can sell all the other stuff you mentioned above
 

soerenssen

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I would just use the PC as the only source (you can stream music via Tidal, play 4K HDR movies via stream or download; all through Jriver's DSP)
I have just built my brand new HTPC for around 1000 EUR (Intel i5-13400, 32GB RAM, Asrock Sonic B760M motherboard, Seasonic 650W fanless PSU and a used GTX 1660 Super GPU, all built into an Ikea Besta furniture and I can use Jriver's JRVR engine with all settings on max with 4K HDR movies + state of the art multichannel DSP with VST plugins)

You connect your TV to the HTPC, connect a Topping DM7 then add the power amps and the sub(s) and you are done (you already have DLBC)
Then you can sell all the other stuff you mentioned above
I forgot the PS5 (5.1 DD).
Worst case: I get a new AVR and for DLBC I get a Melee Quieter 3. Or, I route the TV's optical out via the Okto to the HTPC. Or I get another interface with optical input, in addition to the DM7.
 

soerenssen

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This is my plan currently:
- 2.2 (music): melee quieter 3q / dlbc - dm7 - power amp + subs
- 5.2 (movies): zidoo / apple tv - denon - same power amp + subs
OR
- 2.2 and 5.2: htpc - dm7 or okto - power amp + subs

If I get the okto, I don't need the denon (tv optical to aes/ebu), but if I get the dm7, I do need the denon. Also, with the denon I don't need 5 channels of external amplification, only 2 or 3, while the denon can drive the 2 surrounds and maybe the center).
So, while the HTPC is a nice clean solution, for me it can actually become more expensive overall.

Is there a way to somehow route the TV's optical out to the HTPC via another interface?
 

Littletycoon

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If you want 4K HDR passthrough for movies you will need the latest Ryzen 7 with graphics CPU or a dedicated GPU (GTX 1650 min.)
you don't need such a beefy CPU/dedicated GPU at all. A 250-300 EUR nuc/nuc variant with integrated graphics will run 4KHDR without breaking a sweat.

EUR 100-150K android boxes run 4KHDR easily, and only struggle with bitrate of 70MB/s or higher
 

soerenssen

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you don't need such a beefy CPU/dedicated GPU at all. A 250-300 EUR nuc/nuc variant with integrated graphics will run 4KHDR without breaking a sweat.

EUR 100-150K android boxes run 4KHDR easily, and only struggle with bitrate of 70MB/s or higher
My Zidoo Z9X Pro (Realtek RTD1619) has no problem with BluRay remuxes, I thought that may be because that's a purpose-built chip. Do you know any alternatives that are worth looking into? You mentioned NUCs - can they run DLBC and Jriver in parallel?
 

chelgrian

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not entirely accurate. A PC software can decode full 9.x.6 atmos track, and play it over 16 speakers.


It works great for music. Does not work on moives though.
This is for mixing Atmos to start off with it cannot decompress and render the Atmos delivery formats. The only thing that can do that is the Dolby Reference Player which is not generally available, you have to have a professional relationship with Dolby and a subscription to the toolset which includes it which as far as I am aware is not cheap.

I don't know for sure be because they didn't even respond when sent a bona fide enquiry for a professional use case.
 

chelgrian

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Macs can decode Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus signals and output them as multichannel PCM. It does not support Dolby MAT like the Apple TV 4K and Dolby Atmos is not available for output over HDMI. Forget about DTS.

When using the Apple Music app on a Mac with an HDMI connection to the receiving end and playing Dolby Atmos tracks with Dolby Atmos output set to "Automatic" or "Always On", the signal will be displayed as Multichannel PCM 7.1B and Atmos metadata will not be sent to the receiving end for processing without support for Dolby MAT.

Microsoft devices require the Dolby Access app for Dolby Atmos and DTS Sound Unbound for DTS:X.


If you happen to have an audio output device with exactly 16 discrete outputs then macOS will decode Atmos from Apple Music to those outputs if you configure the speaker layout to an Atmos one in Audio MIDI Setup and has done for a while now. I don't know if this works in Apple TV. It certainly doesn't work in any 3rd party application.
 

Tre2023

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That is news to me and doesn’t coincide with Dolby’s info. My Mac mini M1 does not support Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos. While the core channels of the Atmos/DD+ signals from Apple Music are available over HDMI, Atmos metadata is absent and I get a multichannel PCM 7.1B signal to my receiver wether the Audio MIDI Setup is set at 5.1, 7.1, 7.1B or 5.1.2.

It is more than a little ridiculous that one has to switch to an Apple TV 4K from their Mac mini to get Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos output over HDMI.

 

ppataki

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you don't need such a beefy CPU/dedicated GPU at all. A 250-300 EUR nuc/nuc variant with integrated graphics will run 4KHDR without breaking a sweat.

EUR 100-150K android boxes run 4KHDR easily, and only struggle with bitrate of 70MB/s or higher

That depends very much on what processing you want and how you configure JRVR
I have had a Minis Forum NPB5 NUC and it could not play 4K HDR movies without frame dropping when all settings were at max
I had to lower some settings and turn off Sharpening to avoid frame drops
So I have replaced it with the PC config I mentioned above and now there are no frame drops whatsoever, even with everything on max
 

chelgrian

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That is news to me and doesn’t coincide with Dolby’s info. My Mac mini M1 does not support Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos. While the core channels of the Atmos/DD+ signals from Apple Music are available over HDMI, Atmos metadata is absent and I get a multichannel PCM 7.1B signal to my receiver wether the Audio MIDI Setup is set at 5.1, 7.1, 7.1B or 5.1.2.

It is more than a little ridiculous that one has to switch to an Apple TV 4K from their Mac mini to get Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos output over HDMI.


This *does not work* over HDMI you need 16 discrete outputs.

It's not the first time that Dolby's documentation is incomplete or wrong.
 

Littletycoon

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That depends very much on what processing you want and how you configure JRVR
I have had a Minis Forum NPB5 NUC and it could not play 4K HDR movies without frame dropping when all settings were at max
I had to lower some settings and turn off Sharpening to avoid frame drops
So I have replaced it with the PC config I mentioned above and now there are no frame drops whatsoever, even with everything on max
Jrvr max settings is overkill for most users, as is madvr with maxed out settings. You will not see the difference on screen in most use cases, it is niche to do max settings.
 
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Littletycoon

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My Zidoo Z9X Pro (Realtek RTD1619) has no problem with BluRay remuxes, I thought that may be because that's a purpose-built chip. Do you know any alternatives that are worth looking into? You mentioned NUCs - can they run DLBC and Jriver in parallel?
Formally I do not know since I don't do windows based DLBC (yet). No clue whether DLBC is a resource nog or not.

Personally I would avoid an Intel nuc in a windows scenario and go for an amd variant, as I was never able to fix a window resizing issue when switching off TV or changing HDMI input with my nuc. It forced me to run librelec to enable the nuc as 24/7 mediabox for the family, which is a bit of waste money to use an 11th gen core i5 Nuc for.
 

Tre2023

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Applying 16 discrete outputs does nothing for the fact that Mac minis do not support Dolby MAT over HDMI like the Apple TV 4K. It will send everything out as LPCM by default like the Apple TV 4K but without Atmos metadata. It matters not that an album's Dolby Atmos badge comes on in Apple Music. It will send a multichannel PCM signal to the receiving end without Atmos metadata. Up mixing the signal at the receiving end doesn't make it Atmos. I'm not convinced the 16 channel setup is receiving Atmos metadata at all and even it were, that is a ridiculous work around to get Atmos out of a Mac. Apple simply needs to equip the Mac mini with Dolby MAT like the Apple TV 4K.
 

chelgrian

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Applying 16 discrete outputs does nothing for the fact that Mac minis do not support Dolby MAT over HDMI like the Apple TV 4K. It will send everything out as LPCM by default like the Apple TV 4K but without Atmos metadata. It matters not that an album's Dolby Atmos badge comes on in Apple Music. It will send a multichannel PCM signal to the receiving end without Atmos metadata. Up mixing the signal at the receiving end doesn't make it Atmos. I'm not convinced the 16 channel setup is receiving Atmos metadata at all and even it were, that is a ridiculous work around to get Atmos out of a Mac. Apple simply needs to equip the Mac mini with Dolby MAT like the Apple TV 4K.
I never claimed it supported MAT over HDMI.

What I am trying to point out is there is one situation where you can pursuade a computer to decode EAC3+JOC in software and output it as discrete audio channels.

Exactly how Apple pursuaded Dolby to allow them to do this I do not know but it does work. It's probably because while it is extremely useful to those QAing Atmos mixes is next to useless for any home use so Dolby probably allowed it as long as it wasn't advertised.

The reason for not having MAT on macOS is almost certainly a cost of licensing issue vs the fraction of people who would actually use it on macOS. On Windows you have to buy Dolby Access from the MS store I strongly suspect that does nothing other than apply a license to enable support already built in to Windows. Some PC OEMs bundle a version of this with their machines presumably after having negotiated a bulk discount with Dolby.

Apple would almost certainly not do the buy a Dolby app from the AppStore to mitigate licensing costs for enabling it for brand dilution reasons.
 

Tre2023

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Apple is missing the boat as I’m sure some would like to use a mini as their HDMI connected HTPC if it supported Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos via Dolby MAT over HDMI. Subscribers are currently forced to use an Apple TV 4K for Dolby Atmos over HDMI from Apple Music as no other device at all supports Dolby Atmos from Apple Music over HDMI.

While useful to a few, the 16 channel software solution is useless to those connecting the mini over HDMI. But, Dolby gives nothing away and who knows what is written in licensing deals between Dolby and anybody else. It currently is what it is. Connected via HDMI, the Mac mini can output multichannel PCM 7.1 and an up mixer can be applied to the signal. Without Atmos metadata to lock it out, DTS Neural:X/Virtual:X mode can be selected as well as Dolby Surround.
 

soerenssen

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...under Windows yes, you would need a pro audio device for that, like the MOTU you mentioned
Jriver can open its optical input and apply its DSP on it (note that I have never tried this but theoretically it shall work)
Do you know if Jriver can see the HDMI/Optical inputs of a MiniDSP Flex?
It seems to be a great 8-channel DAC (exactly what I need currently), but I'm not sure if I can apply DLBC processing (instead of Jriver's DSP) on its inputs using Jriver on Windows, before the signal is routed to its analog outputs.
 

ppataki

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Do you know if Jriver can see the HDMI/Optical inputs of a MiniDSP Flex?
It seems to be a great 8-channel DAC (exactly what I need currently), but I'm not sure if I can apply DLBC processing (instead of Jriver's DSP) on its inputs using Jriver on Windows, before the signal is routed to its analog outputs.

Be careful with the Flex - it is actually not a fully fledged 8-channel device. It can process 2 channels only and output 8 - so you can use it for a stereo multiway system but you cannot use it for multichannel (=5.1, 7.1, etc.)
If 2 input channels are enough for you then it shall be fine - but if you need 8 input channels then you can consider the Flex HT or HTx instead

Jriver will only see its SPDIF inputs if Flex has an ASIO driver where the inputs are available separately (like an input device in ASIO) - probably you can ask MiniDSP about that
 

soerenssen

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Be careful with the Flex - it is actually not a fully fledged 8-channel device. It can process 2 channels only and output 8 - so you can use it for a stereo multiway system but you cannot use it for multichannel (=5.1, 7.1, etc.)
If 2 input channels are enough for you then it shall be fine - but if you need 8 input channels then you can consider the Flex HT or HTx instead

Jriver will only see its SPDIF inputs if Flex has an ASIO driver where the inputs are available separately (like an input device in ASIO) - probably you can ask MiniDSP about that
Yes, I meant the Flex HT with its 8 input channels.
I asked them here: https://www.minidsp.com/forum/minid...dlbc-processing-on-minidsp-flex-ht-hdmi-input
 
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