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Is it worth buying an Apple TV for lossless audio?

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ronnzi

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Quick update:

After listening to quite a bit of music on my 5.2 system using the Apple TV with spatial audio (Dolby Atmos) enabled, I can say it actually makes a notable difference to me. In general, Apple’s lossless audio is great, but I will say, though it’s a little hit-and-miss (there are some poorly mixed songs), overall I greatly prefer spatial audio songs now!

In spatial audio tracks, not only is there a greater sense of separation, I feel like the biggest difference is the bass in songs is handled much better. Not sure if it’s just an SPL thing or what, but on several occasions I have thought in listening to a song randomly “wow, this sounds great!” And then, I look at my receiver closely, and sure enough, it’s a spatial audio track!

Obviously, there are great stereo mixes still, but man, good spatial audio is pretty great! Pleasantly surprised. I had definitely given up on the idea of it being better, so I really don’t think this is placebo or bias expectations on my part. Just thought I’d share, since it’s different than my initial impressions.
 

DavidMcRoy

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Jul 10, 2018
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Quick update:

After listening to quite a bit of music on my 5.2 system using the Apple TV with spatial audio (Dolby Atmos) enabled, I can say it actually makes a notable difference to me. In general, Apple’s lossless audio is great, but I will say, though it’s a little hit-and-miss (there are some poorly mixed songs), overall I greatly prefer spatial audio songs now!

In spatial audio tracks, not only is there a greater sense of separation, I feel like the biggest difference is the bass in songs is handled much better. Not sure if it’s just an SPL thing or what, but on several occasions I have thought in listening to a song randomly “wow, this sounds great!” And then, I look at my receiver closely, and sure enough, it’s a spatial audio track!

Obviously, there are great stereo mixes still, but man, good spatial audio is pretty great! Pleasantly surprised. I had definitely given up on the idea of it being better, so I really don’t think this is placebo or bias expectations on my part. Just thought I’d share, since it’s different than my initial impressions.
I'm a big fan of pretty much every Dolby Atmos movie mix I've heard on my 7.1.2 system. I was initially really underwhelmed with the Dolby Atmos mixes made for 2-channel headphone listening with conventional headphones, so much so that I haven't even bothered to try it out again. But the music mixes I've heard from Apple Music via my Apple TV 4K for immersive speaker playback have mostly been very good.

Once in a while there's a "clinker" where questionable mixing decisions were made, but they're mostly pretty nice. And you're right: the whole often seems more than the sum of its parts in that the added separation can manifest as both greater spatiality as well as enhanced clarity vs. 2-channel stereo. It's just easier to pick things out from the whole.

I've been impressed with the restraint that seems to be generally shown on mainstream jazz and classical recordings, where it's often just subtle ambience cues you hear if you listen carefully for them. There are a few contemporary classical artists who are actually creating arrangements specifically for Dolby Atmos reproduction as a key part of the performance/presentation of the works.

When it comes to HiRes audio, for me it's still a big "Meh." When I even bother to cobble together the elaborated wiring scheme I seem to need to get it out of my iPad of iPhone, rather than the 48kHz downcoversion the phone and the pad spit out as analog audio, or the downconverted 48kHz digital audio from the Apple TV 4K, whatver difference I think I hear strikes me as trivial. If someone knows a trick to get HiRes audio out of the Apple TV over HDMI (the only output port on the device) I'd give it another shot for grins. Does anyone think it would be worth my while to pull my Mac Mini out of mothballs for a shot at it, or will I have to jump through hoops there, too?
 
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ronnzi

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I'm a big fan of pretty much every Dolby Atmos movie mix I've heard on my 7.1.2 system. I was initially really underwhelmed with the Dolby Atmos mixes made for 2-channel headphone listening with conventional headphones, so much so that I haven't even bothered to try it out again. But the music mixes I've heard from Apple Music via my Apple TV 4K for immersive speaker playback have mostly been very good.

Once in a while there's a "clinker" where questionable mixing decisions were made, but they're mostly pretty nice. And you're right: the whole often seems more than the sum of its parts in that the added separation can manifest as both greater spatiality as well as enhanced clarity vs. 2-channel stereo. It's just easier to pick things out from the whole.

I've been impressed with the restraint that seems to be generally shown on mainstream jazz and classical recordings, where it's often just subtle ambience cues you hear if you listen carefully for them. There are a few contemporary classical artists who are actually creating arrangements specifically for Dolby Atmos reproduction as a key part of the performance/presentation of the works.

When it comes to HiRes audio, for me it's still a big "Meh." When I even bother to cobble together the elaborated wiring scheme I seem to need to get it out of my iPad of iPhone, rather than the 48kHz downcoversion the phone and the pad spit out as analog audio, or the downconverted 48kHz digital audio from the Apple TV 4K, whatver difference I think I hear strikes me as trivial. If someone knows a trick to get HiRes audio out of the Apple TV over HDMI (the only output port on the device) I'd give it another shot for grins. Does anyone think it would be worth my while to pull my Mac Mini out of mothballs for a shot at it, or will I have to jump through hoops there, too?
I agree with everything you’re saying. Not sure about the best way of getting hi-res output above 48kHz over hdmi, but I would assume it’s doable on a Mac mini or similar pc-type Apple device that’s relatively recent?

Not sure, so someone with more experience there should chime in.
 

Tangband

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Apple TV resamples everything to 48 KHz .
At Apple Music , most material are 44,1 KHz .

Airplay is slightly inferior sounding than directly from an apple computer to a good DDC .

This is the sad thruth - apple has done a wonderful job with offering lossless material on apple music, but they havent offered a streamer with remotecontrol for this .
Airplay is at max 48 KHz but the lossless streaming at Apple lossless is up to 192 KHz 24 bit .

For best sound with apple music lossless - use a Mac or an iPhone and a good DDC to an external dac and you will get up to 192 KHz 24 bit Quality .

Theres a big need for an Apple music connect service , just like TIDAL .
 

Bren Derlin

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Hi everyone,

I’m already an Apple Music subscriber, so I already have access to its lossless audio. However, I have no easy way to get lossless playback to my home theater/speaker system currently from the Apple Music service.

At the moment, I listen to music on the system using the Apple Music app on my Samsung TV, which doesn’t support lossless audio, nor does iTunes on my PC. I have an iPhone, but I don’t want to have to find a way to plug it into my AVR and would rather have something more permanent.

FWIW, my home theater setup includes an Onkyo RZ-810 AVR connected to a MiniDSP DDRC-88A-BM using Dirac Live, so I believe my system is limited to 24bit/48khz (limitations of the MiniDSP/Dirac).

Do you think there would be a noticeable difference getting Apple lossless working for the ~$150 cost of an Apple TV vs. the standard quality playback I’m currently getting through the TV app? I’m pretty picky and sensitive to these type of changes, but even I am questioning whether this is worth doing… My family and I are happy with the Netflix and YouTube apps on our TV, so I don’t really think I would be using the Apple TV for anything besides audio, though if I’m going to get one, I wouldn’t get anything lower than the 4K version.

I know I’d also get spatial audio support, which would be fun to play around with, but my system is only 5.2 and I don’t have huge expectations on that.

Anyways, just curious what everyone’s thoughts are. Like I said, I already have Apple Music, so I’m not considering getting another service for cost reasons. Just wondering if getting an Apple TV just for the audio upgrade given Apple’s lack of lossless/spatial support on its TV/PC apps would be worthwhile.

Thanks!

In a word… “Yes”.

Long answer:

I much prefer the AppleTV app interface than what I get with our Sony OLED.

We have an AppleTV 4K on both of our TV/music rigs.

With the Music App, I love that I can create a playlist on my Mac Studio, and have it sync universally with my iPhone, iPad, Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and AppleTV 4K music apps.

I get Lossless through my AppleTV 4K, but not hires. I’m ok with it. To me, the lossless music is a perk of AppleTV. I don’t really get into the spatial ATMOS music. Not my thing. YMMV.
 
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