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Tidal, Disney+ Multichannel (Dolby Atmos/5.1) for HTPC/Pro Audio system with Apple TV + AVR?

DJBonoBobo

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Hello,

i would like to listen to multichannel music once in a while. I am thinking of bands like Pink Floyd, Beatles, Steven Wilson, Katatonia and so on, occasionally a bit classical.
But there is no good way to do this. I could buy expensive box-sets from mostly long-dead bands to aquire a DVD or Bluray with multichannel content, but i don´t want to. So, it would be a start to upgrade my Tidal subscripition and listen to the Atmos content on Tidal. So my main goal is making Tidal multichannel work with my system.

Right now i do everything with a Windows 11 PC. I have a professional multichannel interface (RME UCX II) and calibrated active studio monitors that are connected digitally. It is a quad system with 2 subwoofers. In windows, i have set the device to 5.1 with no center, and i am diverting the LFE channel to mains (with the RME TotalMix FX software), so i have 4.1 channels of content and 4.0 channels of speakers. It is working with the Netflix app and with DVD 5.1 content. It used to work with the Disney Plus app, but after the recent update, multichannel does not work anymore.
For playing stereo content i use Roon with integrated Tidal.

As far as i understand, there is no way to convince Tidal to play more than stereo on a Windows 11 PC. So i guess i have to buy an Apple TV 4K box and use this for Tidal (and Disney+). Then, as far as i understand, i need an AVR or Processor to decode Atmos content to my 4.1 channels.

So, i thought about buying a Marantz Cinema 70s and use the Pre-Outs -> Cinch to 6.3mm jack -> RME interface analog inputs -> RME digital output to my speakers.

The whole system will look like this then:
1699112098917.png


So, i really need the AVR only to decode Atmos to 4.1. No need for anything else. Best would be a small, professional box with balanced outputs, but this does not seem to exist. A IOTAVX 17 would be ok, i guess, but it cost 1,800 EUR. So i thought i could buy a Marantz Cinema 70s, because it cost only 660 EUR and has a full pre out setup.

Is this the best solution in my case or does someone know an easier way? I actually hate buying two more devices for occasional use only to work around the DRM of Atmos content, but there is no other way, or is it?
 

voodooless

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Since you don’t have any height channels, a simple 7.1 audio extractor would already work. The AppleTV can output Atmos at 8 channel PCM over HDMI. Not sure about the quality of the extractor, but it’s by far the cheapest solution.
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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Since you don’t have any height channels, a simple 7.1 audio extractor would already work. The AppleTV can output Atmos at 8 channel PCM over HDMI. Not sure about the quality of the extractor, but it’s by far the cheapest solution.

Ah, that would be great! So, the 8 channel PCM over HDMI would not be blocked by DRM? If that´s true, i wonder if there is also a digital solution, since the interface has also digital inputs. The optical ADAT input supports up to 8 channels.
 

voodooless

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Ah, that would be great! So, the 8 channel PCM over HDMI would not be blocked by DRM? If that´s true, i wonder if there is also a digital solution, since the interface has also digital inputs. The optical ADAT input supports up to 8 channels.
Yes there are, none that I know of do ADAT though…

 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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Yes there are, none that I know of do ADAT though…

Thank you very much!
I´ll search for HDMI extractors, may something cheap like this will do.
 

voodooless

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Thank you very much!
I´ll search for HDMI extractors, may something cheap like this will do.
That doesn’t have 7.1 output though. Only bitstream surround, which excludes Atmos.
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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That doesn’t have 7.1 output though. Only bitstream surround, which excludes Atmos.
Hm, i don´t understand what spec is important here.
How do i recognize wether a device will support what i want? What should I look out for?
 

ban25

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Note that if you have 7.1 or less, you will just get the bed layer from the Atmos stream and no objects will be present. This is according to Fox Studios mixing engineer John Traunwieser, as interviewed by Audioholics:


I listen to Atmos over Tidal using the Tidal app on an NVIDIA Shield Pro, connected via HDMI. The Shield is also able to stream lossless TrueHD/Atmos via Plex.
 

voodooless

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Hm, i don´t understand what spec is important here.
How do i recognize wether a device will support what i want? What should I look out for?
It will have 8 RCA outputs ;) and that is obviously only analog. Finding budget digital outputs will be a futile exercise…
 

popej

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Since you don’t have any height channels, a simple 7.1 audio extractor would already work. The AppleTV can output Atmos at 8 channel PCM over HDMI. Not sure about the quality of the extractor, but it’s by far the cheapest solution.
Will it work? I have tried Tidal on Google TV and no Atmos in Tidal unless AVR supports it. I have looked in internet and seems like ATV uses Dolby MAT for Atmos, which is not a simple LPCM.
 

voodooless

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Will it work? I have tried Tidal on Google TV and no Atmos in Tidal unless AVR supports it. I have looked in internet and seems like ATV uses Dolby MAT for Atmos, which is not a simple LPCM.
Well, you will indeed mis the height and object channels, effectively you’ll get a DD+ track.

So yes, as @ban25 also mentioned, it’s not full Atmos, but it should be close, especially in a setup like the OP has. Object channels are barely used in reality anyway, so you’ll be close enough with the ATV.
 

Tre2023

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It can be difficult to find devices that support Dolby Atmos from one service or another these days. Amazon Music, Apple Music and Tidal all have Dolby Atmos tracks. But, finding devices that support one or more of those service's Dolby Atmos titles is another thing. Once a service and delivery device is made, there are AVR settings to consider because every device delivers signals in different ways.

Let's talk Apple TV 4K. It converts ALL signals to LPCM and uses Dolby MAT to retain Atmos metadata in delivery of Dolby Atmos tracks. That metadata will be seen and processed by a capable AVR supporting Dolby Atmos dependent of the speakers settings of certain AVRs.In many cases, Atmos metadata will not be processed and the incoming signal will be recognized and displayed as DD+ or multichannel PCM when streaming an Atmos track rather than display Dolby Atmos, Atmos/DD+ or Atmos/PCM depending on the combination of device and AVR.

So, if one connected an Apple TV 4K to a Dolby Atmos capable receiver and played a Dolby Atmos tracks from Apple Music or Tidal, the signal should be displayed as Dolby Atmos. This will not be the case for every setup. I am able to receive Atmos metadata from the Apple TV 4K even if my receiver is configured for 4.0 and Speaker Virtualizer, for Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, is turned OFF. If I stream Dolby Atmos tracks from Tidal over my LG TV, Atmos metadata is lost and the incoming signal is displayed as DD+ rather than Atmos/DD+ if my Speaker Virtualizer is OFF. I usually play Dolby Atmos tracks using Apple Music rather than Tidal on the Apple TV 4K as the volume level of Dolby Atmos tracks from Tidal is very low compared to Dolby Atmos tracks from Apple Music. The LG C1 Tidal app does not have the same low volume issue.

The Marantz Cinema 70c should work just fine here using the pre outs. It will condense the channel signals into the configured speaker channels and Dolby Atmos metadata will be processed accordingly but perhaps be dependent on the Speaker Virtualizer settings when configured for 4.0 output using the Marantz. One might prefer the sound with the Speaker Virtualizer OFF rather than ON for Dolby Atmos tracks when using a 4.0 setup. It will effectively condense the 7.1 channel info into the 4.0 configuration. Turning the Speaker Virtualizer ON means the Marantz' Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization processing will try to make it sound as though actual height speakers are present while making use of the Atmos metadata. I prefer to use the Speaker Virtualizer in my current 5.1 configuration.

Getting Dolby Atmos from certain video streaming services on certain devices using certain settings is a can of worms for another thread.

IMG_4302.jpg
 

popej

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Well, you will indeed mis the height and object channels, effectively you’ll get a DD+ track.
That's optimistic. On Google TV DD+ is not good enough for Tidal to play multichannel.
 

Tre2023

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All streaming services use lossy Atmos/DD+ and streaming devices may bitstream or use LPCM(Dolby MAT) for delivery. Dolby Atmos from the Tidal app is not supported on every single device. So, even if an AVR supports Dolby Atmos, that doesn't guarantee delivery of the Atmos/DD+ signal from a particular streaming service using a particular streaming device. If the AVR does not support Dolby Atmos, it will simply receive and process the DD+ signal sans metadata.

 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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It can be difficult to find devices that support Dolby Atmos from one service or another these days. Amazon Music, Apple Music and Tidal all have Dolby Atmos tracks. But, finding devices that support one or more of those service's Dolby Atmos titles is another thing. Once a service and delivery device is made, there are AVR settings to consider because every device delivers signals in different ways.

Let's talk Apple TV 4K. It converts ALL signals to LPCM and uses Dolby MAT to retain Atmos metadata in delivery of Dolby Atmos tracks. That metadata will be seen and processed by a capable AVR supporting Dolby Atmos dependent of the speakers settings of certain AVRs.In many cases, Atmos metadata will not be processed and the incoming signal will be recognized and displayed as DD+ or multichannel PCM when streaming an Atmos track rather than display Dolby Atmos, Atmos/DD+ or Atmos/PCM depending on the combination of device and AVR.

If i use a cheap HDMI extractor, my RME interface will just receive 6 channels of analog audiotracks without any metadata, i think. Personally, i don´t care if it is real "Atmos" or just an embedded 5.1 track. I am just wanting to use "Atmos", because that´s the format Tidal uses. If i could just download 5.1 or 4.0 FLACs somewhere, i would prefer that.
But what i care for is that it sounds like the artist intended for a 5.1 system.

So, my question to you is, do you mean it makes a difference if Atmos metadata is processed or not? So, will the result be different if i use a Marantz Cinema 70s instead of a HDMI audio extractor before the RME interface? Will the channels contain different content or will the volume be different?
From what i understand, the difference is that in one case the Apple TV box "decides" how the 5.1 channels look like. In the other case, the Marantz makes some kind of downmix of the Atmos content (or the embedded 5.1). But will they make anything different?
 

Tre2023

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The Apple TV 4K will send Atmos metadata when playing Atmos tracks with “Best Available” audio setting and Atmos ON. That doesn’t mean the AVR will be able to do anything with the metadata. With Atmos turned OFF in the Apple TV 4K, the Dolby Atmos capable AVR will display MULTICHANNEL PCM 7.1 as the incoming signal and deliver the audio to the available speakers in a given setup.

Yes, there is a difference in the sound when using Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization when height speakers are not used and the Speaker Virtualizer is ON compared to the Speaker Virtualizer being OFF.

Dolby Atmos music is all over the place. Sometimes it adds nothing but silly effects and instruments seemingly coming from silly places. In other cases involving electronic music, it is amazing. Some rock music is enhanced while some rock music is ruined compared to the two channel version.

I came across Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man” album in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music. It’s here and there from track to track. But, “Keeping the Faith” sounds amazing with Speaker Virtualizer ON using a 5.1 configuration. With it OFF, not so much. I won’t ever listen to that song any other way again.

Now, some bad news. Too many Dolby Atmos music tracks are Center Channel centric. The dialogue should come from the center channel when watching a movie or TV show, not so much when listening to music. Many of The Beatles songs are ruined by this engineering choice.

Some may think Dolby Center Spread can come to the rescue but it only works on two channel signals being processed by Dolby Surround and is not applicable to Dolby Atmos signals. Though, this isn’t the case with every single AVR. This is where a 4.0 configuration has a bit of a leg up as the vocals will come from both of the front speakers at all times playing any Dolby Atmos track.

I would recommend the Marantz Cinema 70c or any new receiver that is equipped with Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization using Speaker Virtualizer so that one has more options available to them when using a 4.0 configuration.
 
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DJBonoBobo

DJBonoBobo

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The Apple TV 4K will send Atmos metadata when playing Atmos tracks with “Best Available” audio setting and Atmos ON. That doesn’t mean the AVR will be able to do anything with the metadata. With Atmos turned OFF in the Apple TV 4K, the Dolby Atmos capable AVR will display MULTICHANNEL PCM 7.1 as the incoming signal and deliver the audio to the available speakers in a given setup.

Yes, there is a difference in the sound when using Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization when height speakers are not used and the Speaker Virtualizer is ON compared to the Speaker Virtualizer being OFF.

Dolby Atmos music is all over the place. Sometimes it adds nothing but silly effects and instruments seemingly coming from silly places. In other cases involving electronic music, it is amazing. Some rock music is enhanced while some rock music is ruined compared to the two channel version.

I came across Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man” album in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music. It’s here and there from track to track. But, “Keeping the Faith” sounds amazing with Speaker Virtualizer ON using a 5.1 configuration. With it OFF, not so much. I won’t ever listen to that song any other way again.

Now, some bad news. Too many Dolby Atmos music tracks are Center Channel centric. The dialogue should come from the center channel when watching a movie or TV show, not so much when listening to music. Many of The Beatles songs are ruined by this engineering choice.

Some may think Dolby Center Spread can come to the rescue but it only works on two channel signals being processed by Dolby Surround and is not applicable to Dolby Atmos signals. Though, this isn’t the case with every single AVR. This is where a 4.0 configuration has a bit of a leg up as the vocals will come from both of the front speakers at all times playing any Dolby Atmos track.

I would recommend the Marantz Cinema 70c or any new receiver that is equipped with Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization using Speaker Virtualizer so that one has more options available to them when using a 4.0 configuration.
Thanks for the explanation!
 

ban25

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Now, some bad news. Too many Dolby Atmos music tracks are Center Channel centric. The dialogue should come from the center channel when watching a movie or TV show, not so much when listening to music. Many of The Beatles songs are ruined by this engineering choice.
I just want to amplify this point. Too often I hear Atmos mixes that are center-weighted and I think, "What's the point? Might as well make it mono."
 
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