2021 new gen Apple tv 4k Dolby Atmos Problems

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Robert D

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I posted on the forum back in June/July about this. I called Apple and have a case with them now, and plan on calling them back tomorrow.

The problem is only sound, and only occurs when watching shows in dolby atmos. This happened to be after I got it new this year, so it's always been there. I received it in the mail directly from Apple on day 1 of release because I pre-ordered it.

The sound will sometimes drop out on Netflix, but the DolbyVision is fine. It will eventually come back on in about 10 seconds, or if I pause the show and then play it is fine after that. It's random, and occurs at any time. Sometimes I can watch a whole movie and it never happens, other times it can happen 3x in a 45 minute show. If I rewind over where the sound error occurred, and then play it again; it plays fine and the error doesn't happen.

Sometimes the sound will make a popping sound on random speakers and then fade away, lasting just 5 seconds or so. This happens on Apple tv + shows too. So it's not just Netflix. Apple tv+ hadn't had the sound totally cut out and mute like Netflix, but it makes the popping sounds on speakers.

I'm using the apple tv connected by a wireworld ultraviolet hdmi cable to my Marantz sr8012 11.2 receiver. I'm able to play atmos just fine through my 4k Panasonic player and also through my cheap Amazon Firestick 4k. So it's not a hardware problem with the receiver, and I've never had a problem with the wireworld hdmi cables. It's a high quality cable.

Wondering if anyone else is having this problem. When I called Apple, in June, they told me they had other reports of problems already. At that point it had only been out for a month or so. Online I've found several threads with similar problems.

This page shows that the problem was on the last gen too. So the problem has followed along onto the new one.


My Apple tv is hardwired with ethernet and gets around 500 mbps, so no wifi to worry about. A member on here had me check my connection quality and it tested very good. So it's not my internet connection.

Seems to be some software issue, unless my apple tv box is a lemon. I may see about sending it in for a new one, since it's well within warranty.

I went a month or so without watching shows with Atmos, so I kinda forgot about it. Now I'm watching more and the problem is still there. There have been numerous software patches since June ,but none took care of this .The problem is in both Apple tv+ and Netflix. I've never heard the problem on HBO Max, but haven't watched much on Atmos there.

Thought I'd throw this up and see if anyone else has had this and if anyone has an idea about what's going on.
 

Robert D

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I also called Netflix and spent over an hour with them. That was just about pointless. The girl I got didn't know much at all. The girl at Apple was pretty good. Apple still hasn't fixed this. It's been going on for about 1 year from what I read online. The problem seems to be Apple's, since the audio problem is on Apple tv+ service as well as Netflix. For all I know, it's probably on HBO MAX too.

Does anyone have nvidia shield? Does it stream atmos and everything without errors? Been thinking about tossing this Apple and getting one. I'm reaching the end of my patience with it.
 

Robert D

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Just got off the phone with Apple. They still have my case open but it hasn't been escalated yet. They want me to do a reset and update. That's on the system setting. So I will do that today. The rep said that doing that will actually download the OS again. Not sure how that works. He made it sound like it's going to completely wipe the OS and download it all again. I will report back to them if the problem still persists.

Not looking forward to having to redo everything on the device, but maybe it will work. Perhaps the OS was corrupted somewhere.
 

Robert D

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Well, I watched 3 episodes of Clickbait on Netflix and during each episode the sound made the popping/clicking sound again. So it wasn't a corrupt OS. I will be calling Apple again to report back.
 

barjohn

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I have been having this issue too. Going mad trying to figure out the problem since I was testing every other part of my system. I am going to try my FireTV and Roku Ultra streamers and see if that clears up the problem.
 

JonFo

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Sorry to hear about the issue, I also have a 2021 ATV 4K (and the older 4K in the HT) in my media room system connected to a Denon X3600H receiver (and via splitter on the output of the Denon, to my Smyth Realiser A16 Atmos headphone processor). The ATV 4K (2021) is connected via a short (3') HDMI 2.0b certified cable to one of the inputs of the AVR.

I have extremely reliable Atmos playback from Netflix, Apple TV+ and Apple Music via the Denon itself.
Now, it was not always like that, a couple of ATV minor versions ago, I occasionally experienced what the OP reports. But as of the last month or two, rock-solid on the AVR.

Now, using the A16, I do run into many more issues, especially with Apple music playing Atmos playlists, as it takes the A16 about a second or two into the song to sync up and produce sound. Seems OK on movies and other long-running video content.

So it looks like different AVR/processor firmware implementations deal better or worse with the Dolby MAT 2.0 + DD+ Atmos streams from an Apple TV.

Blu rays work much better because the format delivery is simpler and has been around longer, as it is Dolby MAT 2.0 (transport) carrying Dolby TrueHD Atmos (content).
 

Robert D

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Sorry to hear about the issue, I also have a 2021 ATV 4K (and the older 4K in the HT) in my media room system connected to a Denon X3600H receiver (and via splitter on the output of the Denon, to my Smyth Realiser A16 Atmos headphone processor). The ATV 4K (2021) is connected via a short (3') HDMI 2.0b certified cable to one of the inputs of the AVR.

I have extremely reliable Atmos playback from Netflix, Apple TV+ and Apple Music via the Denon itself.
Now, it was not always like that, a couple of ATV minor versions ago, I occasionally experienced what the OP reports. But as of the last month or two, rock-solid on the AVR.

Now, using the A16, I do run into many more issues, especially with Apple music playing Atmos playlists, as it takes the A16 about a second or two into the song to sync up and produce sound. Seems OK on movies and other long-running video content.

So it looks like different AVR/processor firmware implementations deal better or worse with the Dolby MAT 2.0 + DD+ Atmos streams from an Apple TV.

Blu rays work much better because the format delivery is simpler and has been around longer, as it is Dolby MAT 2.0 (transport) carrying Dolby TrueHD Atmos (content).
I am going to call them tomorrow. I've seen multiple people online having problems when using Marantz with it. Must be some weird issue. The strange thing is how sporadic it is. It seems related to streaming. Last night it seemed to start in about 30 minutes into a show. I wonder if the atv is just bad, has a hardware fault?
 

JonFo

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I wonder if the atv is just bad, has a hardware fault?
I doubt that, it is much more likely one the following:
  • Firmware in the AVR/Processor being sensitive to the timing on DD+ streams, especially a more complex variant like one with Atmos extensions.
  • Connectivity glitches between the ATV and AVR, such as a marginal HDMI cable when passing 4K UHD And an Atmos stream, which push the capacity limits of the link
  • Incoming network stream being subject to timing delays due to local or other network congestion.
    • WiFi-based links are notorious for this, as it is a shared medium. If your phone decides to upload pictures while watching a movie, it can take enough airtime to interfere with the stream
      • Often overlooked fact: the upload path is critical to smooth streaming, as it carries the acknowledgments of received incoming packets.
    • Even on a wired link, and with a 'fast' service (500Mbps IIRC), your service might have Bufferbloat and that will cause timing issues, as delay under working loads means portions of the stream arrive late, causing the AVR to drop sync on the audio.
You can have your Marantz check for updated firmware, and apply that.

If using WiFi, use a wired connection.

Run a networking check from a wired laptop / desktop and see if you have bufferbloat: Speed test - how fast is your internet? | DSLReports, ISP Information
A grade of C or worse means you are at risk of having streaming issues.

As a data point: I have a 10Mbps DSL line as a backup to my Gigabit service, and I can reliably stream HD-quality Netflix content for hours on end, even with others using the same network. Thanks to my IQrouter, that line gets an A for bufferbloat (otherwise it rates an F, with over 4+ seconds of delay).
So line capacity (or speed, as ISPs like to market it as), need only be around 50Mbps or so to play 4K UHD + Atmos.

Disclosure: I'm the CEO of a Networking company (evenroute.com) and am presenting a position paper to the Internet Architecture Board at a workshop on Internet Quality, so know my way around this topic.
 
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barjohn

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In my case, I think it is due to firmware in my AVR (equivalent device) that is allowing the speaker amplifiers to unmute before the audio stream is fully established. I am working with the company to rectify and test this issue. It seems that the various streaming devices do generate some noise while syncing on the stream and although the level is low, it is sufficient to unmute the amplifier that is listening for an audio stream to turn on.
 

Robert D

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I doubt that, it is much more likely one the following:
  • Firmware in the AVR/Processor being sensitive to the timing on DD+ streams, especially a more complex variant like one with Atmos extensions.
  • Connectivity glitches between the ATV and AVR, such as a marginal HDMI cable when passing 4K UHD And an Atmos stream, which push the capacity limits of the link
  • Incoming network stream being subject to timing delays due to local or other network congestion.
    • WiFi-based links are notorious for this, as it is a shared medium. If your phone decides to upload pictures while watching a movie, it can take enough airtime to interfere with the stream
      • Often overlooked fact: the upload path is critical to smooth streaming, as it carries the acknowledgments of received incoming packets.
    • Even on a wired link, and with a 'fast' service (500Mbps IIRC), your service might have Bufferbloat and that will cause timing issues, as delay under working loads means portions of the stream arrive late, causing the AVR to drop sync on the audio.
You can have your Marantz check for updated firmware, and apply that.

If using WiFi, use a wired connection.

Run a networking check from a wired laptop / desktop and see if you have bufferbloat: Speed test - how fast is your internet? | DSLReports, ISP Information
A grade of C or worse means you are at risk of having streaming issues.

As a data point: I have a 10Mbps DSL line as a backup to my Gigabit service, and I can reliably stream HD-quality Netflix content for hours on end, even with others using the same network. Thanks to my IQrouter, that line gets an A for bufferbloat (otherwise it rates an F, with over 4+ seconds of delay).
So line capacity (or speed, as ISPs like to market it as), need only be around 50Mbps or so to play 4K UHD + Atmos.

Disclosure: I'm the CEO of a Networking company (evenroute.com) and am presenting a position paper to the Internet Architecture Board at a workshop on Internet Quality, so know my way around this topic.
Yeah, you had me run several tests for bufferbloat and I got a B or better each time. Everything in the home theater is hardwired ethernet. Speed is around 500 mbps.

The hdmi cable is a nice wireworld ultraviolet, so good quality. The same cable streamed fine from my 4k player when I tried, and video is great on both devices.

It's got to be some software issue between my receiver and the Apple tv.
 

Robert D

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It couldn't be the ethernet switch I'm using could it? That's another link in the chain. Never had other issues on it before. I've never done Atmos through it before this. It's a gigabit or better switch. I run my other equipment off it and have been for years.
 

Robert D

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Apple set up an appointment next week at the local store. I'm taking it in and they'll most likely swap it out for a new one. Then I'll test that one. Maybe the unit is just bad. If that doesn't fix the problem, then it gets escalated up to their engineers.
 

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I'm on 1Gbs fiber and my Apple4K is on WiFi and seeing 500Mbs and All A's on that report. I don't think it is my connection.
 

Robert D

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I'm on 1Gbs fiber and my Apple4K is on WiFi and seeing 500Mbs and All A's on that report. I don't think it is my connection.
Is your's Marantz? What are your symptoms? Mine is random. Can happen after 20 minutes play, or I can watch a 2 hour movie and it won't happen once.

When it happens I get a popping or clicking sound that seems to come out all 11 speakers.It lasts for maybe 5 seconds and then is gone. Pausing the show and then restarting stops it. I can rewind and watch the same part of the show and it's fine. That's on Apple tv + service and Netflix Atmos. On Netflix sometimes the sound completely goes off, as if mute was hit. That lasts for maybe 5 seconds and then comes back just fine.

Dolby vision video is completely unaffected during the occurrence.
 

barjohn

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I get popping & clicking at the start of any playback but worse for Atmos or Spatial audio in that it lasts longer. I get the same when browsing movies or audio, especially on AplleTV+ movies as most are Atmos. And I get it when stopping playback. With AppleTV+ if I am watching a series and an episode ends, when the next episode auto starts there is no sound. I have to exit the series and reselect it to get sound back. I am not using a Marantz nor Dennon. I am using a wireless AV receiver called an HTX. I am connected via certified HDMI 2.1 cable on eARC.
 

Robert D

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I get popping & clicking at the start of any playback but worse for Atmos or Spatial audio in that it lasts longer. I get the same when browsing movies or audio, especially on AplleTV+ movies as most are Atmos. And I get it when stopping playback. With AppleTV+ if I am watching a series and an episode ends, when the next episode auto starts there is no sound. I have to exit the series and reselect it to get sound back. I am not using a Marantz nor Dennon. I am using a wireless AV receiver called an HTX. I am connected via certified HDMI 2.1 cable on eARC.
Are you working directly with Apple like I am? Maybe our problems are somehow related. Would be good for them to be aware.

I'm thankful mine only happens on atmos content and is sporadic and stops when I pause. Yours sounds like it makes it impossible to use.

Have you had the sound mute out like mine, in the middle of a show?

I'm hoping maybe getting a new apple tv 4k next week will fix my problem. I'm also considering buying a new ethernet switch just to be safe. I'll probably wait to see if the new apple tv fixes the issue first. Don't want to change 2 variables at the same time.
 

Robert D

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I could switch off atmos and just watch in 5.1, but atmos is the whole reason I stepped up from Amazon Firestick 4k to apple.
 

barjohn

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No, I am not working directly with Apple. Until I can absolutely verify it is due to the ATV with ways for them to repeat my experience I don't bother because there are too many variables and that makes it easy for them to pass the blame to someone else in the chain.

Once mine are playing it is very rare for me to have the problem except as I stated if I stop the playback or it switches episodes. The latter results in muted sound.
 

Robert D

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Some of the workers on the phone have said they havent heard of trouble with Marantz, but I read some cases like mine online.
 

JonFo

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I am connected via certified HDMI 2.1 cable on eARC.
Ah, an ARC connection!

So in your setup, the ATV goes to the TV first, then an eARC connection to the HTX, right?

If so, try going to the HTX first, then feed the output of the HTX to the TV.

ARC is handy but can introduce all kinds of handshake and format glitches when pushing the boundaries. I generally avoid it at all costs.
 
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