2021 new gen Apple tv 4k Dolby Atmos Problems

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IEnjoyOLED

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This reminds me of 30 years ago when I asked a Sybase (an old database system) tech some critical technical questions; he arrogantly replied that “the market has spoken and endorsed Sybase.” I went with something else and their hubris caught up with them.

Apple is huge and successful. They will eventually realize that customers do walk. I say this as someone heavily invested in the Apple eco-system and with an ATV4K.
 

whathappenedtomymoney

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Couple updates. First, the non-HDR 4k/Atmos title on Netflix that gave me issue was called The Great Hack. Also, no issues on Prime video with Jack Ryan S1 for the hour or two I watched it, which is both HDR and Atmos.
Hooked up the Belkin cable that Apple Support was presumably sending. Had the issue within the first minute or two of playback on Netflix.
Also tried replacing HDMI cable from Marantz to the TV with a 6ft 48Gbps cable and still have the popping (within first 10 sec of playback on Netflix).
Will update my ticket with Apple and will post whatever next steps they advise.

eta: also tried a different, non-eARC input on the TV since I was swapping cables, because why not I guess? Anyway, no help; problem still occurs.
 
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Robert D

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Couple updates. First, the non-HDR 4k/Atmos title on Netflix that gave me issue was called The Great Hack. Also, no issues on Prime video with Jack Ryan S1 for the hour or two I watched it, which is both HDR and Atmos.
Hooked up the Belkin cable that Apple Support was presumably sending. Had the issue within the first minute or two of playback on Netflix.
Also tried replacing HDMI cable from Marantz to the TV with a 6ft 48Gbps cable and still have the popping (within first 10 sec of playback on Netflix).
Will update my ticket with Apple and will post whatever next steps they advise.

eta: also tried a different, non-eARC input on the TV since I was swapping cables, because why not I guess? Anyway, no help; problem still occurs.
Yeah, I tried different cables too, even though I was using good quality wire world. Made no difference.

I can watch Netflix for an hour and not have an issue. It sounds like yours is much more common.
 

whathappenedtomymoney

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Yeah the problem is pretty pervasive for me, but having trouble duplicating outside of Netflix. I’ll make sure to update if I can. Perhaps I should subscribe to HBOMax for a month just to test. I tried a few other things tonight such as disabling Siri and turning off background app refresh, hoping maybe some thread was shared that affected performance. But no dice on anything.
 

Robert D

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Yeah the problem is pretty pervasive for me, but having trouble duplicating outside of Netflix. I’ll make sure to update if I can. Perhaps I should subscribe to HBOMax for a month just to test. I tried a few other things tonight such as disabling Siri and turning off background app refresh, hoping maybe some thread was shared that affected performance. But no dice on anything.
I can't remember, did you hear the problem on Apple tv + like I did? I had it bad on there before I got my replacement, and then a few weeks back I heard some pops and sound dropped once. That was on For All Mankind
 

whathappenedtomymoney

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I can't remember, did you hear the problem on Apple tv + like I did? I had it bad on there before I got my replacement, and then a few weeks back I heard some pops and sound dropped once. That was on For All Mankind
I am almost certain that I did hear on AppleTV+, but in my recent testing, I have not been able to duplicate it there. Perhaps I'll check out that title today and listen for any issues.
 

IraG

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Couple updates. First, the non-HDR 4k/Atmos title on Netflix that gave me issue was called The Great Hack. Also, no issues on Prime video with Jack Ryan S1 for the hour or two I watched it, which is both HDR and Atmos.
Hooked up the Belkin cable that Apple Support was presumably sending. Had the issue within the first minute or two of playback on Netflix.
Also tried replacing HDMI cable from Marantz to the TV with a 6ft 48Gbps cable and still have the popping (within first 10 sec of playback on Netflix).
Will update my ticket with Apple and will post whatever next steps they advise.

eta: also tried a different, non-eARC input on the TV since I was swapping cables, because why not I guess? Anyway, no help; problem still occurs.
I have often heard the audio ticks in the first seconds of starting a DV/Atmos stream as the stream is buffering and ramping up quality, but that always clears up within about 10 seconds for me. It is the random return of those audio artifacts and complete dropouts that require restarting the stream that is my problem, and that happens very rarely with my replacement unit. It used to happen quite frequently (multiple times per hour) on my first ATV4k gen 2 unit on both ATV+ and Netflix, and never on my gen 1 unit.
 
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Robert D

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I have often heard the audio ticks in the first seconds of starting a DV/Atmos stream as the stream is buffering and ramping up quality, but that always clears up within about 10 seconds for me. It is the random return of those audio artifacts and complete dropouts that require restarting the stream that is my problem, and that happens very rarely with my replacement unit. It used to happen quite frequently (multiple times per hour) on my first ATV4k gen 2 unit on both ATV+ and Netflix, and never on my gen 1 unit.
Your experience mirrors mine. My original unit I got around April had sounds issues a lot. This new one has it rarely. It's still there though, so problem not solved with a new unit.
 

whathappenedtomymoney

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I have often heard the audio ticks in the first seconds of starting a DV/Atmos stream as the stream is buffering and ramping up quality, but that always clears up within about 10 seconds for me. It is the random return of those audio artifacts and complete dropouts that require restarting the stream that is my problem, and that happens very rarely with my replacement unit. It used to happen quite frequently (multiple times per hour) on my first ATV4k gen 2 unit on both ATV+ and Netflix, and never on my gen 1 unit.
Are you still on tvOS 14.7? Or did you update to 15?
 

IraG

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Are you still on tvOS 14.7? Or did you update to 15?
I'm still on tvOS 14.7, though the constant nagging to update is quite annoying. My iPads don't constantly bug me to update. Well, that's why I won't get an iPhone. I only got the ATV4k as I wanted a premium external streamer that supported LLDV, or Low Latency Dolby Vision, the only external DV profile supported by my Sony TV. The ATV4k was the only option several years ago, but I believe Roku now supports LLDV. I picked a new Roku up last month, but haven't hooked it up yet.

Roku has the most simplistic, boring UI of the bunch, though Apple's isn't far behind. I do like how AndroidTV has evolved over the years. The tvOS feature I like most is tracking activity on other streaming platforms, and gathering the 'continue watching' options at the home screen. AndroidTV is catching up there. My Sony TV has AndroidTV, so I should just spend more time with that, since the integrated apps support both DV and Atmos. Even Tizen on our 85" Samsung TV in the family room impressed me when I set up all the built-in apps last month. It had the apps for all the streaming services we have -- I could have only said that about Roku not long ago. But I digress. We spend most of our time within the apps, not staring at the home screen.
 
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whathappenedtomymoney

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I don't buy the "short cable causing problems" comment. The only issue a short cable might cause is if it produces too much strain on the connectors due to routing limitations. A 3ft cable is already multiple wavelengths of the HDMI signal, so longer lengths will result in increased signal reflections and degradation if the ends of the transmission line are not properly terminated or don't match the cable impedance. That's why very long cable runs can cause problems and why a higher quality HDMI cable can make a difference.
Meant to reply to this as not sure I agree with the relevance of wavelengths, but probably something to do with falling edges of clock signals, or similar. Anyway, decided to poke around tonight about some other topics, and noticed this mentioned again. I imagine if this is indeed an issue, it would become more prevalent with higher b/w signals, e.g. 8K, etc. Anyway, sharing the info:

 

IraG

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Meant to reply to this as not sure I agree with the relevance of wavelengths, but probably something to do with falling edges of clock signals, or similar. Anyway, decided to poke around tonight about some other topics, and noticed this mentioned again. I imagine if this is indeed an issue, it would become more prevalent with higher b/w signals, e.g. 8K, etc. Anyway, sharing the info:

Thanks. I didn't hear a technical reason for the 6 foot HDMI cable being better than a shorter one, so I remain doubtful. There was a vague mention of HDMI equalization needing time to work, but an extra meter only gives an extra few nanoseconds, so that doesn't sound right.

I do know about transmission line theory, so I stand by my statement that an improperly terminated cable will have reflections that degrade the signal, and this becomes more important as the transmission line gets longer and is multiple wavelengths of the signal. Higher frequency = shorter wavelength, so yes, higher b/w signals would require higher quality cable and longer passive HDMI cables (>10ft) would tend to be more problematic. I don't know the actual frequencies of the signals over HDMI, so I could be wrong about a 3ft cable being multiple wavelengths of the the signal, as there may be multiple wires carrying signals in parallel.

Here is some info I found when looking for some confirmation of short HDMI cables being a concern:

Too Short Coaxial or HDMI Cable is Problematic?

I could see the possibility that if a specific product was not properly terminated, the reflections and standing waves could be such that a longer cable produces an apparently "better" signal at the receiving end, but in general, the shorter cable will have less signal degradation. But in any case, what we are talking about should affect the video before causing the Atmos problems we are having.
 

JonFo

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Meant to reply to this as not sure I agree with the relevance of wavelengths, but probably something to do with falling edges of clock signals, or similar.
Given that you are consistently seeing issues, even after swapping cables and ATV hardware, it might be worth suspecting the sink, in this case, the AVR.

If the receiving HDMI chips/firmware are hyper-sensitive to jitter and are forcing re-clocking with the sender, it can result in lag in the data stream.

Remember that HDMI is first and foremost a format engineered for video transmission, and the 2ch LPCM support is kind just there 'because' some audio support was needed. But the LPCM is highly prone to jitter, as the rest of the HDMI D/A A/D pipeline is focused on the much higher-bandwidth video stream. This is why Denon came up with DenonLink 4 to provide a separate clock signal over the CAT5 DenonLink between player and processor to eliminate jitter on the HDMI 2ch LPCM signal.

So if the problem is jitter stability, one might try to address it with something that re-clocks the signal, such as a splitter box or an active HDMI cable (such a fiber-based RUIPRO). But it could well be that a different/newer processor that is less susceptible to jitter is needed.

I recently made physical changes to the media room, and re-did the Audyssey DRC and have been testing a ton of Atmos content from all sources, and no audio glitches beyond one very short timing slip on an Apple Music Atmos track. Chain: ATV4K-2nd Gen launch day order (current firmware) --> 3' Amazon Basics HDMI cable --> Denon X3600H
 

IraG

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Given that you are consistently seeing issues, even after swapping cables and ATV hardware, it might be worth suspecting the sink, in this case, the AVR.

If the receiving HDMI chips/firmware are hyper-sensitive to jitter and are forcing re-clocking with the sender, it can result in lag in the data stream.

Remember that HDMI is first and foremost a format engineered for video transmission, and the 2ch LPCM support is kind just there 'because' some audio support was needed. But the LPCM is highly prone to jitter, as the rest of the HDMI D/A A/D pipeline is focused on the much higher-bandwidth video stream. This is why Denon came up with DenonLink 4 to provide a separate clock signal over the CAT5 DenonLink between player and processor to eliminate jitter on the HDMI 2ch LPCM signal.

So if the problem is jitter stability, one might try to address it with something that re-clocks the signal, such as a splitter box or an active HDMI cable (such a fiber-based RUIPRO). But it could well be that a different/newer processor that is less susceptible to jitter is needed.

I recently made physical changes to the media room, and re-did the Audyssey DRC and have been testing a ton of Atmos content from all sources, and no audio glitches beyond one very short timing slip on an Apple Music Atmos track. Chain: ATV4K-2nd Gen launch day order (current firmware) --> 3' Amazon Basics HDMI cable --> Denon X3600H
You make some good points. My setup is ATV4k 2nd Gen --> 3' HDMI cable --> Denon X4300H. I considered the possibility that the problem was due to a ATV4k/Denon compatibility issue, and even considered connecting my ATV4k through my Sony TV thinking the TV might be able to correct any Atmos HDMI timing issues out of the ATV4k 2nd Gen. However, I put the blame on the ATV4k for several reasons. First, I never had an issue with my ATV4k 1st Gen unit in the same setup, and second, my replacement ATV4k 2nd Gen unit has an order of magnitude fewer Atmos issues. Others have had a similar experience.

I understand that the streaming Atmos signal is carried on a Dolby Digital Plus signal, but the bitrate is 2-3 times higher than straight 5.1 DD+, which could make it more prone to jitter or other HDMI timing issues, especially when carried alongside a higher bitrate DV stream. If I connect my ATV4k through my TV, at the current rate I am noticing Atmos issues it may take several months until I can say the problem is fixed with any degree of confidence. For now, I may update my ATV4k to the latest tvOS, and spend more time with my TV's AndroidTV apps that support both DV and Atmos.
 
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IraG

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Don't do it! lol Although, I am curious to learn if your frequency of occurrence increases as it has for many of us.
Is there any way to stop the frequent update nag screens? I assume not, because it's Apple.

If the Atmos problem gets much worse, I can always swap with my Gen 1 ATV4k (but keep the Gen 2 remote). I also have the AndroidTV apps in my Sony TV that support DV and Atmos, and I believe the new Roku also now supports LLDV and Atmos. So I have a plan B, C, and D if the new tvOS is a lot worse. One advantage of the Atmos problem getting worse is I will be able to tell if Apple eventually fixes the problem. I can dream, can't I?
 
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whathappenedtomymoney

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So, on with Netflix support (not recommended lol). After 45+ min, I finally convinced the support rep to escalate. Took 4-5 times before I convinced her I was not having a problem with dubbed titles lol. Then had to explain Atmos in simple terms (a few times) while a rooster in the background announces himself every 90 seconds lol. About 30 min into the call she asked me to try restarting the AppleTV lol. Anyway, still fairly convinced the problem is with Apple, but maybe this results in Netflix disclosing the actual root cause, if known, or offering other helpful info. Still on the line providing additional details for the escalation; will report back any responses from Netflix. Oh, and she just asked what speakers I'm using lol
 

whathappenedtomymoney

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I found another decent thread on this issue:

Netflix Dolby Atmos problems with new Apple TV 4k

There was some promising info on page 5, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Thanks for the link. Apple support pages infuriate me, and that is not even to mention the arrogance of some of the Apple apologists with their "Level 6" badge and tons of "points", likely accumulated by helping Apple users restart their equipment. /endrant

eta: hopeful the info on page 5 pans out
 
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