Accessing surround content on Tidal WITHOUT an Atmos enabled AVR

QuadraphonicQuad

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zcftr29

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Hi all,

As I'm sure most here are, I am delighted at the explosion of new releases on Tidal/Apple music that have come out over the last couple of years and have been watching the threads here with envy since I do not have Atmos-enabled hardware. Despite all my best efforts, I have never been able to convince my wonderful wife or children of the benefits of listening to music through more than two speakers... so I am highly unlikely to be installing ceiling speakers in the living room any time soon! My modest 5.1 setup is, therefore, the best I will be getting for the foreseeable future - but I recently decided I would like to try and find a way to access the new Atmos & Sony 360 RA content on Tidal - albeit without the height information.

I have two main listening set-ups:

1) Living room which has a fairly low to mid range AVR (a Yamaha RX-V667) which is a few years old now but can handle 24/96 7.1 over HDMI, TrueHD, DTSHD, DD+ etc. This is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi which I use with Kodi to play Flac files stored on a NAS. Also connected is a FireTV Cube which is generally used for Plex, Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon etc

2) My home office/study which has a PC with some bog standard 5.1 speakers attached - not HiFi by any stretch, but it is only a small room. I mostly play music in here using Foobar

I was pleased to hear that Tidal would stream Atmos to a Fire TV, so signed up for a 3 month trial and kept my fingers crossed that I would get a DD+ signal out via HDMI and at least be able to hear the base 5.1 mix from the Atmos content... but no luck - all I got out of the Fire TV was stereo. It seems that the Tidal app will only stream the Atmos content if it detects an Atmos capable receiver in the HDMI chain.

After a quick bit of a google (and I mean quick), I came across the means to download/rip Atmos content from Tidal. The resultant mp4 files played back flawlessly via Kodi on the Rasberry Pi, passing through DD+ over HDMI to the AVR and I had glorious 5.1 music surrounding me! Why can't Tidal enable their app to do the same from the FireTV? Similarly, why can the Tidal desktop app not play the 5.1 core mix on a PC with surround speakers? The mp4 files are easily decoded using ffmpeg.

I appreciate the other option to access streaming Atmos content is via Apple Music and I have considered this - indeed, Apple Music is actually cheaper than Tidal. However, this would require the purchasing of an additional bit of hardware (an Apple TV 4K) which I have no other need for and still would not solve the issue of getting surround content to playback on my PC which, as far as I can tell from searching online, is not currently possible. It would also mean going to the dark side (Apple) and I've never been a fan - although that really is just a personal preference.

Therefore, the best solution seems to be to continue to subscribe to Tidal (which I fully intend to do) but to rip content in order to be able to play it back via the Raspberry Pi. This is far from convenient and I would much rather be able to stream directly to the FireTV or via the Tidal desktop app on my PC.

Please note I am NOT advocating piracy here and suggesting that everyone should start ripping Atmos content from Tidal, but I equally can't justify the purchase of a new Atmos-enabled AVR just to 'complete the chain' when my current receiver is working fine for my needs and I'm not in a position to install ceiling speakers, however much I would love to be able to do so. If nothing else, it is not environmentally friendly!

On a slightly separate but related note, I see that there are several titles that are on Apple music in Atmos that can be found on Tidal in Sony 360 RA only - eg the Pearl Jam albums, Azteca, Blue Öyster Cult etc. I can play these in 360 on my Android phone (which don't really give me a great surround experience if I'm honest!) but from what I can see there does not appear to be any way to play these tracks back on a surround speaker system. Has anyone had any luck playing this content on Tidal through anything other than headphones? I note in this thread (TIDAL unveils Sony 360 Reality Audio) that there are ways of converting the Sony 360 RA / MPEG-H 3D content to multichannel Wav/Flac but despite extensive web searches, I have not found any further details on how to do this.
 
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sjcorne

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I appreciate the other option to access streaming Atmos content is via Apple Music and I have considered this - indeed, Apple Music is actually cheaper than Tidal. However, this would require the purchasing of an additional bit of hardware (an Apple TV 4K) which I have no other need for and still would not solve the issue of getting surround content to playback on my PC which, as far as I can tell from searching online, is not currently possible. It would also mean going to the dark side (Apple) and I've never been a fan - although that really is just a personal preference.

This won't solve your PC issue, but the big plus with the Apple box is that you don't need an Atmos receiver for it to output multichannel audio - depending on your settings, it'll send either 7.1 LPCM or Dolby AC-3 5.1 for compatibility with older AVR's. Also - the sound quality of the Atmos tracks on Apple Music seems better, but I don't have any technical info to back that up.
 
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