AppleTV tvOS 13 to break 5.1 mp4 playback.

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Cheezmo

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I had converted my entire 5.1 flac collection to Apple Lossless mp4 for playback through the AppleTV (you could simply load the multichannel mp4's into iTunes and play them back using Home Sharing through the Computers app in tvOS 11 and tvOS 12.

But there is a stupid bug and if you play a 5.1 .mp4 it is down mixed to stereo.
If, however you play a video with a 5.1 ac3 audio track, it switches the output to 5.1 and 5.1 mp4s played after that play just fine (stereo audio files also play fine albeit being output as 5.1 with just the two fronts active).
Next time you play a stereo video the output mode switches back to stereo and future 5.1 mp4's are down mixed again.

Stupid mess. I reported the bug early in the beta cycle, but as usual I'll probably have to wait another year before things work again.


By the way, the method to create these 5.1 apple lossless files is to convert a flac using xAct and then rename the resulting .m4a file to .mp4. Those can be added to iTunes and played back just fine (albeit at 16/48 5.1) through Home Sharing.
 

Cheezmo

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One of those things where I am probably the only one in the world impacted, but it sucks they broke it. I'm trying to figure out how to word a bug report in such a way that they might actually look into it.

Maybe "Output mode sticks in 5.1 for subsequent 2 channel audio after playing a music video with 5.1 AC3 audio."
 

JonUrban

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You'd be surprised. In a perfect world, we would have 5.1 files on our phones and stream them to our cars, homes, and other devices.
If the receiving device couldn't do 5.1, it would automatically do a downmix.

Someday............
 

François

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I don't think iTunes officially supports playing multichannel audio files, as it won't accept multichannel files with the .m4a extension (m4a stands for mpeg-4 audio). Changing the extension to .mp4 fools iTunes into accepting a video file. When you display the track information in iTunes, it says mpeg-4 video file, but the media type is music, which is rather odd. I'm sorry but not really surprised that your clever hack finally broke.

Did you try making true video files, with a video track (it could simply be a black screen), and an Apple Lossless multichannel audio track? It may be better supported.
 

François

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One more though: maybe it’s an incompatibility with tvOS 13 and the current version of iTunes, and it will work again when Catalina is released next month…
 

Cheezmo

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I don't think iTunes officially supports playing multichannel audio files, as it won't accept multichannel files with the .m4a extension (m4a stands for mpeg-4 audio). Changing the extension to .mp4 fools iTunes into accepting a video file. When you display the track information in iTunes, it says mpeg-4 video file, but the media type is music, which is rather odd. I'm sorry but not really surprised that your clever hack finally broke.

Did you try making true video files, with a video track (it could simply be a black screen), and an Apple Lossless multichannel audio track? It may be better supported.
Yeah, I think I am going to have to try that, just haven't found the right Mac tool to do it yet (generate the blank/empty video track).
 

Cheezmo

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Well, I did manage to create an mp4 with a blank video track and Apple Lossless 5.1 audio. It behaves the same way. If the AppleTV is in stereo mode (having not played a dolby digital 5.1 video) the mp4 with Apple Lossless 5.1 soundtrack plays back in 2.0. So, the only solution would appear to be ton convert to an mp4 with a lossy AC3 soundtrack. The AppleTV simply doesn't recognize a 5.1 Apple Lossless track as surround any more.
 

Infomas

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I know this is an old thread, but has anyone come up with a reasonable solution. Both Plex and Emby's multi channel audio was killed with that ATV upgrade back in May of last year. I've been forced to use JRiver, which does a real good job, but I'd rather have everything (movies and music) in one place that is also easy for my wife to use. Even playing a 5.1 video first doesn't work for me because as soon as I leave that video, my receiver switches back to stereo. I'm assuming no one has an answer. I just wanted Cheezmo to know that he is not alone. :) I opened a thread on Plex May 28, 2019. From the CTO a few weeks ago, "It is on the to do list, but there is no ETA".
 

Cheezmo

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What I've discovered is that after playing a video with DD 5.1 audio, the AppleTV will stay in 5.1 mode as long as you play Apple Lossless (5.1 or stereo). As soon as you play a MP3 or AAC file or stereo video, it switches back to stereo. I have a short audio only MP4 ac3 5.1 file that I can insert before 5.1 lossless files to switch things to multichannel which I will attach. I wrote some AppleScript to take a playlist and create a new playlist inserting this "5.1 primer" when needed. Solves my problem, but man what a hassle.
 

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Infomas

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That won't work for me. As soon as an mp4 finishes, or I stop it, my receiver goes from PCM to stereo mode. This is before I even attempt to play something else. Not sure why it works differently for each of us.

After iTunes stopped being able to sync with my phone (a couple of months ago), I dumped it. Should have done it a long time ago. It is the last thing i would use to play music on. If it didn't say "Apple" on it, I would have guessed it was made by Microsoft. On Windows it is a dog of a program.

Funny thing about this whole problem... I tried running VLC on my ATV a year ago and it couldn't see my files. Today it suddenly can and it works. The problem is that it has no features: No remembering what was played. No gapless audio. It just plays files. It is soooo frustrating.

bruce
 

Infomas

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Will this help?
.
Nope. Apple broke it for almost everyone and the only way to get it to work is for a software vendor to write their own audio engine (live VLC did). I've been waiting well over a year and a half for Plex to get it together. I believe I must have one of the oldest threads open on their forum. They know about it, it just isn't a priority at this time. So, I just switch over to JRiver, but I hate serving up a computer screen. I'd much rather have a well built app on a streaming device. Someday... Maybe...
 

Cheezmo

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Just for fun, the latest release (14.something) breaks music video playback in the Computer app also. If you play a playlist where the first thing is a video, it plays full screen just fine, but if any other videos come up in the playlist they play in the little artwork window.

I have a feeling they broke it working on their "animated cover art" feature.
 

minimumtumbleweed

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Nope. Apple broke it for almost everyone and the only way to get it to work is for a software vendor to write their own audio engine (live VLC did). I've been waiting well over a year and a half for Plex to get it together. I believe I must have one of the oldest threads open on their forum. They know about it, it just isn't a priority at this time. So, I just switch over to JRiver, but I hate serving up a computer screen. I'd much rather have a well built app on a streaming device. Someday... Maybe...
I know this is an old thread; I'm curious as to whether this works for people on ATV devices today. I personally don't have an ATV, but have had no problem getting Emby to stream 5.1 music on the SHIELD. Perhaps it's been fixed for ATV as well?
 

Cheezmo

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I still listen to 5.1 music using the Computers app on the AppleTV. It requires encoding from FLAC to m4a using xAct then renaming to .m4p and then using an AppleScript to insert a short AC3 "primer" to switch the AppleTV to MCH mode before playing a 5.1 mp4. It will stay in that mode until and mp3 or AAC file is played but 5.1 mp4's can be mixed with ALAC at will. I hate them for the contortions they have made me go through but I do have something that works.
 

leefarber

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I know this is an old thread; I'm curious as to whether this works for people on ATV devices today. I personally don't have an ATV, but have had no problem getting Emby to stream 5.1 music on the SHIELD. Perhaps it's been fixed for ATV as well?
So Emby can play 5.1 FLAC files losslessly on the Shield? I’m strictly an Apple person, but Emby’s Apple TV app only plays 5.1 FLACs in stereo (and Apple TV is limited to 24/48). I’m looking for a solution to play 5.1 and hi-res files in my bedroom setup from my Mac Mini JRiver server downstairs. It would seem the only option is DLNA, but that would require an Oppo Blu-ray player (very expensive now). But maybe the Shield is an option…
 

Infomas

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I know this is an old thread; I'm curious as to whether this works for people on ATV devices today. I personally don't have an ATV, but have had no problem getting Emby to stream 5.1 music on the SHIELD. Perhaps it's been fixed for ATV as well?
Nope. It is on Plex's list to fix it, but it has been over 2 years now, so I'm not expecting it to change until Apple decides to make it easier for everyone.
 

Infomas

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So Emby can play 5.1 FLAC files losslessly on the Shield? I’m strictly an Apple person, but Emby’s Apple TV app only plays 5.1 FLACs in stereo (and Apple TV is limited to 24/48). I’m looking for a solution to play 5.1 and hi-res files in my bedroom setup from my Mac Mini JRiver server downstairs. It would seem the only option is DLNA, but that would require an Oppo Blu-ray player (very expensive now). But maybe the Shield is an option…
If you can do a bit of cabling, I run HDMI over TCP/IP from my media server with JRiver on it, to my receiver that is a couple of rooms away. It works just fine. You use the phone app to control the music. If you have Ethernet in your house, you just need the converter boxes and you're good to go. But, I'd rather have a streaming app, and so I wait...
 
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