Playback Issues - Audio/Video & Power

Help with audio & video playback issues, TV display type recognition & compatibility, HDCP messages, troubleshooting playback errors, advertisements, and resolving power issues.
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Level 7

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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It is also worth pointing out that HDMI-ARC has replaced optical out in at least some situations.

My setup does not use Optical anywhere as HDMI-ARC provides higher bandwidth and more functionality than Optical.  Sonos provides an HDMI port on the Beam and an optical to HDMI adapter in case you have to use it (it is not preferred).

 

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Level 7

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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I got the same problem with the Streaming Stick+. Only stereo sound with Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+. Roku Channel does, however, give me surround sound while watching Last Action Hero. My AV Receiver from 2003 was able to detect Dolby Digital while watching Last Action Hero. When I first got the stick not so long ago, it downloaded the latest update. To be honest, I mostly use the Streaming Stick+ in my bedroom but I recently used it in my family room on a big TV with a surround sound setup. 

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Level 8

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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Roku only passes through Dolby audio to the device it's connected to.  Amazon Prime uses Dolby Digital PLUS (DD+) surround.  Same for Netflix - Dolby Digital Plus.  If you're connecting your Roku to a receiver/AVR that does not support Dolby Digital Plus surround, you'll get stereo-only. It's as simple as that. 

In once sense, ROKU "passes through" everything as it is just an intermediary between the content provider (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc) and your AV system.   It does, however, downgrade those sources sometimes.  There are providers that do 4K/atmos, but which even the ULTRA will not "pass through".   You can have Amazon HD music, but you will not get multichannel on your ROKU--it may say DD+, but it is only 2 channel. 

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Level 12

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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@Wsb wrote:

whats being implied with these posts is that the industry is deprecating Dolby DTS and inserting plus.  I can find no documentation that supports this.   what i see is that plus simply gives a 7.1 output, which i can see no streaming service really supporting with the content.  its primarily 5.1. 

Also the fact that the Roku audio setup continues to allow selecting Dolby DTS shows to me that this is just a product defect that needs attention.

 


What, exactly, is the defect?

Roku is simply passing the Dolby streams it gets from the video source onto the device it's connected to.  If the video source is DD+ (and Netflix, Amazon, HBO, etc., are in DD+), that's what gets passed on. If you connect your Roku directly to your receiver and the receiver can't decode DD+, Roku will send a stereo stream, instead. 

Just because you're telling the Roku to send standard Dolby doesn't mean it's going to do it if that's not the audio format that the video is encoded with. 

Roku is not *** decoding the Dolby audio. It's passing it through to whatever you're specifically hooked up to (AVR, TV, etc.) That means the device you connect the Roku box to needs to be able to decode the specific Dolby stream that's being passed through to it. If you're watching a Netflix video that was encoded in Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital Plus is what Roku will send along - unless while communicating with the device it's connected it finds the device can't decode Dolby Digital Plus. If you've got a receiver that can only decode standard (non-DD+) Dolby streams and you connect your Roku to it, you won't get surround sound. Again, where's the "defect" there? 

(*** The 2016 "Roku Ultra" did have the capability to decode DD+ to standard Dolby and send it out via optical, but the newer Ultra doesn't have that.)

There's a lot more to DD+ than just 7.1 audio capability. It has better sounding audio, less file size than other formats, higher bit rates, better compression, etc.  These are some of the advantages of DD+ over older DD audio. 

There are other streaming boxes/sticks that can decode DD+ and output it as standard DD. I know Amazon did, and Apple TV 4K can decode in the box and send out multi-channel PCM.  But for Roku boxes, as far as I know, only the 2016 Roku Ultra (the one with the optical out) can transcode DD+ to DD.

Here's how Apple handles Dolby (including letting you specifically choose standard DD as an output). Again, Apple decodes DD+ streams and sends out the decoded audio as multichannel PCM to your receiver:  https://developer.dolby.com/blog/dolby-audio-support-on-apple-tv/  

 

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Level 19

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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@vodil Thanks for the observations.

A couple quick clarifications to share. Your Roku device will pass whatever audio format is being provided by each specific channel. If the channel doesn't provide Dolby Digital+ audio format for their content, your device cannot pass DD+ format via audio out. Your device does not downgrade audio formats on its own, however, it may select an alternate audio format that is available if a user's setup does not support Dolby Digital+, such as a receiver that is only capable of playing standard Dolby Digital. The use of some device features may be limited to stereo audio only, such as 'Volume modes'. The use of this feature will select the stereo audio format when this type of feature is enabled. Turning this feature off will then allow your device to pass other available audio formats out, such as DD+. 

Some channels such as Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video provide DD+ audio for some of their content. Other channels, may provide standard DD or only stereo format audio for their content. You'll want to check with each channel provider directly to inquire further about their specific content offerings. 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

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Level 7

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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As I have pointed out there is at least one wrinkle.

The Roku on auto will detect the capabilities of the device it is connected to (in my case a Sony Bravia TV capable of Dolby Digital, DTS) however my sound bar (attached to the TV via HDMI-ARC) is capable of Dolby Digital Plus.

I have to tell the Roku it can send Dolby Digital Plus in order for surround sound to work.

In this case the Roku is passing the streams through to the TV which in turn is passing them through to the sound system, this is all done over HDMI.

 

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Level 12

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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@Zwack wrote:

As I have pointed out there is at least one wrinkle.

The Roku on auto will detect the capabilities of the device it is connected to (in my case a Sony Bravia TV capable of Dolby Digital, DTS) however my sound bar (attached to the TV via HDMI-ARC) is capable of Dolby Digital Plus.

I have to tell the Roku it can send Dolby Digital Plus in order for surround sound to work.

In this case the Roku is passing the streams through to the TV which in turn is passing them through to the sound system, this is all done over HDMI.

 


But that makes perfect sense, right? You're forcing the Roku to send DD+ out - which it will if DD+ is the format it's getting from the video encode. It wouldn't ordinarily do that for you without explicitly forcing it since the TV doesn't decode DD+,  but will pass it through. 

It's a good tip for others who might have a far end device that does support DD+ but not the device in the middle.

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Level 10

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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@RokuTannerD wrote:

Your device does not downgrade audio formats on its own, however, it may select an alternate audio format that is available if a user's setup does not support Dolby Digital+, such as a receiver that is only capable of playing standard Dolby Digital.

 

TannerD,

This is just not strictly true. I've come to the belief that much of these user problems are the very confusing options in the Roku settings; in particular, the 2 setting areas under "System|Audio". For example, my main problem was that I had the "Audio|HDMI" setting set to "Digital Dolby, DTS"; when you do that Dolby Plus will NOT be passed thru to your AVR. My AVR is quite recent and decodes every possible protocol including DTS, old Dolby, and Dolby+; so your statement above is incorrect in that setup.

Here's the detailed explanation: let's say my channel is Netflix; note Netflix's 5.1 sound is Dolby+; but I have the "Audio|HDMI" setting set to "Digital Dolby, DTS"; also given that my AVR is definitely capable of Dolby+; none the less all I get out of the speakers is stereo. Now, if I change the "Audio|HDMI" setting to "Auto Detect", I do get the Netflix Dolby+ 5.1 sound from my speakers.

So at least one of the problems here is the confusing nature of Roku's "Audio" settings.....especially the "Audio|HDMI" setting. That setting gives you 3 choices: "Auto Detect", "Digital Dolby, DTS", or "Dolby Plus, DTS". Note there are 3 possible audio formats here: Digital Dolby, DTS, and Dolby Plus, but if you pick any option other than "Auto Detect" you will not get 5.1 sound (but only stereo) from a channel that uses the missing format even though your AVR supports that format. At the very least, the "Audio|HDMI" setting should offer a "Digital Dolby, DTS, Dolby Plus" option since without knowing ahead of time that Roku's "Auto Detect" option is required in order to use all 3 formats, and you decide to pick one of the other 2 options, you can only get 2 of the 3 possible formats regardless of what you do (IOW, each of these other 2 options eliminates either Dolby+ or old Dolby).


 

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Level 7

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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In my case Auto will cause 5.1 to be unavailable in Netflix as the Roku sees that the TV offers Dolby Digital, DTS, but doesn't see that the Sound bar offers Dolby Digital Plus.  

I agree that a Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS option would be preferable.

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Level 19

Re: Update 9.2 broke dolby digital

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@sgmfish Thanks for the comment. I think you may have misunderstood what I was referring to.

When you manually change a device setting to limit or constrain the audio format that your device is passing through (such as selecting Dolby Digital, DTS in Settings>Audio), it will constrain any audio format being passed from a channel to those specifications, or below. Take the example of Netflix. Netflix does not provide standard Dolby Digital format—it only provides Dolby Digital+. If you were to select (Dolby Digital, DTS) manually in your device's settings, you would eliminate the ability for your device to pass that audio format through. It would then select the only other lower audio format provided by that channel, which is stereo.   

What I was referring to relates to the standard, automatic functionality of a Roku device. Your device will not 'automatically' downgrade any audio format on its own under default, 'Auto-detect' settings. The limitation of the audio format being passed only occurs if you manually change a setting to limit this, such as the audio format output setting in Settings>Audio>, or enable a feature, such as 'Volume modes' which is only compatible with stereo audio. 

Hope that helps clarify. 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

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