Playback Issues - Audio/Video & Power

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gentleman23
Level 7

Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

I'm getting the classic scripted runaround from the front lines of Roku Support, so am trying here.

Symptoms:

  • For all content played on the Roku, my AVR remains in stereo mode and does not detect Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio only comes through in stereo. Tested content includes 5.1 material on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOGo, and Roku Media Player channels.

  • When playing content via the Roku Media Player channel, sound is only heard when the video has a mono or stereo audio stream in AAC or MP3 format. Other formats like AAC 5.1, AC-3 of any type, MP2, and PCM all yield silence. (Maybe this is unrelated).


My configuration:

  • Settings > Audio > Audio Mode is Auto.

  • Settings > Audio > HDMI is Dolby D, or I can set it to Auto and it correctly detects Dolby D, but makes no difference.

  • Roku Stick model 3800X / serial YF008Y641156 / device CT3818641156 / firmware 8.1.0 build 4145-55

  • Roku Stick is plugged directly into the TV's HDMI and USB ports.

  • TV = Insignia NS-42L550A11 from 2010. It is configured correctly for RAW audio pass-through via optical SPDIF to my audio receiver.

  • Receiver = Denon AVR-1601 from circa 2000. It is connected to the TV via optical SPDIF cable; the receiver does not have HDMI ports.


The receiver normally switches to Dolby Digital mode when 5.1 content is sent to the TV via an HDMI input, such as from my Blu-Ray player or my Dish receiver/DVR. So I know it works correctly when it gets Dolby Digital. But it never switches for the Roku; thus it seems the Roku is not sending surround audio at all.

I see there is another thread about this issue for the Ultra 4640 where it was determined to be a firmware problem. Maybe that is what is happening with my Roku Stick?

I am happy to help diagnose further; let me know what to do.
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10 Replies
atc98092
Level 13

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

I can't say if this is the issue, but there are quite a number of TVs that will not send 5.1 audio out of the optical out from an external source. No problem with TV audio or any Smart TV app, but anything connected to an HDMI port is only sent out as 2 channel. Again, no idea if your TV is one, but wanted you to be aware that it's the case for some TVs. As old as your TV is, it's a possibility. Since your other devices seem to work OK, maybe this isn't it. Perhaps it might depend on the HDMI port you are using. You might try it in the port that does work with your other devices. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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trekkeriii
Level 10

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

Also, the signal from most Channels in 5.1 are now Dolby Digital Plus (EAC3), which won't support optical regardless. The only model of Roku that got around this was the 4640 model you mentioned, which decoded and converted the signal to standard Dolby Digital (AC3) (older Receivers would work with this). So bad news, not going to work with your setup. Need a Receiver with HDMI input and supports EAC3 format.
http://trekkeriii.com/Roku_PHP_list.php
Router - ASUS RT-AC68U
ISP - TWC - 50 Mbps/5 Mbps
Net+ Cert
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gentleman23
Level 7

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

@atc98092, all the HDMI ports on the TV are equally capable; it does not matter which one I use. Since at least 2 other devices have no problem sending Dolby Digital thru the TV, clearly the problem is not the TV.

@trekkeriii, what a disappointment. I don't understand the logic behind this engineering decision. Astonishing that the Roku is less capable of transmitting surround sound than my much older BD player and satellite tuner/DVR. It doesn't even make sense: why even offer the option of Dolby D in the audio setup if the Roku will only ever output stereo?

Also the fact that Roku Media Player plays AC3 as silence (and yes I verified my DLNA server is not transcoding) suggests the Roku is not even doing passthru of AC3 sources.
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StreamerUser
Level 8

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

For your setup, the stream has to be encoded in DD (AC3) in order for it to be passed, and since nearly every major streaming service is now streaming in DD+ (EAC3), you of course wont be getting a DD (AC3) signal passed unless you can find a streaming service/channel that does so (good luck, though it sure would be nice if they all did as a fallback since they already have multiple encodes, but I digress).

As far as RMP goes, it does in fact correctly pass DTS and AC3/EAC3; however, it does not pass through the "HD" audio codecs (DTHD, DTS-MA/HD, etc).  

So, RMP will in fact "output" audio encodes other than PCM 2.0 - assuming the "input" is AC3/EAC3/DTS, even with sources that have multiple "HD" audio tracks ahead of the AC3/EAC3/DTS track

You might want to check that the source file being streamed is in fact AC3 and not EAC3 - use MediaInfo to check if need be.

So there is a point to detecting/configuring the audio output for DD, even if the actual DD encoded content is increasingly rare/non-extant via streaming services, as other sources such as UPnP/DLNA servers have such encoded content.

One of my home theater setups is just as such - an LG TV circa 2012 with built-in DD+ capable apps (netflix/prime/hulu/smartshare), but only accepts/sends DD via the HDMI ports, and transcodes the internal DD+ to DD via ARC/Optical.  RMP via a 2018 SS connected via one of its HDMI ports outputs AC3 and DTS encoded files from my server, but not EAC3 (no DD+ support on HDMI).

Again, I would verify your setup and your audio encodes on your source files.


.
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gentleman23
Level 7

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

Thanks for the info. That sucks that the streaming channels only offer surround as E-AC-3, and that most Roku models, including the Stick, don't transcode (or "decode", in the parlance of the marketing docs) E-AC-3 to AC-3 even when the audio settings are configured for Dolby D only. I guess I should feel lucky I get stereo PCM.

I just did quite a bit of testing with the same AVR and this Roku plugged into the HDMI port of an older TV (a 2008 Samsung "A" model) instead of the 2010 Insignia. Streaming channel content (HBOGo, Prime, etc.) remained stereo-only, as expected. However, some success: Roku Media Player successfully passed AC-3 and DTS through the Samsung TV to my AVR, which detected and played it properly. Hooray!

So the mystery remains, just narrowed down a little to only apply to RMP and this one TV. To restate the problem:

AC-3 (mono, stereo, or 5.1) and DTS content sent by Roku Media Player to my Samsung TV passes through to the AVR as it should, and the AVR detects and plays it properly. The exact same content sent to my Insignia TV does not result in pass-through at all; the audio is silent, and the AVR remains in PCM stereo mode. This TV does pass through AC-3 received via other HDMI devices—just not the Roku.

I checked with Insignia support in the Best Buy forums and they have nothing for me. There were some HDMI audio issues in slightly older units which were fixed by a firmware update, but mine is up-to-date. I also double-checked that the choice of HDMI ports does not matter, and it doesn't.

Not knowing anything about HDMI protocols, I would guess that one of the following is happening:


  • The Roku attempts to send AC-3 or DTS in a way the Insignia TV does not like, so the TV does not pass it through, while my other devices send it in a way the TV does like.

  • The Roku requests audio capability info from the TV (perhaps in a way different than the other devices do), and the TV provides a wrong or confusing answer, so the Roku quietly goes into stereo mode and thus never attempts to send any AC-3 or DTS audio, while my other devices do not fall back or do not bother requesting capability info in the first place.


I wish there was a way to diagnose what the Roku is doing. Is there a diagnostic channel or debug build of RMP I could try?
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OmsKen
Level 7

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

My streaming stick + does not pass through Dolby digital or any Dolby for that matter. I have it connected to a Sony 4K tv with the ARC going to my Sony soundbar which also supports Dolby Atmos. My soundbar processes Dolby digital dts and Atmos from the Android apps on the TV and from a Blu Ray player but doesn't detect anything but PCM from the Roku streaming stick +. Tried resetting to factory defaults changing the audio from auto HDMI to Dolby and back but the same results.
Anyone have the same problem?
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trekkeriii
Level 10

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

"OmsKen" wrote:
My streaming stick + does not pass through Dolby digital or any Dolby for that matter. I have it connected to a Sony 4K tv with the ARC going to my Sony soundbar which also supports Dolby Atmos. My soundbar processes Dolby digital dts and Atmos from the Android apps on the TV and from a Blu Ray player but doesn't detect anything but PCM from the Roku streaming stick +. Tried resetting to factory defaults changing the audio from auto HDMI to Dolby and back but the same results.
Anyone have the same problem?

Does your soundbar have an HDMI input? Plug the Roku into that. Usually the issue is your TV does not decode Dolby Digital Plus from HDMI input, which unfortunately is common.
http://trekkeriii.com/Roku_PHP_list.php
Router - ASUS RT-AC68U
ISP - TWC - 50 Mbps/5 Mbps
Net+ Cert
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Heyitsrick
Level 9

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

I know you know this, but in the end you're dealing with a 19-year-old receiver and wanting something from 2019 to compensate for it. The Apple TV latest gen would work if you had HDMI inputs on the AVR, as it decodes/transcodes everything in the box and outputs everything as multichannel PCM audio.  But if you had HDMI inputs, you'd most likely have DD+ support.

I did a 5-second look at Ebay and searched for AVR HDMI - there's "pre-owned" units for $50 there in my quick look. Might want to take the plunge in the interim before buying something brand new on the AVR end.
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OmsKen
Level 7

Re: Roku Stick not sending Dolby Digital 5.1 to TV

It previously did pass through Dolby. The tv processes Dolby from Blu Ray and antenna signals. So the tv and ARC are working normally.
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