Roku Device Features, Settings & Updates

Help configuring Roku device settings, using Roku OS features such as screen mirroring, adjusting display type and audio settings, using Guest Mode, and assistance with software updates.
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LizardBoy
Level 8

optical audio output

Based on the chart at https://image.roku.com/ww/docs/compare-chart-new-old-en-us.pdf, I am interested in upgrading to a Roku Ultra from my Express 3700X.  It is the only model with a check mark on the "Dolby Audio™ decode via HDMI® and optical" line.  Though this chart is hosted on roku.com, I am skeptical about whether it is correct, specifically whether it has the optical audio port feature.  I've seen a couple of posts complaining that this feature existed previously in the Ultra but has since been removed.  Does the Ultra have this feature?

My Panasonic Viera TV has an optical output, which I send to my Denon AVR-3801.  If the audio originates from an app running in the TV, it will send Dolby 5.1 to the amp.  However, if the source comes from outside the TV, like from a Roku through HDMI, it sends only stereo.  Apparently they want people to use their built in apps rather than external devices.  Unfortunately, the Amazon Prime Video app in the TV is no longer updated by Panasonic, nor is the stale version in my TV supported by Amazon. I used it until support was dropped, when I started using the Amazon app in the Roku.  Sending the optical audio directly from the Roku would work around this stupid restriction imposed by the TV.

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5 Replies
andyross
Level 16

Re: optical audio output

The Roku Ultra 4640, from 2016, was the last Roku with optical output. If you MUST use optical with a newer Roku, you can get something like this.

https://www.amazon.com/AuviPal-Extractor-Optical-Toslink-Splitter/dp/B07R7P22WN/

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LizardBoy
Level 8

Re: optical audio output

Thanks.  Yeah, I discovered audio splitters like that one yesterday after I posted this.  The one I ordered will arrive tomorrow.  It never occurred to me that such devices might exist.  I wish I had known about them years ago.

Until I replace my home theater amp, which is nearly 20 years old and does not switch HDMI, I must use optical audio.  The amp switches component video and optical audio, which was state of the art at the time.  The amp works just as well today as when I bought it, so I am loath to replace it, but I am starting to tire of workarounds like this audio splitter.  If Panasonic had left well enough alone and just sent the surround encoding through the optical port, like it does from streaming apps running inside the TV, I never would have had this problem.

Sinkinpat
Level 7

Re: optical audio output

I am having a similar issue. Old TV, old Roku ultra, Old receiver. I bought a HDMI audio splitter but the receiver still sees it as stereo. But if I plug in a new Roku TV and use optical cable everything is 5.1. I use Roku Ultra and push it through the Roku TV and receiver receives stereo only. I was under the impression that the roku down covered to DD , DTS if I select those options in my audio out setting and using a splitter to bypass the TV filter I would get 5.1 audio. Seems I need a new roku, Roku tv or a receiver. Did you find a solution?

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askew
Level 7

Re: optical audio output

This is the solution I use; I have tried 2 extractors though and found that the units occasionally lose audio and video for about 5 seconds then re-establish. Annoying... Other HDMI components feeding the extractor do not cause this. It is a symptom of the roku (express)

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jamaroney
Level 7

Re: optical audio output

I had good luck w/ an audio splitter, but here's the problem, which I suspect applies to the first poster as well:

My Panasonic HDTV from 2010 can't decode DD or DTS on its own - it can only accept PCM audio. When an external sound source is in DD/DTS, it's the external unit from which it's coming (such as Roku, Blu-Ray player, media box) that must first convert the digital audio to PCM before it gets to the TV.

So, if you use an HDMI audio splitter w/ a Roku, the resulting outputs will be either in PCM or DD/DTS (depending on what you choose in Roku's settings), but not both. You can't have, for example, the splitter's optical out as DD/DTS while keeping the HDMI to the TV as PCM.

So, w/ older TVs you really need the Roku units that have a separate optical audio out, so its settings can be different than the HDMI audio ouput.

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