Streaming audio - mostly irritating!

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by lparsons21, Nov 22, 2020 at 10:16 AM.

  1. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Why do I say that? It is simple, too many differences with streaming audio these days. With cable/sat/antenna, most sources are in DD5.1 audio with a few still just doing stereo. But in streaming that isn’t the case at all.

    For live streaming services like ATT TV, Sling, YouTubeTV and others the normal is stereo. Only ATT’s live streaming offerings have DD5.1 audio, all the rest are stereo. If you only use your TV’s speakers or a simple single soundbar setup you probably wouldn’t notice. But for those that have sound systems capable of DD5.1 and better audio, you really do.

    For OTT services like Netflix, Prime and others it is a mixed bag. Netflix & Prime are pretty consistent in having at least DD5.1 available. For others, it is much different.

    Hulu for instance has some of their VOD offerings with DD5.1 audio but not all. And it also depends on which streaming device you are using. For instance, on AppleTV boxes Hulu has no DD5.1 at all yet the same show on Hulu on other boxes does. IMO, there is simply no excuse for this at all!

    TV channel apps vary quite a bit too. Some have DD5.1, some don’t, none actually say whether they do or don’t except maybe in some obscure FAQ on their website.

    Most modern sound systems help out with this mess by offering Dolby ProLogic massaging to stereo sources, but even that isn’t consistent depending on box. Some streaming boxes report DD+ to the sound system regardless of source materials actual encoding. And many sound systems won’t do ProLogic over DD+ so you don’t even get faked surround sound.

    In this day and age almost all relatively new source videos are at least encoded with DD5.1 audio which makes the lack of it from streaming apps just laziness or incompetence on the providers part IMO!
     
  2. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    I can't excuse services that don't forward their sound but I have to look at it from a practical perspective.

    Since so many are doing their streaming on platforms that can barely support support stereo, I'm sure that the carriers made a business decision to stick with stereo. I think many would be astounded by how much bandwidth surround sound costs.
     
  3. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    So astound me! How much difference in bandwidth usage is there between stereo and DD5.1. I tried a google search and came up with nothing.
     
  4. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    5.1 is up to 640Kbps and that's about half a typical SD channel.

    It nearly triples for ATMOS. You may have heard the rumblings about ARC not supporting more than 5.1 sound and that eARC speeds are required for more channels. That's why most sound bars lean so heavily on faking it.
     
  5. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Thanks.

    The streamers that do Atmos on some of their material all seem to be doing Atmos over DD+ and ARC will pass that just fine. No need for eARC for that.

    Using my Roku Ultra my soundbar shows Atmos over DD+ when that is being used. I have my Ultra set to ‘auto PassThrough’ or some such. The 2020 model I have also has an ‘auto detect’ setting too which seems similar to the Dolby Experience app on Xbox One and tries to fake Atmos for all sources but fails horribly when PCM stereo is the source material and can’t fake it meaning no back speaker action.
     
  6. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Here’s an example of the most irritating part about the audio mess.

    Source show : Vagrant Queen from SyFy

    On Roku Ultra (all models)
    ATT TV app VOD - full DD5.1 audio
    SyFy or NBC app - PCM stereo

    On AppleTV4K
    ATT TV app VOD - PCM stereo
    SyFy or NBC app - PCM stereo

    Source show : Motherland Fort Salem with Hulu
    DD5.1 on Roku, AndroidTV, FireTV
    PCM stereo on ATV4K
     
  7. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Dolby ATMOS comes in three forms: lossy, TrueHD and Object Oriented (theaters). The lossy version obviously doesn't require as much bandwidth and I imagine that is what the streamers who offer ATMOS are using.

    eARC really comes into play when you have content that isn't lossy; Dolby TrueHD and DTS:X (and perhaps DTS:HD).
     
  8. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Yeah, it is a lossy version with streaming. In comparing the Ultra, ATV4K and FireTV Cube, the Ultra seems to handle the audio a bit better overall and with the Ultra 2020 version you can now get Netflix’s Atmos which isn’t the case with any other Roku.

    I think the reason that the Ultra performs better for audio is that it is passing through instead of massaging the audio a bit as most other boxes seem to do, and allowing the sound system do whatever massaging is needed.
     
  9. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    Here’s more quirks demonstrating the audio idiocy going on with streaming.

    CBS:All Access on Roku defaults to stereo but on an episode by episode basis you can toggle it to DD5.1 or DD+ depending on show.

    Hulu on everything but Apple does 5.1 audio for some of their VOD but doesn’t do 5.1 audio on any live streaming stuff on any platform.
     

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