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wchillman
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Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:34 am

So, many years ago I started with a Roku 1 but because it couldn’t produce a picture in HD, I was forced to buy a Roku 2. That solved the picture problem but as referenced many times by myself and others in this forum, I could never get surround sound. I know, I know, the Roku just passes through whatever signal it gets and my AVR is older and cannot decode DD+; so, I thought I was just screwed. In the intervening years I was gifted an Apple TV, bought a Chromecast, and then couldn’t pass up a Fire Stick for $19. The Apple TV was only device at that time which could produce surround sound using my 2007 HD TV but that unfortunately was inconsistent. Fast forward to today. I just bought a new 4k TV and guess what: I get surround sound (DTS 5.1) ON ALL DEVICES EXCEPT THE ROKU. Go figure. Was this just a poor business decision by Roku, or what? Now, I hardly ever use the Roku except for nowhereman’s channels for nightly news and on a rare occasion local news. So, I’m trying to find a reason not to mothball this Roku. What are you all using the Roku for (not a narrow interest channel but ones that have more universal appeal) that these other devices cannot get?
 
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Basil
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:12 pm

wchillman wrote:
So, many years ago I started with a Roku 1 but because it couldn’t produce a picture in HD, I was forced to buy a Roku 2. That solved the picture problem but as referenced many times by myself and others in this forum, I could never get surround sound. I know, I know, the Roku just passes through whatever signal it gets and my AVR is older and cannot decode DD+; so, I thought I was just screwed. In the intervening years I was gifted an Apple TV, bought a Chromecast, and then couldn’t pass up a Fire Stick for $19. The Apple TV was only device at that time which could produce surround sound using my 2007 HD TV but that unfortunately was inconsistent. Fast forward to today. I just bought a new 4k TV and guess what: I get surround sound (DTS 5.1) ON ALL DEVICES EXCEPT THE ROKU. Go figure. Was this just a poor business decision by Roku, or what? Now, I hardly ever use the Roku except for nowhereman’s channels for nightly news and on a rare occasion local news. So, I’m trying to find a reason not to mothball this Roku. What are you all using the Roku for (not a narrow interest channel but ones that have more universal appeal) that these other devices cannot get?

Couple of notes. The Roku 1 was introduced in September 2013, same time as the Roku 2, and six months after the Roku 3. The a Roku 1 supports 1080p HD.

The only Roku device that didn't support HD (either 720p or 1080p) was the Roku SD (model N1050) which came out in 2009 and was discontinued in late 2010. Unless you actually had a Roku SD, then your original device should have supported HD.

As for the issue, since the Roku simply passes through the audio, that would indicate the channel/app either doesn't, or isn't configured in its settings to offer what you're looking for.

Have you checked the audio settings on your Roku? Main Menu > Settings > Audio > Audio Mode
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:13 pm

First every Roku ever made starting with the N1000 has been perfectly capable of producing an HD picture via HDMI. (I think there was one Roku that was composite output only but they enjoyed little success)

The current Rokus all will pass through DTS 5.1 but they do not decode it so the decoding is dependent on the device they are attached to. Several channels, like Netflix, use an advanced encoding through the Roku called Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus and that may be your problem. Few, if any TVs can decode 5.1 Plus. The Roku is designed to be hooked up to a receiver via the HDMI port and then to a TV if 5.1 sound is desired.

That is the way it is and Roku shows no sign of changing it. A Roku TV may have better or more diverse audio handling but I do not know about that as I don't own one.

It sounds like the Roku is not for you unless you are willing to hook it up the way it was designed to be connected and if your receiver is Dolby 5.1+ enabled.

I use my Roku for Amazon, Plex, MLS, Pandora, YouTube, Librivox, VuDu, and I activate Netflix every four or five months to catch up. There are also several other channels I use on a rare basis. I own several streaming devices, including a Fire TV, WD Live VuNow, Chromcast, and a HTPC, but I use my Roku 95% of the time and I find it the most valuable streamer I own.

Of course I find no value in audio beyond Dolby 2.1 as the dubious enhancements 5.1 added do not add to my enjoyment at all. I fin most of what is added by so called advanced audio to be just so much noise.
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captivater
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:28 pm

wchillman wrote:
So, many years ago I started with a Roku 1 but because it couldn’t produce a picture in HD, I was forced to buy a Roku 2. That solved the picture problem but as referenced many times by myself and others in this forum, I could never get surround sound. I know, I know, the Roku just passes through whatever signal it gets and my AVR is older and cannot decode DD+; so, I thought I was just screwed. In the intervening years I was gifted an Apple TV, bought a Chromecast, and then couldn’t pass up a Fire Stick for $19. The Apple TV was only device at that time which could produce surround sound using my 2007 HD TV but that unfortunately was inconsistent. Fast forward to today. I just bought a new 4k TV and guess what: I get surround sound (DTS 5.1) ON ALL DEVICES EXCEPT THE ROKU. Go figure. Was this just a poor business decision by Roku, or what? Now, I hardly ever use the Roku except for nowhereman’s channels for nightly news and on a rare occasion local news. So, I’m trying to find a reason not to mothball this Roku. What are you all using the Roku for (not a narrow interest channel but ones that have more universal appeal) that these other devices cannot get?


I definitely feel your pain. The difference between DD and PCM stereo is discernible even to laymenly ears.

Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV are the three main TV streamers that use flash storage. Of those, Apple TV is the only to push DD.
Xbox One and PS4 also play DD but these are HDD based.

One of the other big problems is that the vast majority of TVs WON'T pass through 5.1 signal through the optical port.
Sony's do. Some Sharp's do. Many off-brand TVs do.

Also most all soundbars DO NOT have DD+ licensing either, but rather plain DD.
Sony is basically the only manufacturer with DD+ licensing on their soundbars.
LG, Samsung, Vizio, Philips, and Sonos do not.

So the Roku execs likely deemed Dolby licensing a superfluous cost given the current market.
Bear in the mind, this issue comprises many manufacturers and licensors with convoluted agendas.
 
dfgsrzwer
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:09 pm

captivater wrote:
I definitely feel your pain. The difference between DD and PCM stereo is discernible even to laymenly ears.

Barely. With Dolby Prologic II or Neo 6 decoding 2.0 PCM the difference wouldn't be noticed by most people. I prefer it over Netflix DD+, which for some reason is worse than DD+ for Amazon/Vudu/MGo. And I'd bet most "laymen" would be statisfied even with Prologic I, though they would be able to tell the difference.
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FX4
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:24 pm

Hmm, I don't know about that. Dolby Pro logic is an improvement for sure but I am always left wanting a bit more.
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dfgsrzwer
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:26 pm

Anybody that can notice the difference will own the proper equipment anyway...it is the "layman" comment that I mainly disagree with.
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captivater
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:28 am

dfgsrzwer wrote:
Anybody that can notice the difference will own the proper equipment anyway...it is the "layman" comment that I mainly disagree with.


It's a size thing.

Do you really want 5 speakers, wiring, a sub & AVR receiver for a 15x15 room? How about 12x12? 10x10?
Sometimes, the soundbar is the more appropriate option.

The competition can do it, and it's hard to justify using Roku over another streamer that provides the DD.
Dislike the Apple TV interface, but Netflix sounds MUCH better.
 
dfgsrzwer
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:31 pm

captivater wrote:
dfgsrzwer wrote:
Anybody that can notice the difference will own the proper equipment anyway...it is the "layman" comment that I mainly disagree with.


It's a size thing.

Do you really want 5 speakers, wiring, a sub & AVR receiver for a 15x15 room? How about 12x12? 10x10?
Sometimes, the soundbar is the more appropriate option.

We're going to have to agree to disagree. IMO, there is even LESS difference between Prologic and Digital if you don't have all the speakers, compared to Prologic vs Digital and 5.1 speakers properly placed and calibrated. In other words, Prologic is "good enough" with a soundbar.
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captivater
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:12 pm

dfgsrzwer wrote:
We're going to have to agree to disagree. IMO, there is even LESS difference between Prologic and Digital if you don't have all the speakers, compared to Prologic vs Digital and 5.1 speakers properly placed and calibrated. In other words, Prologic is "good enough" with a soundbar.


Prologic is another rare license to see on soundbars.
I happily recommend the Roku 3 with enhanced remote for younger kids who want to "zone-out" in their bedrooms.

But as a tech consultant, I will be retracting my recommend for Roku for adults who want the premiere experience.
That said, if decoding silicone & licensing makes it way in on the Roku 4, I'll gladly re-evaluate my recommend.
 
wchillman
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Re: Rokus, surround sound, and usefulness

Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:21 am

Just wanted to follow up with the replies to my original post. Perhaps I didn't have the Roku 1 as I indicated but and I think it predated it but I can't remember what it was called. All I remember was that I could NOT get 1080p video quality and I was not happy. That was probably my fault as I was just starting out with this streaming thing as didn't know that much. I did check the audio setting on the Roku an they are correct. I also tried connecting the Roku > (HDMI) > TV > (Optical Out) > AVR as well as Roku > (HDMI) > AVR > (HDMI) > TV but neither yielded surround sound. It doesn't really matter at this point as I am just delighted that all the other devices get surround sound. If the Roku had content that has general audience appeal that these other devices could not get, then I would work on this more.

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