Apple TV 4K gets Dolby Atmos sound: Why it matters and why it doesn’t

“The Apple TV 4K and iTunes are getting support for Dolby Atmos. Should you care?” David Katzmaier writes for CNET. “The Apple TV 4K was already CNET’s favorite streaming device for home theater geeks with extra cash, in part because it supports Dolby Vision HDR for video. With the addition of Dolby Atmos this fall, it gets even more capable.”

Why Atmos on Apple TV 4K matters:
• It brings the Apple TV 4K closer to being “the one” source you need.
• It makes buying on iTunes even more future-proof.
• It can actually sound better.

Why it doesn’t matter:
• You need the right gear (and content) to appreciate it.
• Other devices have it already.
• “Regular” surround sounds pretty great.
• It’s only on iTunes (for now).

“In sum, the Apple TV 4K getting Atmos support is a big deal for home theater enthusiasts with nice Atmos rigs who buy movies through iTunes and watch them via Apple TV,” Katzmaier writes. “For everyone else, maybe not so much.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Maybe “everyone else” or some percentage of them will look to get themselves Atmos setups so they can hear what they’re missing.

Apple TV 4K delivers highest quality cinematic experience with tvOS 12 – June 4, 2018


  1. Does anyone know, or can they find out (ask at the conference) whether Apple TV 4K will support the streaming of movies from your LAN iTunes shared library that have been encoded in H.265, are DRM free, but have not been purchased from the iTunes store (i.e., they are backups of purchased DVDs and Blu rays in your library)? I would like to convert my files to H.265, as they take up a lot less room on the hard drive (space is at a premium), but having used the conversion utility (third-party) bought from the Mac App store, I discovered that they would stream to my iPhone and iPad, but not to my 3rd gen Apple TV (I just get the sound, with a black screen). Similarly, some local iOS TV station apps, which have switched to H.265 (I assume) exhibit the same behaviour – except for commercials, of course). I know the Apple TV can play H.265 movies I have purchased from Apple, but I also have many backups of my disc collection (same for all my backups of music from my cds) in iTunes – for convenience, so that I can stream them to my devices.

    On, the screenshots and text regarding streaming your movies only shows Movies (bought from iTunes) under Library – it doesn’t show iTunes Library as a category as I now see. I can understand why Apple might not want to put this front and center, but are they going to keep it disabled?

    1. I’ll try testing this in the next day or so. I do know HEVC works well with my content ripped from DVD and Blu-Rays (480p-1080p) when using Plex, but I haven’t tried it yet using iTunes shared library.

      One thing that might be causing your problem is that for videos HEVC encoded with Handbrake 1.0.7 or earlier, you’ll need to edit the codec identifier (or “fourcc” code). It needs to be changed from hv1 to hvc1. The latest version of Handbrake (and I think versions after 1.0.7) properly set the codec identifier.

        1. I had assumed the same thing. However, I am using the latest versions of macOS and iTunes, and, while HEVC can be watched from iTunes on the Mac, and can be streamed to the (slow and glitchy) TV app on iOS, it will not stream to my 3rd gen Apple TV – only the sound is heard, the screen is black. I don’t want/need to upgrade to the newest Apple TV, if it cannot stream HEVC from the iTunes shared library. I have to look into keviosuave’s suggestion around the codec identifier.

    2. I assumed once HEVC support was incorporated into macOS/iTunes it wouldn’t be a problem, but have yet to test the theory.

      I’m more concerned about how to tag 4K versions in iTunes, if it’s at all possible.

    1. HomePods already sound so brilliant, they put the Atmos into Atmosphere.

      Dolby should Atoms-fear HomePod.

      Apple’s gunning for ya, Dolboids.

  2. “It’s only on iTunes (for now).”

    Everything else has been introduced like this as well. If it’s part of the native player, that’s what Plex uses and it will be available with Plex as well.

  3. Why can’t Apple put ambisonics Binaural sound into iPhone/Mac, for at least sound effects, iTunes music, all that? I know, Boom3D, but that doesn’t actually map channels, like 7.1, to space, it just makes stereo sound a little more binaural, a little more flashy, without actually improving sound. Why is it that Microsoft has all kinds of sound enhancements—base boost, surround sound, room detection by using echo location and speaker/microphone stuff, and Windows Sonic for headphones, all built in and /system wide/, but Apple has nothing? Ugh, come on Apple, care about sound as much as you care about flashy visuals, or even as much as you care about text—dictionary, thesaurus, quick type—and you’ll be great with blind people and audio users.


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