AppleTV X - I am playing with something new

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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I made something fairly stunning. Its surprized me and so I have decided to share it with others. I have 9 high end systems that did beta and I have some VERY satisified new clients. It has been quite the 3 month journey but its ready to go.

The picture and sound this produces is "shocking" which all my beta test guys agreed was a good description.

This was developed in super high end rooms with top notch equipment.

I have a well respected high end dealer who has 3 at home now and I also do direct


Its time to move on from BluRay. https://appletvx.com/

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Xymox

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4K blu ray movies are better than any streaming from Apple TV
That depends on how clean the physical layer of HDMI is and jitter. There are high bit rate streams, 4K, WCG HDR. The streaming standards are slowly exceeding blu-ray. I own a highly modded Oppo. I even added a rubidium clock to it and did mods way beyond the stuff I did to the AppleTV X because there was room to do it. Is 4K bluray better then streaming ?? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... Yes on very select material. If you have a 2 chassis highly modded Oopo and do a direct AB by just swapping cables. BUT its also not that clear that it is. The way the AppleTV X is dejittered is way beyond the Oppo is key. Its small physical size and VERY short traces between chips and super close proximity to a serious ground plane and power distribution all combine to dejitter CPU and and all the various systems to such a degree its impossible to do it in any bluray player. The noise floor for all the chips is also better then I could do on the Oppo. A LOT better. The AppleTV board is enclosed in a RF tight cavity too. A spinning disc produces a wobble to the bitstream as it comes off the disc. This is all locked in a PLL with motor speed and tracking and buffering but this results in a unavoidable amount of jitter.

Then there is the indisputable fact BluRay, and discs, are going away. Good luck getting any current series on a disc. I can watch my various new episodes of various series in stunning 4K live. Sporting events. Re experence movies in 4k not on discs. Live news can be shocking.

The quality of a bit stream has been shocking. I was like you. BAH, streaming SUXXXXXXXX... But, that has all changed with the redo of the Apple TV box. It has taken me time to work this all out. Turns out HDMI was what SUCCCCKKKKED.. Cleaning that up,,, well,,, its been a epiphany.

Plus look what all it can do. Music, apps, screen sharing, games.. Its a amazing platform. It does Tidal. Its not a high end music server, but, its sure not horrible anymore with the mods for basic music. For a whole house source switched thru a Crestron DM system its a pretty high quality source now that can do many things.

I have a highly modded Laserdisc player, a Snell & Wilcox composite - SDI and a special Teranex upconverter. While this can produce fun viewing, its vintage tech. I no longer have much use for my Oppo either as it seems to be heading the same direction as laserdisc.
 
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dan31

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Streaming is a two way street. You may have optimized your end. The provider of content and your delivery provider may throttle the single to much lower quality than can be delivered from a disc buy a good player. My Oppo 205 delivers what is available on the disc. Netflix and Amazon may send the same HD content at less than half the bit rate.
 
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marty

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While I appreciate this effort, what I really wonder is the improvement possible simply by replacing the existing power supply with a 12V linear supply. There are many good linear supplies available for a few hundred dollars and less. My guess is that this may be the more attractive option (at least it is for me). Pull out the stock digital supply and leave me a female 2.1 mm connection for my own LPS and charge a reasonable fee. But for $2500, as they say on Shark Tank, "I'm out".
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Streaming is a two way street. You may have optimized your end. The provider of content and your delivery provider may throttle the single to much lower quality than can be delivered from a disc buy a good player. My Oppo 205 delivers what is available on the disc. Netflix and Amazon may send the same HD content at less than half the bit rate.
That is 1000% true. If your connection is not good, then it might not look as good. So far I have not seen any dropping of quality. But so far my cleints all have solid internet and top tiers. This bring up a IMPORTANT point tho. DON'T USE WIRELESS with this. That really could cause less performance. BUT it will still look WAY better then a normal AppleTV even when the bit rate drops.

BUT YES.. BluRay CAN be better. But. Its going vintage.. I can get DirecTV, I think every movie known, sports, music and more with this.
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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While I appreciate this effort, what I really wonder is the improvement possible simply by replacing the existing power supply with a 12V linear supply. There are many good linear supplies available for a few hundred dollars and less. My guess is that this may be the more attractive option (at least it is for me). Pull out the stock digital supply and leave me a female 2.1 mm connection for my own LPS and charge a reasonable fee. But for $2500, as they say on Shark Tank, "I'm out".
ABSOLUTELY.. Simply adding a LPS jack is where I started. You do gotta do a bit more tho. There is a 330uf cap on the supply on the 12V output to the main board. So pulling the supply will raise the high freq noise in the unit by a lot because that cap is missing.and can cause some weirdness depending on how good the wire is, and how long, to the LPS. Like reboots and weird events. Its not stable with just pulling the 12V out directly.

But yes, stuff a cap in there and bring out a jack to a LPS and it will be better. That supply in there is just crap and will die in 2 years.

I spent a LOT of time doing a whole bunch of stuff beyond just the supply. I also spent a LOT of time with test equip and carefully knocking down noise and jitter and really working this. I did the power rails to the chips. Other things too. I am still recouping the costs for the test equip, hehehe.. Its also annoying to do the mods. Lots of SMD and VERY little room. I spent 3 months every day doing R&D.
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Here you go
I have friends who have AppleTV X's that work with DCP stuff. I have a cinematographer and a colorist in my beta list. This discussion you posted misses something important. How the bitstream is delievered to the imager chip. My post production friends were showing me how the AppleTV youtube clips I use clearly looked abtter then thier post computers hooked to the same HDMI monitors. The Divinci output was coming from insanity level files better then DCP. So how could Youtube at 40Mbps be better ?? It was the HDMI.. A HDMI sink ( display ) does at least some perceptual concealment of bit errors resulting from physical layer issues. The AppleTV X HDMI signal was producing a much easier HDMI signal to extract ALL the information without doing perceptual based concealment. Somehow jitter seems to matter too.

Sound tho is lossless. So the changes to sound with the mods are far more subtle. BUT it still has TONS of jitter and that also seems to matter.

It has been quite the trip.. I was 10000% with you. Compressed bitstreams SUCK... BUT.. I have now been forced to realize that the bitstream is not the main problem. Its the HDMI. And it seems all HDMI implementations suck. It may also be that the buss that delivers the data to the HDMI system might also have issues that end up in the HDMI.

I ran into some of this when i modded the crap out of my Oppo. The picture got better when i did the HDMI system. So I would bet any system with HDMI could be vastly improved.
 
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Xymox

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I have been SHOCKED.. The improvements I got have taken me by surprize big time.. Its been hard to wrap my head around.

Also there is clearly something going on dejittering and cleaning up clock phase noise for the entire system. There is a level of improvement I do not understand. Its VERY clearly there, but why is hard to determine. I think there is also some of the same things we all hear on Ethernet for DACs. So that is also occurring.
 
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Xymox

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So I have been doing QC on a new unit for a client tonight. I use it for a day/evening. I give it some burn in and make sure all is well..

When i do this sometimes I watch a movie, or TV series. Tonight I spent 2 hours watching 80's music videos on youtube, hehehe..

A clent who has had his a week described having to go back and watch everything again like it was all new again, like we do with new audio gear. The AppleTV X really does that. I have been using these now for 3 months and I am still going and watching things like they are new again.

These 80's videos on youtube are at best 480. Some are more like 240.. Most are upconverted to HD, but, hahaha, they ain't HD.. But like a really good audio system does, the AppleTV X can reach down into these and extract all sorts of detail and render them in a way I have never seen anything do. Its like a really good turntable, it can grab stuff off vinyl that can be quite stunning. In my day job, I use all the best gear, and, there is nothing like what I see from the AppleTV X. Even the bad videos are very watchable. They have more detail in them, better color rendering, better gamma, better sound, then i have ever experenced and I do crazy high end systems routinely. Some 80's vids are just jaw dropping better then I could have imagined they could be. I spent 2 hours going vid to vid to vid. Just fully addicting.

The one that stood out as "Wow" is this one. It LOOKS kinda normal on a computer. It does NOT look normal on the AppleTV X. Its a perfect example of a low rez fairly boring video that just jumps out.. This ends up with this crazy good randering.. If you make this full screen you can see its upconverted by the pan up from the drum at the start. On the top edge. This is, at best, a 480. But its just breath taking ( pun intended ) on the AppleTV X.


WHat I enjoy about the AppleTV X are just all the normal material. PlutoTV can be jaw dropping. The original Mission Impossible. Crazy things like Green Acres. The PBS app has tons of great stuff.

In fact.. Commercials can be just eye popping with crazy good sound..

So to go back to a point above. Its not the bit rate, or the source material.. Well it is,,, but,,, by improving the HDMI and dejittering the entire process of of streaming there is a huge jump in quality..

I am getting some owners to come post. There is also a official review in progress.
 
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Xymox

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Cost.. These cost me a bunch in parts, but, the real cost is the labor. It takes a 10 hour day to make one. Then a evening of QC.

I have a dealer who also needs to make some money on these.

I am not making much money on them. The money I do make is going right back into them and new R&D. Next up is a linear power supply for them.

With high end systems, a single interconnect can be more then $2500. A DAC can be 100k. A TT, well, my gawd.. This is a stunning and useful source component and its $2500..

I don't make much, my day job pays the bills. Mostly I wanted to share this with others cuz its really fun.
 

Brucemck2

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I hooked one up earlier today. There is a material improvement in both the picture and audio quality. I wouldn’t say old TV shows look like new HD content (I pulled up some Everyone Loves Raymond) but older material looks better and newer material is jaw dropping.

I haven’t done critical listening but my first impression of the audio was that it too was materially improved.

For me this was a no-brainer expenditure compared to other AV source gear in my setup.

In years past I used ultra-low jitter relockers (an early PS Audio Digital Lens and then later an Empirical Audio unit) to good effect. This new AppleTV makes me wish I could find the HDMI equivalent.
 
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Jeffy

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I hooked one up earlier today. There is a material improvement in both the picture and audio quality. I wouldn’t say old TV shows look like new HD content (I pulled up some Everyone Loves Raymond) but older material looks better and newer material is jaw dropping.

I haven’t done critical listening but my first impression of the audio was that it too was materially improved.

For me this was a no-brainer expenditure compared to other AV source gear in my setup.

In years past I used ultra-low jitter relockers (an early PS Audio Digital Lens and then later an Empirical Audio unit) to good effect. This new AppleTV makes me wish I could find the HDMI equivalent.
How does this compare to last years Apple TV
 
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Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Thank you Bruce for the
I hooked one up earlier today. There is a material improvement in both the picture and audio quality. I wouldn’t say old TV shows look like new HD content (I pulled up some Everyone Loves Raymond) but older material looks better and newer material is jaw dropping.

I haven’t done critical listening but my first impression of the audio was that it too was materially improved.

For me this was a no-brainer expenditure compared to other AV source gear in my setup.

In years past I used ultra-low jitter relockers (an early PS Audio Digital Lens and then later an Empirical Audio unit) to good effect. This new AppleTV makes me wish I could find the HDMI equivalent.
Thank you Bruce :)

"jaw dropping" Yep. I STILL experience this myself and i am now 4 months into it. At first its hard to believe because its SO much better, but, it will burn-in and get even better. The sound gets crazy good.

Bruce started off awesome. HDPlex linear and I made him a 15" cable. He also had a really nice system using top end gear that he has carefully twaeked.

I watch something almost every night now. I used to not watch hardly anything. I am going back and reexperening all the movies from my past. They are all new again, by ALOT. Its addicting. It has effected my work life as i keep staying up till 2am and not getting enough sleep. The first Blade Runner kept me up late the other night. Trippy transfer. Its dark and fuzzy in a really artistic way. The sound is fantastic.

I am just like you guys. I am stunned with it. Its been kinda hard for me to wrap my brain around. I am also learning new things about HDMI thru this. Its been so trippy I decided to go thru all the work to make it a product other people could buy and enjoy.

Everyone Loves Raymond.. Well.. I just went and looked myself.. Yea, its not so good. BUT its video based. I have found film based TV stuff like The Original Series Star Trek, 1960's Mission Impossible, Perry Mason, Hawaii 5-O to be shockingly good. Video based stuff can look pretty bad. Like the Johnny Carson show looks bad. Carol Burnet.. They sure look better then you would expect, but you don't get fooled into thinking they are remastered like the other stuff I mentioned. Not every audio recording is good, but with a good system you can reach in and grab what is there and enjoy it. That is what happens here.

The Pluto TV app has tons of free material. Green Acres, Perry Mason, Mission Impossible are all really great. YES I watched a entire episode Of Green Acres, hahahaha.. Watch out tho for the Bob Ross channel tho, his wispering "A few happy trees" with audio this good sorta gets into your brain and you wanna paint happy trees.

Well, I am glad your having fun. It is addicting.

Reclocking.. The best way to do this is to >clock correctly first< :) And thats what the mods do. The entire AppleTV X, Ethernet, CPU, RAM, SSD, HDMI are all super low phase noise clocked. So what comes out the HDMI is the way it should be.. The physical layer of HDMI is what is broken with nasty stuff all over. So even reclocking wont fix that. The HDMI output chip will negate any good reclocking. So its gotta ALL be fixed,, or in this case, done correctly to start with..

I cant wait to hear what you experience over the weeks to come. My other clients really fall in love with it over weeks as they go thru more material and it burns in further.

Thanks for the post.
 
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Xymox

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Well that one you had was last years Apple TV which has been out for more than two years
No.. The AppleTV 4K 2021 has only been shipping since aprl 2021 as I remember. He had that one.
 
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Xymox

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I have modded the first gen unit as well and its REALLY close to the same performance improvements. I even moded a really old one with USB and it also looked stunning. The mods work across all versions nearly equally. But I recommend the newest gen unit.
 

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