AppleTV X - I am playing with something new

Xymox

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I gotta tell ya! the picture with the Appletvx is so amazing! But I still find myself sometimes comparing SDR vs HDR. Sometimes, its a close call, though HDR never seems to win out. Tonight, watching Season 4, Episode 1 of "For All Mankind", let there be no doubt. Especially the scene where with the asteroid that they are trying to tow to Mars. The blackness of space, stars in the background, the asteroid, the astronauts - the black level, the detail, the quasi 3D picture, its not a contast, as good as the Dolby Vision picture looks, the SDR picture no question looks better, more resolving, better everything! At least for the Appletv x. Note I am using it with 2019 LG C2 OLED, a Gigafoil v4 (converts ethernet to optical and back to ethernet - prior to Appletvx), and Fidilizer Etherstream2 network switch. Thanks a lot, Chris!

Your welcome Steve.

I like hearing from Steve. As i mentioned he was more like a reviewer and took months of A/B/C/D tests and lots of real world use to fully evaluate the ATVX. While I have gone over the HDR myth many times, he took it to task and is STILL doing A/B.. I love it.

He is right about the ethernet feed somehow affecting picture. I have NO idea how this can be technically, but, I have heard from everyone who tried it say it does matter. While my Switch X was meant for audio use, tons of ATVX owners have also fed a ATVX from it and report big jumps in pic and sound. I have a number of people who bought one just for the ATVX.

I have been battling the HDR myth now since my first encounter with it when Sony shipped its first laser projector. It was then I jumped fully into the technical side of it and realized video HDR was a lossy compression scheme made for a type of display that may never exist - A full HDR range display. It did not have more bits. It had bits that described where to put the bits when a display could light up a pixel literally as bight as the sun. As a uncompressed full range from a no moon nite scene to a full daylight scene would require at least 24 bits per color per pixel, a compression was required that was lossy and tuned to what the "average" person would not notice. NO ONE wants to capture, store, transmit or stream a 24b/color picture. This kind of thing would require at least 1Gbps. The SDR range matches real world TVs without any lossy compression math besides the streaming compression. Because a true HDR display, that does not exist even in science yet, has a huge 24 bit range the 10 bits needs to laid out in that brightness range in a way that the average viewer deems acceptable. So HDR meta data ( bits that describe bits ) lay out where a director thinks the 10bits of SDR look best in a HDR world. They just guess at how it looks tho because no HDR displays exist. So HDR "compatible" TVs of today do tone mapping to take that HDR signal and squish it back down to a SDR space on a LG/Sony/Panasonic OLED of today. There are no standards for tone mapping, so every TV maker does it differently. So every display displays a HDR encoded picture differently. In fact the director and post house monitor used to judge HDR pictures is also different from home units because of NITS and tone mapping math. So all HDR encoded content looks a bit different because of the lack of standards. DOlby Vision is just a fancier version of HDR, as is HDR10 and HDR+.

SDR tho is much simpler. None of the HDR lossy compression and then decompression by non standardized tone mapping. None of the math. You get what the director and post people see. The SDR matches the display native. SDR range is very pleasing and comfortable for the eye. I personally dont want a TV as bright as the sun. I dont want to go from dead dark to literally looking at the sun. I don't want my irises to work that hard. I do not want more NITS. I find some TVs too bright as it is now.

SDR done right can produce STUNNING pictures that look 3D, look Pantone accurate and cause wow in nearly every scene.

I feel HDR stands for High Dynamic Revenue. I believe HDR was pushed onto consumers like the Emperors New Clothes. HDR sold a incredible number of new TVs. The orginal idea for HDR for video on TVs came from the Consumer Electronics Association not SMPTE.

HDR/HDR10/HDR+/Dolby Vision have currently no reason to exist except to sell TVs. When/If a real HDR technology comes out - then _maybe_ HDR will be good to map by then older SDR material into a HDR 24 bit space. By then hopefully our streaming can reach 1Gbps at least and support a native HDR display space. Until then, SDR is the way to go.

IMHO...
 
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Jedclampet

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Well I started with your TVX and was so impressed I spoke with Bill Parrish who sent over your WIFI X and Connect X which was worth every penny.
For less than the cost of speaker wire my jaw dropped. How you accomplished this is over my head but all I can say is well done and thank you for the hard work.
 

Xymox

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Your welcome. So far all the Switch Xs I have shipped have bested solutions many times the Switch X price :) SO I am really happy to provide a killer awesome product AND having it be more afforcable then most other solutions. The switch X is just starting to get noticed. The system goes to a reviewer next week :)
 

Xymox

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Looks like a new Appletv4k is coming next year w same poor build quality as 2023 model so no doubt Chris will continue modding the 2021 model. https://www.macrumors.com/2023/11/20/2024-apple-tv-rumors/

Yepp... Apple is not going to go back to building a really high quality streaming box that they most likely lost money on. The A2169 is THE streaming box to own..

That said.. I will VERY completly look over the new one and see if there is anything I can do with it.

Keep in mind Apple MUST update the unit about each year as they stop making the previous CPU and move to the next one. I don't need a faster menu or faster starting streams if I sacrifice quality for it. So yea, the A2169 looks like the box I will be doing for a while. I have that planned out. I can still get brand new ones, but, if one day I can't, I will refurb them and offer full warranty. So I have a long term plan.
 
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dminches

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Steve Bruzonsky

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Chris, I wonder if ever there might be any benefit to taking out the faster chips from the latest model and inserting them into the two 2021 modded model?
 

Xymox

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What specifically contributes to the poor build quality of the 2023 model as compared to the 2021 model?
For my use doing a ton of mods, I cant get nearly the same pic/sound from the cheapened units.

The changes are very obvious once you look inside.

I should point out tho,, with STOCK units the new one looks/sounds about the same as the older one. Stock units are pretty bad looking / sounding. I just cant get the same super high end performance from the new one like I can the A2169. Its a wonderful impressive design.

 
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Xymox

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Chris, I wonder if ever there might be any benefit to taking out the faster chips from the latest model and inserting them into the two 2021 modded model?

Nope. Different electrically, pinouts.. Most likely higher buss speeds, so other chips might need to be changed. ALso I dont know what the firmware would do. Plus updates might get really weird. They might apply updates for the A2169 with a mismatch for the CPU.

The current CPU works great for me. 1/2s VS 1s to start a stream is nothing for me. FLipping around in menus is as fast as my fingers now. So.. I just don't need a faster CPU.
 

Steve Bruzonsky

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Nope. Different electrically, pinouts.. Most likely higher buss speeds, so other chips might need to be changed. ALso I dont know what the firmware would do. Plus updates might get really weird. They might apply updates for the A2169 with a mismatch for the CPU.

The current CPU works great for me. 1/2s VS 1s to start a stream is nothing for me. FLipping around in menus is as fast as my fingers now. So.. I just don't need a faster CPU.
OK And of course I am so terribly happy happy with the Appletvx as is.

One more experiment I did recently. For a few weeks I set up the Appletvx to turn off completely including the entire system video and audio at the conclusion of every session. After awhile, I noted a clear drop off in video quality. Back to leaving it on even when not in use and presto, the magic video is back!
 
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Ampman

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Newbie question if I may...not sure if it's come up before.
Would there be any possibility to fit a coaxial spdif to the Apple TV X to take better advantage of the enhanced sound quality. Airplay is fine if your streamer supports it but the option to use a high quality cable would make quite a big difference I imagine.
 
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Superdad

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I just cant get the same super high end performance from the new one like I can the A2169. Its a wonderful impressive design.

Hi Chris:
Alex from UpTone here. I am just now catching up on your success since our technical conversations via phone and e-mail back in April 2022, when you were just beginning to experiment and measure with the ATV boxes.
Wow. Congratulations on your success!

So I have a question for you:
In watching your video on the Aruba WAP, I noted your disdain for WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and preference for the simpler (potentially quieter/less current draw bursty) WiFi 5 (802.11ac).
Then, when I went to see which generation of Apple TV 4K is sitting next to my LG OLED B7, I found it is the first generation 4K model, A1842.
As you can see from the specs (https://everymac.com/systems/apple/apple-tv/specs/apple-tv-4k-5th-generation-2017-specs.html) it is based on the A10X Fusion processor--and is just WiFi 5 (802.11ac).
Looking at the iFixIt.com teardown of ATV A1842 I see that, just like the A2169 you have been modding, this slightly earlier 4K unit (which I bought the newer remote for long ago) has the exact same SMPS, machined metal divider plate, isolated wifi antenna corners, etc. A few chips differ of course, but I have not had any issues with its responsiveness or ability to run the latest tvOS or current 3rd-party apps.

Thus my question is: Have you considered modding and comparing the A1842? Might be fun.

The other question I have--for you and other Apple TVX owners--is with regards audio extraction:
In our living room with TV I do not have a full A/V system with all-in-one HDMI receiver (yuck!) or high-end A/V separates (all my $ and tech are down the hall in my custom listening studio ;)). And really for best video performance I would expect that direct into the projector or monitor would be best.
Yet since Apple dropped the TOSLINK audio output jack at the introduction of the 4K models, users are left with either:
a) Running the HDMI into a some A/V processor box (yes, I know that a lot of your clients probably have some megabuck equipment for that);
or
b) First running the HDMI from the ATV into an HDMI audio extractor box. That is what I do. I bought the best 4K/high-speed rated cheap one I could find. This: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074HHSJVN/

But I can not imagine that the extractor I am using is doing the video any favors, and thus wonder if the visual gains from your ATVX system (or my own pondered 12V conversion mod--fed with a spare UltraCap LPS-1.2) would be lost.
Your thoughts?

Cheers,
--Alex C.
 
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Ampman

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Oh OK so I guess the only option I have, if I don't use a streamer supporting Airplay, is a breakout box.
Only one I know of that is reported to work quite well is the Vanity Pro but it's not cheap.
No other way to rework the ATV to bring the audio up to the same level as the video then?
 
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Jedclampet

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As Ampman stated I too use the HDMI out to a break out box to a Spdif ( Kubala of couse ). Seems counter productive vs a Spdif out of the TV X so many extra parts and cables in the audio chain imo.
 

Zeotrope

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Chris, what do you think about leaving the ATVX on all the time and restarting it just before watching? That’s what I do, as I initially found that the screen savers can be a bit “glitchy” and not as sharp if left on and not restarted; but I didn’t compare A/V quality experimentally.
 

VPN

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As Ampman stated I too use the HDMI out to a break out box to a Spdif ( Kubala of couse ). Seems counter productive vs a Spdif out of the TV X so many extra parts and cables in the audio chain imo.
I too am using a cheap HDMI audio extrator, to send digital audio to my dac (stereo) and pass the HDMI to my 8K projector. I am sure it worsens the video and audio that comes out of the appletv X. If anyone knows a high quality extractor, please let me know.

It would be great to have a version of the appletv X with digital audio out. I would certainly purchase one.
 

Zeotrope

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I too am using a cheap HDMI audio extrator, to send digital audio to my dac (stereo) and pass the HDMI to my 8K projector. I am sure it worsens the video and audio that comes out of the appletv X. If anyone knows a high quality extractor, please let me know.

It would be great to have a version of the appletv X with digital audio out. I would certainly purchase one.
Unfortunately I don’t think there are any high quality extractors. They will undo most of the gains that the “X” achieves. Try it out by plugging the X directly into your JVC(?) projector.

I connect mine into a Lumagen 5438, which passes through the audio and has its own reclock and jitter reduction circuit.

But I know that Chris prefers a direct connection, so not sure how he handles audio?
 
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Ampman

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VPN I believe the Vanity Pro is quite serious but not cheap...an Apple TV X with digital spdif out would be much better .
 
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Zeotrope

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VPN I believe the Vanity Pro is quite serious but not cheap...an Apple TV X with digital spdif out would be much better .
The issue with anything between the ATVX and the video and audio DAC is that jitter and noise will be added to the HDMI signal. All the work Chris has done, or almost all, will be for nought.
Now I recall that I believe Chris connects directly to a flat panel display that has an HDMI audio output.
 
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