AppleTV X - I am playing with something new

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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I did a AB comparison of the power supply noise on a stock APpleTV and on one I did the mods to. I did not use a good linear tho so it could be even better. Remember there is more magic then just the power supply tho.

 

vjayh

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May 20, 2012
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As an owner of one of these modded Apple TV X units, it is a no brainer for me. 99% of my TV viewing is via streaming, so the argument of "is it as good as blu-ray" is really moot. Most of what I watch isn't available in blu-ray. My modded, souped up OPPO with linear power supply just sits mostly unused, almost ready to pull it completely from the system. Can't remember the last time I went and bought or ordered a Blu-Ray. I needed a solution that improved "Ozark" on Netflix...as well as "The Batman" on HBOMAX.

Initially I upgraded the power cord and also isolated the ethernet thru high quality switch, and physically isolated the unit with vibration control-- all the same as most are doing with digital audio tweaks. Made a little positive difference. Then I did try with just modding the power supply, and although there was some improvement, most of the big improvement came with the whole of the mods. And not just the picture quality, which is easily recognizable difference by anyone, but the audio makes such a big leap. The picture has so much less noise and the colors are so much more saturated and vibrant. You kind of go "whoa" when the Apple menu pops up! Bright, solid, 3D. The audio the first thing you notice is a big soundstage compared to stock.

Anyway, this unit made a profound difference in my system, both on a projection system as well as OLEDs. Again, "no brainer" if like me you watch a lot of streaming and wished the quality was better. Does it depend on the source? Well, sure. But I've yet to find one program that doesn't benefit greatly from stock. I also get that AppleTV will obsolete in a couple of years when the next AppleTV comes out, but that's the nature of the beast. When 8k TVs came out I didn't pull all the 4K OLEDs off the wall...so I'll cross that bridge when I come to it in a year or 2. Meanwhile for the cost of what some of us spend on a power cord....I'll enjoy marked improvements in all programming for a couple of years. Thanks to Xymox for pushing the envelope.
 
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Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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As an owner of one of these modded Apple TV X units, it is a no brainer for me. 99% of my TV viewing is via streaming, so the argument of "is it as good as blu-ray" is really moot. Most of what I watch isn't available in blu-ray. My modded, souped up OPPO with linear power supply just sits mostly unused, almost ready to pull it completely from the system. Can't remember the last time I went and bought or ordered a Blu-Ray. I needed a solution that improved "Ozark" on Netflix...as well as "The Batman" on HBOMAX.

Initially I upgraded the power cord and also isolated the ethernet thru high quality switch, and physically isolated the unit with vibration control-- all the same as most are doing with digital audio tweaks. Made a little positive difference. Then I did try with just modding the power supply, and although there was some improvement, most of the big improvement came with the whole of the mods. And not just the picture quality, which is easily recognizable difference by anyone, but the audio makes such a big leap. The picture has so much less noise and the colors are so much more saturated and vibrant. You kind of go "whoa" when the Apple menu pops up! Bright, solid, 3D. The audio the first thing you notice is a big soundstage compared to stock.

Anyway, this unit made a profound difference in my system, both on a projection system as well as OLEDs. Again, "no brainer" if like me you watch a lot of streaming and wished the quality was better. Does it depend on the source? Well, sure. But I've yet to find one program that doesn't benefit greatly from stock. I also get that AppleTV will obsolete in a couple of years when the next AppleTV comes out, but that's the nature of the beast. When 8k TVs came out I didn't pull all the 4K OLEDs off the wall...so I'll cross that bridge when I come to it in a year or 2. Meanwhile for the cost of what some of us spend on a power cord....I'll enjoy marked improvements in all programming for a couple of years. Thanks to Xymox for pushing the envelope.

Thank you Jay :)

The audio really is amazing. I would have never thought audio could be this good from a HDMI based source. I never thought I could get this quality of picture either.

Hehehe, I also have noticed the AppleTV menus. The mods are clearly visible immd when the menu pops up. The icons kinda stand out better and look more precision. More solid and well rendered. I have noticed this with subtitles too. I think this is the CPU being dejittered and cleanly clocked.

physically isolated the unit with vibration control

Indeed these steps do matter. I found when doing the mods that isolating the tuned transmission line of caps inside the unit benefited from isolation and vibration control. So I use a thin layer of sorbothane to mount and isolate the caps from the unit and then use a very flexible set of wires to connect to the AppleTV board so the cap section stays isolated. I treated the mods like I was doing a phono preamp.

isolated the ethernet thru high quality switch

Using a SoTM or a Ether Regen do indeed help.

"this unit made a profound difference in my system"

Every client that has one has said these very words. Its exactly what has happened in my system too. This is the reason I am making them for others, I want to share this fun experience with others.

Jay was the first owner of a AppleTV X. He now owns more then one. He has more experience with it then anyone else and has one on a number of different systems now.

Thanks again Jay for your kind words and for taking the time to post your experience :)
 
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odz

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May 15, 2022
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The skinny: Ever bought an upgrade that made you want to go back and listen to every song you'd ever heard and re-see every video and/or show, understanding , maybe for the first time just how much you'd missed. This is that.

"Fat" to follow -a detailed review
 

odz

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May 15, 2022
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the Fat: I will try to be succinct, but there is a lot to say. Firstly, I bought the appleX attempting to better sound quality from my Apple Music app. I really like the easy interface at apple and feel their quality would be up to par, were it not for the guts in the apple box itself. I bought an ethernet cable because of excellent reviews and 22awg spec. and , yes could hear a difference, even though the ethernet cable was a mere 36.bucks and the improvement was not nothing, but minimal. That got me to call the etherregen people, who , after hearing about my setup, said I should call this guy who was doing appletv mods. I own a Sony master series 75" 4k tv. so did not believe I'd be achieving anything on the video end, as it was already great -really great. It was all about the sonics for me. so, before we get into the sonics, let me say the PQ exploded off the screen, making contrast, color saturation and definition beyond anything I've seen anywhere. I check now to see if movies have been remastered, or if I have! Everything , including older movies look unlike anything I remember. Even crumby small budget films from yesteryear, look redone. so there's that.

more to come..
 

odz

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May 15, 2022
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the Fatter: So about the audio. My Apple TV, Sony blu-ray, and Comcast box all feed my Sony master series TV via HDMI cables - none of them anything special. Everything is then fed out via a single glass optical cable into an Esoteric K-03x DAC/CD/SACD player. the Esoteric is splendid (in my opinion) playing cds, and though the Apple TV sounded good, it did not have the sparkle and solidity, and 3d quality I felt I was getting from the CD section of the Esoteric, though they were both using the same inner DAC. thus my quest to upgrade the Apple's innards. My Esoteric feeds my Meridian G65 processor via Audience Front row rca cables which then go out to Wilson Audio Sashas. incl. a center channel and rears. the first thing that is obvious about the appletv mod is the introduction of a linear power supply, which allows one to use a high end power cable as opposed to the (is it a C2 plug?) provided by Apple. Using the linear power supply and a Pangea power cable, the sound quality got substantially better, and I felt the price of admission already worth while, but then adding a cheaper Shunyata power cable -close to their entry level- it took another step forward. Finally, using a shunyata Anaconda PC I achieved just what I'd been hoping for. Much more solid bass, better soundstage, unsurpassed detail. I'm a real believer in shunyata Pcs and have been upgrading one after another for maybe 2 decades, I'm not sure. But the difference now between my CD player and the Apple TV is negligible, and I think the small difference between them could just be differences in PC. Having said that, the Apple TV right out of the box showed such improvement that I'd be hard-pressed to say that the PCs I used weren't more than icing on the cake. What Xymox has done with the Appletv has been as exciting as any PC upgrade I've ever done, and I'm always amazed by them. Simply using the mods and the associated equipment sent by Xymox is revelatory. Hog heaven.
the downside is... oh, that's right, there wasn't one.
 
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Xymox

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the downside is... oh, that's right, there wasn't one.

Hahaha... Yes i can't find one ether.. Well the price.. For me its the damn labor, its ANNOYING to do one of these. WAY too much surface mount ****.. No room.. Its all too small... So far no one has reported ANY downside, so Odz your not alone.

Wow.. Great review.. Thank you odz. For most people reading this, even me, getting good sound from HDMI seems impossible. But,, I have heard it myself many times now. Some movies have startling audio. The Empire Strikes Back, has just amazing sound. Great imaging, great delination of each instrument and section, breathy wind instruments, great strings, great harmonics on brass. Its startling you can get this from a movie. Its better then a heavy modded Oppo BluRay. Its quite distracting for me during a movie, I kinda loose track of the movie while listening to the soundtrack.

The picture so far has produced consistant comments. "Stunning" is the most common word. But I also get "Jaw dropping", "OMFG". "WOW" and more. What always happens is they hook it up and play 20 mins of it and then i get a email from thier mobile device as they sit in front of it jaw dropped. Then later I get a more complete email.

Ever bought an upgrade that made you want to go back and listen to every song you'd ever heard and re-see every video and/or show, understanding , maybe for the first time just how much you'd missed. This is that.

Yep.. I am still doing this 4 months later. I watched 2001 last night and I think I will watch the 1968 Planet Of The Apes tonight. I also have Clockwork Orange that i will have to rewatch..

Simply using the mods and the associated equipment sent by Xymox is revelatory. Hog heaven.

:) Hog Heaven & revelatory are new ones i will add to the list :) Thank you for the compliments :)

What you guys are experiencing is exactly why I decided to make this and share it with others. Its a really a awesome experience and really great to go back and see all this film, and music, artform the way it was supposed to be.
 
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Xymox

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WAIT... there is a downside...

I have not slept well in months. No joke. I end up watching something and staying up WAY too late and the next day I regret it.. Then, damn it, i do it again.. Last night, 2001 kept up up till 1a even tho i SWORE I would stop it at midnight..

So. the downside is its addicting. Its not wearing off either. I keep thinking of new movies to rewatch.. Hmmm.. The orginal Terminator ? Fifth Element ? The first Jurassic Park ?
 

AngeloVRA

Member
Mar 8, 2020
6
1
8
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".
Hi @marty,

Just to share… that is exactly what I did with my Apple TV 4K about 2 years ago.
I’m not sure if it’s okay to share the following old pics of my DIY effort. If inappropriate, mods please delete.

D2B3A14A-00FD-417C-8FF1-0FB9EDEAEA7A.jpeg Took off bottom cover…

439C12FE-9527-4183-A795-8EBE3D740C84.jpeg
and the 1st layer off …

CA960EF9-3FEB-4FC9-8F9E-1308C62B18E3.jpeg DE5F7620-C423-47BE-AAEE-A70C560EEA32.jpeg
Removed the C8 IEC connector.

6ACA7A6B-0085-4F97-85F7-2E18AEBCA6D1.jpeg
Taking off the 2nd layer board reveals these 2 mini-bolts which are the DC power connections


54BBC3A6-DE90-48A2-9ECB-F42D86A49FF8.jpeg
To which I connected the 2 wires and routed them out of the case.

Powered by a 12v rail from my PH SR5T, I have been enjoying fantastic video from this little box.
 

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Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Its a good first start. But you really need to remove the supply.

ALSO... The + and - are reversed in these pics. This would fry the appleTV and the power supply. You can see the - band on the black cap close to the wire on the left of the pic. The + pin of that cap is connected to the + terminal. You can see the trace on the + side of the cap is labeled - in the pic.

This does offer improvements. But because of the super spiky nature of the CPU you need a really well tuned set of caps run right to the board. Plus I also put tant caps on the appleTV board along with other stuff. But yea, this is where I started.
 

AngeloVRA

Member
Mar 8, 2020
6
1
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Its a good first start. But you really need to remove the supply.

ALSO... The + and - are reversed in these pics. This would fry the appleTV and the power supply. You can see the - band on the black cap close to the wire on the left of the pic. The + pin of that cap is connected to the + terminal. You can see the trace on the + side of the cap is labeled - in the pic.

This does offer improvements. But because of the super spiky nature of the CPU you need a really well tuned set of caps run right to the board. Plus I also put tant caps on the appleTV board along with other stuff. But yea, this is where I started.
Hi @Xymox

Thanks for clarifying the polarity. You're probably right. Old pics and aging memory :)
Easy to verify with multimeter when actually doing it. But thanks again for pointing it out
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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You can see the cap polarity here and its trace to the pins.. this is the cap that is the only cap for the 12V to the board.

IMG_5981xy.jpg
 
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Xymox

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I am ALL FOR DIY !! I myself am a DIY guy for sure..

Pull the supply. Its doing weird things leaving it hooked up and supplying power. You gotta solder to the main board. Its ok it not that scary. Then inside the space where the power supply was drop in lots of caps. Make sure your LPS does not have a ground connection to - and if it does figure out how to float it.

Doing the above will get you a better pic/sound.

Also on reassembly, use more thermal paste.
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Do something like this.. I have changed from the below now, but this will get you a clean supply.

IMG_5296x.jpg
 
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AngeloVRA

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Mar 8, 2020
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Do something like this.. I have changed from the below now, but this will get you a clean supply.

View attachment 92870
Hi @Xymox,
Thanks for the tip.
i decided to open it up again and removed the SMPS PCB, replaced the wires with MUndorf SG that I had laying around, and used just 1 pc of AN Kaisei 470uF capacitor (SMPS had 330uf).
You were right, both video and audio got even better.
C8DAF242-3D10-45E4-9134-D15437C27555.jpeg
I’ll stay with this config for awhile before I try paralleling some more.

Thanks again!
 

Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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Hi @Xymox,
Thanks for the tip.
i decided to open it up again and removed the SMPS PCB, replaced the wires with MUndorf SG that I had laying around, and used just 1 pc of AN Kaisei 470uF capacitor (SMPS had 330uf).
You were right, both video and audio got even better.
View attachment 92892
I’ll stay with this config for awhile before I try paralleling some more.

Thanks again!


There you go !.. NICE choice of parts.. AND WIRE.. There is a tricky balance between the types of caps and values and wire. Remember your creating a impeadance at different frequencies. There is a nasty noise coming from the buck/boost regulators, its got wide spectrum with the worst of it near 20khz but a LOT above it. So think low freq RF. Its steady state and there constantlly. Use some WIMA polys close to the ApplePCB to supply these nasties with juice and quash out the noise from them. Remember this is high frequency, so a small diameter wire with good 20khz-50mhz performance works best. A big ga wire is not best. Then you have the CPU rumble. This rumble is sporadic and SERIOUS. I have dropped 500,000uf hooked right to the PCB and still had measurable rumble. The rumble can be 750mA spiky junk single impulse stuff VS a 100mA background draw. The rumble needs to be dealt with with electrolytics and tant. The rumble has a spectra like 5hz - 100 hz. Its very random. This requires large ga wire. So the wire dia is trick to do both. Overall your wanting to make the lowest impedance possible for these bands. The wire is a balance. Length, dia, spacing all matter at the high freqs.

There is a tricky other component. As you do this and change these values it will effect all the chips of course. the HDMI out chip generates a lot of noise and is sensitive to power supply changes. WEIRD effects can happen at the stupid high freq this chip spits out. Make sure to watch the picture as you make changes because its possible to go bigger in caps and cause pic degradation. Its a weird tricky balance.

Sound gets better with more uF, pic does not, it gets worse after a point.

What you have now tho should be great fun. Add a WIMA poly to that electrolytic. Stack the electrolytics to get better sound.

The impedance at the freqs involved are greatly effected by the wire that goes to the PCB. I spent ALOT of time messing around with caps, spacing, geometry and wire types to nail that whole spectrum. Im sure you can imagine how much time that took opening it up, changing wires, wire lengths, caps doing each one at a time and putting it all back together and measuring..

The wifi gets radiated into the caps and the wires BTW. That was also tricky to get rid of..

You should report what your seeing as improvements. Its all valid for what I do too.

ALSO...

I have to give you some serious credit. I believe you were the first person to discover and mod a AppleTV ? I can't fine anyone else. Your pics were the first back when.. I remember seeing those pics. i saw them back in the day and thought, ooo thats cool. But never did any mods.. BUT.. When it was suggested I mod a AppleTV, I remembered your post and that it was 12V and agreed to give it a whirl.. So I may not have attempted this without your previous work..

i wanted to give you credit for that for sure. You went where no man had gone before.
 
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Xymox

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Apr 17, 2019
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One last tip. Remember this is a computer and a digital device spitting out HDMI. While audio grade caps will work, things like film and tant should be part of the scope. There is a bunch of RF, a bunch above 1Mhz. The audio grade caps will be ineffective at these high freqs.
 

AngeloVRA

Member
Mar 8, 2020
6
1
8
There you go !.. NICE choice of parts.. AND WIRE.. There is a tricky balance between the types of caps and values and wire. Remember your creating a impeadance at different frequencies. There is a nasty noise coming from the buck/boost regulators, its got wide spectrum with the worst of it near 20khz but a LOT above it. So think low freq RF. Its steady state and there constantlly. Use some WIMA polys close to the ApplePCB to supply these nasties with juice and quash out the noise from them. Remember this is high frequency, so a small diameter wire with good 20khz-50mhz performance works best. A big ga wire is not best. Then you have the CPU rumble. This rumble is sporadic and SERIOUS. I have dropped 500,000uf hooked right to the PCB and still had measurable rumble. The rumble can be 750mA spiky junk single impulse stuff VS a 100mA background draw. The rumble needs to be dealt with with electrolytics and tant. The rumble has a spectra like 5hz - 100 hz. Its very random. This requires large ga wire. So the wire dia is trick to do both. Overall your wanting to make the lowest impedance possible for these bands. The wire is a balance. Length, dia, spacing all matter at the high freqs.

There is a tricky other component. As you do this and change these values it will effect all the chips of course. the HDMI out chip generates a lot of noise and is sensitive to power supply changes. WEIRD effects can happen at the stupid high freq this chip spits out. Make sure to watch the picture as you make changes because its possible to go bigger in caps and cause pic degradation. Its a weird tricky balance.

Sound gets better with more uF, pic does not, it gets worse after a point.

What you have now tho should be great fun. Add a WIMA poly to that electrolytic. Stack the electrolytics to get better sound.

The impedance at the freqs involved are greatly effected by the wire that goes to the PCB. I spent ALOT of time messing around with caps, spacing, geometry and wire types to nail that whole spectrum. Im sure you can imagine how much time that took opening it up, changing wires, wire lengths, caps doing each one at a time and putting it all back together and measuring..

The wifi gets radiated into the caps and the wires BTW. That was also tricky to get rid of..

You should report what your seeing as improvements. Its all valid for what I do too.

ALSO...

I have to give you some serious credit. I believe you were the first person to discover and mod a AppleTV ? I can't fine anyone else. Your pics were the first back when.. I remember seeing those pics. i saw them back in the day and thought, ooo thats cool. But never did any mods.. BUT.. When it was suggested I mod a AppleTV, I remembered your post and that it was 12V and agreed to give it a whirl.. So I may not have attempted this without your previous work..

i wanted to give you credit for that for sure. You went where no man had gone before.
Hi @Xymox,
Thanks for the kind words. … I went ahead and stacked 5x AN Kasei 470uf/25v that I had on-hand.
DC1090D4-D0A0-40D0-A4BD-79A18A34A96F.jpeg
I tend to prefer keeping it simple and skip trying out various types and values of bypass caps.
Unless, of course, you have a very specific combination to recommend.
Thanks again!
 

Xymox

Well-Known Member
Apr 17, 2019
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www.appletvx.com
Awesome !

That should have improved sound. Imaging. Depth. Space. Nuance.

Picture is more the WIMA for the high freqs. BUT I bet this had a effect on dynamic range, like the gamma got more correct. Other hard to define things like smoother motion for some weird reason.

Carefull your getting into where it will start to be addicting and having you watching things till all hours.

I must have redone my caps 50 times as I learned.

Those caps are great for it. Audiograde caps tho tend to be big for thier value. I was after max uF in the space to battle the rumble. The way to proceed is to hook some tiny wires to the apple PCB where you soldered these caps on and then use a scope and see whats up. Then try different caps and see how they work.. Who knows those caps might do something better then mine did. Those are good caps.

I used these for the electrolytics after I tested a ton looking at where they worked best in freq in circuit. YOUR SETUP IS DIFFERENT, so yours might be best in your layout. This is the fun part of DYI, playing with parts and seeing what the effects are.

But I bet its pretty amazing now. With a good linear it must be getting pretty fun..

You gotta report on your experence :) WHat did you gain with the caps ?
 

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