After setting up a new household, network, and entertainment devices I have observed the following items. My apologies for not going in depth with device names and photos and statistics……….I’m trying to keep this as simple a read as possible.
We have a smart TV and several smart devices. Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, and HDHomeRun for Live TV connected to an antenna.
- Wireless devices and TV’s are the norm. You have to pay bigger $$’s to get an ethernet port. Streaming video and hi res is more likely to glitch over wifi.
- All have abandoned Optical out for audio. They seem to think that all devices operate perfectly over HDMI or that no one has an older Audio Visual (AV) system.
- The HDHomeRun app only provides audio on some TV sets if set to Dolby Audio.
Granted I have older stuff but still. Anyone with anything more than a few years old might have an AV system or surround sound system that worked on Optical or Digital out. All these new devices seem to be HDMI only.
I have a Polk Audio sound bar on one TV that was several hundred dollars (came with the house) and isn’t that old. It DOES NOT connect to HDMI. So if I want to use a Roku AND THE SOUND BAR …………..it ain’t gonna happen. In order to use the sound bar I have to hook up a super old (2015 era) Apple TV that I have. Yeah it works but Apple no longer supports those devices and you just don’t get updated apps, etc. for them.
In other words, there is no backwards compatibility.
You would think that at a Tech Blog the guy writing it would only have the latest and greatest. Well, let me tell you something about the latest.
It ain’t necessarily the greatest. I don’t care what you say, the heyday of audio was from the 50’s to the 70’s. The best sounding gear gear came out of that era and many (most) of that gear had something bizarre and foreign to most. VACCUM TUBES!
So if you think a $30 Roku via HDMI sounds better than a 1960’s Fisher or Marantz Tube amp then brother………… you just ain’t right.
Why should I replace a perfectly good sound bar that has a HIGHER QUALITY OPTICAL AUDIO CONNECTION with an equally expensive HDMI sound bar that doesn’t sound as good? Why can’t I have a little backwards compatability? Gimme back a damn optical or digital out port. The hardware WOULD support it. They just don’t do it.
Things like the HDHomeRun Network TV Tuners are THE BOMB. You hook the tuner to your antenna, and via ethernet to your network and you can watch TV on any device you own. Phones, tablets, computers, Roku, Apple, Firestick, etc. It’s amazing. But for every platform there is a different app or program. My Mac M1 streams flawlessly but the Firestick a few feet away from it chokes like a dog with a chicken bone.
I did finally connect the Firestick via Advanced network setup and set the IP of the router (I have two with the same wifi credentials) and gateway and DNS server. Then I cleared the cache of the HDHomeRun app. Voila. 100% improvement.
But I betcha lunch the average user would never dig that deep to resolve poor streaming quality.
The same hardware performs wildly differently on different platforms. Ethernet improves the situation considerably but most of these streaming devices are wifi only.
By now you should be getting the point I’m making. New audio isn’t as good as old audio. Wifi isn’t as good as ethernet, Some apps won’t produce sound unless you change the audio hardware stream settings…………….it’s crazy.
The manufacturers want devices with one connection and the least amount of hardware ports as possible. Why? Money. Not quality. What good does it do to have a 4K Roku or 4K Apple TV if you don’t have a 4K TELEVISION SET? What good does it do to have a 4K television set if your content isn’t recorded and played back in 4K RESOLUTION?
What maximum resolution can a human eye perceive? Actually it is more than 4K but YOU CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE UNLESS YOU HAVE A GIANT TV AND ARE SUPER CLOSE. At distance resolution isn’t as perceivable.
Numbers printed on a box don’t always tell the whole story.
If a device has a power plug and an HDMI plug what are the odds that you need tech support. Tech support costs money. Add audio ports or ethernet ports or other ports and you are gonna get more calls. They want you to open the box, plug it in and it works. They don’t care about security, quality, performance. They want you to buy it and leave them alone.