The new Apple TV eats near-Blu-ray quality X.264 video for breakfast—but when it comes to audio, the device is a picky one. With AirPlay streaming, on the other hand, audio is much more flexible than video. What's going on inside the diminutive media player, and what should those of us doing our own audio/video encoding keep in mind?
The Apple TV will play audio encoded as MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, and several other formats. The audio that accompanies X.264 video, on the other hand, can only be AAC or AC3 (Dolby Digital, often 5.1 channels surround). But the Apple TV doesn't actually know how to decode the latter—if you want to play multichannel audio through your Apple TV, you need to hook it up to a TV or an amplifier that can accept audio in AC3 format and decode it. Most of the time, this isn't an issue, because AC3 is also used in HDTV broadcasts, so most high definition TVs can decode it, as can specialized "surround receivers" with many, many speakers that decode multi-channel digital audio for a living.
However, if you hook up your Apple TV to a TV or other device that expects to receive uncompressed PCM audio, the Apple TV's unwillingness to decode AC3 can be a problem. In this case, if you attempt to play a video with just an AC3 audio track, the Apple TV will display an error message and refuse to play the video file. Apple itself shrewdly avoids this problem by always having a stereo AAC audio track in all the videos that it sells, so the Apple TV can simply fall back to the stereo track if the display device it's hooked up to can't handle AC3 audio. And the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad can't decode AC3 audio either, so they depend on the stereo track as well.
Creating your own
So what does this mean when creating your own videos?
Most of the time, it shouldn't matter, as most audio sources are stereo or even mono, so a stereo AAC track is all that's needed. But when ripping DVDs to an Apple TV friendly format, you may want to preserve the original 5.1 audio track as well as create a stereo AAC track, just like Apple does. Pavtube BDMagic for Mac, the powerful video conversion tool, will do this without much trouble.
As a versatile DVD Ripper, the program can stream not only DVD to Apple TV 4/3/2/1, but also rip DVD to iPad (iPad Pro, iPad Air 3, ipad mini 4), iPhone (iPhone 7, iPhone 6S Plus, etc.) and many other popular video/audio format like WMV, AVI, FLV, 3GP, MKV, AIFF, AAC, and more. Play DVD on Android mobile phones is also a simple case with this DVD converting tool.
If you're running a Windows PC, simply turn to Pavtube BDMagic, which allows you to rip DVD to Apple TV format in Windows (Windows 8/8.1/10).
How to Rip DVD to Apple TV with 5.1 Audio?
Step 1: Run Pavtube DVD Ripper for Apple TV, and import DVD movies files to the program. You can directly load DVD source from your DVD disc by inserting it to your DVD Rom, or you can import source movies from ISO/IFO file or a DVD folder stored on your HDD.
Pavtube DVD to ATV Converter checks the main title of the DVD automatically once you loaded the source movie. If you don’t want to rip the main title, you can uncheck it, and tick off whatever title you want to convert for Apple TV. Plus, you can select your wanted subtitles track to be embedded into the resulted files before conversion.
Step 2: Choose “Apple TV 3 Dolby Digital Pass-through (*.m4v)” as output format
In order to have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound in the final output files for Apple TV 3, you should select “Apple TV 3 Dolby Digital Pass-through (*.m4v)” as target format.
The best video format and settings for Apple TV 3/4 DVD streaming:
Format: Apple TV 3/4 Dolby Digital Pass-through (*.m4v)
By choosing this format, you will get two sound tracks in the resulted 1080p m4v video, one is stereo, and the other is AC3 encoded Dolby Digital 5.1 pass-through. When your Apple TV is connected to audio receiver, the 5.1 surround sound will work. When ATV is connected to your HDTV only, the stereo track will work.
Step 3: Rip DVD for Apple TV
Click Convert button to start DVD to Apple TV conversion. When the DVD to 1080p M4V conversion task is finished, you can click Open button to get the converted DVD files that are available for Apple TV Dolby Digital 5.1 pass-through.
For more Apple TV related topics such as Apple TV supported file formats, Apple TV related hot issues, Apple TV video/audio playback solution, please visit our Apple TV page.