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Question Help me validate that I'm getting the best possible result from my setup

elementoulis

Novice Member
Hello everyone! Quite new to the forum , first post actually. I joined as I have been really helped greatly from this forum at times while Google searching. So this is my first post and it's not a question post per se, although it might contain some questions along the way, but rather a validation of what I have, what I set up, and if through reading stuff on the internet (mostly here) I get the best possible experience from my setup in what it is.

Now, before I get deeper just a disclaimer. These components were not bought with the thought of a setup to begin with. So there was no thought going into compatibility, performance etc. There were just components that I happened to need at a given time, separately from each other and I ended up putting them together. In that sense I am not especially willing to buy new stuff, unless the purchase itself is quite negligible i.e. less than 50$ or 50€ (each one suits their own :)).

So my setup is the following -

Samsung UE55KS7000 hooked up:
Now being a total newbie when it comes to video/sound I had a rocky start. Lot's of things were simply not playing if not working at all! It was frustrating to be honest but that's what happens when you don't prepare prior to buying stuff. Did some research afterwards - this forum's replies helped a lot thank you very much!

So my configuration ended up being like that -

My NAS acts as a dumb bucket that just hosts files. My NVIDIA Shield (also a PLEX server) reads those files and my NVIDIA Shield again (additionally a PLEX client communicating with the PLEX server) reproduces those files on my TV via HDMI.

To resolve some of my playback issues one thing I have done is go to my Samsung TV and found an option called "HDMI Audio Input". Out of the two available options (Bitstream, PCM) I chose PCM. I read here in this forum that having Bitstream set at the receiver (that being my TV) actually forces the receiver to decode the sound stream, whereas PCM at the receiver forces the source to decode the sound stream and send it to the receiver. I saw that my TV only supports AAC and nothing new and fancy so it would struggle in Bitstream trying to decode all those DTS(-MA)/TrueHD. So I thought to leave this job for my NVIDIA SHIELD.

On my NVIDIA Shield I made sure to enable all options such as enabling Dolby Audio Processing and other codecs that were listed in advanced sound settings. I also did some research and while NVIDIA doesn't clearly state which codecs are supported by the SHIELD - users on Reddit state that NVIDIA Shield practically is able to handle all consumer-known codecs and it's a complete solution.

Now if up to here I am good, and I'll leave all you confirm whether that's true or not, here comes the tricky part. My Samsung TV also has a second option. "Digital Audio Output" which very weirdly offers the options, PCM (always available and default), Dolby Digital , DTS , DTS Neo 2:5 (those 3 are disabled and only enable on occasion). My questions here are:
  1. Will any of the other 3 formats become available, based on the premise that I feed the TV a PCM format?
  2. If yes, should I change to an available format other than PCM for the output or is it better to leave it at PCM for the output as well and leave the Z906 system decide what to do with it?
  3. Again, if I leave it at PCM for the output will the 5.1 Z906 speakers be able to play correct surround sound (assuming the movie is indeed a 5.1 or 7.1 movie)?
  4. Alternative scenario: Should I turn my TV back to Bitstream (for input) but stay clear of some specific codecs when I search for movies so that the TV won't struggle? Would that be more worth?
Generally, what are my misconceptions in all the above? What have I done wrong if anything? Am I taking advantage of my setup in the best possible degree given what it is?

Thank you for your time!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The Samsung controls are poorly labelled this is what they do;
HDMI Audio output = TV audio mode
PCM = Stereo
Bitstream = Pass to sound system

Digital Audio Output = pass to sound system audio format selection
PCM = stereo
Dolby Digital = Dolby 5.1
DTS = DTS 5.1
DTS Neo = stereo upmix to 5.1

If your TV is using HDMI-ARC or TV's SPDIF/optical output & you want Dolby 5.1 audio then select;
Bitstream + Dolby Digital


Now your next task is to check the Shield itself detects the correct audio mode so go to
Settings/About/Status/HDMI/Audio mode in there should be Dolby (AC3) audio.

Under Settings/Display & Sound/Advanced this should be on Auto.

Now try playing your content and see if you get Dolby 5.1 in anything, if yes then your good to go.



However if you encounter media that doesn't output Dolby 5.1 even with all of the above you still may not be in the clear as the Plex client wont always transcode audio into Dolby 5.1 due to certain limitations with the Plex client and/or other issues.

Your best course of action (at least that I'm familiar with) is to use a different media player that supports Plex servers and can transcode audio into Dolby 5.1 format as needed.

Kodi and its offshoot MrMC can both do this, the difference between the two is MrMC integrates the Plex media listings into its own user interface whereas Kodi has a Plex add-on that loads up a separate Plex interface within Kodi.

Lets start with Kodi
1) Download Kodi from the app store and run it
2) Go into the settings (cog icon) then system->audio output
3) Scroll down to the bottom and turn on pass-through then enable the Dolby receiver and Dolby trans-coding option if its there. If you don't see the transcoding option look at cog icon in bottom left then cycle that to expert, do not enable DTS receiver.
4) Go back to the Kodi main screen and go to add-ons then search and type in plex, then install the Plex script.
5) Run Plex once installed and it will load up into it's own Plex client, connect to your server etc, in the dedicated settings for this Plex addon you will find and option for this to load on starting Kodi so enable that.

Now try playing anything and it should send the Dolby 5.1 and transcode DTS to DD 5.1 audio.

To use MrMC with Plex go into settings->services->plex client and follow the instructions here, follow same audio settings.
 

elementoulis

Novice Member
The Samsung controls are poorly labelled this is what they do;
HDMI Audio output = TV audio mode
PCM = Stereo
Bitstream = Pass to sound system

Digital Audio Output = pass to sound system audio format selection
PCM = stereo
Dolby Digital = Dolby 5.1
DTS = DTS 5.1
DTS Neo = stereo upmix to 5.1

If your TV is using HDMI-ARC or TV's SPDIF/optical output & you want Dolby 5.1 audio then select;
Bitstream + Dolby Digital


Now your next task is to check the Shield itself detects the correct audio mode so go to
Settings/About/Status/HDMI/Audio mode in there should be Dolby (AC3) audio.

Under Settings/Display & Sound/Advanced this should be on Auto.

Now try playing your content and see if you get Dolby 5.1 in anything, if yes then your good to go.



However if you encounter media that doesn't output Dolby 5.1 even with all of the above you still may not be in the clear as the Plex client wont always transcode audio into Dolby 5.1 due to certain limitations with the Plex client and/or other issues.

Your best course of action (at least that I'm familiar with) is to use a different media player that supports Plex servers and can transcode audio into Dolby 5.1 format as needed.

Kodi and its offshoot MrMC can both do this, the difference between the two is MrMC integrates the Plex media listings into its own user interface whereas Kodi has a Plex add-on that loads up a separate Plex interface within Kodi.

Lets start with Kodi
1) Download Kodi from the app store and run it
2) Go into the settings (cog icon) then system->audio output
3) Scroll down to the bottom and turn on pass-through then enable the Dolby receiver and Dolby trans-coding option if its there. If you don't see the transcoding option look at cog icon in bottom left then cycle that to expert, do not enable DTS receiver.
4) Go back to the Kodi main screen and go to add-ons then search and type in plex, then install the Plex script.
5) Run Plex once installed and it will load up into it's own Plex client, connect to your server etc, in the dedicated settings for this Plex addon you will find and option for this to load on starting Kodi so enable that.

Now try playing anything and it should send the Dolby 5.1 and transcode DTS to DD 5.1 audio.

To use MrMC with Plex go into settings->services->plex client and follow the instructions here, follow same audio settings.

Hi and thank you for this fully detailed reply. I'll get on right away and try all your suggested steps.
Some questions though.

1. Returning my TV's input to "Bitstream" won't it result in trying to decode the sound stream from NVIDIA Shield (aka PLEX) and ultimately lagging and producing weird freezes and weird static beepings as it was doing up until I turned it to PCM?

2. My content does not always include Dolby Digital sound necessarily. In fact most of my movies are either DTS , DTS-MA or TrueHD (7.1). Won't that matter (again referring to my TV's lacking audio codecs)?

3. What about when I'm not using my Z906 5.1 system (which is 7 out of 10 times when I watch something). Do your suggestions remain the same for when I'm using the built-in TV speakers?

Thank you and I'll get back to you with results!
 

elementoulis

Novice Member
Additionally I would like to clarify the first sentence of your post:
The menu is called "HDMI Audio Input" and I think it has to do with what kind of input the TV "instructs" the source (in my case nvidia shield) to send it (Bitstream-raw or PCM-decoded). Am I wrong?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
1. Bitstream means passing audio to other sound system to decode, weird noise or lagging is typically an incorrectly set up audio system sending the wrong audio codecs.

HDMI-ARC and SPDIF are limited to PCM 2.0, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1, your TV only supports manually setting the codec (unlike others which are auto) so it must have Dolby being sent to it when using bitstream + Dolby.

2. This is why the Plex server or Kodi must transcode the audio into Dolby 5.1

3. That could be a problem, best scenario is the TV sees the Dolby 5.1 stream coming from the Shield and downmixes it to stereo.

The bad scenario is you get no audio and have to manually reconfigure the Shield and TV to PCM stereo mode.

The HDMI audio input name is just a bad name IMO, they mean the audio source being fed to the TV via whatever source (TV internal tuner, HDMI etc).
 

elementoulis

Novice Member
Hi again,

I followed your instructions - for the most part. The only ingredient missing from the recipe is my Z906 5.1 system, I had some renovations done at home, so the speakers and all that are still tucked away.

  1. Turned TV's HDMI Input to "Bitstream"
  2. TV's Digital output defaults to "PCM" when nothing is playing - for detailed output see table below.
  3. Configured audio settings to "Auto" and checked NVIDIA Shield (Settings/About/Status/HDMI/Audio mode) and it said "PCM 16 bit, DD, DTS"
  4. Configured KODI (with PLEX addon) as per your instructions with DD transcoding and without DTS or anything else.
    --Again I should stress that I didn't have my 5.1 Z906 system connected so I used the TV speakers--
  5. Played an .mkv , 2160p movie with the following properties HEVC.DTS-HD.MA.TrueHD.7.1.Atmos
    This release however, besides the DTS-HD.MA and TrueHD also contains AC3 (DD i think that is) and EAC3 sounds streams so my tests were multiple.
  6. Outcome (the server was always PLEX as we didn't discuss anything else):
ClientAudio Stream SelectedTV Available Output(s)Actual Result
PLEXTrueHD (7.1)PCM , DDIn either output tremendous movie lag and loss of sound at poitns.
PLEXDTS-HA.MA (7.1)PCM, DTSIn either output reasonable playback and some intermittent freezes in picture with a constant beeping/buzzing sound of random duration.
PLEXAC3 (5.1)PCM, DDIn either output reasonable playback and some very rare freezes in picture with a constant beeping/buzzing sound of random duration.
KODIAnyUnable to selectThe movie tries to play for 2 seconds, then returns to the movie screen without any error but is unable to play overall.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Yes AC3 is DD.

So yeah your TV cannot handle the audio codecs being set to it, you can only have stereo audio going to the TV (PCM instead of bitstream).

You have to manually change the settings if you want to use the Z906 sound system from time to time.

The only other suggestion I have is get a HDMI audio extractor and put that between the Shield and the TV.

This will give optical/toslik connection independent of the TV so the TV stays on stereo PCM mode but the Shield is sending is DD/DTS audio to the Z906 bypassing the TV.

If you only use the Shield in conjunction with the sound system this is a good workaround keeping the TV in stereo mode.
 

elementoulis

Novice Member
Yes AC3 is DD.

So yeah your TV cannot handle the audio codecs being set to it, you can only have stereo audio going to the TV (PCM instead of bitstream).

You have to manually change the settings if you want to use the Z906 sound system from time to time.

The only other suggestion I have is get a HDMI audio extractor and put that between the Shield and the TV.

This will give optical/toslik connection independent of the TV so the TV stays on stereo PCM mode but the Shield is sending is DD/DTS audio to the Z906 bypassing the TV.

If you only use the Shield in conjunction with the sound system this is a good workaround keeping the TV in stereo mode.

I see, so thank you for your help! A little unclear still, as to why when I feed my TV with DD, and the DD option is active and selected in TV, the TV still beeps and lags. I mean according to specs it should play just fine based on the setup we discussed.

I took a look at the device you are suggesting. So the premise is that "HDMI IN" on the extractor accepts the incoming signal from the NVIDIA Shield , and then directs the image signal to "HDMI OUT" which will feed it to the TV, and the sound signal to the SPDIF OUT which will feed it to the Z906?

Again thanks for everything!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I see, so thank you for your help! A little unclear still, as to why when I feed my TV with DD, and the DD option is active and selected in TV, the TV still beeps and lags. I mean according to specs it should play just fine based on the setup we discussed.

The bitstream+DD option in the TV is designed to pass the DD audio stream to a sound system, when you have it active it has nowhere to go in a sense.

When the bitstream is disabled and set to PCM the TV is in stereo mode so the audio is always downmixed to stereo.

I took a look at the device you are suggesting. So the premise is that "HDMI IN" on the extractor accepts the incoming signal from the NVIDIA Shield , and then directs the image signal to "HDMI OUT" which will feed it to the TV, and the sound signal to the SPDIF OUT which will feed it to the Z906?

Again thanks for everything!

Precisely.
 

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