Need a Roku alternative

kirkbaueratl

Novice Member
I used to be pretty happy with my Roku devices, but now I'm looking for something else. First some background.

I had a Roku 4 with an old HD TV and was perfectly happy. Then I bought a 2017 LG OLED 65" CX and the Roku didn't support HDR, but that was OK because I could do Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu directly on the LG TV. Then we wanted to watch some Apple TV so I needed to upgrade to a newer Roku, so I got the Roku Ultra that was released in November 2020. It theoretically supported both HDR and Dolby Atmos (which is what I have for audio).

That is when things get crazy. If I connected the Roku through my Denon AVR-X6300H I had Dolby Atmos, but even though it would auto-detect 4K HDR it didn't actually work when it switched to it. If I connected it directly to my TV then 4K HDR would work but my TV can't pass Atmos through to the receiver. Then after some time, neither configuration would work properly, so I returned the Roku and re-connected my old Roku 4. At the same time, my wife wanted a bigger TV in the bedroom so I move my OLED 65" to the bedroom and bought a 2020 LG OLED 77" CX. Funny enough that TV can now run AppleTV natively, but it doesn't support HBO Max (at least right now) so I'm using my old Roku 4 for HBO Max and that's it.

But then I found out that the latest LG OLEDs don't support DTS audio tracks. Well, that's a problem because for all of my non-4K Blu-ray discs I have them on a NAS for convenient access around the house, and many of them have DTS audio tracks. So my LG TV can do everything except (1) HBO Max and (2) play some DTS, 2K MKV files from the network.

I have tried Plex in the past but have had no success due to poor performance. All of my MKV files are full original resolution, so for some Blu-ray discs they are up to 50GB or so. If I install the Plex app on my old Synology NAS it can't keep up.

So what I'm looking for ideally is a device that supports 4K HDR and Atmos that also supports HBO Max and can play MKV files with DTS audio. Is there such a thing?

Alternatively, I can stick with the Roku 4 until hopefully HBO Max becomes available on my LG TV. In that case I just need something to play MKV files.

Any suggestions?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The Denon AVR-X6300H does not officially support HDR so that is probably why the Roku Ultra would not work.

You should consider getting the Sharc which is an eARC bridge, it will allow you to use audio formats of the receiver and not be limited by it's lack of HDR.

It will also solve the CX not supporting DTS if you get a media player box that can decode the DTS audio as PCM 5.1 or 7.1, the AppleTV 4K and Nvidia Shield can do both.

I recommend using InFuse (ATV only) or MrMC (ATV, Shield) or Kodi (Shield) as media player to access the shares of the NAS, you can use NFS shares which are better than SMB.

You can also use Plex or Emby server on your NAS if you pair them with above media players, they will do all the local decoding on the box hardware, it is the dumb Plex client invoking server side transcoding that kills your NAS as the Plex apps are really just skins over stock video player.
 

kirkbaueratl

Novice Member
That's interesting, I was not aware of that limitation of the AVR-X6300H. I will note that I did have another Roku that worked in HDR through it at one point (left that part out to shorten the story a bit) and my 4K Blu-ray player does HDR through it, so perhaps it is hit and miss?

If I understand the Sharc correctly, what you are saying is that my TV will pass Atmos, or DTS, or anything else it doesn't understand, out the eARC HDMI port untouched. Then the Sharc will convert it to something my AVR-X6300H supports?

I'll look into your suggestions for media players.

Thank you!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
That's interesting, I was not aware of that limitation of the AVR-X6300H. I will note that I did have another Roku that worked in HDR through it at one point (left that part out to shorten the story a bit) and my 4K Blu-ray player does HDR through it, so perhaps it is hit and miss?

If I understand the Sharc correctly, what you are saying is that my TV will pass Atmos, or DTS, or anything else it doesn't understand, out the eARC HDMI port untouched. Then the Sharc will convert it to something my AVR-X6300H supports?

I'll look into your suggestions for media players.

Thank you!

The Denon site makes no mention of HDR in the specs, it's possible they added some kind of partial support via firmware update but I cant say for sure.

The Sharc is an eARC interface for old sound systems, on the CX eARC allows
  • PCM 5.1 and 7.1
  • Dolby 5.1
  • Dolby 5.1 Atmos
  • Dolby 7.1 TrueHD Atmos

A media player plugged into the TV can be configured to decode the DTS 5.1 as PCM 5.1 so that way the audio can be passed to the sound system. PCM is uncompressed digital audio and only eARC can carry it in 5.1 or 7.1 form so there is no quality loss.

On the AppleTV 4K if you have eARC set up on the TV InFuse will automatically decode DTS 5.1 as PCM 5.1.

On the Nvidia Shield with MrMC or Kodi you must manually set the number of channels to 5.1 or 7.1 in its system sound settings and that will make it decode the audio as PCM.
 

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