How to get surround sound audio from (e.g 5.1 AC3)

Watching Plex TV using Apple TV and with surround sound Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. + Plex via Apple TV = Audio Goodness

For some time I have enjoyed the convenience of as a solid legal file sharing service. To cut a long story short, I have also been frustrated with the lack of 5.1 surround sound support.

Having invested a good deal of money into my home stereo, it seems such a waste to not have high quality 5.1 audio to match. For some of you that might mean more than Dolby Digital and more like Dolby Atmos. Either way I think you ‘feels’ me, right?

I have tried most of the apps that are available with including the Kodi, iOS app, Apple TV app, app for Plex and the app that works on my Samsung TV and have never been able to get surround sound working.

After a little Googling I discovered that all the apps downsample or downgrade the audio to 2.0 stereo, with a comment somewhere I saw that said they don’t see the value in the development work…

This leaves me sad.

So the question – How to get 5.1 AC3 audio, or similar to work for files in Put, that doesn’t require a lot of hassle e.g. have the rest of the family/roommates frustrated and complaining that it’s too technical and a PITA to use, or worse, complaining they can’t hear the difference. 😱

The solution (short answer)

The basic TL;DR on this is to have a Plex server where you put your AC3 DD files and then use the Plex Apple TV app to play the files on your Apple TV. As Plex and the Apple TV both support AAC/AC3 5.1 surround sound audio (and more) you’re audio problems are solved.

The essential solution (longer answer with a bit of a how to do it)

Here is the longer version of the above which isn’t as complicated as it seems. Yes, you do need a computer that can act as a Plex server but most households have an old laptop or computer lying around not being used.

Steps 2 and 3 are optional. You could just download the files manually from to your computer.

  1. Set up Plex media server.
    1. Easy as 1.2.3 – just download Plex on an old computer and make sure it’s connected to the same WiFi as your Apple TV – and that it’s not set to go to sleep automatically
  2. Download the Plex Java based (Java = it’s cross platform for Mac and PC) auto-download download manager.
  3. Set up the Plex download manager to auto-download to a folder on the computer your running Plex on.
  4. Tell Plex to look at that folder for new files
  5. Install the Plex app on your Apple TV. When you run the app on the Apple TV it should pick up the server automatically.
  6. Play your mkv/mpeg4 movie files etc. If they are 5.1 Dolby Digital etc, they will play in wonderful surround sound.
  7. Celebrate with a movie, popcorn, a Philips hue lighting disco and try not to fall asleep on the couch once you’ve done it all.

It’s important to note you will probably need an Apple TV 4th gen or newer which supports installing apps.

My mac mini is about 7 years old but it handles this set up no problem.

Allow time for any new files to download. If your on the couch and say ‘I want to watch X or Y’ then you’ll have to wait for it to download first which might be a hassle. Try to think in advance. Nothing worse than everyone sitting around saying ‘why is it taking so long, can’t we just use the app?’, and you trying to explain how much better it will sound if they have some patience.

One final note is to look at a service like to move files into easier, and/or use an RSS feed to auto add files and then the rest happens automatically, as above.

Did I miss something? Is there an easier way? Comment below.

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1 thought on “How to get surround sound audio from (e.g 5.1 AC3)”

  1. Hi, could you maybe link that download Manager for plex?

    Waiting for download is pretty uncool. You sure there isn’t a solution to directly stream from putio through plex? I need to try that putio-plugin for plex.

    Also, did you try infuse?

    Bit off topic: the font of the blog is about 2 times to big for my iPhone 🙃

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