Roku 4 vs. 3 - Worth the upgrade?

The Roku has never decoded Dolby (whether via HDMI or Optical)…it passes it to the AVR to decode. And the optical passthrough on the Roku 4 works exactly the same as the HDMI passthrough on Roku 3 on my AVR.

From Roku:
Does the Roku player support 5.1 surround sound?
Yes, the Roku player can support pass-through of 5.1 surround sound to your TV or AV receiver.

To enable surround mode on Roku, go to Settings>Audio>Audio mode and select “Auto”.

Note: 5.1 surround sound requires a receiver capable of decoding Dolby Digital and/or Dolby Digital Plus, depending on the audio format in the content.

Here are some services on Roku that support Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus:

Amazon Instant Video

MGO Movies and TV



Programs that offer 5.1 surround sound can be identified by a “5.1” icon displayed near the parental guidance ratings on movie and TV show detail pages in the Netflix and Amazon channels. We expect other partners to add support for 5.1 surround sound in the future.

Yes, so to get 5.1 audio on Netflix from Roku 4 via optical your AVR needs to decode DD+. Many AVRs that do not have HDMI inputs also do not decide DD+, only DD. In this case scenario, which is quite common, you will not get 5.1 audio from Netflix.

That’s why I asked what’s the make and model of your AVR?

It’s really none of your business what is the make and model of my AVR…suffice it to know that it decodes DD+, which is a requirement for any AVR to get DD from Netflix on Roku, whether via HDMI or Optical.

Lol chill - all my point was it that someone with an AVR with an optical input only and no decoding support for DD+ will not get 5.1 audio on the Roku 4 with Netflix, Vudu, Amazon.

My statement was not wrong. I’m just trying to clarify for everyone else as not to mislead them.

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I never said it did decode it. I was simply stating it seemed strange (to me) that they would spend the money to add optical when FEW Audio receivers are going to be able to use it. Not saying none, just few.

DD+ is not transferred via optical for other media (such as Blu-ray) so it stands to reason that most receivers that can handle DD+ are also going to offer HDMI input, negating the need for optical.

Flip over to most AVRs that MUST HAVE optical, and few are going to be able to do DD+… Its a mis-match.

It seems (again, TO ME) that the point of adding optical is to be backward compatible with older audio receivers (like mine). If you are engineering in a way to be backward compatible, I would think they would want to be compatible with a wide array of receivers.

Had they not included optical, I would understand and not expect them to decode anything, just as they have for Roku 2 & 3. OR, if the majority of the more popular channels were still using just DD, then again, optical out with no decoding makes sense.

But when you put it all together, it seems useless for the majority of the population, not for all and I am glad it works for you, simply stating based off my understanding of the available AVRs out there and the features / connections included, It wasn’t worth the upgraded optical hardware.

But then again, I am sure they have well payed people looking at the market so I could be wrong.

1 - The make of AVR was in my initial post
2 - It doesn’t matter at all what the make of my AVR is - and adds nothing to the discussion what so ever. It is much more useful to discuss does the AVR have spec x or spec y - so others who may read this will have context to what does or doesn’t work.
3 - Really, your “friendly” input is “Why are you here?”

Completely agree…
But optical is useful for the Roku 4 if your AVR is 1080p, and you want to connect to your TV’s 4K port via HDMI and run audio through your AVR. I found ARC would not pass DD or DD+ from the Roku 4, and am using optical as the fall-back solution.

Actually there is no mention of what the Model of your AVR is in this post.

Again, if anyone’s AVR does not decode DD+ which is very common for older AVRs that have optical inputs only, then they will not get 5.1 audio from Netflix on the Roku 4.

Many people are hoping because of the optical output on the Roku 4 then can get 5.1 audio on Netflix with their old AVRs that only support DD.

Please let’s not play this silly game. I stated above that the make was mentioned in the intial post, not the model…and I’ll stand by my assertion that the make and model add nothing to the discussion - only whether the AVR in question supports DD+ or not.

Again, many people are hoping because of the optical output on the Roku 4 then can get 5.1 audio on Netflix with their old AVRs that only support DD.

So to outright say my previous statement is wrong is misleading to others reading this thread for help.

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Can we have a ceasefire here please?

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So to provide an update on the Roku 4, looks like it may in fact have said Dolby chip for the conversion just the feature has not been put into the firmware on the Roku 4. The plot thickens.

"We appreciate your feedback. The DD+ to DD transcode is a feature we are considering for the Roku-4 but don’t have a specific update to share at this time. The Roku-4 hardware will not need to change to add the DD+ to DD transcode capability.

Dolby Digital(DD) and DTS audio streams are already supported via pass-thru to both the HDMI and optical connector.

DD+ is also supported via pass-thru to HDMI, and in some cases it can be sent over the SPDIF optical connector to a receiver that is able to accept the DD+ stream.


From this thread:

That would be great if it’s true. Right now I have to use my AppleTV (at least 2 versions back mind you) to convert DD+ to DD 5.1. I prefer Roku over Atv, but right now it’s the only thing that will give me 5.1 on my Sonos speaker setup through TOSlink for NetFlix, HBO, etc. Why has Apple had the ability for so long?

The new Roku player, Roku Ultra has an optical out and converts 5.1 DD+ to 5.1 DD for transmission over the optical.

I am not sure if it was official or not, I think it was, but I have seen quite a few posts on the Roku Forums indicating that Roku decided to NOT update the 4 firmware to handle the conversion…

Since the Ultra came out with it from day one, I REALLY doubt they are worried about adding that feature to a now older model…

I did pick up an Ultra and yes it converts it properly. It has some of its own issues (some are having issues with HDR and at first it didn’t play well with h.264 videos with high reference frames) but they are working through those and for me, it is now the best Roku I have had since cutting the cord.

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