Ask the Editors: Does Dolby Vision in a Player and TV Cause a Conflict?

dolby vision

Q: The Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player is supposed to get a firmware update to add support for Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR). If I buy that player and an LG OLED TV, which also has Dolby Vision, will they somehow conflict with each other and complicate the processing? Also, an AV receiver will be used in the system as well.

– Nabeel Chiya (Nabster888)

A: There will be no conflict whatsoever. In fact, both the player and display must support Dolby Vision if you want to experience the full potential of content encoded in that HDR format. There are currently no UHD Blu-ray discs with Dolby Vision-encoded content, but Warner, Universal, and Lionsgate have all announced that they will release such discs this year. (The studios haven’t yet announced which titles will be released with Dolby Vision.)

Meanwhile, Dolby Vision content is available from several streaming sources, including Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu. However, the UDP-203 has no streaming apps, so this is a moot point regarding that player. The LG UP970 will have only two apps—Netflix and YouTube—and the Netflix app will be able to stream Dolby Vision content. In addition, the Philips BDP7502 will be able to stream Dolby Vision content from Netflix and Vudu. All three players will also support Dolby Vision-encoded UHD Blu-ray discs when they become available.

Initially, I thought that having an AVR in the system should be no problem at all. Unlike HDR10, Dolby Vision does not require the AVR to have HDMI 2.0a connections, so unless it’s an old AVR, I assumed it should have no trouble passing Dolby Vision-encoded video from the player through the AVR to the TV. However, a similar question was addressed at SoundandVision.com, and the situation turns out to be a bit more complicated.

In that article, Dolby was quoted as saying, “Dolby Vision can technically be routed through any equipment starting at v1.4b and above, however, the device needs to be aware of the kind of signal properties that differentiate Dolby Vision from a standard SDR signal. To this effect, we have issued a compatibility SDK that several manufacturers have already used to obtain pass-through compatibility on upcoming products. Compatibility on existing products is something that could possibly achieved as well, but is of course at the discretion of each manufacturer/OEM.”

So it seems that AVR and other equipment manufacturers must specifically enable Dolby Vision passthrough. The S&V article mentions that Dolby is rolling out a logo program that would let consumers know which AVRs and soundbars can pass a Dolby Vision bitstream; this logo will appear first on upcoming AVRs from Onkyo, Pioneer, Denon, and Marantz. Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to assume that few if any current AVRs can do this, and it’s unknown if manufacturers will issue a firmware update to support it.

Therefore, it’s best to get a UHD Blu-ray player with two HDMI outputs: one that connects directly to the TV and the other that sends audio to the AVR. The Oppo UDP-203, LG UP970, and Philips BDP7502 UHD Blu-ray players all provide dual HDMI outputs for just this purpose.

If you’ve got an AV question, please send it to AskTheEditors@avsforum.com.