Do I Need a Dolby Vision DVR? Ask the Editors

dolby vision dvr

Q: I just finished reading “How to Get Dolby Vision HDR at Home.” To see Dolby Vision HDR on my display, do I need a Dolby Vision DVR (digital video recorder)? Does my cable box that does not include a DVR need to support it?

– Thomas Moore (DCT3416)


A: To see Dolby Vision at home, everything in the signal chain must support the format. That starts with the content itself, which must be encoded in Dolby Vision. At this time, DV is not being used in any cable, satellite, or over-the-air broadcast programming. As a result, there are no cable boxes or DVRs that support it. Because DV-encoded broadcast content does not exist, there’s no need for a cable box (with or without a DVR) that supports it.

As of this writing, the only content encoded in Dolby Vision includes a few UHD Blu-ray discs as well as some streaming titles from Netflix globally, Amazon and Vudu in the US, iQiyi in China, and NTT Plala in Japan. (I’m sure that more DV discs and streaming titles are coming.) To play Dolby Vision-encoded UHD Blu-rays, you need a UHD Blu-ray player that supports the format. At the moment, the only ones that do are the Oppo UDP-203 and 205. The LG UP970 and Philips BDP7302 and 7502 are scheduled to add support for Dolby Vision in a firmware update by the end of the year. If your UHD Blu-ray player does not support Dolby Vision, it will play HDR content in HDR10, which comprises the base layer of DV-encoded video.

To play Dolby Vision streaming titles, you need a streaming device that supports the format. The corresponding apps within many DV-capable TVs can stream these titles, but as of this writing, the only standalone streamer that can do it is the Chromecast Ultra.

If your DV-compatible UHD Blu-ray player and/or Chromecast Ultra are connected to the HDMI inputs of an AV receiver or preamp/processor, that device must also support Dolby Vision. There are a few 2017 models that support DV out of the box, but many models from 2015 and 2016 are awaiting a firmware update by the end of the year that adds support for Dolby Vision. See the article for a complete list of models.

As a side note, if you’re using the apps within a DV-compatible TV to watch Dolby Vision content, you need to get the audio from the TV to your sound system. One possible way is to connect the HDMI output from the AVR or pre/pro to the HDMI input on the TV that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). Typically, only one HDMI input on a TV supports ARC, and of course, the AVR or pre/pro must support it as well. Alternatively, you can connect the optical digital-audio output from the TV to an optical input on the AVR or pre/pro. In either case, many TVs downmix a surround soundtrack to two channels via HDMI ARC or optical.

Finally, the TV must be able to decode and display Dolby Vision content. See the article for a complete list of TVs that are DV-capable. As of this writing, there are no home-theater projectors that can display DV content, and I don’t expect any to be introduced anytime soon.

To recap:

1. You don’t need a Dolby Vision DVR or cable box; in fact, they don’t exist, because there is no DV-encoded broadcast content.

2. To see Dolby Vision at home, you need DV-encoded content from one of the streaming services that provide it or a UHD Blu-ray that includes it.

3. You need a device that plays that content, such as the appropriate apps in a DV-capable TV or a Chromecast Ultra and/or a DV-capable UHD Blu-ray player.

4. If you have one or more DV-capable source devices connected to the HDMI inputs of an AVR or pre/pro, it needs the capability to pass Dolby Vision from the source device to the display.

5. You need a Dolby Vision-capable TV; there are no DV-capable home-theater projectors.

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