Netflix vs Amazon vs iTunes vs Vudu vs Roku vs ... - which typically has the best quality audio and video? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 08-24-2012, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm hoping to transition my movie watching from primarily DVDs to primarily streamed movies (Ethernet, not WiFi), with some Blu Ray when I absolutely want the highest quality. I don't have a great videophile eye, but HD streamed movies seem acceptable to me, as compared to DVD. I've mostly been streaming movies using DirecTV, which seems pretty good. The problem I have with DirecTV is that it mostly offers only new releases, and the user interface blows for searching and browsing.

I got an Apple TV and have experimented with NetFlix and iTunes. I've been very disappointed with NetFlix. Even though they offer many (most?) movies in HD, they only have 2 channel audio. This isn't acceptable to me - I'm viewing on a high end front projector with a 100 inch screen, and a very nice audio system with all the bells and whistles.

So, any suggestions? I've tried searching this forum and googling for reviews, but I can't find any that talk about audio quality - that NetFlix doesn't offer most of their HD in DD, nor do most talk about the video quality. As you know, HD isn't HD if it's overly compressed.

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post #2 of 24 Old 08-24-2012, 04:39 PM
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What device are you using for your Netflix streaming? Only the newest devices support the 1080p/5.1 audio encodes. Older devices are only 720p/2.0.

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post #3 of 24 Old 08-24-2012, 05:02 PM
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Vudu HDX has the highest quality streaming. It is 1080p/24 on the video side and has high resolution audio. There is a minimum bandwidth requirement.
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post #4 of 24 Old 08-24-2012, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by andyross63 View Post

What device are you using for your Netflix streaming? Only the newest devices support the 1080p/5.1 audio encodes. Older devices are only 720p/2.0.

I've tried an HTPC, Apple TV, and my Oppo Blu Ray player. All seem to receive 2 channel audio only, but it's looking to me like most movies aren't available in 5.1 from Netflix anyway. I found a lot of stuff on the web saying the PS3 was the only device that supported DD on Netflix, but the posts were old - I'm not sure if that's true anymore. Is it?
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post #5 of 24 Old 08-24-2012, 10:41 PM
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Funny, I'd say 60%+ of the 200+ movies in my queue are DD 5.1. You just need the correct player to get the audio and the better quality video. There are a handful of units out there, Roku XS is one of them. Do some research in the networking thread.
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post #6 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 02:24 AM
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I'd call it more than a handful. The Roku 2 XS and 2 XD feature 1080p Netflix capability with 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus sound; the other current model Roku players, the LT and HD are limited to 720p, but I believe that they're both DD+ capable (they strangely reused the model name "Roku HD" rolleyes.gif). To get 5.1 sound from the Rokus, your AVR has to be able to decode it; they only pass it through and cannot process it into anything else. Your AVR also has to have HDMI inputs as none of the current model Rokus feature S/PDIF, optical or coax. The Rokus can also play basic DD 5.1 sound for streaming Amazon titles which feature it.

A ton of televisions and BD players feature Netflix players with 5.1 sound; the 2011 and 2012 Panasonic BD players have Netflix players with 5.1 sound (2011s restricted to 720p) and the 2012 Sony BD players do. They also feature VUDU players with 1080p video and DD+ sound (some basic DD and some 7.1 channel DD+); VUDU is a rental service and 1080p costs $1 more than 720p (they also sell streams with 1080p priced at a premium above 720p). Both the Panasonic and Sony BD players feature Amazon streaming video players as well, only the Sonys currently capable of 5.1 sound from Amazon. I haven't tried them but I'm certain that current model Samsung and LG players feature 1080p/5.1 Netflix players as well. Western Digital's TV Live streaming boxes also have 1080p/5.1 Netflix players and VUDU players.

The PS3 and Xbox 360 have Netflix players with 5.1 sound; the Xbox's player is limited to 720p (MS seems to have decided that only their Zune video service is to feature 1080p video on the Xbox rolleyes.gif). Both have VUDU players as well (again, the Xbox 360's limited to 720p).

This list is not all-inclusive. Here's a search of Netflix's site's support section for "5.1" which articles on various devices which feature 5.1 sound.

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post #7 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 02:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. According to Netflix's site, my Apple TV supports Netflix DD streaming. And my Oppo BD93 Blu ray player supports Roku, so I should be all set. And I'm happy to hear that 60% of your movies are available in 5.1 from Netflix. But can you give me an example? I couldn't find anything. I tried a few of the titles it was showing on the home screen (such as Iron Man 2), and a few other blockbusters I would think would be available in 5.1, and none were. I know I'm getting 5.1 when I do because my processor tells me (Primare SP32). And shouldn't Netflix tell you in the movie description if a movie is available in 5.1?
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post #8 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 06:45 AM
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If you want to test a BAD encode (unless they have fixed it by now), try the weird Robin Williams movie "Toys". It's 5.1 audio, but the soundfield is screwed up, with the center channel in the left surround. The 2.0 audio is fine. If it's still bad, it'll be obvious which encode you have!

With the newer Netflix interface, look for titles that not only say HD, but also have a 5.1 after the HD.

Also, does your SP32 support DD+? It sounds like it needs an upgrade for that. If it support DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD, then I assume it could support Dolby+. Do you get DTA-MA or Dolby HD with BD's?

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post #9 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
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No sure about DD+ on the sp32. I will check. Do I need that for Netflix? And was I mistaken, or are most blockbusters like iron man not available in DD?
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post #10 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 06:53 AM
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I think most of the services use DD+ for 5.1 since it's more bandwidth friendly than regular Dolby (sort of like the difference between MP3 and AAC/WMA).

Many big name movies are only 720p/2.0. The studios are paranoid.

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post #11 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so to clarify - you guys are saying that Roku will have more movies in 1080p/5.1 than Netflix (such as perhaps iron man), and a dd capable processor doesn't necessarily support dd+.
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post #12 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave T View Post

a dd capable processor doesn't necessarily support dd+.

Correct. A quick acid test would be does the receiver support HDMI 1.3? Does the receiver support Dolby TrueHD (if it does then it will support DD+)?

You may find this Wiki link on DD+ informative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_Digital_Plus

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post #13 of 24 Old 08-31-2012, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave T View Post

Thanks, guys. According to Netflix's site, my Apple TV supports Netflix DD streaming. And my Oppo BD93 Blu ray player supports Roku, so I should be all set. And I'm happy to hear that 60% of your movies are available in 5.1 from Netflix. But can you give me an example? I couldn't find anything. I tried a few of the titles it was showing on the home screen (such as Iron Man 2), and a few other blockbusters I would think would be available in 5.1, and none were. I know I'm getting 5.1 when I do because my processor tells me (Primare SP32). And shouldn't Netflix tell you in the movie description if a movie is available in 5.1?
A number of the blockbuster type of titles coming from Paramount such as Transformers, Captain America are not offered with dolby digital ( turned on the apple tv and checked to be sure). Some titles that have dolby digital are Immortals, The Warriors Way, Thor and Skyline. The best way i know of to check for dolby digital is to check the title description and look for the dolby logo usually next to the HD logo. A number of recent TV series have the dolby digital such as Hell on Wheels also. Granted it would be easier if the info was on the Netflix site but it's always fun to search on the TV. In time most titles will probably get dolby digital.

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post #14 of 24 Old 08-31-2012, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I'll check again, but I thought Thor was a movie I checked and wasn't in DD on Netflix. In any case, it sounds like Roku will have movies in DD if anyone does,so I don't see any reason not to just use Roku for everything, is there? Why bother using multiple services if Roku offers the best quality and the most DD/1080p content?
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post #15 of 24 Old 08-31-2012, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave T View Post

I'll check again, but I thought Thor was a movie I checked and wasn't in DD on Netflix. In any case, it sounds like Roku will have movies in DD if anyone does,so I don't see any reason not to just use Roku for everything, is there? Why bother using multiple services if Roku offers the best quality and the most DD/1080p content?

The best 1080p and audio quality come from VUDU (HDX), Netflix comes in at number 2. If you have no need for VUDU then just get the Roku player of your choice and you're good.

If you do want VUDU then you need a second streamer that supports it.

It's sort of a mystery why Walmart who owns VUDU and actively promotes and sells Roku players has not allowed a partnership, at least so far.

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post #16 of 24 Old 09-02-2012, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave T View Post

Why bother using multiple services if Roku offers the best quality and the most DD/1080p content?

Roku isn't a service in and of itself, it's a device with apps to a number of different services, some of which may have 5.1. It probably has the biggest selection of apps, with the notable exception of VUDU.

It does do the other biggies; Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus, Amazon, etc.

My advice is to get a Roku 2 XS or XD, a blu-ray player with the VUDU app (if your Oppo has it, keep it), and then you're set for everything for at least the foreseeable future (at least until 4k comes out.) You may have a little overlap, but you should find some decent 5.1 content between the two.

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post #17 of 24 Old 09-02-2012, 02:00 PM
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^^^^^^I have a Roku 2XS,and so far the only service i have found w/DD5.1 is Netflix. Hulu+,and Crackle both have movies that if aren't in "true HD",come awfully close to it(excellent PQ),but still no DD5.1 yet. Still haven't tried Amazon yet. I checked out a couple of movies there,but then i found the same movies on Crackle and was not required to pay for them like i would have had to do if i had chosen to watch them on Amazon.
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post #18 of 24 Old 09-08-2012, 08:41 PM
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What is "True HD"? Hulu+ has content in 720P which is certainly "True HD". Both 720P and 1080P are HD.

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post #19 of 24 Old 09-08-2012, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
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720P and 1080p are both great, but it's more a question of how much lossy compression they put on it and what the bitrate is. And how good the audio is. Seems to me like something that doesn't sacrifice PQ to accommodate lower bitrates is best, even if it needs some buffering to do it.
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post #20 of 24 Old 09-09-2012, 09:07 AM
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What is "True HD"? Hulu+ has content in 720P which is certainly "True HD". Both 720P and 1080P are HD.

All i meant is that i am not sure what resolution Hulu+ is using to show its movies,it's probably a mixed bag.Some movies may be shown in SD,while others may be shown in HD,just like Netflix which shows some movies in SD,while others are HD. But either way,the PQ from Hulu+(and Crackle) is quite good.
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post #21 of 24 Old 09-12-2012, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by greaser View Post

^^^^^^I have a Roku 2XS,and so far the only service i have found w/DD5.1 is Netflix.

HBO Go and Amazon both offer some titles with 5.1 sound. (Most of the content on HBO Go is now in HD with 5.1 sound; Netflix is around 25% HD with a much lower percentage of 5.1 and Amazon lower still).

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post #22 of 24 Old 09-12-2012, 01:04 PM
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It's sort of a mystery why Walmart who owns VUDU and actively promotes and sells Roku players has not allowed a partnership, at least so far.

There may be some reason why Roku cannot support VUDU. VUDU's highest quality streams top out at about 9 Mbps; nothing else that I know of on Roku streams at that rate. Of course, they could offer a subset of VUDU's quality tiers like the Xbox 360 (MS seems to have decided that nothing on the Xbox shall offer 1080p video other than their own Zune video rental/purchase streaming/download service). It may also be unacceptable to VUDU that Roku doesn't license Dolby tech and therefore only passes Dolby Digital Plus through untouched, making it impossible for people with older AVRs which can't process DD+ to enjoy their best quality sound.

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post #23 of 24 Old 09-29-2012, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

like the Xbox 360 (MS seems to have decided that nothing on the Xbox shall offer 1080p video other than their own Zune video rental/purchase streaming/download service).

It appears HDX is now live with the 360. Noticed one of my movies available to play as HDX and the signal level bar read HDX.
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post #24 of 24 Old 10-01-2012, 06:26 PM
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It appears HDX is now live with the 360. Noticed one of my movies available to play as HDX and the signal level bar read HDX.

We were discussing this the other day in the "The Official Xbox 360 Dashboard/Update Thread" of the Xbox Forum here; didn't think to report it here. So it seems that MS is easing up on the no-1080p-but-Zune-on-the-Xbox policy. Sadly, no 1080p Netflix yet.

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