With NFL pre-season football starting soon, we’re incredibly excited to announce a new feature coming to all Tablo OTA DVRs – Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound!
Once your Tablo receives the latest Tablo firmware update (version 2.2.22) – which is currently in a phased rollout – your Tablo will be capable of passing Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound audio (aka AC3) through to supported viewing devices.
What? WHAT? I Thought This Day Would Never Come!!
There are two primary reasons why we haven’t supported Surround Sound on Tablo hardware DVRs in the past.
The first reason is that Tablo OTA DVR hardware and its associated apps are designed to create and deliver a single audio stream.
This hasn’t changed, so you'll need to choose between staying with stereo sound OR moving to Surround Sound audio.
Secondly, until recently most mobile devices couldn’t decode 5.1 Surround Sound. This is (slowly) changing for the better as newer mobile devices begin to support this audio profile.
Despite these and other limitations we’ll outline below, we felt the time was finally right to tackle this feature request, especially since the majority of Tablo viewing is done via supported streaming set-top-boxes, sticks, or Smart TVs.
How to Enable Surround Sound
Once your Tablo has updated to the 2.2.22 firmware, the global Surround Sound feature can be enabled via a toggle in the settings screen in the following Tablo apps:
The toggle will be added to additional Tablo apps soon.
What You Can Expect
When enabled, the new Surround Sound setting will tell your Tablo DVR to capture 5.1 Surround Sound audio where available and pass it through to ALL connected devices, regardless of whether they can decode this type of audio profile.
When enabled, devices that cannot decode Surround Sound – like many Android smartphones - will receive video, but no audio.
(The exception to this is when viewing via Tablo Connect, at certain playback settings. More on that later.)
And like changes to video quality settings, switching to Surround Sound audio will be reflected immediately on Live TV and on all subsequent recordings.
It will not affect previously completed recordings, and recordings completed without Surround Sound will continue to be available for playback with stereo sound.
Surround Sound Supported Devices
With Surround Sound enabled, your Tablo OTA DVR will deliver this audio profile when available to all your devices, regardless of their capacity to decode Surround Sound.
However, a shortlist of currently supported devices includes:
Current Surround Sound Device/Platform Limitations
Supported streaming set-top-boxes, sticks, or mobile devices must have the appropriate device-level passthrough settings enabled and (if applicable) be connected to a device (TV and/or audio device) that can decode 5.1 Surround Sound.
Tablo’s app for Xbox One, the original Tablo app for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV, Tablo’s web app via the Google Chrome browser, and Chromecast DO NOT support passthrough of Surround Sound at this time.
Surround Sound & Remote Viewing with Tablo Connect
Tablo OTA DVR owners who frequently use our out-of-home streaming service - Tablo Connect - should consider the impact of enabling 5.1 Surround Sound on their remote viewing.
When using Tablo Connect, 5.1 Surround Sound will only be available on supported devices when using the ‘full quality’ remote streaming setting.
However, ALL devices (even those that don’t support this sound profile) can still enjoy stereo sound even when Surround Sound is enabled at any remote streaming quality EXCEPT ‘full quality’.
The only exception to this is for Tablo DUAL LITE owners who are utilizing the Tablo Cloud DVR (beta), as video streams are NOT transcoded when delivered via the cloud.
Tablo DUAL LITE owners utilizing traditional USB-connected storage will be able to use this workaround for unsupported devices via Tablo Connect.
We hope you’ll enjoy having Surround Sound on live TV and recordings via your Tablo OTA DVR!
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