PlayOn Home content played through Channels on Apple TV loses right channel

I have discovered that content recorded with PlayOn Home, then imported to Channels, then played on the Apple TV Channels client is completely missing right channel of audio. I thought this would be a breeze to troubleshoot by seeing whether it is the source content or the client that makes the difference in audio.

But results below are puzzling. It seems that both audio channels are in the .mp4 file as recorded by PlayOn. But Channels via Apple TV has no problem with any other content. And the Apple TV has no audio issues with any streaming service.

To be sure I had L/R audio information, I used PlayOn Home to record a YouTube stereo test video. Playing this video showed all OK on all the same OK cases below, but interestingly enough, the right audio information came out of the center speaker while the left came out of left front. The speaker assignments on my Denon AVRX-3400H are all correct as verified through the built-in speaker test.

The detected audio for all content I play through Channels via Apple TV is Dolby Digital in all cases, and only the PlayOn Home content behaves this way. I'm at a loss where to look next.

What does View Details for that recording show

The details vary between recordings (for tracks other than 0), but the behavior of left/center instead of left/right is consistent on all recordings done by PlayOn Home.

Example 1: Recorded with PlayOn Home from Peacock:


Example 2: Recorded with PlayOn Home from Hulu:


Maybe check with mediainfo to see if there any differences shown

Not sure I understand. Bear with me. The two examples I showed behave the same way when played in my home theatre setup - the receiver says Dolby Digital and sound comes out the left and center speakers; absolutely nothing on the right.

If you mean look at the differences with files that play correctly on Channels Apple TV client, we have

Example 4: Imported to Channels from a Windows Media Center file


Example 5: DVR recording from Channels


But now back to another example that is missing right channel.


So it looks to me that everything PlayOn records is AAC and it is likely therein lies the difference. That said, when the problematic content is played on other Channel clients (iOS, Fire stick, web browser) I get correct stereo.

MediaInfo is a program to give you all of the details about the file. You can use it to compare the metadata about the two files to see if there are any notable differences.

Progress: I've used MediaInfo to examine a number of test cases and the problem comes down to this. The cases that work properly are ones that have two channels of audio being played on a device with two channels, or content with six channels of audio being played on my amp with 6/7 channels.

What isn't working is content that has two channels of audio but is being played on my amp with 6/7 channels. In that case, left comes out of LF and right comes out of Center. There is something in the HDMI interaction between my television and my amp that isn't handling this case well.

I've definitely ruled out PlayOn as a problem here (except that it doesn't record audio as good as is streamed to it). And there's no connection with Channels as I can repro this with another 2-channel source. I just need to spend quality time troubleshooting the HDMI interaction between TV and amp. Ugh.

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Just putting a bow on this ..

I did extensive testing on this today and (despite my indication earlier) found that the only problem case was when the Channels Apple TV client was playing 2-channel content served from Channels server. In that case, my Denon saw it as Dolby Digital and played the left channel out of LF and right channel out of Center. No other combination of media with media player exhibited the same behaviour. In all of the other cases, Denon interpreted 2-channel as DD Surround TV which I assume simulated Dolby Digital 7.1.

No settings were changed anywhere .. except .. in the process of examining settings I found a pending Apple TV update and applied it. Believe it or not, after that, the previous failure case started working as it should. I suspect it was the Apple TV reboot, and not the update per se, that fixed it. Something in the HDMI negotiations between all the components something was amiss and the reboot fixed it.