People owning AV receivers capable of outputting 7.1 channels or more have had a hard time finding Android TV boxes that supports HD audio pass-through via HDMI. Many devices can pass through 5.1 codec like DTS or Dolby Digital (AC3 / E-AC3), but so far, none of the boxes I’ve tried could manage content with DTS-HD (MA / HR) and Dolby TrueHD with 8 channels properly. The one that came close was Zidoo X9 with support for Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and 7.1, but it downmixes 7.1 channels to 5.1 channels. So the only cost effective options to get proper 7.1 channel pass-through were Intel based mini PCs running Linux such as Asus Chromebox M004U or Intel NUCs.
Their Android 4.4.2 firmware (version 1.0.23) is promises support for HD audio pass-through, albeit with some limitations:
- Supported Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA in MKV/TS.
- HD Audio in BDISO not yet support. Will be supported in next week build.
- SPMC HD Audio support require Koying to enable that in SPMC.
So currently TrueHD and DTS-HD MA only work with the internal player, and only with Matroska or transport stream containers. Kodi support, an in this case SMPC fork, is not enabled yet, but I assume it should come in time. A new firmware is coming next, with blu-ray support so I might give a try a that time.
But Open Hour Chameleon is not the only Android platform to have made progress in that regards, as users have confirmed Minix NEO X8-H can also support DTS-HD and TrueHD pass-through, although by using Vidon XBMC Pro that costs $15 per year. Sadly in the same thread, other users also found bugs with some files, and automatic frame rate switching must be disabled for pass-through to work. Vidon XBMC Pro is said to be working on Allwinner A10, A20, & A31s, Amlogic S805, 802 & S812, as well as Mstar MSO9810, but I’m not sure whether you can expect on any products featuring one of those processors. Beside VidOn Box, the only “Vidon XBMC certified” box is Egreat A9, and those two might be the only ones supporting HD audio pass-through right now, although I have not seen any reviews so far that properly tested these capabilities.
So if you need HDMI pass-through today, I still think going with Intel platforms would be better, except Bay Trail-T platforms which do not support 7.1 pass-through, only 5.1. I’m not quite sure about Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D support, so feedback would be appreciated here. However, if you’ve purchased a Rockchip RK3288 box with good support, there’s hope for proper HD audio pass-through in the coming weeks or months.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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