Serious home theater fans want the best video and audio resolution possible. When it comes to audio, this means blu-ray disc movies with Dolby ATMOS audio encoding are encoded with TrueHD lossless tracks. Remember that ATMOS is not an audio format, but metadata that can tell a sound system how to process the audio information. The audio format is Dolby TrueHD and ATMOS metadata creates the object-based surround sound after it decoded by AV receiver or capable soundbar.
In terms of a streaming media player that can passthrough lossless TrueHD audio, there is only one heavy hitter on the market and that is Nvidia Shield, which runs on Android TV and comes in 2 versions. The Shield was designed to be a hybrid media streamer and gaming device, competing with the likes of Xbox and Playstation gaming consoles that can also stream entertainment content. From a streaming perspective, what sets it apart is the ability to passthrough uncompressed ATMOS or DTS:X audio signal, which no other players can.
The basic version is just called Nvidia Shield, sometimes referred to as Shield Tube. The Nvidia Shield Pro has more beefed up processor, memory, storage and a USB slot for hard drive expansion. It also has the ability to act as a Plex Media Server. While other media streamers like Roku and Fire TV can pass through Dolby ATMOS, they can only pass through the lossy audio format version which is Dolby Digital Plus with ATMOS metadata. Nvidia Shield will also passthrough uncompressed DTS:X coded audio, which is DTS’ version of object-based surround sound technology.
When you make backups of your blu-ray movies collection, you can’t get TrueHD ATMOS sound without using Nvidia Shield to stream it. You can rip your blu-ray movie discs using MakeMKV. Make sure that Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio file is checked. Then download and launch either VLC or Nova Media Player on Nvidia Shield. You’ll need to go into settings and check Audio Passthrough option. Once you’ve done that, navigate to any ATMOS movie on your media server or local storage and play. You should see your receiver or soundbar’s ATMOS speakers light up and now you can enjoy ATMOS surround sound playing mkv movie files without loading any discs into your blu-ray player.