Tablo has announced the addition of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound to its lineup of OTA DVRs. Rolling out gradually to existing users via a new firmware update (2.2.22), the new feature will allow Tablo devices to capture and pass AC3 surround sound audio through to supported viewing devices.
The Tablo team notes that the feature has been a long time coming due to the problems with the DVR hardware only being engineered to deliver a single audio stream, and not all devices — especially mobile devices — being able to decode AC3 audio. While the single stream is still an issue, as more mobile devices are beginning to support surround sound, the team felt that it was a good time to begin offering the feature, although users will still have to make the choice between gaining surround sound on supported devices and maintaining compatibility with playback on other mobile devices that can’t handle the Dolby Digital stream.
Surround Sound must be toggled globally, and when enabled, devices that can’t decode the AC3 stream will get no audio at all. Note that all current Apple devices are capable of surround sound decoding, including not only the Apple TV, but also an iPhone, iPad, or iPod running iOS 11 or later, and even a Mac using the Safari browser.