No home theater is complete without music and effects booming at you from every direction, which is why it’s relieving to hear that YouTube TV is finally testing its long-awaited 5.1 surround sound ability on more devices.
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In a tweet detailing the status of its surround sound capabilities, YouTube TV mentions it’s been “testing 5.1 audio” and “if everything runs smoothly, we can expect 5.1 audio to launch on those devices next.”
Google’s over-the-top streaming TV service—or what I like to call “internet cable”—introduced 5.1 Dolby audio capabilities last summer when it announced it was adding 4K video, but it’s been painfully slow to roll out. This next release also has its caveats, as it’s limited to Roku, Android TV, and Google TV set-top boxes and streaming dongles.
Only a select number of smart TVs manufactured by Samsung, LG, and Vizio have had access to 5.1 surround sound, along with the original Chromecast streaming dongles—the ones that predate the Chromecast with Google TV. Apple TV, Fire TV, and game consoles like the PlayStation 5 will have to wait longer for full surround sound on YouTube TV.
If you’re curious to see if your streaming device is compatible with surround sound within the YouTube TV app, head into your account settings on the device where you’re watching the app. Under About, select App Version, and check to see if you have Cobalt version 20 or later. You’re good to go if you have that coupled with a speaker system that supports 5.1 audio.
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Until recently, the “streaming wars” seemed focused on securing content offerings rather than the technical capabilities of a particular service. Not that there still isn’t a battle over content, as services like YouTube TV fight for the rights to showcase specific channels. But as more streaming content becomes readily available where there’s a viable internet connection, the focus will be on choosing a service that resonates with your specific tech setup.
At this point, YouTube TV has a bit of catch-up with the competition. Hulu with Live TV provides surround sound for select live channels, while Sling TV is limited to some on-demand content.