Should I Connect My Apple TV to the TV or Receiver?

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Q I have been a big fan of S&V for many years and it was the first place I checked to find out the best way to set up my new Apple TV 4K (third generation). Unfortunately, it seems some of the information is dated or conflicting and related to earlier generations of Apple TV. I have a Denon AVR-S750H surround receiver and an LG OLED77CX 4K TV. I am assuming the best way is to connect the ATV directly to an available HDMI port on the receiver, but older S&V discussions, along with some other sites, recommend connecting it directly to the TV. Please help! —Barry Neulen

A With a modern display and receiver where both support eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) such as your Denon AVR and LG OLED TV, there is no difference (in theory) between connecting sources like your Apple TV directly to the TV or to the receiver. Of course, you’ll need a quality high-speed eARC-capable HDMI cable between the two of them.

Using eARC, you would get all the advantages of lossless, immersive audio like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sent back to your receiver, whether it is from the connected source or the display’s internal streaming. However, in practice, it almost always makes more sense to connect all sources directly to the receiver. Usually, the longest HDMI run in the system would be between the receiver and the display, so connecting all sources to the receiver would allow you to use shorter (and typically more reliable and cheaper) HDMI cables.

I also find that receivers are faster and more stable switching between sources/inputs than televisions. And the back of the receiver is generally more accessible than the back of the TV, which makes it easier to troubleshoot if necessary, as well as simplifying adding new sources.

Of course, there could be instances where this wouldn’t be the best approach — say if you had an older receiver that wasn’t capable of passing a 4K video signal or supporting Dolby Vision, in which case running the video directly to the TV would result in a better picture. Also, if you don’t have a universal remote and are using HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), connecting the source to the TV often lets you use the TV’s remote for some basic control.

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