After releasing YouTube TV surround sound capability for Google’s TV devices and Roku in June, Google is finally adding the feature for its cord-cutter audiences using Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV platforms. The company had promised to release the enhanced audio stream capability for those platforms eventually, saying it was “still working internally and with partners.”
Google initially announced plans to add 5.1 surround sound capability for YouTube TV last year, coinciding with the launch of a 4K Plus package that includes higher-quality video and the ability to play recordings offline. At the time, Google promised the Dolby 5.1 surround features would be out for all subscribers (Plus package or not) in the “coming weeks,” but it certainly took longer than expected. In February, YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan confirmed on The Vergecast that the feature was coming soon.
Not all channels support surround sound, but you can confirm if a stream has it by going to the Stats for nerds menu under player controls, clicking on More, and then selecting the bug icon. In there, if you see the audio codec listed as AC-3 / EAC-3, then the stream supports 5.1 surround sound, and it’ll be enabled automatically. The feature is now available on compatible Smart TVs, Android TV, Google TV, Chromecast, Roku, various Fire TV devices, and Apple TV. (Though, as of this writing, it’s not yet mentioned on the official support page.)
Now that the most popular hardware platforms support YouTube TV’s premium features, cord-cutters have access to everything they could want: Live TV, DVR, surround sound, 4K streaming, and offline viewing. The 4K Plus package costs an additional $19.99 a month on top of the standard $64.99 a month subscription, meaning you’ll pay $85 (plus taxes and fees) a month to replicate that cable TV experience via streaming.