Compared with the previous Apple TV 4, the new Apple TV 4K has expanded media playback capability for more media types even includes the new HEVC Dolby Vision (Profile 5)/HDR10 (Main 10 Profile) up to 2160p. However, you may be disappointed to find that you still fail to play the non-apple supported MKV file format on Apple TV 4K due to its very limited format support options. The good news is that you can play the incompatible MKV files with some free apps such as VLC, Plex on Apple TV 4K.
VLC on the Apple TV allows you to get access to all your files and video streams in their native formats without conversions, directly on the new Apple device and your TV. It can play all files, in all formats, including exotic ones, like classic VLC media player. It plays MKV with multiple audio tracks and also subtitle tracks (including SSA).
When you install the VLC app on your Apple TV 4K you will be able to watch video streams in multiple formats from multiple sources, including local network playback, remote playback, and network streaming playback.
Devices and tvOS version
VLC for Apple TV requires tvOS 9.0 or later, it runs on the forth generation and also the fifth generation Apple TV. Previous devices are not supported.
In the past, you can only stream local media from your iTunes library, now, there are many other apps let you use your own sources. One of the apps worth mentioning is Plex, which helps to organizes your video, music, and photo collections and streams them to all of your screens. Apart from direct playing Apple TV 4K compatible digital video and audio file formats directly, the Plex Media Server can also facilitates you to transcode other unsupported file formats such as MKV, AVI or lots of others to Apple TV 4K Plex app 100% compatible file formats.
The transcoding process initiate by the Plex Media Server is automatic, but transcoding a media file can be a very CPU intensive process, especially for 4K MKV file encoded with H.265/HEVC codec. Therefore, if your computer’s CPU is not powerful to keep up with transcoding your media, you will notice pausing or buffering as the Plex app waits for the server to catch up.
Ultimate solution to fix Apple TV 4K MKV file playback issues
If you fail or get bad performance to play certain MKV files such as 4K H.265 MKV file on Apple TV 4K with VLC or the CPU for the Plex Media Server is not powerful enough to transcode the MKV file for you. Then the most effective solution is performing the format transcoding process by downloading a third-party video conversion app such as Pavtube Video Converter.
The program has perfect importing support for both SD/HD/4K MKV files encoded with various different compression codec such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV/VC-1, H.264, H.265, etc. Thanks to its batch conversion mode, so that you can load multiple MKV files into the application at one time for conversion to save your precious time. This application can assist you to easily transcode MKV to Apple TV 4K workable video and audio file formats listed below with perfect quality and super-fast encoding speed.
- H.264/HEVC SDR video up to 2160p, 60 fps, Main/Main 10 profile
- HE-AAC (V1), AAC (up to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC-3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and E-AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound)
Tips: The program supports hard-ware encoding acceleration, if you plan to convert MKV to Apple TV 4K readable HD/4K H.264/H.265 file formats, you can take good advantage of this function to get up to 30x H.265 codec encoding speed as long as you run your computer on Maxwell (GM206) or Pascal based Graphic cards that Nvidia NVENC technology or up to 6x H.264 codec encoding speed as long as you run your computer on Graphic cards that supports Nvidia CUDA or AMD App technology.
For Mac users, you can go to download Pavtube Video Converter for Mac to complete the conversion on macOS High Sierra, macOS Sierra, Mac OS X El Capitan, Mac OS X Yosemite, Mac OS X Mavericks, etc.
How to Convert MKV for Apple TV 4K Playing or Streaming Smoothly?
Step 1: Load MKV files into the application.
Download the free trial version of the program. Launch it on your computer. Click “File” menu and select “Add Video/Audio” or click the “Add Video” button on the top tool bar to import unsupported MKV files into the program.
Step 2: Choose output file format
Clicking the Format bar, from its drop-down list, select Apple TV 4K playable 4K file formats such as 4K H.264 or 4K H.265 file format.
Output 4K H.264
Output 4K H.265
Step 3: Enable GPU Encode Acceleration.
Click “Tools” > “Options”, in the opened “Options” window, click “Acceleration” menu, then check “Enable GPU Encode Acceleration” otpion so that the program will accelerate converion speed when encoding MKV file to H.264/H.265 codec.
Step 4: Start the final conversion process.
After all setting is completed, hit the “Convert” button at the right bottom of the main interface to begin the conversion process from MKV to Apple TV 4K direct playback 4K H.264/H.265 file formats.
When the conversion is finished, click “Open Output Folder” icon on the main interface to open the folder with generated files. Then you will have no problems to play MKV file on Apple TV 4K.