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Compared to other streaming devices, such as Google Chromecast and Fire TV,  Apple 4k TV is pretty expensive, currently priced at $129 directly from Apple. For that kind of price, you would expect to get lag-free streaming audio and video.

Unfortunately, lagging issues may crop up for a number of reasons, including a faulty HDMI cable, audio and video settings, it’s behind on the latest firmware, Match Frame Rate is enabled, Game Mode is disabled, or Apple TV just needs to be reset. 

While Apple TV is not notorious for featuring laggy audio and video, it does happen from time to time. The current, 4k iteration runs on Apple’s A15 bionic chip, which is supposed to keep everything running smoothly and seamlessly. When that’s not the case, what’s the first step?

AdobeStock_65839446 hdmi cable next to back of tv with ports showing

Try a Different Cable

Do you own an old or cheap HDMI cable? A simple tip here would be switching it with a new or different HDMI cable. If that solves your issue, the cable is the culprit of audio and video delay problems.

However, if you identified that the problem isn’t the cable, read on!

Disable the Match Frame Rate Setting

This troubleshooting tip is fairly common. It’s not that the setting for matching the frame rate is the problem either. It’s a combination of the Match Frame Rate and the Real Cinema features both active simultaneously.

Apparently, this can be problematic judging from the numerous troubleshooting scenarios out there. You don’t want to disable both. All you need to do is ensure that Real Cinema is on and Match Frame Rate is off.

  • Go to the Settings menu on your Apple TV
  • Select “Video and Audio”
  • Ensure that Match Dynamic Range is off
  • Ensure that Match Frame Rate is off
  • Ensure that Real Cinema is on

Both settings are designed to ensure that your Apple TV matches the frame rate the original programming is running in. In most cases, that’s not a problem. However, with Real Cinema turned on, something gets mixed up between the two.

You can also try turning off Match Dynamic Range or Match Frame Rate, rather than both. If turning off just one works, you’re good to go.

Make Sure Your Apple TV is Up to Date

It doesn’t matter what you own, whether it’s an Android device, PlayStation 5, Xbox, iPhone, Microsoft Surface Pro, etc. If you don’t keep the firmware up to date, there are bound to be problems down the road.

Apple TV is no exception and, for the most part, the item comes out of the box with automatic, background updates turned on. However, for whatever reason, it’s not your lucky day. If it was, you wouldn’t be here, pouring over troubleshooting tips.

  • Jump onto Apple TV “Settings”
  • Navigate to and select, “System”
  • Select “Software Updates”
  • Select “Update Software” if the latest software pops up
  • Select “Download and Install”

If your system is up to date, then it will tell you that the latest firmware is already installed when you select “software updates.” If this is the case, move on to the next troubleshooting tip.

Turn Game Mode On

To non-gamers, this may seem a bit silly. Why turn on Game Mode if you don’t plan to play any of the 300 + Apple Arcade games in Apple’s store? Well, gaming requires a high frame rate and a high refresh rate. If your system is in game mode, you’re essentially boosting its refresh rate.

It’s fairly simple to turn on game mode. All you need to do is jump into the settings, navigate to “Audio and Video” and find “Game Mode in the drop-down menu of different settings.

It may not be that anything remotely related to gaming is causing the lag but turning game mode on might just clear things up.

Tweak Your Audio and Video Settings

All you’re trying to do here is check to ensure your current settings are in sync with the settings on your TV or whatever you’re watching and listening to. There are a lot of little audio and video settings to tinker with here.

It may be that you have to tweak a few things, watch something for a few minutes, and go back to tweak it some more until you get it right.

  • Go to the “Settings” menu again
  • Select “Video and Audio”
  • Select “Audio Format”
  • Select “Change Format”

There are a bunch of settings to mess with here, including HDMI Output, Reset Video Settings, Audio Format, Reduce Loud Sounds, Navigation Clicks, Sound Effects and Music, Audio Mode, and more.

Unless you are a serious audiophile, there’s really no way of telling exactly what’s causing the problem. Don’t be afraid to mess with the video and audio settings. There’s nothing you can do in this menu that would make it difficult to return to Settings again when needed.

Worst-case scenario, you still have the option to reset everything to its default settings.

Reset to Default

There are two things to consider when it comes to resetting—hard resets and soft resets. A soft reset is basically turning the device on and off or just returning some settings to their defaults. A hard reset means basically returning your Apple TV to the way it was when it came out of the box.

A hard reset means you will have to sign in with your Apple ID and everything, all over again. Keep that password handy! A soft reset is as simple as powering the device down or unplugging it, then powering it back up.

  • Return to the “Settings” menu
  • Select “General”
  • Select “Reset”
  • Choose “Reset All” or “Restore”

The “Reset All” option resets many of the settings to default, including anything you customized along the way. But, it doesn’t remove your account information or reset to the original, out-of-the-box firmware.

If you choose to “Restore,” you’re starting from scratch, as if you just pulled the Apple TV out of the box for the first time. Once you do this, there’s no going back.

Also, here’s a helpful video below on what the best settings are for your Apple TV

All Things Considered

You shouldn’t expect your Apple TV to go all crazy on you. These are premium devices, and the price is exponential compared to some other devices on the market. That said, sometimes, it’s not really a matter of the Apple device so much as the settings.

Nine times out of ten, you’ll find the answer in the settings and, if not, an old-fashioned reset is an old-school method that’s worked since painting pictures in caves. Maybe not that far, but you get the point.