Since July 2021, many Apple TV users complain that some movies they rent or purchase come without audio at all. This issue is not common enough for everyone to panic, though it’s referenced quite frequently. And you may find out that the next movie you rent or buy is as silent as in the 1920s.
The issue is not platform-specific. It is reported on any hardware platform that supports Apple TV, be it native ones by the vendor (Apple TV, iOS, or Macs) or third-party ones (Roku, Chromecast, and so on). Neither is the issue connected to certain titles: the same movies can play normally for other users. Sometimes it even affects movies from other sources, like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
The only explanation that comes to mind is that the bug has something to do with DRM. If the movie is not recognized as purchased legally (though it is), the software player refuses to reproduce its audio. It doesn’t have to be the case, but it explains how the issue happens selectively.
Surprisingly, the audio may return if you change the output – for example, if you connect AirPods to Apple TV. Another way to patch the problem is to go to Settings on your Apple TV and then to Video & Audio, where you change the audio format from 5.1 to Stereo. A downgrade in quality, but often it helps to get at least two-channel audio. It doesn’t help, though, if you encounter this on Roku.
Not only is this issue quite rare and exotic. It seems a problem for Apple support as well, as, instead of fixing the issue and providing a working copy, the company offers a refund. Still, not everyone complaining gets even this. Sometimes the support seems to not get the problem and leaves the question unanswered. This lack of reaction may show that Apple is embarrassed by what’s happening and cannot step up with a solid solution but doesn’t want to recognize it. Well, it’s a typical Apple.