I just bought my AppleTV and to my dismay it was s%$*t. Before I continue, I just want to say that I have everything Apple except AppleTV. I'm an engineer by background and I have set up all kinds of electronics you can imagine, so what I'm about to describe is not due to some noob screw-up
Here's what happened: After getting it earlier today from the Apple Store in Infinite Loop, I went home and set it up for the first time. It was a direct connect to my big screen 1080p LCD tv using HDMI. No genius required there. During the initial menu screen/start-up, I started hearing static popping sounds through my TV speakers. Audiophiles refer to it as audio clipping, but for the sake of forum tag searches I will call it "popping sounds". My LCD video signal also started clipping and I was worried that something could fry. I don't need to explain further. I continued with the setup (wifi, language, settings) until I finally got to the apps. The whole time it was clipping at random intervals. I have no doubt it's because of the AppleTV electronics. There are no other variables here. It's direct-connect (not through a receiver) and yes I tried different HDMI cables. No, it's not my HDMI cable, I have the best of them. This has to be some really bad electronics in the device that's sending this type of interference (or not filtering properly). I had two Rokus and a Logitech smarttv in the same inputs running for months prior to this purchase and have not once had any kind of audio clipping or popping or static signals. I searched the forum and it seems to be pretty common, with many remedies being offered here and there, such as turning the Dolby NR off, or seting the sound to 16-bit, or some other voodoo. The empirical evidence is already here in the forums that there's a problem with this device, so my device can't be an outlier or some busted-up instance. AppleCare, if you're reading this check your rate of return statistics and reason for returns of the for AppleTV, might give a clue. Tim Cook, please fix this AppleTV. This is so against the Apple user experience I have come to expect. I still admire your products.