Dedicated Digital Optical Cable for Disc Player/M4 Soundbar?

BriarPatch

Novice Member
I am relatively new to the forum and to sound and video gear.

For a bedroom setup I have a new 32" 1080p tv (Dolby Digital and DTS) and a barely used Sony BDP-S370
(also Dolby Digital and DTS) for dvd's and cd's. Next purchase will be a soundbar. The one in my sights is the QAcoustics M4 - selected on account of this forum's and other favorable reviews. QA appears to have put some extra effort into tuning for musicality.

The M4 does not have an HDMI input. It does have an optical digital input. The folks at QA recommended
Player > TV via HDMI cable, then TV > Soundbar via optical cable. As I understand it, HDMI cable carries the
audio signal encoded into the video signal. The audio signal then has to be decoded, which I assume is done by the TV. It's then sent to the soundbar through the optical cable. If I go off the rails please set me straight.

Could a good quality optical cable, directly connected Player > Soundbar offer a noticeable audio improvement over above HDMI/Optical cabling when playing cd's and dvd's?

Is there a device that would eliminate the need to periodically transfer optical cable end between TV and Player
and at the same time maintain Soundbar audio for the TV?

Thank you for having a look.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Soundbars will have their own DACs built in. A TV will pass through an audio signal from a device connected by HDMI via optical to the soundbar to be decoded. Optical is restricted to a maximum of SD audio, ie, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1. Your connection would be Player>TV via HDMI. TV> Soundbar via Optical.

Both HDMI and optical will give the same quality of audio as it is the sounbar that is doing the decoding.

An Amazon Basics optical cable is all that you need, so don't spend a fortune.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
@BriarPatch ‘The audio signal then has to be decoded, which I assume is done by the TV. It's then sent to the soundbar through the optical cable’.

Think of the TV as an ‘extractor’ rather than a processor. The TV separates the audio data out of the HDMI signal and forwards the audio (via the TV Digital Audio Optical Output) to the Soundbar and the Soundbar then decodes the audio.

Joe
 

BriarPatch

Novice Member
Many thanks to gibbsy and Joe - in particular for squaring me away on audio signal decoding.
Have participated on this site just a bit, but read many of the reviews and threads. I enjoy seeing the ready exchange of information and sharing with folks of all knowledge levels.
I plan to circle back to the sound bar reviews for a refresher before committing to the M4.
 

BriarPatch

Novice Member
Hello again. A bit off the main topic but next question is related to replies offered by gibbsy and Joe.

As the soundbar will perform audio signal decoding, is it relevant to target SB's having Dolby Digital and DTS capability in their published specs?

My modest setup has both: player (Dolby Digital and DTS), tv (Dolby Audio and DTS / DTS TruSurround).

A user review recommended avoiding a particular soundbar as it was DD, only, claiming it would not faithfully reproduce DTS audio material found in many movies.

If preferred, I'll prepare a fresh thread for the Soundbar forum.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
If you search hard enough you may find a disc you would want to watch which lacks a DD sound track.

Spend big on a decent AVR and speaker system to suit your room and you may want to worry about DTS vs. Dolby.

Joe

AVF reviewed the M4 - Q Acoustics Media 4 (M4) Soundbar Review
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Agree with Joe. An AV amp and correctly placed speakers will give a far more immersive audio performance that that afforded by any soundbar irrespective of whether that sound bar can decode HD audio as well as SD Dolby and DTS.

As it stands at the moment some discs will have the option of using a Dolby or DTS soundtrack which will have to be selected from the discs home menu.
 

BriarPatch

Novice Member
Thank you for the continued information and guidance, gibbsy and Joe.
The AVF review Joe attached was the very article that first piqued my interest in the M4.
I realize that I am rowing against the current in concentrating on a sound bar.
The reason for that is to keep the number of components to a minimum - this is a set up for the bedroom.
There is one small change, however. I was gifted a pair of QA 3010 speakers by a friend who is upgrading. These are quite small, which is a plus. And placement above and behind the TV on a large, tall chest would put them somewhat out of the way.
Center-to center distance between speakers would be about 33" (0.83 mtr). If that is enough for
adequate separation, I will start looking into AV receivers.
 

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