HDMI Switch with splitter with Soundbar

milleniumaire

Active Member
Hi,

I'm looking to install a setup like the one identified here:

Recommendations for components please | AVForums

What I don't like about this setup is that I have to run multiple HDMI cables to the sound bar. This may make it difficult in the future should I need to add equipment (maybe a digi box or dedicated blu-ray player etc) as the cables will be routed in the wall.

I was considering using a HDMI Switch/Splitter instead of the HDMI Splitter I currently have in the design. The 4 x 2 port devices I've seen will allow upto 4 inputs to 2 displays, which looks ideal. I could then run a single HDMI from the Switch/Splitter to the ASB-2 (rather than the currently required 2 HDMI cables) and one to the 2nd TV over a Cat6 HDMI extender. This setup would also give me the benefit of being able to change the source of the input and to independently view inputs e.g. play PS4 on one TV, while watching Sky on the other. Doing this will not use the ASB-2 to switch devices, so I'll be buying an expensive active soundbar, but not using it to switch sources. I'm not sure if this is an issue or not! The HDMI Switch/Splitter I've been looking at is as follows:

HKM42-UK: HD Connectivity 4x2 HDMI Matrix with IR remote control on the following web page
HDMI Matrix

I have seen others, but they don't appear to support the HDMI 1.4 standard.

I would appreciate any feedback on using a Switch/Splitter in my install instead of connecting devices directly to the soundbar and using just a HDMI splitter for the two TV's. The more I think about it, the more I feel this device makes things much more flexible, but at an added cost!
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
HDMI version numbers are irrelevant (HDMI.org banned the use of version numbers back in Jan 2012).

Look for supported Features not version numbers.

The trick here is having the same audio capabilities in both Zones - which can be tricky if your only planning a Soundbar in one Zone (the Zone 2 TV would need to supported the same audio formats as the Soundbar or limit the signal you send to the Soundbar.

Do you need all Sources in both Zones?

Joe
 

milleniumaire

Active Member
I've only been planning to have the 2nd TV show a HD picture (and sound) from the Sky+ HD box, but having thought about using a HDMI Switch/Splitter it appeals to me to enable the PS4 to be connected as well, which would enable a DVD to be viewed on both TV's.

I understand what you are saying about Features, not version numbers, but clearly there are STILL a LOT of companies out their who use version numbers to indicate what their devices are capable of. So a description like:
  • HDMI 1.4 video features supported inc. 3D & future-ready for 4K
  • Full HD 1080p with Deep Colour
which includes the version number and a description that suggests that it is better than something with a description like this:
  • Support HDMI 1.3b
  • Support highest video resolution 1080p.
  • Support 225MHz/2.25Gbps per channel (6.75Gbps all channel) bandwidth.
  • Support 12bit per channel (36bit all channel) deep colour. I've only been planning to have the 2nd TV
Maybe I'm wrong to assume this and I would look more into the technical spec. if I was interested in buying, but at face value, things like the mention of 3D, 4K and deep colour tend to get my attention :)

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "The trick here is having the same audio capabilities in both Zones". Why does this matter? Surely, regardless of using a HDMI splitter, if I connect a device to a TV using a HDMI cable, the TV will either work or it won't. In this case, I'm looking to connect a 2nd TV to the Sky+ HD box and/or a PS4 and both will work via HDMI. The age of the TV may determine the quality of the sound and picture (initially I'll be using an old 720p Sony TV, but will replace that in time). The main TV is a brand new 50" Panasonic plasma and all I care about with this is getting a good picture as the soundbar will take care of the sound and this sound will be MUCH better than produced by the 2nd TV. But why do I care that the 2nd TV will have poor sound by comparison to the soundbar?

Can you explain a little more about what you mean as I don't quite get it.

Thanks.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
'but clearly there are STILL a LOT of companies out their who use version numbers to indicate what their devices are capable of' - indeed and it’s about time they all read the Jan 2012 Guidelines :)

http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/trademark_logo_pub.aspx

'things like the mention of 3D, 4K and deep colour tend to get my attention' - ideal, just ignore the bits that mention version numbers, they are irrelevant :)

There are millions of 'Pre 1.3' HDMI devices with older chips which happily support 3D and other features which were only fully defined after the devices were released.

Audio – let’s introduce a simple 1x2 Distribution Amp (Splitter) into a cut down version of your system:

SKY+ HD > 1x2 DA with Output A > Zone A TV (with ARC out to 5.1 Soundbar) and Output B to Zone B (stereo only TV).

Configuration A.
Set the SKY box to HD video + Stereo audio - we get 1080i50 video + stereo audio on the Soundbar in Zone A plus (assuming your older TV supports it) 1080i50 video and stereo audio in Zone B (all good though not making the most of the Soundbar).

Configuration B.
Set the SKY box to Dolby Digital (5.1 on some broadcasts) - now we have 5.1 on the Soundbar (ideal you would think) and no audio in Zone B (as your Zone B TV only supports Stereo audio).

Video - let’s keep working the 1x2 DA.

Configuration C.
Set the PS4 to 1080p24 (ideal for Blu-ray) + Stereo audio - we get 1080p24 video plus stereo audio on the Soundbar in Zone A plus No picture and (possibly) stereo audio in Zone B. (not ideal).

Configuration D.
Set the PS4 to 1080i60 + Stereo audio - we get 1080i60 video plus stereo audio on the Soundbar in Zone A plus 1080i60 and stereo audio in Zone B. (all OK but not making the most of the Soundbar).

Configuration E.
Set the PS4 to 1080i60 + 5.1 audio (DD/DTS) - we get 1080i60 video plus 5.1 audio on the Soundbar in Zone A plus 1080i60 and no audio in Zone B. (not ideal).

When you 'split' a Source both Output Zones need to be able to handle the signal the source is outputting - where you have one Zone with less capabilities than the primary Zone you (potentially) have to dumb everything down to suit the lesser Zone.

Joe
 
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milleniumaire

Active Member
Excellent explanation. Thanks very much for providing the detailed examples Joe, it makes complete sense now and was something I hadn't considered. It may be necessary to upgrade my old Sony LCD 2nd TV sooner than I thought and I guess I will have to ensure the new TV can cope with 5.1 audio (DD/DTS) through HDMI. I assume some TV's are available with DD/DTS or is this something only achievable with a sound bar (I'll do some research)? Obviously, I wouldn't expect a TV to sound great, but I just want one that could process the signal so I wouldn't end up without sound.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
There are a few TV's which support 5.1 via HDMI.

SRS Labs were the key provider of audio chips for TV's which could creat stereo audio out of a 5.1 signal - DTS acquired SRS Labs in 2012 so look out for the relevant Logo's on any new TV's you are considering.

DTS TruSurround™ for Sound bars | DTS

A budget Soundbar with HDMI audio may be the simpler option and keeps you with a wider choice of Zone B TV.

Joe
 
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milleniumaire

Active Member
I'm struggling to find any TV that produces anything other than stereo sound, however I have found discussions about TVs with 5.1 Passthrough from HDMI to SPDIF. While I'm not interested in this, it does appear to suggest that most modern TV's will accept a 5.1 audio signal through a HDMI cable, but will only produce stereo sound, at least that's my understanding of what is being said and if so, that's fine for my 2nd TV.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Where it's 'just' a TV in the secondary Zones you want a TV which can down convert the 5.1 Input to play through the TV speakers - most don't and will either stay silent, decode just the Front LR out of the 5.1 or some will Buzz.

5.1 Passthrough is only useful if you have a Soundbar or AVR connected to the TV.

What size TV in Zone 2?

Joe
 

milleniumaire

Active Member
The 2nd TV is currently a 26" Sony KDL 26S2010U LCD, so something of a similar size, but will possibly upgrade it to a 32". Getting a bigger screen seems to be par for the course when changing TV's ;). Panasonic is probably my favourite brand at the moment, since Pioneer stopped making TV's and I fell out with Sony thanks to the poor quality PS3's they used to produce. The Sony is 8 years old and isn't full HD so it definitely needs replacing at some point.
 

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