Is using a HDMI Splitter as good as a matrix switch?


Standard Member
Hi there,

I wonder if anyone has done what I'm about to suggest or can let me know if what I'm trying to do will not work.

I'm about to move into a new house (to me) in the next 3 months and am planning the layout. At the moment I will have two video sources to distribute, Sky HD and a Dune Bluray player / media player.

I want to have HD vision and lossless 5.1 in the lounge and HD + stereo in the study, gym and kitchen. At lease two of the rooms, possibly 3 will be a fair distance away so may be too long for a HDMI cable.

I guess the difference I have over most other posters is I'll be living alone so no need to have separate video in each room, they can all display the same source.

So I was thinking if the following would work.:

Sky HD +
Dune Player > AV Amp > 1 x 4 HDMI splitter + IR > 2 x HDMI + 2 x HDMI Cat 5 extenders

For this to work I'm assuming the following which I hope anyone can confirm. The AV amp will take the Sky HD + optical and the Dune HDMI + DD True / DTS and do the source switching playing 5.1 in the lounge, but the HDMI output from the amp will have the lossless stripped and stereo embedded so stereo HDMI can be distributed to the Televisions. Is this correct?

I'll have to have a learning remote or IP control and Irule etc to control each source plus the amp. I'll have to learn to leave the amp on mute if not watching the TV in the lounge since it will need to be on to switch the sources.

This seems quite a bit cheaper than a matrix, at about £100 for a 1 x 4 splitter and about £200-300 for 2-3 HDMI extenders so around £400 less the remotes. This would be around £1000 if I used HDbaseT extenders, but not sure if they are needed and can run a separate Cat6 for network while running the initial cables.

Would this work? The downsides that I see are each extender and each HDMI will have a IR Tx at the source end, one from each TV and each IR Tx would have to see each source plus the amp so they would need to be powerful or I'd need to get dual Tx or similar.

I'll have a switch, 3 extenders, 4 IR Tx and at least 4 power supplies with 6 Cat 6 cables, so it could be messy or I'll need a biggish cupboard to hide this in. Too messy for a TV or Hifi Rack in the lounge.

Am I right in thinking the alternative is to buy a 2x4 if available or a 4x4 matrix. Still use the AV amp as the switcher and set the Matrix outputs to see the same single source, the AV amp? This is much more expensive, £1500-£2000 but neater as I won't need separate extenders and can run a single IR Tx to each source. I suppose I could always add on a freesat to the matrix in the future if I had long staying guests.

Am I correct in thinking the AV amp can be used like this so I have lossless 5.1 in the lounge. Most of the posts I've read do not suggest doing this, from what I can gather the advice seems to be, use optical/coax for the lounge direct to the amp and lose the lossless or 7.1, not great or live with stereo, not acceptable, or buy separate sources for the lounge and separate sources to feed the matrix which seems expensive?

What do you folks reckon, would either solution work and have I got the pros and cons right?

Many thanks in advance.

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
No AVR I have come across will operate the way you describe – if you Input Video + Lossless audio into the AVR you can either pass that out through HDMI or pass the Video Out and play the lossless audio out via the connected loudspeakers.

Unless all end points support lossless audio you will be distributing Video + Stereo audio via HDMI – which shouldn’t be too big a problem if it’s just you using the system as you will simply have to reset the Media Player to either 2.0 or 5.1/7.1 via HDMI depending on where you are viewing the system.

I’d usually suggest you have the Distribution Amp ahead of the AVR though again if it’s just you using the system that is not such an issue – though you will want to ensure you have an AVR which offers HDMI Passthru in Standby, that way you don’t have to have the AVR on burning power when you are viewing in one of the secondary Zones.

We have a 1x1 + 3 Distribution Amp with 1 x HDMI + 3 x dual RJ45 Outputs that could live on the Output side of your AVR and deliver HDMI to three Zones over dual CAT6 plus supports an IR return path from each of those Zones and ought to be well within your budget!

Media Factory - Octava HD14CATDA-UK, 1x4 HDMI over CAT5 distribution amp.



Standard Member
Joe, thank you for your useful reply.

Quick question on amps. Does the AV amp let the source know its able to take lossless on HDMI? And when the AV amp is turned off but with source direct, does the television connected to the amp pass back the same info through the amp to the source telling it can only deal with stereo HDMI for example? If so I thought I could make this work by turing the AV amp off when watching in other rooms. But this is all such a kludge.

I now know why people use Matrix up stream of the AV amp, send an optical from Sky HD to the AV amp and have two media players, one with lossless plugged into the AV amp and one in stereo plugged into the Matrix.

I've had a couple of days thinking about this, and really its only the Sky HD that needs to be distributed. Everything else is easier and cheaper to replicate at each tv. Since I have a big Unraid box on the network I can have a cheaper media streamer at each additional TV or better yet buy the TV with a built in DLNA player. Sky HD is the expensive thing to replicate. Three additional Sky boxes at £200-£300 each + £360 of multiroom per year is over £1200 in the first year.

I think your splitter you suggested is perfect for the job. I can see the Sky HD in each room and access the Sky + recordings from every room and can pass the optical through to the amp for the living room.

The only downside with not distributing the blu-ray player is I'd need to spend 30min ripping it to the unraid before watching in another room, not such a big deal, oh and hiding the media player.

So its Matrix + one extra media player or splitter and three media players or DLNA TVs.

Thanks for your help Joe.


Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi Ed

In theory the Source ought to react to the EDID from the AVR and Sink and auto toggle between 7.1/5.1 and 2.0 – in practice it very rarely happens as its relying on so many lines of code in each device to make it happen automatically.

The Dual CAT Distribution Amp + local Sources is a good lower cost option if you don’t require the full Matrix functionality.


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