Strange problem - HDMI switch & Blu-ray - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-29-2013, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I consider myself a pretty capable gadget/device guy. I can figure out features and pros & cons and I can get kinda particular about things being laid out just like I want 'em. This one's got me stumped, hopefully somebody here's got an idea.

Previous setup: 720p TV, DVD player, HDMI-less Receiver, Satellite box, XBox 360, and a Monoprice 4x1 HDMI switch with optical audio out. Worked flawlessly.

New setup: made the jump to 1080p and Blu-ray (Toshiba, first the BDK21KU, then the BDX3400); everything else is the same.

Problem: with this new setup, if I run the Blu-ray HDMI through the switch, there's no center-channel audio (think dialogue) coming to the receiver only when I'm playing from a disc. Center-channel audio comes through the switch just fine from the other two devices, and from the Blu-ray when it's streaming a movie from Netflix for example. I've tried a different cable, a different port on the switch, and both at once. I even warranty-replaced the Blu-ray, thinking it was a problem with that unit, but alas, same result. If I run the Blu-ray HDMI NOT through the switch but into the TV, and send the optical audio from the TV to the receiver, center-channel comes through fine when playing a disc. So it's gotta be something with the switch, right? But what in the world should it matter what mode the Blu-ray is in (disc or streaming) that would determine whether the switch behaves properly or not?

I wrote to Monoprice's support department to see about help and/or a replacement (only 7 months old) but I figured I'd check with you super-smart folks first, to see if maybe there's something I don't have set right, or something.

I don't necessarily NEED the switch, but I'd really rather only run 1 HDMI cable to my TV from my component shelf, and not 3 PLUS the optical cable.

Thanks!
JT
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 01:53 AM
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I'm not clear whether the problem is just no dialogue coming from the centre speaker or anywhere, or there is dialogue but not coming from the centre speaker. Also what happens to the surrounds?

The switch restricts audio output to MCH lossy or 2CH PCM because of optical output. Both scenarios should include the dialogue coming out somewhere: it shouldn't get lost totally. You are getting MCH from streaming because it's lossy audio. I suspect with BD the player is outputting 2CH instead.

What the receiver's display show about audio input should give a big clue.

Your receiver should have more than one SPDIF input. Try connecting BDP straight to receiver bypassing the switch.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #3 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 06:32 AM
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Assume you had the new version of Monoprice switch with the dip switches on the back (the old version lacks this and hence will not be able to output any 5.1 audio if you connected to a TV due to HDMI EDID issue), you will have to setup the dip switch to force DD 5.1 or DTS 5.1 output on the switch. A lot of times, you may also need to power cycle the switch to make it work. When it is working correctly, your TV will not receive any audio because most TVs are incapable of receiving DD 5.1 or DTS 5.1 from HDMI port.

Also, sounds like your BD player is configured incorrectly. It is outputting LPCM 5.1 rather than DD 5.1 or DTS 5.1. This are typically the default settings on most BD players. You need to disable secondary audio and enable bitstream.

If your BD is output LPCM 5.1 and your using optical or coax to extract audio, you will only getting 2.0 audio without downmix. Hence the missing center channel and back surrounds as well. When a player is connected directly to TV, it will downmix and output PCM 2.0. Hence you don't loss anything.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Well that was enlightening - thank you both, I'm obviously not as aware of this kind of stuff as I thought I was.

The switch I have does not have any DIP switches on the back, only ports. It's this one:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=5557&seq=1&format=2

I see another one there that does have DIPs on the back, is this the one you mean?
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=7974&seq=1&format=2

Is there something in the descriptions of those two that would have led me to get the right one if I had understood it better?

These are the reasons I want to get the switch to work:
- Sony receiver has no HDMI but it has optical inputs
- I also use a Turtle Beach wireless surround sound headset that takes an optical in and has an optical out for passthrough; I send the optical from the switch to the transmitter then out from it to the receiver, and mute the receiver when I'm using the headset
- Don't want to send 3 HDMI cables to my TV and the optical cable back to the receiver

But it sounds like from what you're saying (and what I'm seeing) that I've been fooling myself and haven't been getting 5.1 audio in most cases, but stereo downmixed audio. Color me sad. I'm using a Polk soundbar with 5 discrete speaker inputs for the 5 surround speaker wires from the receiver, so I suppose it's been hard to specifically diagnose when sound is coming from the individual speakers (by contrast, it would have been easier to diagnose if I can stick my ear right next to one speaker in the corner of the room).

Actions I took & their results:
I put everything back how I had it (all HDMI sources to the switch, and only HDMI cables from the devices, only one HDMI cable from switch to TV, and optical from the switch to the receiver), and then checked the Blu-ray player's audio settings - it was indeed set to PCM, so on your recommendation I set it to bitstream (never understood the difference between those two). Here's what I saw:

Serenity on Blu-ray disc:
Studio logo splash screen before the menu: blue light on my receiver, display saying Dolby Digital 3/2.1 and showing the 5 speaker indicators all active, sound is good.
Inside main menu: same as above, and I can press the Display button on my Blu-ray remote to get a banner at the top with details about what's playing, and it says Dolby Digital 5.1.
Movie starts playing: no sound at all, no blue light on my receiver, all 5 speaker indicators dark, display just says "unlock", which is what it would say if it was the only component turned on, no signal coming in at all. Display banner from Blu-ray player says DTS-HD MA 5.1. Not sure what to make of all that.

Serenity from Netflix from the Blu-ray player:
No blue light on my receiver, only the L and R speaker indicators lit up (C, LRear and RRear dark), display says PCM 48, sound is good. Display button on the Blu-ray remote shows me a little text-only info banner that says it's 1080 HD but audio: English/Stereo (Primary).

HD program from Satellite TV:
Blue light on my receiver, all 5 surround speaker indicators lit, display says Dolby Digital 3/2.1, sound is good.

I'm very appreciative of any light that can be shed on all of this!

Thanks,
JT
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-30-2013, 07:43 PM
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Since the switch can pass dts, the simplest explanation is the receiver cannot accept dts or dts 1.5Mbps.

You still haven't made it clear if you heard dialogue before or not, or tried what I suggested, BDP to receiver directly.

I'm still not clear if your BDP was outputting PCM stereo or MCH before.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #6 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 06:31 AM
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yes, looks like your receiver is too old to handle the DTS or high bit rate DTS unless you route the hdmi through tv again. No TV can pass DTS from hdmi to optical. As for Netflix, most titles default to 2-ch stereo but you should be able to switch to 5.1 track if your Netflix player supports it and the title contains such audio track
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for continuing to help me peel the layers back on the onion of my ignorance, much appreciated.
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You still haven't made it clear if you heard dialogue before or not, or tried what I suggested, BDP to receiver directly.
I'm still not clear if your BDP was outputting PCM stereo or MCH before.
I believe the BDP was sending PCM, as that was what the Settings during the attempt described in the OP, before I changed it to Bitstream. When it was sending PCM I was hearing music & effects (assuming L and R speakers) but no dialogue at all, hence my assumption that it was the Center not coming through. I'm unfamiliar with MCH, not sure what that means. I'm unable to connect the BDP directly to the receiver, it has only optical digital (no HDMI, hence the need for the switch) and the BDP only has HDMI and coaxial digital. I know I can get a coaxial-optical converter but I don't currently have one and it may be moot based on what you guys are teaching me about what I've actually been experiencing up to now.

Bummer on the receiver being too old - it's a Sony STR-DG500, can't remember exactly when I bought it but it has been a while - 2007 maybe? The logos and manual do indicate Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Prologic IIx, and DTS-96/24, DTS-ES, and DTS-NEO6, but nothing about DTS-HD. I did a little experimenting and found where a couple of discs (Twister on DVD, Serenity on Blu-ray) let me switch between audio streams:
Twister set to Dolby Digital - no problems, receiver indicated Dolby Digital 3/2.1
Twister set to DTS-ES - no problems, receiver indicated DTS-ES 3/2.1
Serenity set to English DTS-HD - no audio at all (as described above)
Serenity set to Spanish DTS Digital Surround - no problems (other than me not speaking Spanish!), receiver indicated DTS. Unfortunately there was no option in the menu for English DTS Digital Surround NOR English Dolby Digital, even though the case shows the logo for all three. eek.gif
Another Blu-ray had no options in the menu at all for switching between types - based on what I heard, I assume it was sending DTS-HD (same behavior as Serenity on DTS-HD).

So it does indeed seem like my issue is the receiver and the potential for some Blu-rays to not offer an alternative to DTS-HD. I've resisted getting an HDMI-capable receiver because none offer an optical out to run to my headphones (more on those below) - the ~$40 switch seemed to solve all my problems, but I'm wondering now if that was even true, pre-Blu-ray. Here's the unit I have: X4 - and the transmitter has its own DD/DPLIIx decoders in it, and it has an optical pass-through. An updated (RF instead of infrared) version of the same is this: X42 In the specs for that one it states this: "Audio input: Optical TOSLINK digital audio input compatibile with 48kHz digital audio stream" - and I would assume that it's probably the same for my unit though I couldn't find a similar reference in the specs for mine. Is the 48kHz figure limiting anything as to what it can handle? I experimented connecting the switch to the headset transmitter (it has been out of the loop while troubleshooting) and it couldn't handle DTS-HD nor DTS Digital Surround (did the Serenity English DTS-HD/Spanish DTS Digital Surround test, silence both ways).

With the assumption of needing a new receiver, I'm starting to think the days of the headset are numbered, unless I understand this correctly:
Quote:
No TV can pass DTS from hdmi to optical.
So here's a hypothetical: I buy a new receiver that can handle DTS-HD, and it will certainly be HDMI-capable obviously. If the BDP is sending DTS-HD to the receiver, is the receiver sending DTS-HD to the TV? If so, what (if anything) would be coming out of the TV's optical out? Would it be 2CH or some form of 5.1 like DD or DPLIIx? If it's non-DTS 5.1 then I should still be able to connect the headset to the TV's optical out and they'd work normally. Make sense, or am I missing something?

Again, thank you both profusely for your knowledge & assistance.
JT
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 12:31 PM
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JT,

I had exactly the same issue. All your discs do indeed have an English DTS 5.1 or Dolby 5.1 track your receiver can handle. The problem is your TV won't pass DTS. All you have to do is connect optical/coax directly from your player to your receiver, then use that input when watching a movie. Then you'll get 5.1 (DTS or Dolby) in every case.

In your hypothetical case, the TV or receiver will downmix to 2 CH stereo. There is a handshake going on over HDMI where the TV tells the receiver what formats it can handle, and the receiver obliges.

My 13 year old receiver can decode Dolby Digital and DTS over optical/coax as well, and works with every disc if I connect it directly to the player, bypassing the TV. So no need to retire that receiver just yet unless you're just itching for lossless.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejtrain View Post

I did a little experimenting and found where a couple of discs (Twister on DVD, Serenity on Blu-ray) let me switch between audio streams:
Twister set to Dolby Digital - no problems, receiver indicated Dolby Digital 3/2.1
Twister set to DTS-ES - no problems, receiver indicated DTS-ES 3/2.1
Serenity set to English DTS-HD - no audio at all (as described above)
Serenity set to Spanish DTS Digital Surround - no problems (other than me not speaking Spanish!), receiver indicated DTS. Unfortunately there was no option in the menu for English DTS Digital Surround NOR English Dolby Digital, even though the case shows the logo for all three. eek.gif
Another Blu-ray had no options in the menu at all for switching between types - based on what I heard, I assume it was sending DTS-HD (same behavior as Serenity on DTS-HD).

So it does indeed seem like my issue is the receiver and the potential for some Blu-rays to not offer an alternative to DTS-HD. I've resisted getting an HDMI-capable receiver because none offer an optical out to run to my headphones (more on those below) - the ~$40 switch seemed to solve all my problems, but I'm wondering now if that was even true, pre-Blu-ray.

No, DTS-HD track already contains DTS 5.1 core in it. The problem seems to be in the HDMI handshake between you BD player and the switch. Ideally, the switch should tell the player that it can only accept DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 and PCM 2.0. The player then will output DTS 5.1 core from the DTS HD audio track. If the switch only reported DD 5.1 capability without DTS and PCM, the player will have no audio output on DTS-HD tracks. But since DTS-ES works for you, it seems to be either a problem with the player or your receiver can't handle 1.5mbps full bitrate DTS.
Quote:
With the assumption of needing a new receiver, I'm starting to think the days of the headset are numbered, unless I understand this correctly:
So here's a hypothetical: I buy a new receiver that can handle DTS-HD, and it will certainly be HDMI-capable obviously. If the BDP is sending DTS-HD to the receiver, is the receiver sending DTS-HD to the TV?

No, the receiver should send no audio to your TV what so ever if you configured correctly.
If you do want receiver to send audio to your TV, it will be 2-ch stereo and you will get no audio from receiver.

You have to choose one configuration over another.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, it sounds like the switch is the real root cause here (noted by your earlier comment on "new" vs. "old" switches that have or lack DIP switches to force format), because the switch can handle DTS-HD, it's telling the BDP, "Sure, send the good stuff!" but then the DTS-HD can't make it through the optical to the receiver (which couldn't handle it anyway).

So it sounds like my options are these:
1) Keep the switch and receiver and buy a coax->optical converter, connect the BDP using the converter directly to my receiver (say, Optical 2), and have the receiver tuned to Opt2 when using the BDP. Keep everything else the same (same 3 HDMI cables to switch, HDMI from switch to TV, optical from switch to receiver Optical1) and have the receiver tuned to Opt1 when using XBox or Sat TV. That should give me DD or DTS 5.1 from all devices, and I can even keep the headset in the mix for the XBox 360 and Sat TV (both of which I believe only do DD and not DTS). mdavej's approach, lowest-cost option, but I don't get DTS-HD/DolbyTrueHD.

2) Keep the receiver but buy Monoprice's new switch with the DIP switches that will let me force DD or DTS 5.1 - no need to run BDP to receiver separately on Opt2, and I can keep the headset in the mix for all three devices (if I force DD and only allow DTS 5.1 if the headset can handle Twister on DTS-ES - need to test). Next higher cost option, still don't get DTS-HD/DolbyTrueHD.

3) Buy a new HDMI receiver that can handle DTS-HD/DolbyTrueHD, ditch the switch and the headset. Highest cost option but I do get DTS-HD and DolbyTrueHD.

Any holes in those three options?

The add-on to all of that is the realization with these tests that the hum the infrared headset picks up being in front of the TV is noticeably worse on this new LG 1080p plasma than it was on the previous Panasonic 720p plasma. The only way to acceptably keep the headset in the mix is by buying the new RF version (which I assume would lack the hum but adds ~$130 to each of the first two options).

Thanks,
JT
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post #11 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 02:27 PM
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For #3, the cost may not be that high consider those switches are not cheap either. You can spend something around $200 to $300 to get a basic 5.1-ch HDMI receiver.

RF headset will have high pitch noises from RF interference as well. It is actually more prone to interference than IR headset. If your headset didn't have digital transmission, the noise problem is inevitable. Unfortunately, those digital transmission headset costs the same or more than a HDMI receiver smile.gif
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post #12 of 13 Old 05-31-2013, 03:00 PM
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JT,

Option 1 is even simpler than you think. Your receiver has a digital coax input right below the optical ones (DVD IN COAXIAL). So assuming it isn't already being used, you're good to go without a coax/optical converter. You just need a digital coax cable. Plain old RCA will even work in a pinch, provided it isn't too terribly long.
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post #13 of 13 Old 06-03-2013, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

For #3, the cost may not be that high consider those switches are not cheap either. You can spend something around $200 to $300 to get a basic 5.1-ch HDMI receiver.

RF headset will have high pitch noises from RF interference as well. It is actually more prone to interference than IR headset. If your headset didn't have digital transmission, the noise problem is inevitable. Unfortunately, those digital transmission headset costs the same or more than a HDMI receiver smile.gif

Re: pricing, Monoprice had the DIP switch-enabled one for I think $75ish, and then receivers yeah around $200 for basic ones without a lot of frills. Bummer about the RF being worse, I kinda figured they'd be better just based on the behavior of the IR ones; basically, the buzz would increase based on three things: more obtuse angle from transmitter than direct 0-degrees from the front, getting closer to the TV screen, and the brightness of the image on the screen (dark/night scene was very good, pure white background was the worst). Kinda figured RF would avoid all three of those, but it sounds like RF has its own issues. Oh well, I'll probably give up the headset idea, it's not needed as much now anyway, just a nice-to-have.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

JT,

Option 1 is even simpler than you think. Your receiver has a digital coax input right below the optical ones (DVD IN COAXIAL). So assuming it isn't already being used, you're good to go without a coax/optical converter. You just need a digital coax cable. Plain old RCA will even work in a pinch, provided it isn't too terribly long.

Awesome! I'd been using the optical for so long I forgot it was there! And I do have a digital coax (I knew I saved this "Box O' Cables" for a reason), and I can connect it up and lookee there - Dolby Digital 3/2.1 coming through loud and clear on a DTS-default no-options-provided Blu-ray! W00t! Thanks mdavej! Wish I had seen this post over the weekend but for some reason I didn't get an email from AVS like I did on the other replies...

Problem solved, and I'm a tad smarter about all this now. Thanks Foxbat, Kilian, and mdavej for all your input and help!

JT
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