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post #1 of 33 Old 01-09-2013, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an issue that started today where the video cuts out for a second but the audio is continuous. It happens in a random pattern. Sometimes, it's every few minutes and sometimes, it's a few times per minute. I have had the following setup working fine for the past 3 or so weeks. I have an HD DVR, BD player, and XBox 360 connected to this switch via HDMI:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=8463&seq=1&format=2

From the switch, I outputted via HDMI to my soundbar (Samsung HW-E450). The soundbar outputs via HDMI to my TV.

None of my HDMI cables can be referred to as high quality. All are 6' and were purchased on Ebay or Amazon and all claim to be high-speed HDMI cables.

I'm trying to figure out where the failure lies. I could point the finger at the cables but it's happening with the DVR and the BD player and I doubt that both cables would fail at the same time. Could it be the switch? Occasionally, I have lost video but not sound when changing sources. When that has happened, I just turned the switch off and then back on and that did the trick.

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post #2 of 33 Old 01-09-2013, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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To troubleshoot, I have bypassed the switch and connected my HD DVR directly to the soundbar via HDMI and then from the soundbar to my TV via HDMI. So far, so good. If I don't see any issues here, I guess that I can assume that it's the switch.

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post #3 of 33 Old 01-10-2013, 01:02 AM
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There is so much going on behind the scenes with HDMI it can be a bit of a nightmare trying to track down a problem – it could be physical or equally it could be firmware in one of the connected devices (Inc. the TV).

Always best to repower everything rather than just one item and always best to physically power kit off at the wall before you make any HDMI connectivity changes!

It may be worth now trying HD DVR > Switch > TV and see if the dropout reappears – use the same cables as you are using for the HD DVR > Soundbar > TV test!

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post #4 of 33 Old 01-10-2013, 06:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I am beginning to realize how many variables there are with HDMI. In the past, I would be able to isolate certain sources to find out what the issue is.

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post #5 of 33 Old 01-10-2013, 12:22 PM
 
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Your first append implied that the issue started after everything had been working for a while ("an issue that started today"). If I'm not reading too much into that, it indicates that something in the environment changed. Basically, if this was a problem that suddenly developed after you had weeks of normal audio/video, then the obvious things are a connector problem, a change in the electrical environment (interference) or someone changed firmware in your system. The firmware change can be really annoying since many cable/satellite boxes do that without the knowledge of the user.

Also keep in mind that interface issues are caused (usually) by both sides of the interface. Remove either side of the interface and the problem goes away. That makes them truly difficult to find. So don't discount that the switch connected to the soundbar causes a problem, but the same switch connected to a different brand's soundbar doesn't have a problem (for instance). Is that a problem with the soundbar or the switch? It's just that when that particular combination is used there is a problem. However, the best bet to solving the problem is to simplify the setup for testing. Remember that cables and power are also variables. So treat the HDMI cable as a component in testing. The other thing to do is to always try to reproduce the problem after you have a successful test. Make sure you're still testing something that is not working, rather one that you accidentally fixed by a different change. With a connector problem that is very important.

The dropouts you've experienced can be caused by bit errors (high speed video drops but lower speed audio continues) or firmware problems or even player problems. It is unlikely to be HDCP since I'd expect everything to drop out.
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post #6 of 33 Old 01-10-2013, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. Since I connected the HDMI switch about 3 weeks ago, nothing has changed from my end. I say "on my end" because of your reference to firmware updates. I am unaware of any updates but that doesn't mean much. Other than that, nothing has changed to my knowledge.

I'll keep trying different combinations to see what works and what doesn't. As of now, the switch is unplugged and bypassed and everything is working fine.

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post #7 of 33 Old 01-12-2013, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Not sure if it matters much but, after the last episode, I unplugged the switch for a day and then plugged it back in. Everything worked fine for about another day until the video cut out again. This time, the video stayed off while the audio was continuous. Monoprice is sending me another switch but I'm not sure if I really want the headache. I'm thinking that I might be better off just connecting my HD DVR directly to the soundbar via HDMI (along with an HDMI from the soundbar to the TV), my BD player directly to the soundbar via optical (along with an HDMI from the BD player to the TV for video), and then connecting the TV to the soundbar via RCA to 3.5mm cable for when we use the XBox.

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post #8 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 06:19 AM
 
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Actualy that is a big clue and points to either a firmware or hardware issue in the switcher. If it is a hardware problem, then the replacement will solve it. If it is a firmware problem and the replacement has updated firmware, then it may fix the problem. Of course, if the firmware is the same and it is a firmware problem then there will be no change.

I've seen other brands of switchers get "confused" but usually it takes much more than a day. I wonder if the age of the HD-DVD HDMI implementation has something to do with this?
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post #9 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

Actualy that is a big clue and points to either a firmware or hardware issue in the switcher. If it is a hardware problem, then the replacement will solve it. If it is a firmware problem and the replacement has updated firmware, then it may fix the problem. Of course, if the firmware is the same and it is a firmware problem then there will be no change.

I've seen other brands of switchers get "confused" but usually it takes much more than a day. I wonder if the age of the HD-DVD HDMI implementation has something to do with this?

I was following you until the end. I have no idea what the bolded part means. Can you dumb it down for me? Thanks.

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post #10 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 08:42 AM
 
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Sure. What it meant was I was just waking up when I read your last append. So I substituted HD-DVD for HD-DVR that you wrote. Had you been using an HD-DVD I might have had a reason for the switch hang-ups. But you aren't, so please ignore that last sentence. Sorry about my inability to see straight early on a Sunday morning!
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post #11 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

Sure. What it meant was I was just waking up when I read your last append. So I substituted HD-DVD for HD-DVR that you wrote. Had you been using an HD-DVD I might have had a reason for the switch hang-ups. But you aren't, so please ignore that last sentence. Sorry about my inability to see straight early on a Sunday morning!

Thanks for the clarification. I'll try the replacement when I get it and see if that works. If it's a firmware issue, is there anything that I can do?

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post #12 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 12:28 PM
 
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Complain to the manufacturer and wait but that is about it. If it is firmware, the right answer is return that model and get a different model (same manufacturer or different one). Watch out for rebranding of the same model with a different name.
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post #13 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

Complain to the manufacturer and wait but that is about it. If it is firmware, the right answer is return that model and get a different model (same manufacturer or different one). Watch out for rebranding of the same model with a different name.

I bought it from Monoprice and there aren't a ton to choose from. In theory, this should work, right? I currently have 3 HDMI sources that I want to run through my soundbar, which only has 1 HDMI input.

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post #14 of 33 Old 01-13-2013, 08:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctego View Post

I bought it from Monoprice and there aren't a ton to choose from. In theory, this should work, right? I currently have 3 HDMI sources that I want to run through my soundbar, which only has 1 HDMI input.

Correct, it should work with all three. The variables as I see it are the switcher firmware and the soundbar firmware, either of which could be causing an intermittent issue. Given what you said about everything working for a day, I doubt (but can't completely rule out) a cable problem. Random bit errors would be random and not have a pattern of having to wait a day for an issue.

There are a number of switcher manufacturers out there. They just all cost more than Monoprice, it seems.
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post #15 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I got my replacement switch and have had it hooked up for 2 days. The issue that seems to be popping up is that it will temporarily auto-switch to another source that isn't even powered on. For instance, my HD DVR is connected into HDMI 2 on the switch while my BD player is connected to HDMI 3 on the switch. While watching the DVR, it will temporarily switch to the BD player (which isn't powered on) and then switch back to the HD DVR. It seems to be happening more often now than it did when I first connected it.

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post #16 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 07:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctego View Post

Well, I got my replacement switch and have had it hooked up for 2 days. The issue that seems to be popping up is that it will temporarily auto-switch to another source that isn't even powered on. For instance, my HD DVR is connected into HDMI 2 on the switch while my BD player is connected to HDMI 3 on the switch. While watching the DVR, it will temporarily switch to the BD player (which isn't powered on) and then switch back to the HD DVR. It seems to be happening more often now than it did when I first connected it.

When you say the BD player isn't powered on, do you mean the unit is unplugged from AC or is plugged-in and in standby mode (usually a red light above the power button). The difference is important here. If the BD player is truely powered off (not in standby) then I would suspect a problem with the switch. If the BD player is instead in standby, it would not surprise me to find out that it is still communicating over HDMI. One thing you can try is to disable anything such as HDMI CEC in *all* of your HDMI equipment. CEC would be a reason to respond when in standby mode.

Automatic switchers are never 100% reliable in my experience (component video or HDMI). If I had to purchase one, I'd want one that had a remote control override to the automatic switching function.
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post #17 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. What I meant was the BD player was turned off and in standby mode rather than unplugged. I would rather not have to turn off CEC because I believe that is what allows me to control the sound bar with the TV remote. The switch is automatic but does have a remote that allows me to change sources automatically. When it does it on its own, it's usually only for a few seconds so it changes back before I can grab the remote and do it myself.

Is this going to be an issue with pretty much any switch? If so, I think that it would be better for my sanity if I return the switch and call it a day. I only use 2 sources on a regular basis and I could always hook up my HD DVR via HDMI and my BD player via optical. Both sources would be connected directly into my sound bar so I don't think that there would be any loss in sound quality.

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post #18 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 12:53 PM
 
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While I can't say 100%, I'd say very very likely any automatic HDMI switch. You might try one that has a remote control switch instead of automatic.

You will definately lose sound quality hooking up the BD player via optical. I can hear the difference if listening closely, others may not be able to.

If you reverse things and hook the HD DVR over S/PDIF optical and the BD Player over HDMI, then you won't lose any sound quality.
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post #19 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

While I can't say 100%, I'd say very very likely any automatic HDMI switch. You might try one that has a remote control switch instead of automatic.

You will definately lose sound quality hooking up the BD player via optical. I can hear the difference if listening closely, others may not be able to.

If you reverse things and hook the HD DVR over S/PDIF optical and the BD Player over HDMI, then you won't lose any sound quality.

Are you referring to a switch that is entirely manual? Mine is automatic but also has a remote.

For educational purposes, would you mind explaining the bolded part above? In my limited experience, I always thought that a direct HDMI and optical connection would yield the same sound quality. If not, why would it affect the BD SQ but not the DVR SQ?

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post #20 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 01:57 PM
 
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That's a good quesiton about sound quality. Let me answer the other quesiton first. Yes, a "manual" switch that is just controlled by remote would be easier to manage (in my experience).

OK, now onto audio (which is truly a topic I enjoy):

Back in the stone age days, we had only two channel (and then quad channel) analog audio outputs from our cassette decks, reel-to-reel players, LD players, turntables, etc. Two channel RCA analog output was the only choice (after quad died).

Once the CD came out, people started complaining that the sound wasn't "real" enough and the blame was placed on the digital-to-analog converters being used in the players. So, in a truly inspired decision, the industry said, "let's provide a digital output between the player and the receiver and make more money." And, so they did. People purchased new CD players (at hundreds of dollars) for digital output and then purchased new receivers that had digital inputs (at hundreds to thousands of dollars). Most people never noticed the difference in sound quality, but they did it anyway. It also was the start of digitally copying the CD, but that is another story.

So now we have 44.1kHz, 16-bit stereo all-digital signals going out of the S/PDIF output. Both optical and coax (with RCA plugs) were provided as an method to transmit the digital data. There was also sufficient bandwidth on these S/PDIF outputs to handle the newer (even better sounding) 48-kHz, 16-bit audio that everyone said would provide a noticible improvement over CD quality sound. And so the industry made more money as devices started coming out with 48-kHz, 16-bit stereo signals.

Well, about this time the movie industry was noticing that people really liked it when movies had surround sound. First this was done by encoding a center and rear channel (singular) into the two channel soundtrack and later there was discrete 5.1 multichannel audio in the theaters. In order to make 5.1-channel audio fit in the space reserved for two channel audio in the theaters, various forms of lossy compression were invented (or re-invented). The most famous of these are AC3 (which later was marked as Dolby Digital) and DTS. When these were first marketed for the home, the LaserDisc (LD) was the most suitable method (before DVD). Through some ingenious engineering, the LD people found that they could cram a Dolby Digital signal into one digital audio channel on a LD. In order to send this signal to the receiver they did something that would take me a while to explain, but it was different than S/PDIF even though the S/PDIF output was available. Again, everyone had to upgrade their LD player and their receiver to use this new output.

About the same time DTS came along and said that they had a better way to compress audio. Their way involved both channels of a standard CD output and so DTS-CDs were born. These were playable over S/PDIF and again used the exact same amount of bits normally used for 2-channel audio. The idea behind their method (and AC3) was that people would not hear certain parts of the audio and those bits (not the people) could be eliminated. This is one of the base technologies behind almost all lossy audio encoding along with elimination of duplicate signals between channels.

With DVDs, the Dolby Digital and DTS output were sent over the S/PDIF instead of requiring the special output that the LD used. This again required everyone to purchase a new receiver that could understand DTS from a DVD, since that DTS used slightly more bits that the DTS-CD equivalent (48-kHz instead of 44.1-kHz).

In the late 1990s, DVD-Audio and SACD came along. Both of those could output digital audio at greater than anything the S/PDIF outputs could handle. The audio was up to 192-kHz, 24-bits and had a full 6 channels of output (if 6-channels were used then you were limtied to 96-kHz). This was audio heaven. But, of course many people had to purchase a new receiver that had 5.1-channel analog inputs so that the DVD-Audio and SACD players could convert to analog and then send that to the receiver. This way the lossless digital audio could not be copied since it never left the player (theoretically).

Well analog must be bad, so along came HDMI which has the bandwidth needed to send 7.1-channel of lossless PCM audio from a player to a receiver. All digital and protected against copying. Of course, everyone needed a new receiver to connect the HDMI line and then read the new lossless formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. S/PDIF just can't handle the bitrates of these formats.

So, now your question...The only audio formats that your cable box DVR can output are 2-channel PCM and Dolby Digital. Both of those can fit in the S/PDIF bandwidth without modification. A Blu-Ray player can send 7.1-channel LPCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. None of those can fit in a S/PDIF bandwidth and therefore your Blu-Ray player downgrades that audio to fit in the available bandwidth, if you use S/PDIF (but stays lossless with HDMI). Basically on a BD player you take lossless audio and convert it to lossy audio if you use S/PDIF. On a cable box, it is already lossy for multichannel, so it doesn't matter.

A long explanation but I hope that answered your question.
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post #21 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you. Certainly beats my guess of "Is it because the BD player can output higher quality audio that can't be transferred via optical?". Maybe technically correct but certainly not as educational as your response.

I know that this is off topic but my cable box has 2 additional audio settings (HDMI and Dolby Digital). That concurs with what you said above. When connected via HDMI, I just chose HDMI (for audio output in the settings) and it sounded great. When I chose Dolby Digital, I got no sound. Would connecting an optical cable from my cable box to my soundbar allow the Dolby Digital setting on my cable box to provide audio? I always wondered why I got no sound in that case.

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post #22 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 02:31 PM
 
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That is kind-of strange. Since it is optical, do you see a red light output from the cable box's optical output? Technically since there is a laser involved I should warn you not to look into the optical output but instead put your finger outside of it to reflect the red light.

If you have light output, then can your soundbar decode Dolby Digital over the S/PDIF? One easy way to know is to have your BD player send a Dolby Digital or DTS output to the soundbar to confirm. If that works, then it is likely a menu setting in the Cable Box or a malfunctioning S/PDIF output (wouldn't be the first).

But, yes, if it works like the DirecTV boxes, the Dolby Digital settings means that Dolby Digital can be sent out when a program is encoded with Dolby Digital. Otherwise it will send 2-channel PCM audio.
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post #23 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I apologize for being unclear. I have yet to test anything with an optical cable. My comments were solely about me playing with the cable box settings with an HDMI cable going from the cable box to the sound bar. I was thinking about the future if/when this switch fails and I connect the cable box to the sound bar via optical. My question is that if I connect the optical cable from the cable box to the sound bar and change the audio setting in my cable box from HDMI to Dolby Digital, should I get sound? If so, I believe that it will be the same quality as I am currently getting with my current HDMI connection (based on my understanding of what you have told me above).

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post #24 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 03:17 PM
 
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Yes you should get sound and yes it should be the same quality. The one caviat that I don't know is whether your soundbar will accept Dolby Digital over optical (most will). Hopefully there is a Dolby Digital logo on the front of the soundbar which would make it even more likely to work.
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post #25 of 33 Old 01-18-2013, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again for the reply. Per the manual, it accepts Dolby Digital and DTS. Not sure that I can confirm the "over optical" part until I actually test it. I hope that I won't have to because that will mean that the switch continues to work but I'm glad that I have another option if it fails.

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post #26 of 33 Old 01-20-2013, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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My apologies for hijacking my own thread but you are definitely well versed in audio formats. I have the BD-C5500 connected directly into my HW-E450 soundbar via HDMI and am wondering what the best audio settings are for the BD player. Here are the setting choices with the default choices bolded:

Digital Output - PCM, Bitstream (Re-encode), or Bitstream (Audiophile)
PCM Downsampling - On or off
Dynamic Range Control - Auto, off, or on
Downmixing Mode - Normal stereo or Surround compatible
DTS Neo: 6 - Off, Cinema, or Music

According to the soundbar specs, here are the audio features:

Audio Feature
Sound Modes (DSP) x 6 ea
Dolby Digital
3D Sound Plus
DTS
MP3 Enhancer
Smart Volume

In case you need it, here are the manuals:

BD player: http://downloadcenter.samsung.com/content/UM/201107/20110704101254757/01854A-BD-C5500_C5500C-XAA-ENG-BM-1006.pdf
Soundbar: http://downloadcenter.samsung.com/content/UM/201202/20120221083917862/HW-E450-USA-ENG-IB_0203.pdf

I see this information listed on pages 33-34 in the BD player manual but I don't know what I'm reading.biggrin.gif

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post #27 of 33 Old 01-20-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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The soundbar is going to be a bit of a compromise for Blu-Ray discs. The soundbar can handle DTS and Dolby Digital but not DTS-HD MA and TrueHD from the specs.

The important option is the first from a format standpoint. Try a few discs with Bitstream (Audiophile). If you get sound with a DTS-HD MA movie, then you can leave it as is. If not, select Bitstream (Re-encode) which I think will attempt to convert to LPCM and then try to send that to the soundbar.

PCM Downsampling is for the situation where you are converting to a lower quality signal. You can leave that enabled.

Dynamic Range Control makes the audio seem more compressed so that you can theoretically lower the volume at night. I prefer to leave this option off since it changes the audio.

Downmix - I'd change it to surround and listen to see if the dialog becomes too low compared to the rest of the sounds in a movie. If it is OK, then leave as surround. If not, set back to stereo.

DTS Neo:6 is DTS's attempt to convert stereo to surround. You can leave that off unless you want to try DTS Neo 6.

I think that covers everything. Let your ears be your guide while trying the different settings. If something sounds better to you, then that should be your setting. Consider the above to be a guide.
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post #28 of 33 Old 01-20-2013, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much.

Knock on wood but the new HDMI switch is working like a champ. Not that I know if/what it means but I did a quick test. On my cable system, channels 2 and 702 are the same channel. Before I connected the switch, changing between the 2 would do nothing to the program meaning that I wouldn't lose audio or video at all. With the current switch, it's the same thing. No loss of audio or video when changing between the channels. With the last switch that I had, I would experience a delay of about 2 seconds, just as I would when changing between channels 2 and 5, for example. Might mean something or nothing but its just something that I noticed.

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post #29 of 33 Old 01-21-2013, 08:58 AM
 
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That delay is handshaking. Some HDMI devices are better than others at handshaking. Sounds like you ended up with the better one this time.
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post #30 of 33 Old 03-24-2013, 04:34 AM - Thread Starter
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UPDATE: My 2nd switch is acting up, just like the first switch did. The video started cutting out yesterday. Not knowing what else to do, I powered everything off and unplugged the switch for a few minutes. It seemed to do the trick through the night but is doing it again now.

Is it normal for this to start happening after 2 months of working fine? Any ideas what I can do? I love the switch when it works but am thinking that I might just be better off returning it and connecting everything to the TV via HDMI, connecting a single TOSLINK cable from the TV to the soundbar, and dealing with the sound downgrade. I can also connect 1 source directly to the soundbar via HDMI. I am leaning towards the HD DVR since that gets used daily while the BD player only gets used 1-2 times max monthly.

Apparently, I can't get a refund and will have to opt for store credit from Monoprice since it's been over 30 days from the date of purchase. Does anyone see any other switches that might work better? I liked the 5 inputs to have room for the future but need at least 4 inputs.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110

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