HDMI spliiter issue with Sony Bravia LCD TV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 03-14-2013, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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So I have recently set up a HTPC system with an older PC and an NVidia GT610 graphics card with HDMI output. I have a 32" Sony Bravia TV and a Bravia AV amplifier (interconnected via the HDMI1 connector on the TV), both about 5 years old. I primarily have the HTPC connected to the VIDEO1 input on the AV amp and that works great. But one issue with that is that if I want to switch to PHONO or TAPE for audio input and still want to use the HTPC display on the TV. I can't use that (VIDSEO1) signal routing, as the TV screen goes blank since there is no video source for PHONO or TAPE input.

So my fix was to install a two output HDMI splitter (RockSoul 1x2 model), connect the PC output to the splitter input and route one output to the AV amp and the other output to the back of the TV to one of the other 3 HDMI inputs. When I then switch the TV to HDMI2 for the splitter output, I get no picture. But if I unplug the HDMI cable from the splitter and reconnect it, I get the PC video on the TV like normal. Then if I want to switch back to the AV amp output, I get no picture until I unplug and reconnect the HDMI1 cable, then that input comes back. I have tried two different splitters and have swapped the two output cables. Same symptoms with the TV input in all cases, brand new HDMI cables and they all work while direct connected. And the VIDEO1 input on the AV amp is good all the time, either direct connected of connected to either HDMI output on the splitter, it is only the TV HDMI inputs and have tried all 4 plugs and they all work alike.

Connection diagram below:

PC
|
Splitter -> AVamp/VIDEO1 -> TV/HDMI1
|
+->TV/HDMI2

So the question is, is this normal behavior for an HDMI splitter? I can live with it but it is just puzzling as I can only get one active input on the TV. Just a bit inelegant having to switch inputs on the remote then hop up and unplug cables behind the TV, defeats the purpose of having multiple inputs and remote selection if you have to do that. Perhaps since it is the same signal coming into HDMI1 from the AV Amp and on HDMI2 from the splitter that the TV gets "confused".

Also the other thing I see with the splitter is that there seems to be some sort of negotiation of the A/V capabilities of the connected devices on the splitter. When I connect the PC to the AV Amp, I see HDMI video with 7.1 digital audio capability and "SONY AV AMP" as the attached device. This is with the NVidia graphics card setup program. When I connect to the TV, I see "SONY TV" as the device and HDMI with L+R audio, which would jive with what the TV itself can handle with 2 internal speakers. But when I connect the splitter in between, I still see just "SONY TV": and L+R audio over HDMI. So I suspect the splitter picks the lowest common set of capabilities of the connected devices and selects that as what it reports as connected. I was hoping to be able to use audio over HDMI, but I can only get simple stereo (L+R) if I do so, even when feeding the AV Amp. So my workaround there is to use the PC's optical audio connection and that lets me get surround sound to the amp. Then I simply disable the HDMI audio device. Am I expecting too much of the HDMI splitter? Or is this a problem with the NVidia audio driver/graphics setup program in being unable to handle different audio devices (this is with Windows 8 and the latest NVida graphics driver and utilities).

Thanks for any insight.

Roger.
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-14-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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Roger, To summarize your first append - welcome to the AVSForum, by the way - you basically have a HTPC connected to an HDMI switch. The first output of that switch is connect to a TV and the second output is again connect to the same TV but through an AVR first. Did I get that right?

If so, I think I understand the issue and it's an HDCP violation in the source device (HTPC). Your HDCP key would be duplicated since it is coming twice from the TV. I suppose it could also be the switcher that's having the problem in figuring out if it's getting a secure connection.

I believe the best way to test this is to connect your HDCP to the switcher and then *both* outputs from the switch into separate TV inputs (basically you are duplicating the connections). If it still fails and combined with the lack of any video, I suspect that is what is happening.

Also the audio you described is working exactly as the HDMI spec says it should. The HDMI spec says the audio at any time must be decodable by all attached sinks. Since you can only have one audio stream at any time, the only thing compatible with both the TV and the AVR would be stereo. This is called the lowest common denominator principle.

I'm curious if the other more-knowledgible regulars here also think this is an HDCP violation.

If you can let us know the model number of your Bravia AVR, I can see if there is a workaround.
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-14-2013, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the welcome.

Yes, the summary is correct, HTPC to splitter and outputs of that to AVR (assume AV receiver) and TV directly, bypassing AVR.

Amp: Sony STR-DG920, TV: Sony 32XBR9

On the audio, I guess the TV only reports what it can physically handle. And bypassing the optical audio into the AV amp does serve the purpose, just defeats the purpose of "one connector for everything" smile.gif

Your HDCP theory might apply. The NVidia graphics utility does report a secure HDCP connection in all combinations (AVR, TV, splitter). Now when I have the normal connection of PC->AVR->TV, the PC reports is is connected to the "SONY AV AMP", when I put the splitter in between, it says the connection is "SONY TV". On the AVR, I have the TV connected to the HDMI "OUT" connector and that plugs directly into the HDMI1 input on the TV. All the Bravia Sync functions work fine, TV remote controls AVR volume, etc.

I did give your "two connections to the TV test" a try and found that with the splitter connected to HDMI2 and HDMI3 on the TV, both inputs worked fine. So, taking it one step farther, I pulled out the HDMI2 cable and plugged it back into the AVR VIDEO1 input and darned if it all works now. I tried powering down the PC and the AV system (HDMI splitter power remained on) and turned all back on and it seems to be working as desired now. Maybe it was the HDMI splitter that was getting confused and put into a weird state and plugging it into only the TV cleared it up.

So thanks for that tip, I guess I'll have to remember that gyration to go through next time the power goes out and I need to bring things up again smile.gif
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-15-2013, 09:17 AM
 
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Had the HDMI2/3 connection not worked , I could have given you a kludge work-around for tape input. Assuming you are using HDMI or S/PDIF for the audio input from the HTPC, connect the analog audio output from your tape deck to VIDEO1 analog audio in. Then when you want to listen to tapes, select analog audio input on the receiver (p81 of the owners manual). Select "auto" to return to regular listening. On some receivers it is possible to reassign the analog audio input ports to different inputs, but I didn't see that in the quick read of the owner's manual.

I haven't found a workaround for phono input, but it probably doesn't matter now.
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-15-2013, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips Andy. My main plan for the phono and tape inputs is to use the HTPC to capture/digitize the signals. I have a little USB capture box that does this but need to operate the user interface on the PC. Thus the need to see the display while playing a record. I used to use my laptop for this, but working on a tiny screen off to the side is tedious, and now that I have the PC behind the monitor, figured it should be able to do the job. I still need to get set up to test out the phono capture, but so far it seems like it'll work.

At some point, once I digitize all the records, I won't need the phono input any more. Thus I did not want to spend a ton of time and money on some elaborate scheme to make this work.

And yes, I am using the S/PDIF output on the HTPC to feed audio to the receiver
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-15-2013, 10:17 AM
 
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I know one solution off the top of my head. It's redundant but purchase a separate phono pre-amp. I think Guitar Center and DJ places still have them. Cheap ones used to be about $50. Then plug phono into pre-amp, pre-amp into Video 1 analog audio input, select analog audio in the receiver menu and you're there. Then select Auto to go back to S/PDIF for HTPC output.

Only downside is that for the tape input, you would have to select Video 1 instead of Phono. Of course, monitoring off the tape output (as you know) bypasses this solution.

On some receivers you can select the video signal which then select audio and video. Then there is a separate selection option for just audio. I looked for that in the owner's manual and could find it. But, I have to admit I scanned quickly so it may still be there.
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-15-2013, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess the HDMI splitter (now that is seems to be working) is about the same price as an phono pre-amp and is perhaps a more versatile device. Right now I have the HTPC recording box plugged into the tape out plugs on the receiver so it is functioning as the tape recorder.

The remote switching is fairly logical, I use the receiver remote to change between sources with one button click. Then if needed, the TV remote can select the HTPC video input to bypass the receiver if needed.

On the HTPC, I leave S/PDIF as the default audio output device and that remains constant no matter which HDMI connection I have.It was a little complicated to set up, but once it is, it seems to work as desired and without too many extra remote operations.

I guess the trick is to keep all the HDCP handshaking happy that I am not trying to do something sneaky. I could of course do the brute force method of unplugging the PC video cable from the receiver and pluggin it into the TV when I need that and move it back when done or I could get a switcher and another remote and do it that way. But as it is now, no extra remotes and no cables to move.

Update:

I did a test tonight with the PHONO input and was able to successfully digitize an old vinyl LP off the receiver TAPE output while having the HTPC display on the TV with audio coming from the turntable. Then two remote buttons and back to the HTPC display and audio and could play back the recorded audio.via the AV receiver. Makes for a nice seamless setup. And nice to have the LP ripper software on the big screen as you need to cut and paste track names off the net from a web browser. On the old laptop I used to use, I could not have windows side by side, instead they were overlapping, so a lot of extra clicking back and forth.

So I guess "Mission Accomplished" is in order.

--
Roger
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post #8 of 16 Old 03-16-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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Congrats! Let us know if there are any other problems.
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post #9 of 16 Old 03-16-2013, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I noticed one other minor glitch that was cleared up with getting the HDMI splitter set up properly.

While the splitter was connected but still messed up, the HDMI control from the TV to the receiver was messed up a bit. Volume control worked OK, but the automatic power-on did not work. That is when I turned on the TV, it did not turn on the receiver like it normally does, spo I had to hit a key on the receiver remote to get it to turn on.

But now with the splitter happy, the auto power-on works again. So I guess that is another sign of an HDMI issue someplace in the signal chain. In my case, I did not see any "error messages" or "red lights" any place, so the problem was subtle.

Maybe this will help someone else with troubleshooting an similar HDCP/HDM I issue.
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-16-2013, 09:44 PM
 
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That's HDMI CEC that you had the problem with. It sends command signals across the HDMI cable. It would not surprise me that you had a problem with that as well if the rest of HDMI was having problems.
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-16-2013, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess an issue in one connection can propagate to another connection. So even when I had the TV set to HDMI1 that is the direct connection to the AV receiver OUT connection, that auto power-on stopped working when there was a messed up splitter connected to HDMI2 on the TV and VIDEO1 on the receiver, neither of which were selected inputs. I can see where troubleshooting a more complicated setup would be very difficult. All the time, the Nvidia Graphics Control Panel program showed an HDCP compliant connection in all cases even when things were not working right. I guess that tool is not as strict in what it considers compliant.

Are there any Windows based programs that can display the HDMI connections/status that the PC can see or does that take a dedicated hardware box? The Nvidia tool only shows the graphics card and the device at the far end of the HDMI connection (sink) and nothing in between. I know if I plug in a DVI-HDMI cable into the card, it'll show up as a non-HDCP compliant connection. Also tried the DIrectv2pc playback adviser and player programs, both of which check for HDCP status. The playback adviser shows HDCP compliant while the player says it is not HDCP compliant. But that even happens when I have the PC direct connected to the TV with no splitter or anything else connected. Suspect that is a problem in the player as I have a 2nd PC with a different model graphics card (GT640 vs. GT610) and it works fine. I think the issue is that the player does not recognize the 610 model card while it does recognize the 640.

At least for now, all is still working fine with the splitter set up.
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-17-2013, 08:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Crawler View Post

...

Are there any Windows based programs that can display the HDMI connections/status that the PC can see or does that take a dedicated hardware box? The Nvidia tool only shows the graphics card and the device at the far end of the HDMI connection (sink) and nothing in between. I know if I plug in a DVI-HDMI cable into the card, it'll show up as a non-HDCP compliant connection. Also tried the DIrectv2pc playback adviser and player programs, both of which check for HDCP status. The playback adviser shows HDCP compliant while the player says it is not HDCP compliant. But that even happens when I have the PC direct connected to the TV with no splitter or anything else connected. Suspect that is a problem in the player as I have a 2nd PC with a different model graphics card (GT640 vs. GT610) and it works fine. I think the issue is that the player does not recognize the 610 model card while it does recognize the 640.

At least for now, all is still working fine with the splitter set up.

Some of this could be different versions of HDCP being used. The earlier the version, the more finicky it seems to me. The Directv2pc requires certain Intel processor features before it will work. I suspect you have that since it sounds like you've been updating your HTPC.

The AVSForum also has a HTPC section: http://www.avsforum.com/f/26/home-theater-computers

I know they have an EDID override thread. HDCP is, as you would expect, a more guarded technology. But, you might take a look through the HTPC section to see if they have any tools of use.
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-17-2013, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Haven't run across anything in the HTPC section, but will keep looking. Yes, could be that the TV and receiver are older, I think I've had both about 4-5 years now.

Not so much concerned with the DIrectv2pc working, as I have the DVR right there to play recordings. That DirecTV programs seem to be hard coded to recognize only certain graphics cards. They have not been updated since 2009 and I don't think Direct is doing any. support for them, they do not run well under Windows 8, etc. With the adviser tool, the GT640 system lists "GT640" as the graphics card, while the GT610 system lists "MIcrosoft Basic Renderer" as the graphics card but that is is HDCP compliant. Both systems are running the same, current Nvidia driver version. The player will run on the GT610 board yet it stops when you try to play any off their server saying there is no HDCP..

It is just confusing that these 2 different Direct programs and the Nvidia program all tell 3 different stories as far as HDCP compliance all on the same system and even just with a card connected to a monitor with via a single HDMI cable. I guess there are multiple methods that programs can check for HDCP compliance and the answer you get depends on the method used and how the program interprets the information it got. Hopefully the PC hardware and software developers will come up with some reliable and agreed upon methods for doing this going forward.

In my case, I was trying to "play by the rules", upgrading the older PC with a card that had built-in HDMI since when I tried the older DVI output card with HDMI converter cable, it reported non-HDCP. So with the HDMI based card installed, just wanted to plug that into an HDMI plug on the home theater system and then the troubles started. Now it all seems that the HDCP genie is happy, not totally sure why it was not before and is now, but don't plan to do much more with the system, so I am set.
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-22-2013, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Just for completeness in this thread, I wanted to post one other configuration I tried last night. On many of the NVidia cards, there are multiple video connectors and you can run multiple displays off them. I had once tried the two displays, one HDMI and one DVI with an HDMI convertor cable. But I had only had in in separate display mode and that second display was not very useful unless you started an application on it.

But then I found the option to clone the two displays to be identical copies. So after some work, got that set up and somewhat stable, with the real HDMI feeding the AV receiver and the DVI->HDMI connected to the TV. The idea was to eliminate the HDMI splitter and also to be able to use the HDMI surround audio connection to the AV receiver instead of the separate S/PDIF connection.

So it sort of works. It is hard to bring the system up as you need to make sure the TV and amp are powered on and the right video inputs are enabled before booting the PC. For example if the DVI connector does not get display capability info from the TV, it can default to a lower resolution and that kills the cloned display setup. Also, while the audio sort of works, you have to be very careful switching inputs, as if you are on the TV and try to play audio to the amp, that output gets disabled by the graphics card as the TV only has L/R stereo and the AV receiver is not listening to it unless you go back and reselect that input. So you end up with a dozen button presses on the remotes to change displays. When it works, it is perfect, but it is oh so easy to mess things up with one remote button pressed at the wrong time. I think it is mainly the graphics card driver that is getting in the way, it is trying to "do the right thing" and automatically switching things around, would be nice if you could just hard code it to keep the current setup. Also, I think the DVI->HDMI connection is messing with the TV's HDMI control features as the AV amp is no longer turned on automatically.

So I think I'll go back to the HDMI splitter for video and S/PDIF for audio and stick with that setup. It would be nice to make use of the graphic -board HDMI audio as it is a newer chip set and has many more decoding capabilities compared to the ~8 yr. old motherboard audio chip set. But I guess having a reliable and stable system is more important than one that gets messed up easily.

So went back to the HDMI splitter setup and did notice one thing I did not see before that might help folks decipher HDMI setups. With the splitter installed and initialized by being plugged into 2 HDMI ports on the TV, I see both connections on the Nvidia Control panel, "SONY TV-0" and "SONY TV-1" which correspond to HDMI1 and HDMI2 connections on the splitter. Without the splitter, the "-0" and "-1" are no longer present, so I just see "SONY TV". But the presence of the "-N" on the video/audio connection must then indicate the presence of a splitter, so that is a handy bit of information. And indeed, with only the split HDMI connections and no DVI-HDMI connection, the auto-power-on of the AV receiver works again. Apparently those DVI-HDMI cables/adapters can cause HDMI issues of their own.
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-28-2013, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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The above setup, with the NVidia GT610 card feeding a 2 output splitter to the AVR and TV set, has been working fairly well, but I did start to see some issues.

One was that every once in a while the AVR video connection would get lost, although the 2nd spliiter connection direct to the TV was fine.

Second was from time to time the HDMI indicator on the AVR would flash and at that time, I would sometimes lose the HDMI connection from the DIrecTV DVR box.

If I power cycled all the devices, all the issues would go away and everything would work until some days/weeks later when it would repeat.

So I picked up a Gefen HDI Detective Plus box and started out with that between the PC and the splitter. I first programmed the EDID on the box with a direct connection to the AVR. Then I moved that to its current location on the PC output. So far things seems to be working. The PC video card setup program now shows the SONY-AVAMP as the connected device instead of the SONY-TV as it used to. So that seems to say the HDMI Detective box is "doing its thing" correctly. I also see that the audio capability is just stereo (L+R) which is the lowest common capability of the TV+AVR combination that the splitter sees.

Just set that up last night, so time will tell if the issues are fixed for good. But I have noted no video resets on the TV since installing the HDMI Detective box. I would see those at random intervals before, screen would blank for a second or two, then the display would come back with the input and resolution information banner at the top of the screen. I had previously updated the Bravia TV firmware to Sony's latest rev. as that was supposed to help with HDMI handshake issues but that did not seem to do much.
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post #16 of 16 Old 03-22-2014, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thought I would post an update to this thread.

A month or so ago, I dropped my DIrecTV service and sent back the whole house DVR that was hooked into my AVR along with the HTPC. I think it may have been the DVR what was causing the HDCP issues I was seeing as I have not seen any disconnect issues since removing the DVR.

And I've come up with a different solution to the HDMI splitter that seems to be working. So the GT610 card I use in the HTPC has HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs. I had tried the DVI with a DVI-HDMI adapter to feed the TV but that did not work for my needs. But instead I tried the VGA directly to the TV, in addition to the HDMI w/ 7.1 channel audio to the AVR. I set up the two display outputs to be duplicates. This way, I can use the HDMI w/ 7.1 audio to feed the AVR and when I need to switch to say PHONO input on the AVR, I can switch the TV over to VGA input so I can see the display and operate the digitizing app running there. It seems the VGA output on the card is "dumb enough" to not interfere with the HDMI audio output on the other connector and also still reports that I am HDCP compliant. In doing this, I can eliminate the HDMI splitter, it's wall wart power adapter and the HDMI Detective box and all those extra cables from behind the TV.
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