Am I setting myself up for failure? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-19-2013, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Guys, here is a brief outline of what I am trying to do, and please tell me honestly if you think this will work or just cause me problems.

I want to run from my HTPC via HDMI to several sources. What I am trying to decide is how many splitters I can use. My thought was that I would come out of the HTPC to a Monoprice 1X4 splitter. From there one HDMI goes directly to my AV Receiver for audio, one to my projector for video (They are far enough apart that I do not want to run HDMI to the receiver and then back to the PJ) and one to a Monoprice 1X4 splitter extender that uses the HDBaseT Lite and sends the signal to 4 locations. For the Receiver and Projector I plan to use new Redmere HDMI cables, and use my existing 6 ft high speed HDMI cables for the areas that I will be using the extender to get too.

Does this sound like a reasonable idea? Anyone see issues with this regarding latency, signal corruption or anything like that?

Thanks in advance guys!
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post #2 of 20 Old 04-19-2013, 07:23 AM
 
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Is stereo only for audio OK? (no multichannel audio)

Make sure you look up "lowest common denominator" for HDMI before you purchase any equipment.
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post #3 of 20 Old 04-19-2013, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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No, I am not content with stereo, and all of the equipment that I have looked at shows that it supports 1080P/60 and Dolby Digital TrueHD as well as DTS-MA. I would think that means that it will push through the things I want it too, or am I off base?
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post #4 of 20 Old 04-19-2013, 07:03 PM
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As part of the handshake, source and sinks share information about capabilities. The source is going to output the least common denominator for video and the least common denominator for audio.

Also, my suspicion is the setup you are describing could very well be problematic. You might experience frequent video or audio dropouts and/or sparkles. I am not an expert.

In addition, my personal experience with Monoprice equipment was not favorable. This might be a classic case of you get what you pay for.



How long are the Redmere and HDBaseT runs?
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post #5 of 20 Old 04-19-2013, 07:06 PM
 
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Way off base. In the outfield actually. Read up on lowest common denominator.

OK, here's the one thing you must remember about HDMI to do what you want to do. Just one thing... HDMI only allows for one video and one audio stream to be sent at any time over the HDMI cable.

Now, why is that so important? It sounds simple but it adds complications with your setup. If your source component can only send one audio and one video signal at a time and it is going to your projector/TV and your audio/video receiver, then the source can only send either stereo or multichannel. It can't send both types of audio at the same time because it can only send one audio stream at a time. So, what to choose?

Well, the HDMI spec requires the source to only send a signal that is compatible with all sinks that are connected. The only type of signal that would be compatible with every sink (the TVs, the projector, the AVR in your proposed case) is a stereo signal. It can never send multichannel because only one device of many devices that are hooked-up is multichannel capable. This is the lowest common denominator for HDMI and it prevents you from sending multichannel for compatibility reasons.

This is why people hook up their AVR first and then let the AVR send the video out. In that case, the AVR sends its information instead of the TV's information to the source and the source says, OK I see a multichannel device only.

There are matrix switchers, including Joe's excellent Octava models, that will allow to you "trick" the sources into thinking that only multichannel devices are present, but those types are more costly. In that case the receiver will get multichannel audio but the TVs will get no compatible audio.

So, I think your first change is to find a way to send the HDMI signal to your AVR first, assuming you don't need any audio with the TVs. Or, do it exactly like you wrote and accept that all sinks will only receive stereo. Depending upon your source components, there might be other ways, too. It becomes much easier if you have an OPPO BDP-93/95/103/105 Blu-Ray player.
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post #6 of 20 Old 04-20-2013, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Ahh, OK, I am with you. I was thinking along a different line with least common denominator. Thanks for clarifying. That all makes sense now.

So, what you are saying is that if I am OK with the least common denominator then the way that I wrote this up will work, but if I want different HDMI signals going to difference targets for varying capabilities then I have to have multiple runs, which is where going to the AVR first and then to my other targets after that makes sense.

Did I get that right this time?
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post #7 of 20 Old 04-20-2013, 01:11 PM
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‘supports 1080P/60 and Dolby Digital TrueHD as well as DTS-MA’ – it would be interesting to see the list of kit you are considering, finding Display devices which support those audio formats is not easy!

‘Anyone see issues with this regarding latency, signal corruption or anything like that?’ – as others have said EDID and HDCP are likely the biggest hurdles to overcome.

3D – no mention of it, will it be a requirement?

HTPC – is that the only Source for all of your Zones?

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post #8 of 20 Old 04-20-2013, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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3D is not a requirement, I only have one source that is 3D capable, and I am not a 3D fan, so I do not use it.

The HTPC is my only source and the only thing that I send to anything but the PJ and the AVR in my theater room will be Television broadcasts via Windows Media Center for sports.
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post #9 of 20 Old 04-21-2013, 07:38 AM
 
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I'm confused. You said you only had one source that is 3D capable and then you said the HTPC is your only source. So you have no sources that are not 3D capable?

Anyway, keep remembering that there can only be one audio stream and one video stream at any given time. So multiple runs will just send the same audio and same video to every sink.

When you put the AVR first, that will get multichannel audio to your receiver. That's good. What happens to the rest of the sinks? They get their output from the AVR which is going to send them multichannel audio unless the AVR converts the signal to stereo. Most AVRs will not do this. As you can see from this FAQ, Denon for a long time said the only method to do this was by including S/PDIF (optical or coax) output from your source to the receiver and then the S/PDIF output would be distributed to the attached TV sinks.

http://denon.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/339/~/hdmi-%2F-zone-2

Recently a number of companies have produced AVRs with Zone 2 HDMI outputs. That might work but I don't know how the AVRs handle it when you are only the same signal with the AVR as the Zone 2 output. It would work with multiple sources but you said you only have one.

I suspect in the end you'll need to run both HDMI (for multichannel audio to the AVR and video to all sinks) as well as S/PDIF (or stereo RCA) to all downstream TV sinks. In that case, from an HDMI standpoint, all you need is a good AVR and a distribution amp (1 x 8, since I think I counted 5 TV/projector sinks). Then you'll also need to distribute the stereo S/PDIF signal to the TVs, assuming you have TVs that can accept a S/PDIF signal for audio along with the HDMI video - not all TVs have that type of input capability. If not, then you'll need to get an analog audio stereo distribution amp to send the audio signal to the TVs.

Understanding how HDMI works is not easy once you go outside of its original intended use (secure point-to-point communications).
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post #10 of 20 Old 04-21-2013, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Andy, sorry for the confusion. I meant target, not source. My projector is 3D capable, but I never use the 3D on it.
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post #11 of 20 Old 04-21-2013, 09:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kertofer View Post

Andy, sorry for the confusion. I meant target, not source. My projector is 3D capable, but I never use the 3D on it.

OK, I understand - one sink that is 3D capable. BTW, if your AVR is not 3D capable, it won't matter if the projector is. So, it may be irrelevent anyway.

The need for something like a S/PDIF audio output still stands. I think that is the only way (or analog RCA) that you can send multichannel to the AVR and stereo to the other sinks at the same time.
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post #12 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, so based on this discussion it seems like a better option for me is going to be as follows.

HDMI out of my HTPC using a single long Redmere cable to the AVR.
HDMI out of the AVR to my splitter (I am using this one: http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10113&cs_id=1011307&p_id=8159&seq=1&format=2)
which would let everything get sent to all my displays, but still allow me to have my high end audion in my theater room.

The AVR I am leaning towards is the Denon 4520CI, so I can use the HDMI out of it, which can be set to work even if the AVR is in standby mode.

Will that do what I am looking for? Or do I need to put something like a Matrix switch in before the AVR so that the AVR and the splitter/other devices all do their own handshake?
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post #13 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 09:27 AM
 
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OK, I read through the 4520CI owners manual (been meaning to do that for a different reason). You really want to read what is on page 197 (and page 196). Basically, here is the key:
Quote:
Make sure that “HDMI Audio Out” in the menu is set to “AVR”. When a same input source is selected for MAIN ZONE and ZONE4, set the ZONE4 ON/OFF button to “OFF”, or change the input source for ZONE4 to an input source at is different from the one for MAIN ZONE.

What I think they are trying to say is that if you connect Zone 4 to the stereo TVs, then you cannot select the same source as the main zone and still get audio output to the TVs. But a different source will get stereo output to the TVs. I'd have to play with a 4520CI a bit to confirm, but that makes sense. The AVR does not convert mulitchannel to stereo when using HDMI.

The key again is that you can only have either multichannel or stereo output from any source at any time. So you may still find yourself in a situation where you only have stereo going to the AVR or have no audio coming out of the TVs.

BTW, the 4520 is an excellent choice. At least you have three HDMI outputs and one is semi-independent.

The other thing I keep forgetting to mention is that if any of the TVs are turned off or on, all of the other TVs will likely lose their video signals for a second (or a few seconds depending upon what is hooked up). This is while the sinks and the source re-handshake. With a multiroom setup, it can be annoying to have HDMI cutout a signal in one room because someone turned off the TV downstairs.
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post #14 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Andy, thanks a lot for all your feedback and help in understanding this.

So here is a question, is there a way to do what i want to do at all? Connect my HTPC as the single source to multiple sinks where my AVR will get high quality audio and my other sinks that do not know how to decode that get normal stereo? It almost seems like that just cannot be done.
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post #15 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 10:40 AM
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If the Sink's (TV's) in your secondary Zones dont support the audio stream the HTPC is Outputting over HDMI you could add in a Soundbar at each Sink which does or an HDMI audio decoder - though the cost of those is probably not far off a budget HDMI equipped Soundbar.

With so many 'secondary' Zones you may want to consider a second HTPC set to Video + 2.0 audio via the HDMI Distribution Amp and keep the main HTPC dedicated to the primary Zone.

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post #16 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Joe, that is kind of what I was seeing.
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post #17 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 11:01 AM
 
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Yes a second source would certainly make this more reliable in terms of audio since you could have separate HDMI strings. One multichannel + projector. The other stereo TVs. The disadvantage is you have to control two different sources.

Soundbars or a cheap receiver at each secondary TV would also solve the problem assuming the soundbar or receiver have the same audio codec decoding capabilities as the 4520. That's actually a good way to look at it - the more the capabilities are the same between the AVR and the TVs/soundbar/receiver, the easier this will be.

The other option, as I mentioned earlier, is to use S/PDIF or analog audio for the secondary zones. HDMI only for multichannel audio. The problem with that is that most TVs now assume you will be getting your audio over HDMI when an HDMI connection is used. So there is no way to use S/PDIF audio and HDMI video as a single input. So, that option might not be viable the more I thought about it.
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post #18 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again guys! I may try setting this up since I already have the equipment and am really only going to be pushing TV broadcasts with all of the zones on. It seems like if the TV zones are not on then I should get my multi channel audio to my AVR since it will be the least common denominator at that point. Then when I fire up all the TV's then it will dumb itself down to Stereo.

I will let you know how this works out!
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post #19 of 20 Old 04-22-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kertofer View Post

Thanks again guys! I may try setting this up since I already have the equipment and am really only going to be pushing TV broadcasts with all of the zones on. It seems like if the TV zones are not on then I should get my multi channel audio to my AVR since it will be the least common denominator at that point. Then when I fire up all the TV's then it will dumb itself down to Stereo.

I will let you know how this works out!

You are so close but not quite. You will only get multichannel audio if you set the AVR to multichannel audio mode instead of TV mode - it is one of the menu settings on the 4540. Now the reverse is true - if you put the AVR into standby, then the sources will start sending stereo. But as soon as the AVR fires-up, no sound to the TVs.

Just because a TV goes into standby (remember even when "off" these TVs are actually still active) doesn't mean the TV isn't still sending its EDIDs to the sources. So, putting the TV into standby does not change anything with most TVs.

That's why soundbars with the proper audio capabilities was such a help.
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post #20 of 20 Old 04-25-2013, 01:49 PM
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In the ‘theoretical’ world your system ought to be smart enough to know when your 2.0 only Sinks are all in Standby and allow the Source to output 5.1 to a Sink capable of decoding 5.1!

In the real world you are reliant on so many variables for it to ever work correctly – I’d hate to think how few times the above actually holds true on a connected system and as Andy suggests one or other of your 2.0 only Sinks will keep the Source ‘locked down’ to 2.0 even when in Standby.

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