Does anyone know if it is possible within the current architecture of the HDMI cable to allow for a secondary audio channel to be utilized within HDMI?
Now, I'm not talking about whether it exists - I know it does not.
But, it seems to me that if the current HDMI audio cable with ARC exists, then perhaps in a situation where ARC is not necessary, then that audio feed could carry 2-channel PCM audio.
The concept is that while many A/V receivers support HDMI in the main zone, none actually support down-mixing to other zones at all, and almost none will even allow HDMI to be the audio feed which delivers audio to the other areas. If HDMI had a dedicated 2-channel PCM stereo feed along with the HD audio feed, then the receiver could extract the 2-channel feed to utilize for other zones. It would not need additional DSPs or licenses associated to get 2-channel stereo audio for second, third, or fourth zones, and would truly provide the 'one connector world' that HDMI has been striving to achieve.
So, a system which has a main surround zone area can be listening to a movie using HD audio while a second area can be listening as well using a stereo zone and the two audios won't be competing for EDID rights to the audio.
It seems that this addition would have significant impact on what A/V receivers would be able to do with their multi-zone capabilities. Of course, gear would have to be made to utilize the second audio stream channel of PCM audio, which would require new chips to be made to do so I expect. But, in a 'new' system this is the type of thing which many consumers would really appreciate.
But, I was wondering if the current HDMI cables can support it at all, or are they already maxed out on audio capability?