Distributing HDMI via matrix and dealing with audio? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so I'm looking to set up a 4x4 matrix for distributing HDMI between several rooms, two of which will have their own AVR (home theater and a family room). Technically I'd like to have more than 4 outputs but the price of switches goes through the roof beyond that.

Anyway, what I'm discovering is the hassle of lowest-common-denominator and EDID issues. As in, the TV with the crappiest set of features forces everything else using that source to downgrade too. One work-around I'm considering is use of Gefen HDMI Detective boxes to at least force all the sources to use a certain feature-set. Granted, this means four of them, one for each input source. But that'd be money well-spend if it stamps out the insanity of dealing with crazy EDID issues (fodder for a whole other thread, perhaps).

But this leads to the question of how to get the 'better' audio format downgraded to support a lower-end TV. Like a behind-the-mirror TV in the bathroom, for example. I'm guessing some sort of 'HDMI to other' converter is going to be required. This to retain the quality of audio for the theater while still letting the low-end TV 'hear' it too.

So, school me a bit here about dealing with how distributing HDMI has to be 'worked around' to avoid losing flexibility or better quality.
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 08:35 AM
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Best way to work around the HDMI distribution issues when you have a mix of displays/audio-support is to skip it and use component video. If you have one "main" room with high-res audio support, run HDMI to it (switcher if necessary) for critical sources. Or better, dedicate a BD player to that setup and use another player for "whole house video".

This is what I've done for my theater, family room and the rest of the house.

The limitation for component matrix switches is going to be devices with HDMI-only outputs, such as the AppleTV. But spending $$$ to distribute a $99 device is probably not the best way to go...

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post #3 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
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You could, in theory, also use HDMI-to-component adapters to use HDMI sources. I just tried a low-end one (a CT unit from Amazon) but found it dropped the brightness level far too much. Thankfully Amazon's return policy is great.

But at some point you're going to run into issues with not being able to distribute some signals due to HDCP restrictions. Can't say how soon that'll be, if ever. I'll certainly try to avoid having to deal with it but eventually it'll be an issue.

We'll have two rooms definitely getting the high-res treatment. A theatre room, the family room and possibly also the master suite. I'm assuming each with get an AVR to handle the audio and possible local input, with just the sources being downstairs in the rack. So I'd like to be able to get high-quality video from the sources.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

But at some point you're going to run into issues with not being able to distribute some signals due to HDCP restrictions. Can't say how soon that'll be, if ever.

Probably after we're decoding IP-based content in the display itself (see RVU, etc.)...

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We'll have two rooms definitely getting the high-res treatment. A theatre room, the family room and possibly also the master suite. I'm assuming each with get an AVR to handle the audio and possible local input, with just the sources being downstairs in the rack. So I'd like to be able to get high-quality video from the sources.

The only device(s) currently that has this issue are BD players and HTPC's with ripped BD content. Nothing else has 'advanced audio' codecs beyond what can be supported by SPDIF (DVD-audio/SACD not really worth footnoting).

With the display inputs properly matched, I find it difficult or impossible to tell the difference between video from a component matrix and the direct connected HDMI. Certainly can't see anything on small-ish (<60") displays.

Just offering a cheaper and "it works" solution - even if it doesn't last 5 years, I guarantee an HDMI solution at that time will be better and cheaper. Price delta would more than likely pay for a component solution today.

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post #5 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 04:15 PM
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As you can tell from the other thread I am battling the same issue. One small note. I went with the Octava 4x4 HDMI Matrix Switcher. Works well and it sounds like it has the EDID functionality you are referring to built in (see attached).
LL
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

such as the AppleTV. But spending $$$ to distribute a $199 device is probably not the best way to go...

Jeff

AppleTV II can be had for 80-90 if you know what you're doing, but this can be more of a headache than it's worth with the logins for itunes
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-06-2012, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor363 View Post

AppleTV II can be had for 80-90 if you know what you're doing, but this can be more of a headache than it's worth with the logins for itunes

Yeah, I fixed my post, I meant $99 - which makes the argument even better...

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post #8 of 27 Old 03-07-2012, 04:33 AM - Thread Starter
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The Apple TV is an interesting device, especially as an Airplay playback device. Or, when rooted, used for running things like XMBC. I recently used one to test converting it's HDMI output to component. The video worked but the converter I tried used only stereo audio (which worked fine). But that's a discussion for another thread.

Breaking out audio for displays seems to be the biggest stumbling block.

Right now I only have a single Pioneer plasma to consider (gen 7 50") and I'll have to confirm what formats it supports for audio input via HDMI. The two new spaces will be getting new displays (a PJ in on, a display in the other).

I really do like being able to use a display's built-in speakers for late night viewing or other times that don't "need" the full surround sound experience. At the same time I'd like to be able to use a matrix switcher to handle sharing various sources with it along with others displays in the house. Those likely being set up with their own AVRs (a family room and a theater).

What I may end up doing is having to use an AVR in the room with the Pioneer to handle the down conversion necessary to use the TV speakers. Perhaps by accepting HDMI input from the matrix and then using the AVR line-out to the TV. The issue being I'd have to get the video out of the AVR as component because the TV doesn't support using HDMI input with a separate audio source. I'd have to use an HDMI-to-component converter, but would that run afoul of the handshaking issues? Or would the AVR being in-between 'stop' the audio path search?

I basically just want to avoid anything I put in now from being a serious stumbling block for higher-end AV formats for use in the theater spaces. Both audio and video formats like 3D.

As Jeff points out this might be as simple as just using a separate BD player for that, one not connected to the distribution matrix.

And perhaps run a separate HDMI system just for the that player and the 3 spaces likely to use it and the higher-end audio formats it might support. Truth be told, that might be the least hassle. Then I wouldn't be faced with having to make everything work everywhere. This would also open the door to using just component for them. This might be a better plan.
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post #9 of 27 Old 03-07-2012, 06:26 AM
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Specify Display devices that sport SRS TruSurround HD compatible HDMI ports and minimise the problem to possibly just your one Zone - http://www.srslabs.com/content.aspx?id=416

As per laklog's post go with a Matrix that offers comprehensive EDID Management - the HDMI Detective+ is handy if you have a PC that's going into sleep mode but not required for your proposed setup if you choose your Matrix carefully.

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post #10 of 27 Old 03-07-2012, 02:34 PM
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Feeling deja vu as I considered all of the options you mentioned. I could not find a AVR with HDMI inputs and multi-channel decoding/downmixing that was cheap enough to justify for a limited role as an audio extractor/decoder. I would also have had to drill holes from a side shelf to connect it to my plasma hanging on the wall. The problem with a separate BD player in the HT is that it precludes taking advantage of other sources in your rack that offer multi-channel audio. For example DirecTV has 1080p/DD5.1 movies on demand that I would like to be able to watch in the HT. Having a separate HDMI system seems fairly cumbersome to me, especially when it comes time to program universal remotes.

I am still trying to make local 2CH audio extraction/conversion at the two legacy plasmas work but for now I simply change the audio settings on the source (BD, DTV, etc.) to multichannel audio when I am watching in the HT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

Breaking out audio for displays seems to be the biggest stumbling block.

Right now I only have a single Pioneer plasma to consider (gen 7 50") and I'll have to confirm what formats it supports for audio input via HDMI. The two new spaces will be getting new displays (a PJ in on, a display in the other).

I really do like being able to use a display's built-in speakers for late night viewing or other times that don't "need" the full surround sound experience. At the same time I'd like to be able to use a matrix switcher to handle sharing various sources with it along with others displays in the house. Those likely being set up with their own AVRs (a family room and a theater).

What I may end up doing is having to use an AVR in the room with the Pioneer to handle the down conversion necessary to use the TV speakers. Perhaps by accepting HDMI input from the matrix and then using the AVR line-out to the TV. The issue being I'd have to get the video out of the AVR as component because the TV doesn't support using HDMI input with a separate audio source. I'd have to use an HDMI-to-component converter, but would that run afoul of the handshaking issues? Or would the AVR being in-between 'stop' the audio path search?

I basically just want to avoid anything I put in now from being a serious stumbling block for higher-end AV formats for use in the theater spaces. Both audio and video formats like 3D.

As Jeff points out this might be as simple as just using a separate BD player for that, one not connected to the distribution matrix.

And perhaps run a separate HDMI system just for the that player and the 3 spaces likely to use it and the higher-end audio formats it might support. Truth be told, that might be the least hassle. Then I wouldn't be faced with having to make everything work everywhere. This would also open the door to using just component for them. This might be a better plan.

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post #11 of 27 Old 03-08-2012, 02:41 PM
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Im in the same boat. I am going to use the HDfury 3 to connect the legacy plasmas without HDMI. I think this solution will work. Also planning on using the SNAP AV 4x4 matrix, that has EDID managment. http://www.snapav.com/p-1072-b-300-hdmatrix-4x4.aspx
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post #12 of 27 Old 03-08-2012, 10:53 PM
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Oh my...the SnapAV specs look great but looks like dealer only and no price. I was feeling good about my Octava 4x4 HDMI Matrix + 3 Altona HDMI Extender with Bidirectional IR, total price ~$1800. Do you have a price quote for the SnapAV matrix + 3 Receivers (B-300-HDMATRIX-RCVR)? If in the ballpark I might consider swapping out....
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post #13 of 27 Old 03-09-2012, 02:28 AM
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Where an HDMI Extender' device only requires a single CAT5/6 cable and doesn't mention HDBaseT you have to ask how are they doing it and what are the potential drawbacks in terms of image quality/functionality!

Converting HDMI to analogue HD is fine as long as you ensure your legacy Display supports the required resolution/refresh rates - the converter is doing Digital to Analogue (and losing HDCP somewhere along the way!!!) not down or up conversion.

HDF2/3 won't do anything in terms of multi-channel audio integration'.

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post #14 of 27 Old 03-09-2012, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'd like confirmation on HDCP support and pricing. I don't really care "that much" about how they're getting the signals there, wire is cheap. As long as it's the same as the source data stream being transported. Yeah, supporting HDBaseT would be great... eventually. For when the displays themselves start sporting an RJ45 jack to directly accept HDBaseT. But between now and that time there are likely to be a lot of other changes going on. As long as the matrix and receivers aren't outrageously expensive the cost 'lost' on them by not being HDBaseT doesn't bother me too much.

I'm likewise curious about how they're handling IR to/from the rooms.

But then I don't know where they're pricing these, yet. Anyone found MSRP and street prices on them? The troubling thing is they're yet another vendor angling for "dealer only" methods. Drawing all usual unfriendly "custom installer" characters, no doubt.
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post #15 of 27 Old 03-09-2012, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

Yeah, I'd like confirmation on HDCP support and pricing. I don't really care "that much" about how they're getting the signals there, wire is cheap. As long as it's the same as the source data stream being transported. Yeah, supporting HDBaseT would be great... eventually. For when the displays themselves start sporting an RJ45 jack to directly accept HDBaseT. But between now and that time there are likely to be a lot of other changes going on. As long as the matrix and receivers aren't outrageously expensive the cost 'lost' on them by not being HDBaseT doesn't bother me too much.

I'm likewise curious about how they're handling IR to/from the rooms.

But then I don't know where they're pricing these, yet. Anyone found MSRP and street prices on them? The troubling thing is they're yet another vendor angling for "dealer only" methods. Drawing all usual unfriendly "custom installer" characters, no doubt.

And it's those " usual unfriendly "custom installer" characters" that not only develop the industry, but also the people you ask for their free knowledge to figure out what you don't know. Intellectual knowledge is fee based, i.e. DR's and Lawyers and Accountants. Such is the case for many other industries. Personally I don't mind helping people, but when called names because someone either can't afford to pay for what they want or thinks because they breath they are owed something just shows one reason why this country is in the state it's in. You wanna play around and learn to do things yourself, more power to you, but mouthing CI's because you can't get something you want is just childish and silly.
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post #16 of 27 Old 03-14-2012, 12:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Nothing's been directed at anyone personally, yet out comes the hostility. From someone not even participating in the thread. Might be an indicator of how the 'character' opinion has been formed... Childish? Take your insults elsewhere.

I spent over a decade as a manufacturer's rep, I'm well acquainted with how 'dealers' can and can't help a market. Likewise I've spent even longer performing services for billable hours. As for the rest, that's just nonsense. Step back from slathering on the irrelevant rhetoric. Either contribute something useful to the thread or move on.
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post #17 of 27 Old 03-14-2012, 12:11 AM
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FYI I found a working solution to this problem. I posted a detailed description in another thread

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...5#post21775805
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post #18 of 27 Old 03-14-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

Ok, so I'm looking to set up a 4x4 matrix for distributing HDMI between several rooms, two of which will have their own AVR (home theater and a family room). Technically I'd like to have more than 4 outputs but the price of switches goes through the roof beyond that.

Anyway, what I'm discovering is the hassle of lowest-common-denominator and EDID issues. As in, the TV with the crappiest set of features forces everything else using that source to downgrade too. One work-around I'm considering is use of Gefen HDMI Detective boxes to at least force all the sources to use a certain feature-set. Granted, this means four of them, one for each input source. But that'd be money well-spend if it stamps out the insanity of dealing with crazy EDID issues (fodder for a whole other thread, perhaps).

But this leads to the question of how to get the 'better' audio format downgraded to support a lower-end TV. Like a behind-the-mirror TV in the bathroom, for example. I'm guessing some sort of 'HDMI to other' converter is going to be required. This to retain the quality of audio for the theater while still letting the low-end TV 'hear' it too.

So, school me a bit here about dealing with how distributing HDMI has to be 'worked around' to avoid losing flexibility or better quality.

You want me to "contribute" to your thread, here it goes. DONT DO IT!!!!!! Save your time, money, hassle, and endless threads of asking 'dealers' whom may or may not help the industry how to keep it working. Go component matrix, spend a few bucks more up front (since they cost more than the discount 4x4 hdmi matrix your looking at no doubt) and enjoy the fruits of your work. They do not have a standard for HDMI yet. Standard speed vs. high speed, 1.2,1.3,1.3a 1.4a, heck I can't keep track of it myself. By the time you get it going, they update it then 1 piece freaks out. If you have dish network, don't do it. If you have a cable company like one here it'll last a few weeks then it'll stop working. They are downloading software updates like crazy. Then if you wanna add 3D, you MUST make all tv's 3D if you wanna share that player with other units as standard def player (which you will since you have limited inputs). Then, there are the licenses. The cheap matrix has a single license on the front end, so if you have 2 units watching the same input, you change inputs on one and the other drops off to regain a new license agreement if it wasn't the one that initiated it. Then you take into account how the signal is getting from matrix to the unit. If you are using any type of balun, if the voltage on that balun fluctuates much at all, it drops enough packets to cause the source to get pissed off and shut down the stream. Sometimes it's just the video, sometimes it's the audio and some times it's both.

You guys have had some great technical posts regarding these issues, but take a look at the whole picture. There are a hundred factors in running a 4x4 to capacity, much less beyond. And if you address each one perfectly, you covered your butt and are at the mercy of updates, new equipment, different protocols, etc. So what works perfectly this month might not next. There in comes companies like Crestron whom in my eyes lead the way in pushing forward with hdmi switching. But what they offer, while its incredible, is out of the reach for a majority of consumers. Especially DIY ( and I classify DIY as anyone not currently a CI) as programming and avail is limited. I've installed a few dozen homes with hdmi switching and routing over the last few years. It's been the last year in a half since I've re-installed one. I have at minimum several hundreds of hours working with these dang things and what makes me angry is all of it. How and why we have it. Who is behind hdmi, and what is the long term plan. Why is it an evolving protocol? I know most of the answers so no need to try to school me on it. The point is its geared to an easy 1 wire hookup for the end user, and was never designed to go over a few feet, much less be part of a matrix. So everytime someone gets close to getting it lined out perfectly on a matrix, they change it. The only ones whom convinced me they are close to staying ahead is Crestron, but I wouldn't count my chickens before they hatch. Just a little while ago the big powerhouse and leader in media servers was Kaleidascape. We know how they are faring as of a couple days ago. So although you can make the matrix work for a while in a more simple arrangement, is it really worth it for just a very little noticeable enhancement in video from a blueray? Until everyone else outputs 1080p as well ( or what they are planning next) im ok with 1080i. You watch mostly non blueray usually, and you can always have a local source. It's a pain to always walk to the head end to put in a movie. And the audio you can take care of also as you always have. If you really want an hdmi matrix, do not go cheap. Get the best gefen has, or intellix, heck the new snap 300 is good too. These will marginally reduce your pain, but make the wound no less severe. And I have SEVERAL manuf reps who sell me. All I have to say is I hope your " billing for services" is more hands on. I love my reps, but God help them, they know enough to introduce the products to us. With the exception of a couple, I'm not sure any of them could install a simple single room controller. So your comment about dealers was as a whole, same as me saying all my reps are incompetent. I know they arnt, and you know we arnt all that way. So my point was it was a silly and childish remark, and one qualified several times in other posts on this board by not being able to have or get access to things you desire or want since it's dealer only. So therefore animosity. That's it! I have no disregard for you or anyone on this board, as Is why I'm here. I just got rubbed the wrong way, and probably on the wrong day. For that I'm sorry.
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post #19 of 27 Old 03-14-2012, 10:51 PM
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And to add a note on down conversion audio, .....what???
Example on one of my jobs I can remember off hand, hearth is Nuvision 55", hdmi ran directly to tv from matrix. I was using tv speakers but then ran av out from tv to parasound zamp v2, then powered a set of Anthony Gallo Reference Strada's. No issues at all. Then tv 2 is new panni with the audio running to pioneer elite vsx-53 then powering B&W's. We added the panni cause the elite plasma that was there wasn't 3D and the Nuvision was. Now we run those 2 displays off of a 4x4 hdmi matrix with 7 hdmi source inputs. And yes, I wanted to see if I could eat up some of my time and save my client a few grand more by skipping the 8x8, all while learning all I could from doing it.
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post #20 of 27 Old 03-15-2012, 11:15 AM
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Well I sure hope you are wrong.

I just finished setting up HDMI distribution from 4 sources to 4 zones including a 7.1 HT through an Octava 4x4 HDMI matrix, 3 Altona HDMI over single CAT5 extenders and one Iogear wireless HDMI extender. The only hiccup was audio to the two legacy plasmas but solved that with a combo extractor/decoder.

Now everything seems to be working perfectly. The video and audio in the HT is excellent. All the sources are centralized so I can watch BD's in the HT or bedroom. I can also watch 1080p DirecTV or HDX Vudu on any TV. No HDCP or handshaking problems so far...

I also haven't set up 3D yet so that may still be a issue but don't plan on doing much 3D viewing so even if I had to tweak setting before watching a 3D movie in the HT I won't be too upset.

Still need to get IR distribution worked out so I can cut down on the number of remotes and eventually transition to Ipad/Iphone control but that is a long-term project.

Fingers crossed...again, hope you are wrong or I am lucky...
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post #21 of 27 Old 03-15-2012, 11:26 AM
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I hope I am too. Sounds like your good, for now. It's not that it won't work, it does. It's that it won't for long, especially if you start making changes or anything. Component is much kinder, but herein lies the problem with it too, the manufacturers are weining us off of it. All up conversion is to hdmi and not component on most items, several stopped even putting them as an output on certain series. Look at Denon, you have to really go into the CI series to even get AirPlay and component out on same unit. So it's just frustrating. The OP mentioned the lowest common denominator, I feel it's the source equipment. And more specific the cable companies equipment, as much of it hasn't been updated. It seems everytime we turn around we have to upgrade this or that to make this other device work. It's frustrating to my clients and for me. I'm pushing the Zeevee system now, it seems to me to be less headache. Most tv's have tuners and if not we can sell better ones anyway. After all it's worked for the cable companies all these years. And until everything is 1080p I don't see much of an issue. Even directv is only 1080p with the directv cinema, the regular hd programming is not 1080p.
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post #22 of 27 Old 03-21-2012, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
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The problem isn't just whether HDCP is passed through, or 3D. It's about the audio, and that gets kicked down to the least format based on all devices connected to the matrix. So you won't get DTS out of your player because the HDMI handshaking sees a TV that can only handle 2-channel stereo.

From the looks, the KVMSwitchTech stuff seems just like the, less expensive, monoprice devices.
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post #23 of 27 Old 03-21-2012, 03:12 PM
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I am in the market for 4x4 HDMI matrix device with CAT5. So far, I gathered information about Intelix, SnapAV, Octova. Does anyone if these devices have following features:

1. Allow same source to be output to multiple displays simultaneously.
2. On a given output, allow HDMI and CAT5e outputs at the same time.

Thanks for your inputs.
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post #24 of 27 Old 03-21-2012, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr1nath View Post

I am in the market for 4x4 HDMI matrix device with CAT5. So far, I gathered information about Intelix, SnapAV, Octova. Does anyone if these devices have following features:

1. Allow same source to be output to multiple displays simultaneously.
2. On a given output, allow HDMI and CAT5e outputs at the same time.

By definition, a matrix switch can output any combination of inputs. (If a device can't do that, it's not a matrix switch)

Octava, Atlona, and very likely most others with HDMI output would support simultaneous displays using the HDMI and Cat5 outputs (meaning, using both connection on each zone output). Just remember that those outputs are tied together (same source, and HDMI capabilities) and that any local output won't have any IR support that the remote receivers may have...

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
Theater build photos: http://photobucket.com/autor-ht

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post #25 of 27 Old 03-22-2012, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr1nath View Post

I am in the market for 4x4 HDMI matrix device with CAT5. So far, I gathered information about Intelix, SnapAV, Octova. Does anyone if these devices have following features:

1. Allow same source to be output to multiple displays simultaneously.
2. On a given output, allow HDMI and CAT5e outputs at the same time.

Thanks for your inputs.

I can only speak for Atlona as far as what I've personally installed, but I know both Atlona and Binary (SnapAV) both have simultaneous outputs from the HDMI/CAT6 outputs. I have an order for one of my customers with the Binary 4x4, but haven't installed it yet as the customer is out of town for a few weeks. SnapAV has been great for my company. Great service and great support.

Ryan Siu
Founder, Owner

The Modern Theatre LLC

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post #26 of 27 Old 03-24-2012, 02:50 AM
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You could also have used the iogear avior series wireless distribution. It will accept hdmi, VGA, component and composite, and output composite, component, and hdmi. It will scale up or down as well as break out audio. One transmitter will broadcast to 4 recievers. I've been using it in conjunction with a calrad 4x4 hdmi matrix. My installation is at a venue where the source devices as well as the additional display devices change daily. But it let's me dedicate an hdmi port on the switch as my non-hdmi option. I output hdmi it is recievers wirelessly then down scaled on the receiving end
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post #27 of 27 Old 03-27-2012, 08:25 AM
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I solved my audio problem by using a combination of a 4x4 HDMI matrix and a 3x5 Component/Digital Audio matrix. I ran HDMI to the 4 locations (3 of them with CAT5e extenders) and 3 coaxial/1 optical audio (or you can use CAT5e extenders for that as well). I use Harmony Ones throughout the house, so I don't have any problems with setting the inputs, etc. This way, I at least get DD and DTS throughout the house. I only use the HD Codecs in my theater room with my Popcorn hour and separate BD player, so this is the perfect solution for me.

I went el cheapo on both of my matrix switches. They have both exceeded my expecatations ...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

If this 4x4 cat6 kit had existed when I wired my house, I definitely would have bought it instead. I helped my brother set up his and its been working flawlessly ...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

And here is the cheap 3x5 component switch I have ...
http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Go-4097.../dp/B001ACXCM0
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