I thought this an interesting read on the unit I listed above. It turns out that it is a 4x1 and 1x2 matrix. It will do two separate 4x1 switching or one 1x2 splitter. It will also extract the 5.1 audio from the HDMI source and send it spdif in 5.1 mode via channel out A. They have a prosumer version of it that I will be buying and will report my finding here for all but I believe this is the unit that I have been looking for and answers the OP original request. And it's under $100!!!!
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How Audio Works in this ViewHD 4X2 Matrix
Since there are multiple negative reviews having difficulties understanding how audio works in this ViewHD 4x2 Matrix unit, this writing is to explain the technical story behind and the right way to use this product regarding audio in particular.
HDMI splitter, switcher, and matrix, ...etc, do NOT change audio format; 2CH audio comes in, 2CH audio goes out; 5.1CH comes in, 5.1CH goes out. It is the video source unit decides what audio format it will pick to send out. How does video source know what audio format is good? It is the audio code in the EDID (please google EDID to understand what is EDID) memory chip placed at the HDMI inputs of your display units. It tells video source the acceptable audio format that it can take, so video source will send audio in the correct format for your TV to have sound.
Most TVs can only take 2CH stereo sound, so in order to use your receiver to get 5.1CH surround sound from the SPDIF output of this ViewHD matrix, the audio EDID from TV has to be hacked to tell the video source to send audio in 5.1CH instead of 2CH. We use this ViewHD matrix to intercept the EDID code from the TV, modify it then send to the video source, this is what the "audio" button on the remote does. Every push of that button will switch the audio EDID between 2CH and 5.1CH.
The optical / SPDIF audio outupt has the same audio copy of the audio in output A. The audio for output B is still carried by the HDMI cable from output B.
Now, how do you know whether you are in 2CH mode or 5.1CH mode, there comes the "reset" button on the unit, the unit will always be set to "2CH" mode after reset.
When the matrix is in 2CH mode, it will tell all the video sources connected to this matrix to send audio in 2CH; when matrix is in 5.1CH mode, it will also tell all video sources that it can support 5.1CH audio. The video sources should ALWAYS send the highest audio and video formats if they are supported, so as long as the source material has 5.1CH audio content, it will send audio in 5.1CH. But if the source content does NOT have 5.1CH, it will still send 2CH audio even if the matrix asks for 5.1CH.
Because the matrix has two outputs, so this special 5.1CH surround sound supporting feature has its consequence. In 5.1CH mode, you can get the 5.1CH audio from the SPDIF output to go to your receiver, but if you also use output B to go to a TV, but if that TV can't take 5.1CH audio, then you will not get sound. Because there is no way to tell the video sources to send 2CH to get to output B and send 5.1CH to get to output A, (also, at any time, the video source unit will only send audio in one format, not both) so if you need to use both output A and output B AT THE SAME TIME, and one of them can't take 5.1CH audio, then you can't have sound for both, to solve this problem, you have to return to the 2CH mode. Just use that audio / reset button to solve this problem. (Please don't complain about this if you want to enjoy surround sound.)
Also, the 3.5mm stereo analog audio output can only have sound if the audio format coming into the matrix is 2CH, it WILL NOT have sound if the audio is in 5.1CH format. The SPDIF output will always have sound, identical to the audio coming into the matrix, either in 5.1CH or 2CH.
So, if someone complains that the matrix only pass 2CH sound, and couldn't get 5.1CH or the other way, their complains / reviews are completely wrong. Becasue these units don't have the capability to modify audio format, they simply pass. If somebody gets 2CH audio, that is because the audio coming into the matrix is 2CH. If someone complains of no audio, it is because the speaker unit doesn't understand the incoming audio format, so it can't produce sound (assuming video source does send audio). Always use that "reset" button to RESET this unit if you don't get audio, then go from there.
Regarding more advanced audio formats, such as Dolby TrueHD, HDMI output has the bandwidth capability to carry them, but the SPDIF optical audio does NOT have sufficient bandwidth to support Dolby TrueHD bit rate. This apply to all SPDIF optical link on earth. Most Blu-ray DVD allows user to select available audio formats, so if you want to enjoy Dolby TrueHD, you can use HDMI output B to connect to a AV receiver if output A goes to the TV directly in a 1x2 splitter setup; in this case, HDMI output B becomes the audio output port to get the most advanced audio formats, which the SPDIF can't support.
For 3D application, unless both the TVs connected to output A and output B are 3D capable, then please do NOT share the same 3D video source; if you do, the 3D video source will not send video in 3D. So, if someone complains that he doesn't get 3D video, and only gets 2D video instead, and blame this unit not passing 3D content, it is incorrect. Because this matrix can not modify the incoming 3D content and convert it to 2D, it is the video source senses a 2D TV out there, and it will not send video in 3D, because if it does, that 2D TV will not have picture. This is HDMI protocol. Please do not complain. Appreciate it, because it offers the best compatibility.
This is why all HDMI matrixes are designed to not have the smart switching / jumping feature (found in HDMI swtich); any input can go to any output, so that user can assgn the 3D TV to a 3D source and AT THE SAME TIME assign the other 2D TV to another input, to not interfere with the 3D input (even if the only active input is the 3D input).
4x2 Matrix can be used as a 4x1 switcher, in this case, every output picks different input, there should not be any problem in this operation. But 4x2 matrix can also be used as 1x2 splitter, when it is in splitter mode, both outputs share the same input signal, in this mode, switching speed is determined by the HDMI protocol processing time of the video source unit.
About the 1x2 splitter mode, it is when one display is switched to join the other display to share the same input: for example, output A is on input 2, and output B is on input 3, then output B switches to input 2 as well, in this move, the matrix is now working in 1x2 mode, as both displays are sharing input 2.
In some random and rare cases (depends on display units and video source compatibility tolerance, timing overlaps), one of the two displays may not have video, this is because during the switching window, one of the displays did not send its EDID info to the matrix in time, which misleads the matrix to believe that the display is in off mode, so it will not send video to that display (power saving feature); the simple fix is to push the remote button / selection again. For example, if both output A and B are sharing input 2, and output A does not have video after the switching, just push the input A2 button for output A once more, this will fix it, as it tells the matrix that output A needs to be on.
To reduce compatibility related issues, it is always better to connect output A to the newer TV (1080P) and output B to the older TV (1080i).
No reset is needed.
Hope this can reduce the numbers of negative and misleading reviews.
Thank you for reading.
This entire writing above is copyrighted by J&R Galaxies, and we never, do not and will not manufacture fake positive reviews anywhere.
For the best HDMI 4x2 Matrix on the market, please check the following item:
ViewHD Prosumer 3D HDMI 4x2 True Matrix Full Size Metal Jacket Construction (The BEST HDMI 4x2 Matrix on the Market!)
Why it is the best?
1) Full size, with all the input / output / power / audio connection placed on the back panel, makes your setup and entertainment center look much better.
2) Its 3.5mm audio output for headphone applicaiton is a true amplified output
3) Its SPDIF auido output uses higher grade, newer ICs, delivers higher fidelity audio output
4) It has a much better, more functional and easier to use remote control
5) Comes with other advanced features, such as the supporting features for remote extender and RS232 control
6) Prosumer grade product at unbeatable price! Nothing else comes close in price, feature and quality.
========== Copyrighted by J& R Galaxies ====
The SPDIF link supports 5.1CH audio to a receiver ONLY if the HDMI output of the matrix is NOT connected to the receiver.
The right way to get the right sound is
1) Only the SPDIF output goes to the audio receiver, and the HDMI output goes to TVs
2) Use the HDMI output to get the audio if the HDMI output goes to the receiver
If you have both HDMI output and the SPDIF go to the receiver at the same time, the SPDIF output will be stereo, and the audio in HDMI will be whatever the audio format sent by the source unit. Show Less
HDMI answered on December 6, 2012