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Optical cable vs HDMI??

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hi,
I am trying to understand which audio signal is better.
My LED TV has a Optical out and my receiver has an optical in.
I have Pioneer VSX-1021 receiver
TV is Samsung UN55D5000 LED TV

Now is it better to connect my Xbox, DVR to my TV through HDMI and than send the audio signal via Optical cable to receiver to play through sound system.
By this setup i can mute the tv volume and switch on the receiver for surround sound or if i don't want to use the receiver, i can turn it off and use the TV volume to play sound.
Or
Should the HDMI out of xbox and DVR be connected to receiver HDMI in and than receiver HDMI out to TV HDMI in.

Basically i am trying to ask the different in these 2 setups.

Thanks. smile.gif
post #2 of 27
For those sources, or really for anything (currently) except Blu-ray or devices playing back BD content (from a server, for example), there should be no difference. Those sources will be producing, at best, DD5.1 content, which will be identical over optical digital or HDMI. (ok, if you play a DVD through the Xbox, you could get a DTS soundtrack, which would not likely be passed through the TV - yet).

Blu-ray will have the advanced HD audio codecs (DTS-MA and Dolby Digital Plus), which cannot be passed over the optical digital cable, and so there will be an audio performance difference vs a direct HDMI connection to the receiver.

Now, hooking everything through the TV does mean you have to ensure the TV supports DD5.1 over HDMI, and that it properly passes audio received from HDMI back out its optical output. As long as it does that, do whichever path works best for you from a usability standpoint. If you want to sometimes use your TV speakers, run the stuff through the TV.

Jeff
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

For those sources, or really for anything (currently) except Blu-ray or devices playing back BD content (from a server, for example), there should be no difference. Those sources will be producing, at best, DD5.1 content, which will be identical over optical digital or HDMI. (ok, if you play a DVD through the Xbox, you could get a DTS soundtrack, which would not likely be passed through the TV - yet).

Blu-ray will have the advanced HD audio codecs (DTS-MA and Dolby Digital Plus), which cannot be passed over the optical digital cable, and so there will be an audio performance difference vs a direct HDMI connection to the receiver.

Now, hooking everything through the TV does mean you have to ensure the TV supports DD5.1 over HDMI, and that it properly passes audio received from HDMI back out its optical output. As long as it does that, do whichever path works best for you from a usability standpoint. If you want to sometimes use your TV speakers, run the stuff through the TV.

Jeff

Wow....thanks for the quick reply.
I guess i will have to pull the TV manual out and educate myself as to whether my tv supports DD5.1 or no. smile.gif
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by geronemo3 View Post

I guess i will have to pull the TV manual out and educate myself as to whether my tv supports DD5.1 or no. smile.gif

Or just try it and see if your AVR lights up with DD vs. 2-channel PCM stereo...
post #5 of 27
The tv does SRS tru surround. If I were you I would run everything to your receiver, and have a single HDMI to the TV, you will get the best sound that way. The only thing is, is that you have to always turn the receiver on. You would think optical would sound better, but HDMI is where all the new sound encodings work. Also optical supports only has 5.1 channels.
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ok so i played videos from different sources to see how it turned out.

I played Dexter from the DVR (DVR to TV via HDMI and TV to receiver via Optical) it was playing in surround sound, it even said D Digital on the receiver. My main concern was that i do not want to keep my receiver on all the time, so i think this takes care of that since i am getting Digital sound over optical cable.

Now another thing i noticed and am confused about is that when i played a movie MKV format 1080p with 5.1 surround sound form my media server on the TV (the TV has LAN input to it's connected to my network) it played in 5.1 Digital.

When i connected my laptop to either my receiver (via HDMI and than receiver to TV via HDMI) or laptop to TV (via HDMI and than TV to receiver via Optical) the same movie played is stereo only??
Can you guys shed some light on this, thanks smile.gif

I don't have a blu-ray player so when i do get one in the future i will connect it to receiver to get the optimal sound.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by geronemo3 View Post

When i connected my laptop to either my receiver (via HDMI and than receiver to TV via HDMI) or laptop to TV (via HDMI and than TV to receiver via Optical) the same movie played is stereo only??
Can you guys shed some light on this, thanks smile.gif

Check the application and the control panel (audio settings) to make sure HDMI audio is set to something like "bitstream" or Dolby Digital... Very likely the playback application or the OS has defaulted to 2-channel stereo output for compatibility reasons.


Jeff
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Check the application and the control panel (audio settings) to make sure HDMI audio is set to something like "bitstream" or Dolby Digital... Very likely the playback application or the OS has defaulted to 2-channel stereo output for compatibility reasons.


Jeff

Yep... Bitstream is what you want here. It sounds to me like "PCM" is selected.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Check the application and the control panel (audio settings) to make sure HDMI audio istset to something like "bitstream" or Dolby Digital... Very likely the playback application or the OS has defaulted to 2-channel stereo output for compatibility reasons.

Jeff

Yup the OS and the app. both were outputting 2.1 channel audio.
First i had to go to sound settings and there my receiver was visible after connecting it with HDMI so i choose 5.1 although i only have a 5 speaker setup with no sub. After doing this the receiver display changed from stereo to PCM.
secondly in KM player i had to choose 5 channel speaker output in "internal audio decoder setup"
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdanforth View Post

Yep... Bitstream is what you want here. It sounds to me like "PCM" is selected.

Like i mentioned above it was stereo, after changing settings in sound playback and configuring to 5.1 it become PCM.

Now what is PCM audio?? it is playing 5.1 surround to how is it diff the 5.1 surround??

Thanks guys.
post #10 of 27
PCM is non-compressed audio, and only outputs stereo (2 channel audio). Dolby Digital is compressed and is capable of providing 5.1
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepus View Post

PCM is non-compressed audio, and only outputs stereo (2 channel audio). Dolby Digital is compressed and is capable of providing 5.1

The PC may be doing the Dolby decode and outputting 5.1 LPCM over HDMI. It usually doesn't matter if the source (PC / Blu-ray player) does the decode, as long as you're getting five channels. But if you're going to run HDMI to the TV and then digital audio back to the AVR, you'll have to have the source send the encoded DD5.1 stream. The digital audio cable will not support 5-channel LPCM.

Also, if you're not using a subwoofer, make sure your AVR speaker configuration has the subwoofer disabled. That way it will route the bass to the other channels.

Jeff
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

The PC may be doing the Dolby decode and outputting 5.1 LPCM over HDMI. It usually doesn't matter if the source (PC / Blu-ray player) does the decode, as long as you're getting five channels. But if you're going to run HDMI to the TV and then digital audio back to the AVR, you'll have to have the source send the encoded DD5.1 stream. The digital audio cable will not support 5-channel LPCM.

Also, if you're not using a subwoofer, make sure your AVR speaker configuration has the subwoofer disabled. That way it will route the bass to the other channels.

Jeff

wow....u seem to know too much about these things smile.gif
Is this your line of work or hobby?

I will put up a screenshot of my setting to have a better idea.

thanks.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepus View Post

PCM is non-compressed audio, and only outputs stereo (2 channel audio). Dolby Digital is compressed and is capable of providing 5.1

Got busy with some stuff.
What you said is absolutely accurate.
Here's a screenshot of running the HDMI to receiver and receiver to TV



So you can see that my PC recognizes that receiver is 7.1 and although the display on receiver says PCM it is still giving me proper 5 channel surround.

Here's a screenshot with HDMI from PC to TV and optical running to receiver.



As you can see the PC is only recognizing the TV as stereo.

So the conclusion is that every time i want to attach my PC to TV i wil do it through receiver to get the 5 channel surround sound.

Thanks a lot of all the help guys. smile.gif
post #14 of 27

Wouldn't you agree that most people only have a 5.1 setup. My receiver has 8.1 channels and I only use in a 5.1 configuration. Unfortunately my recover doesn't have HDMI options so I am limited to the use of an optical cable.  My sound quality is certainly fantastic the way it is I have 2 front 2 rear 1 center and a powered sub. If I were running the system in a very large house that warranted the use of all 8 channels then certainly I would need to upgrade to a unit with HDMI in and out. For someone who has the option either way though I would agree that HDMI would definitely be the way to go. 

post #15 of 27

Recover should be receiver. Sorry for the typo.

post #16 of 27
I have all sources (TWC box, Sony BDP-S590, ROKU) routed through my Yamaha RX-V473 via HDMI with 1 HDMI out from AVR to TV. This way, I was getting DD & DTS TRUE-HD sound to my 5.1 speakers.

Recently, the video drive in my AVR hit the skids and I'm getting a purple hue on all sources except the ROKU (weird).

I've now routed all sources (HDMI) through the TV and only use the AVR for audio. I'm just getting PCM...no more DD. If the HDMI handshake is an issue or the AVR video drive is fried, is there any benefit from routing everything back through the AVR via HDMI and use the optical in lieu of HDMI out to TV?

I really want to get the best sound from my equipment and all I get now is PCM. I don't want to ship my AVR from Raleigh to Charlotte, NC (under warranty) for a month when I know they'll probably not fix the problem or even be able to duplicate it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. How much sound am I really losing between PCM and DD/DTS?
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by THeCozen1 View Post

I have all sources (TWC box, Sony BDP-S590, ROKU) routed through my Yamaha RX-V473 via HDMI with 1 HDMI out from AVR to TV. This way, I was getting DD & DTS TRUE-HD sound to my 5.1 speakers.

Recently, the video drive in my AVR hit the skids and I'm getting a purple hue on all sources except the ROKU (weird).

I've now routed all sources (HDMI) through the TV and only use the AVR for audio. I'm just getting PCM...no more DD. If the HDMI handshake is an issue or the AVR video drive is fried, is there any benefit from routing everything back through the AVR via HDMI and use the optical in lieu of HDMI out to TV?

Check the setup menus in each of your sources for audio settings. They have probably been set (default) to PCM instead of DD / "Bitstream" for compatibility purposes. That should give you the best audio. Only source that really needs HDMI for the best audio is a Blu-ray player.
Quote:
Any help would be greatly appreciated. How much sound am I really losing between PCM and DD/DTS?

Lots. With PCM you're getting at best a matrixed Dolby Surround mix. DD5.1 will be a night-and-day difference...

Jeff
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Check the setup menus in each of your sources for audio settings. They have probably been set (default) to PCM instead of DD / "Bitstream" for compatibility purposes. That should give you the best audio. Only source that really needs HDMI for the best audio is a Blu-ray player.
Lots. With PCM you're getting at best a matrixed Dolby Surround mix. DD5.1 will be a night-and-day difference...

Jeff

Thanks for prompt response. I had it all setup correctly before I couldn't route equipment straight thru AVR due to video issues. Set it from PCM to auto (only choice) and had to turn "BD Audio mix" off - whatever that is. That got me DD from each source. How do I get true sound if I don't route equipment thru AVR? I now have equip running thru TV first with the HDMI out from AVR to TV.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by THeCozen1 View Post

Thanks for prompt response. I had it all setup correctly before I couldn't route equipment straight thru AVR due to video issues. Set it from PCM to auto (only choice) and had to turn "BD Audio mix" off - whatever that is. That got me DD from each source. How do I get true sound if I don't route equipment thru AVR? I now have equip running thru TV first with the HDMI out from AVR to TV.

You run the separate optical / coax digital audio connections to the AVR from each source... In order to route this back through HDMI, a lot of support (rare) for ARC in both the TV and AVR is needed, and a lot of "if"s there.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

You run the separate optical / coax digital audio connections to the AVR from each source... In order to route this back through HDMI, a lot of support (rare) for ARC in both the TV and AVR is needed, and a lot of "if"s there.

So I keep my equipment routed through the TV via HDMI and then connect the TV and BDP to the AVR via optical...correct?

Would I need to keep the HDMI out from AVR to TV at that point? I would think not if it weren't for the ROKU which is the only source not having video issues (purple hue over all content). If I keep the HDMI out connected to the TV (for DD thru ROKU), are there any conflicts w/ the opticals?

Thanks again buddy.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by THeCozen1 View Post

So I keep my equipment routed through the TV via HDMI and then connect the TV and BDP to the AVR via optical...correct?

Yes.
Quote:
Would I need to keep the HDMI out from AVR to TV at that point? I would think not if it weren't for the ROKU which is the only source not having video issues (purple hue over all content).

Only if you keep the un-affected Roku running through the AVR.
Quote:
If I keep the HDMI out connected to the TV (for DD thru ROKU), are there any conflicts w/ the opticals?

No. You may have to configure the AVR to assign the optical inputs to a particular source (depends on the AVR)...

Jeff
post #22 of 27
Just ordered the Mediabridge optical cables from Amazon for $5 each...thanks. Hope it works because shipping the Yamaha to Charlotte under warranty is not appealing. This is probably cheaper than shipping costs anyway.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Only source that really needs HDMI for the best audio is a Blu-ray player.

Well good, because the BDP is the only source I can get the optical cable to work with my AVR. I'm now getting DD through this source as before.

For some reason, I can't get the cable box to output in DD with the optical. I've tried connecting both the TV and cable box through the AVR via optical and all I get is PCM. I think it must have something to do with ARC functions being enabled, but I could be completely off base here. When I unplugged the ARC HDMI cable while the optical was plugged into the TV, I got no sound whatsoever. I should have the cable box (not TV) connected to the AVR via optical, correct?

I may give it another try and turn off ARC functions while the optical is connected to the cable box to confirm. This isn't really an option because I want my TV and AVR to work together. Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.

Why do you think the BDP is the only source to be concerned with sound?
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by THeCozen1 View Post

I should have the cable box (not TV) connected to the AVR via optical, correct?

Yes.
Quote:
I may give it another try and turn off ARC functions while the optical is connected to the cable box to confirm. This isn't really an option because I want my TV and AVR to work together. Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.

Unless you're using "apps" built into the TV, you can just turn off ARC altogether. What do you mean by "work together". The remote control functions are HDMI CEC, not ARC. Regardless, turn all the extra stuff off until you figure out why you're not getting DD audio correctly.
Quote:
Why do you think the BDP is the only source to be concerned with sound?

It's a fact, not an opinion... No video provider (within reason) delivers anything better than DD5.1 currently, which is supported (along with DTS core) over the SPDIF / Toslink digital audio cable. Only Blu-ray content contains "advanced audio codecs" that exceed the specs of the SPDIF link - which is why you need HDMI for those devices.

Jeff
post #25 of 27
By "work together", I guess I just meant remote control functionality.

After switching "HDMI Control" from the AVR setup menu off and on a few times, the ROKU content displayed as green. Turning the AVR off and on fixed the ROKU display which makes me wonder if I should reroute all sources back through the AVR via HDMI to see if the BDP and cable box are displaying properly again (previously had purple hue on content for both). Maybe turning HDMI Control off/on forces a handshake? I'm afraid I would just be back to a purple screen at some point.

The AVR video functions worked perfectly for the past year. Does any of this make since to you?

Thanks again for all the help.
Edited by THeCozen1 - 2/18/14 at 8:16pm
post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by THeCozen1 View Post


For some reason, I can't get the cable box to output in DD with the optical. I've tried connecting both the TV and cable box through the AVR via optical and all I get is PCM. I think it must have something to do with ARC functions being enabled, but I could be completely off base here. When I unplugged the ARC HDMI cable while the optical was plugged into the TV, I got no sound whatsoever. I should have the cable box (not TV) connected to the AVR via optical, correct?

I may give it another try and turn off ARC functions while the optical is connected to the cable box to confirm. This isn't really an option because I want my TV and AVR to work together. Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.

Did u change the sound setting in DVR to surround sound from stereo.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by geronemo3 View Post

Did u change the sound setting in DVR to surround sound from stereo.
My DVR only has one audio setting...digital.

After an hour or so of tinkering, I eventually got HDMI connections to work again with everything routed through my AVR. I think it may have been an AVR firmware update gone wrong. Either that or I'll have a purple hue on all content again soon.

At least the Alien BD from the Anthology was smokin last night. DTS HD Master via HDMI was a treat.

Thanks for posting.
Edited by THeCozen1 - 2/22/14 at 7:31pm
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