Originally Posted by wkearney99
Truth be told distributing HDMI is a clusterf--- of major proportion. Honestly, it's probably worth avoid, for now.
One big reason is how handshaking is determined. The source wants to know the audio format to send the target device. As in, can the output device handle just plain 2-channel stereo or higher-end formats? Well, when you've got multiple target devices a lot of switchers dumb the source down to the least-common denominator. Doesn't matter if you've got 3 devices that can handle 5.1 (or better) it's the low-end 2-channel TV hanging off one output that causes the source to be told to dumb down to just 2-channel audio. Making a switch that's capable of blocking this isn't easy. In theory it would be possible to have the switch detect whether the target device actually needs the signal, but not all TVs properly tell the source whether they're actually USING the HDMI input, most just signal that they're turned on. So the switch can't know whether or not the TV actually 'needs' the source or not, just that it's active. The solution, of course, is to have a receiver at each and every location, and all of them have to be capable of the highest audio quality you expect to need. So all of your TVs, everywhere, have to have the highest your theater room supports. Trouble is not all the rooms will even have room for a receiver!
I don't know for certain, but I believe HDMI only supports one audio bitstream on the wire at a given time. If it supported both 2-channel and 'something else' then things would be less of a mess. But then you'd be dependent on the sources being capable of providing both bitstreams. I could see where many wouldn't both with this. It'd be trivial for them to do so, but cost-cutting trips up a lot of simple things...
And this has nothing to do with the HDCP copy-protection, which is it's own additional clusterf----. There things just get even worse.
So for rooms that' don't "need" what HDMI might offer you'd probably be better served sending them a component signal instead. Then just reserve the HDMI output from your sources for the theater room(s). But here you run into trouble making sure to get source devices that can send both component AND HDMI. This is becoming rarer as source vendors are moving to HDMI-only outputs. Get your component output Blu-ray players NOW before they cease to exist.
My plan is to wire each TV location with everything. Two RG6 for cable (or whatever), then a 5-conductor mini-coax for component and then 3 CAT6 (one for ethernet, the other two for HDMI). This way I can feed the set with whatever is best suited for the device AND for the sources.
Yeah, the handshaking is a mess. I'm driving two TVs off of one setup right now (mirrored), and the handshaking is a nightmare if things aren't turned on and off in the right sequence, and I could only imagine with dozens of devices on a big matrix switch. It's unfortunate, because Component did this well, you just pushed the signal out, and it was up to the device at the other end to figure out what to do with it (or not). Why are you running mini-coax for component? Couldn't you just run another CAT-6a and use baluns? That would be a lot more versatile, and wouldn't handle distance a lot better?
The bigger issue with running component, even if you have separate gear or direct HDMI connections for the theater room to deal with the quality issue, is that many devices won't output full resolution to component because of copy protection, and new devices, like pretty much off of the small media streamers, don't have component outputs at all, and because of HDCP, you can't always just use a converter to go back to Component to then use a matrix. Also, nothing really switches a lot of component for local use. Unfortunately, we just don't live in a component world anymore. At this point, for me, component is a single legacy support connection to support the Wii in my setup, and I may use it for a long time to come, or I may eventually get the HDMI adapter for the Wii (which electrically is about what I'm doing now, it converts component to HDMI on the back of the Wii, but it eliminates the component cabling and complexity from the setup by having a dedicated converter), although I'd prefer to use my DVDO EDGE to do the component scaling. Everything else is HDMI, even though I hate HDMI, it's just the way things are.