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Dolby Atmos using digital optical cable?

38633 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  kjfalls
Hello all, as some of you know, my family and I are selling our home and building one from the ground up. I’ve been thoroughly researching a nice setup for the living room before I proceed to a new theater build. The problem I was having is finding bookshelf speakers shorter than 12” that will fill a very large room in a 2.1 setup. After everything I’ve read, I decided to skip the bookshelves and purchase a hi end soundbar.

I opted for the Samsung HW-Q80R. My goal is to get brackets for the soundbar, install them to the tv mount and use a digital optical cable from the tv to soundbar instead of the hdmi ports. After more research, I’ve read Dolby Atmos is not possible unless the connections are HDMI through the soundbar, however I’ve chatted with 2 product support agents from Samsung stating Atmos will play via optical cable. My reasoning for this is simple...controller clutter. I want to use the tv remote to control the volume, input selection and everything else. I know it’s silly but some of you can attest for the multiple remote struggle.

I could use HDMI, but looking ahead for future proofing the home, I plan on finishing the basement with a hi end receiver with multiple hdmi outs and want to run a cable up to hdmi 3 input on the tv for when we host gatherings. Unfortunately the bar only has 2 hdmi in’s. Again, this is not a big issue as if I really had to, I can always purchase a good hdmi switcher for the blu ray player and hdmi from basement receiver.

So after getting different answers, I decided to turn to the experts here. Is Dolby Atmos possible via digital optical cable or is the best option to run HDMI?
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HDMI is one cable, the same as a digital cable. HDMI will carry all current and upcoming audio, Digital cable is only 5.1.
I did a very nice setup in a wall , where I was able to pass the cables below the tv thru the wall, make sure the Tv is below the in-wall fire blocks to make it easier.
From the ground up during framing is when to do your cable runs, HDMI can be as long as 100 feet.
@mpjmeyer as @tkenny53 indicated, no ATMOS thru digital optical. Also make sure the soundbar can do pass thru, in case you hook up an external option( player/roku/appleTV).
It's hard to future-proof when you make compromises from the start. I don't buy speakers from a non-speaker company. At least this sound bar comes with separate surrounds and doesn't use phasing and other "tricks' to simulate surround(?) Unless Samsung has rewritten the specs for optical you won't hear ATMOS using optical. I found this in a quick search:

Digital audio signals, such as 5.1/7.1 multi-channel PCM, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, and Auro 3D Audio cannot be transferred via Digital Optical connections.

"What is better for sound HDMI or optical?
Both cables can be had pretty cheap. The biggest difference is that HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including the formats found on Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can't get transmitted across optical. ... So if you want just a single cable between two devices, HDMI is your pick.

Also HDMI range is 50ft, unless you're using an active HDMI cable such as Redmere.

All that being said, if you are happy with the sound using optical, use it.
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