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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got 3 displays I want to be able to send various sources to, so a matrix switch is the obvious solution. For now, the sources will be a XBOX 360 (used as a Windows Media Center extender) and 2 HTPC's. If the solution works well, I might relocate other source devices later.


Display #1 is my surround sound system, where the video path is a Denon AVP-A1HDCI surround sound processor (which handles all the HD audio formats and will receive a hardware upgrade to support 3D this fall) connected to a 1080p Mitsubishi WD-82838 which is 3D capable. Display #2 is a Panasonic plasma that's not 3D capable, but is 1080p, and presumably won't know what to do with bitstreamed HD audio. Display #3 is an HP computer monitor that has an HDMI input, accepts 1080p, and presumably has the same audio limitations as the Panasonic plasma.


The computer monitor is located in the rack in the basement, where the matrix switcher and source devices will be located. The other 2 displays are located in separate rooms and are hooked up to Transformative Engineering HD-1 HDMI extenders so they can be connected to sources in the basement rack.


I typically only use 1 of the 3 displays at a time and don't anticipate wanting to watch the same source on 2 or more of the displays at the same time.


The Octava 4x4 matrix looks like a good fit for my needs, though I might later need the ability to support more inputs.


If I configure my control system to ensure that a given device is only connected to 1 display at any time, should I expect to run into any limitations (such as HD audio bitstreaming or 3D not working to the Mitsubishi)? I realize that if a source is connected to 2 or more displays at a time, I should expect to get the lowest common denominator.


Is there any word on any new matrix switchers coming out in the near future that support HDMI 1.4? In my communication with Transformative Engineering, they hinted that they're looking into building a matrix switch but didn't provide any projected time frames. Based on how well the HD-1 is built and how well they have been working for me for the last several weeks, I'd be very interested in a matrix switch from them if/when they come out with 1.


Given how quickly things have been changing in the HDMI specs, I really don't want to spend big bucks (let's say more than $1000) on an HDMI matrix switch (especially if it isn't HDMI 1.4), so the Octava is a really attractive option if it works well. Naturally, they're currently out of stock...
 

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Keep in mind that the HDMI version numbers are supposed to go away in January 2012 and replaced with High Speed HDMI, Standard HDMI, Automotive HDMI, etc (there are 5 classifications but I can't remember the other 2). So if you start looking (or waiting) for version 1.4a it might not be listed as that. 1.4a is basically High Speed HDMI now. Sounds like you have a really nice setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Pylot /forum/post/20856155


Keep in mind that the HDMI version numbers are supposed to go away in January 2012 and replaced with High Speed HDMI, Standard HDMI, Automotive HDMI, etc (there are 5 classifications but I can't remember the other 2). So if you start looking (or waiting) for version 1.4a it might not be listed as that. 1.4a is basically High Speed HDMI now. Sounds like you have a really nice setup.

Understood, but if I purchase a switcher that's marketed as HDMI 1.3 isn't it correct to assume that I'm more likely to run into issues? Point being that I don't really care if what I buy is sold as 1.4a or high speed, but I'd prefer to get something that at least supports all the current, known HDMI features.


[Edit:]

In thinking a bit more about this, those are the new cable types ( link ). The 2 types you were missing were Standard with Ethernet and High Speed with Ethernet. However, you are correct that version numbers will be going away and devices will need to just list the specific features they support - I'm sure that will make things a lot easier for everyone
.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsr /forum/post/20855840


...


If I configure my control system to ensure that a given device is only connected to 1 display at any time, should I expect to run into any limitations (such as HD audio bitstreaming or 3D not working to the Mitsubishi)? I realize that if a source is connected to 2 or more displays at a time, I should expect to get the lowest common denominator.


Is there any word on any new matrix switchers coming out in the near future that support HDMI 1.4? ...

Yes, you need to worry about your EDID setup. Study the Octava manual and you'll see they give you a few options about how to setup the EDID so that you can get some of the capabilties you want. But, it isn't a pick-n-choose type setup. One for instance, allows high resolution audio (TrueHD, DTS MS) to go out but also only allows the minimum common video signal to go out. So in that configuration, 3D would only go out if all TVs were 3D capable (whether they are on or off). Putting the switcher *after* the DENON would solve that problem (once the 3D upgrade finally comes out) since you only use one display at a time. The DENON has two monitors out, if I remember right, and so one monitor output would be for 3D TVs and the other for the matrix switch with no 3D capabilities. Of course, whether that works or not will depend upon how DENON implements the upgrade.


As far as the version number is concerned, the switcher doesn't actually do anything that requires version 1.4a - it just needs to pass through the 3D signal. So, the equivalent for a matrix switcher is a 1.3 switcher with 3D passthru capabilities. While the version number is gone for cables, I suspect there are enough older switchers out there that it will be a while before all of the 1.3 with 3D passthru advertising are gone.


HDMI is very user unfriendly for what you want to do. It was designed as a secure way to send HD video, not as a way to configure and distribute multiple components. The EDID concept is great for simple setups but for anything complicated, you're normally stuck with the lowest common denominator configuration unless you do something about it. Of course, in theory, EDID also prevents an incompatible signal for going out to a sink.


Hope that helps but the key is to study the Octava documentation about changing the EDID - then all of the other matrix switchers will make more sense as well. At least that worked for me.


One more item - the Octava works well for 3D. However, about once a month (maybe once every two months) while the Octava is just sitting there, the Octava will hang with no indication on the display of the hang. All HDMI components connected to it will suddently receive an invalid EDID and also stop working. Unplugging the power cord and restarting the Octava then fixes the problem and all of the components are happy again. It has never happened while I'm watching something, just while the Octava is sitting there such as overnight. Took a while to trace it to the Octava, but that's the cause. I've asked Octava in the U.S. for help but got nice responses but never any actual help (or updated firmware). Just something to remember if you get the Octava - if HDMI outputs stop working, time to reboot the Octava.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997
Yes, you need to worry about your EDID setup. Study the Octava manual and you'll see they give you a few options about how to setup the EDID so that you can get some of the capabilties you want. But, it isn't a pick-n-choose type setup. One for instance, allows high resolution audio (TrueHD, DTS MS) to go out but also only allows the minimum common video signal to go out. So in that configuration, 3D would only go out if all TVs were 3D capable (whether they are on or off). Putting the switcher *after* the DENON would solve that problem (once the 3D upgrade finally comes out) since you only use one display at a time. The DENON has two monitors out, if I remember right, and so one monitor output would be for 3D TVs and the other for the matrix switch with no 3D capabilities. Of course, whether that works or not will depend upon how DENON implements the upgrade.


As far as the version number is concerned, the switcher doesn't actually do anything that requires version 1.4a - it just needs to pass through the 3D signal. So, the equivalent for a matrix switcher is a 1.3 switcher with 3D passthru capabilities. While the version number is gone for cables, I suspect there are enough older switchers out there that it will be a while before all of the 1.3 with 3D passthru advertising are gone.


HDMI is very user unfriendly for what you want to do. It was designed as a secure way to send HD video, not as a way to configure and distribute multiple components. The EDID concept is great for simple setups but for anything complicated, you're normally stuck with the lowest common denominator configuration unless you do something about it. Of course, in theory, EDID also prevents an incompatible signal for going out to a sink.


Hope that helps but the key is to study the Octava documentation about changing the EDID - then all of the other matrix switchers will make more sense as well. At least that worked for me.
Putting the switcher after the surround sound processor would defeat the purpose of having a matrix switcher in the first place as the SSP would effectively become a switch and distribution amp (granted, this wouldn't be a huge issue in my situation where only 1 display will be in use at a time). Another complication there is that the SSP isn't configured for audio passthrough to the TV as doing so would cause other issues (one of which would be audio coming out of the speakers on display #1 if the volume isn't turned all the way down). It also isn't practical in my setup as the SSP is located in the same room as display #1, so I would need another HD-1 (or some other HDMI extender) to get the output from the SSP to the matrix switcher.


I understand the lowest common denominator concept (and it makes perfect sense) when 1 source is being sent to more than 1 display, but it doesn't make any sense at all when different sources are being sent to each display. Is that really how it works???
Maybe it's done this way to help switch faster as otherwise more complicated HDMI handshakes would potentially be needed each time the matrix configuration is changed.


I've read through the Octava manual, but it really doesn't go into much detail about what the limitations are, which is why I started asking questions.


If this really is the case, I'm going to have to rethink my plans. I have no plans to replace display #2 or display #3 any time soon and I MUST be able to send HD Audio and 3D to display #1 while also getting sound on the other TV's.


In thinking about it, maybe I should explore the option of using the 2nd HDMI output on the surround sound processor instead of using a matrix switcher. It would require a 3rd HD-1 HDMI extender in my configuration:


- 1 to send the sources from the rack in the basement to the SSP in the family room

- 1 to send the 2nd HDMI output from the SSP to a HDMI distribution amp in the rack in the basement

- 1 to send 1 of the HDMI distribution amp outputs to display #2

- display #3 would just be connected to an output on the distribution amp with a normal HDMI cable


I think the only potential issue there is whether I would get audio on displays 2 & 3, though that's not a minor issue
.


HDMI is nice in some ways, but a royal PITA in others....


Thanks for your reply.
 

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@gsr


Yeah, the way I look at it all I'll ever need to buy is certified High Speed HDMI cables and be done with it. My cables have ethernet as well but I doubt if I'll ever use it, at least for the forseeable future. I just make sure that who ever I buy my cables from I can get a copy of, or at least view, the certification and I steer clear of the grossly overpriced kind like you-know-who
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Pylot
@gsr


Yeah, the way I look at it all I'll ever need to buy is certified High Speed HDMI cables and be done with it. My cables have ethernet as well but I doubt if I'll ever use it, at least for the forseeable future. I just make sure that who ever I buy my cables from I can get a copy of, or at least view, the certification and I steer clear of the grossly overpriced kind like you-know-who
Until HDMI.org comes out with a need for Super High Speed or Extra Super High Speed to support higher resolutions, 128 bit color, or whatever else they come up with to try to keep themselves relevant
.


But cable options are the least of my concerns at the moment.
 

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Maybe this will help - Here's a converted version of Octava's diagram - it looked so much better when I typed it in with spaces between. Oh well (all credit for the original go to Octava),


Selection Video ------------ Audio

1 480I,720I/P, -------------- PCM

1080I/P -------------- Bitstream (Dolby Digital, DTS)


2 480I, 720I/P, ------------ PCM, Bitstream

1080I/P. ------------ (Dolby Digital,

Reads EDID of ----------- Dolby Tru

all monitors ---------- HD,DTS,DTS

and sets to: ------------ Master Audio)

Video=min. ------------ Sets audio to

Resolution of ------------ maximum capability

displays

connected.



3 480I,720I/P, ------------- 2 CH PCM Basic Mode

1080I



So you can think of option 2 as I need the best audio possible but I still want my monitors to work as before. Perfect for use with a AVR. However, unless all monitors have a capability, then you won't get that capability (such as 3D).


Choice 3 is for simple audio/video for older monitors. Option 1 dumbs down the audio but leaves the video as before.


Your other choice is to try something like the "HDMI Detective". But, then you'll have a lot of messages about non-recognized video and audio on your older monitors.


The key here is that HDMI only sends out one signal. It doesn't send out an high rez audio signal *and* a stereo signal. It can only send one. So which one do you choose to send? (same with video)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 /forum/post/20860549


The key here is that HDMI only sends out one signal. It doesn't send out an high rez audio signal *and* a stereo signal. It can only send one. So which one do you choose to send? (same with video)

I get that a HDMI device only sends out 1 A/V signal at a time.


When the matrix is configured to connect 1 source to 2 or more displays (for example, input 1 connected to all 4 outputs), it's obvious that you either have to trick it to think that every display supports the same thing or get the lowest common denominator. That makes perfect sense to me.


When the matrix is configured such that each source is connected ONLY to a single output, there's no reason why anything has to be disabled, if that 1 display supports 3D, HD audio, etc. So if input 2 is connected to output 1, input 3 is connected to output 2, input 4 is connected to output 3, and input 1 is connected to output 4, the end result shouldn't have to be any different than if I plugged the cables in directly bypassing the matrix switch entirely. Does this not make sense?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsr /forum/post/20860989


I get that a HDMI device only sends out 1 A/V signal at a time.


When the matrix is configured to connect 1 source to 2 or more displays (for example, input 1 connected to all 4 outputs), it's obvious that you either have to trick it to think that every display supports the same thing or get the lowest common denominator. That makes perfect sense to me.


When the matrix is configured such that each source is connected ONLY to a single output, there's no reason why anything has to be disabled, if that 1 display supports 3D, HD audio, etc. So if input 2 is connected to output 1, input 3 is connected to output 2, input 4 is connected to output 3, and input 1 is connected to output 4, the end result shouldn't have to be any different than if I plugged the cables in directly bypassing the matrix switch entirely. Does this not make sense?

It makes sense but from a source standpoint it would have to be ready to make changes on the fly. I've actually seen some sources that do what you said with a matrix switcher. I've also seen some that don't and then other that simply lock-up. User-unfriendliness.


It's why for distribution we stuck with component video lines. Only in one room do we have HDMI on top of the component video.
 

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gsr - your '1 to 1'logic would be good 'IF' E-EDID worked that way but as others are saying it tends not to and unless you employ some expensive EDID and HDCP signal management within your Matrix design you have to work with assuming your Source will revert to a signal that all connected (active or inactive) Display devices support.


Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 /forum/post/20861037


It makes sense but from a source standpoint it would have to be ready to make changes on the fly. I've actually seen some sources that do what you said with a matrix switcher. I've also seen some that don't and then other that simply lock-up. User-unfriendliness.

Yeah, the ability for a source device to handle changes in the display device would certainly be a factor in this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 /forum/post/20861037


It's why for distribution we stuck with component video lines. Only in one room do we have HDMI on top of the component video.

Unfortunately, component video has its own issues. One is that my HTPC's don't have component video output and one of them basically can't because HDCP is needed for Windows Media Center and CableCard content. The other issue with component video is that it only helps with the video portion of the equation - that still leaves one to sort out the audio and HDMI is the only way to get HD audio in digital form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Fernand /forum/post/20863366


gsr - your '1 to 1'logic would be good 'IF' E-EDID worked that way but as others are saying it tends not to and unless you employ some expensive EDID and HDCP signal management within your Matrix design you have to work with assuming your Source will revert to a signal that all connected (active or inactive) Display devices support.

So is one of the main issues that the matrix always handles the EDID / HDCP rather than just letting the input and output talk to each other?


Not trying to be dense - I just would like to understand the why behind the whole thing
.


I sent an email to Octava earlier today indicating I had read their manual, but wanted clarification. They just parroted back what the manual said - not exactly helpful. On the plus side, they did get back to me promptly.


One concern I have that I haven't mentioned yet is whether a single 1080p signal format will actually play nicely with all 3 displays as they could each require slightly different timings. Is this likely to be an issue?


3D probably isn't an issue. As long as I can trick the matrix into thinking all 3 displays support 3D, I can just make sure I don't try to watch 3D on the displays that don't support it. I don't have many 3D Blurays and don't expect my collection to get huge any time soon anyway.


Audio can be worked around by selecting an appropriate soundtrack that's compatible with the current display when watching Bluray or DVD. Watching TV might be a bit of a PITA as I'm not sure how easy it is to switch to and from Dolby Digital in Windows Media Center - I'd have to play around with that some.


Maybe what I should do is just get myself a matrix switcher with a good return policy and try it out to see what, if any, issues I run into.
 

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gsr - you will need a very complex Matrix (assuming one exists) with a fairly complex EDID and HDCP management engine to achieve what you require.


Alternatively a user controllable EDID manager for each Source would allow you to programme a control system to present the desired EDID every time you make a routing change.


If your Displays don't all play nice at 1080p 24 or 60 that's yet another challenge!


The Octava Matrix can be preloaded with Firmware that will allow you to force 3D through when you have a mix of 3D and non-3D Displays.


Joe
 

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Quote:
Maybe what I should do is just get myself a matrix switcher with a good return policy and try it out to see what, if any, issues I run into.
Try and see if your equipment plays nice with a lower cost switch. If that doesn' work, let me know, I may have a solution that will work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kei Clark
Try and see if your equipment plays nice with a lower cost switch. If that doesn' work, let me know, I may have a solution that will work.
When Octava gets their product back in stock, I'll probably give that a try. Though I am interested in hearing of alternative solutions even if they cost more as there's value in getting a solution that works well
. I suspect that the Crestron Digital Media switchers would be able to do what I want, but I definitely don't want to spend that kind of money for this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I finally received the Octava 4x4 HDMI Matrix switch last weekend. I switched it over to EDID mode 2.


I haven't had a chance to do extensive testing yet, partly because one of the HTPC's that will be one of the sources (used for general media playback, including Bluray) is still under construction (I'm waiting for 1 last part to arrive so I can get it assembled) which means I can't actually test 3D or HD audio bitstreaming yet. But, the other HTPC (used as a DVR with a pair of Ceton CableCard tuners and Windows Media Center) is showing that the HD audio formats are supported in the sound card properties (it has an ATI 5670 video card).


I temporarily have another PC in the mix that is going to be replaced by the new one. This one is running Vista and has an ATI 3870 video card, so the supported audio formats aren't as extensive.


So far, I've been able to route either of the PC's to any combination of the 3 displays and the picture is working fine at 1080p. The main system is receiving Dolby Digital 5.1 while watching TV on the DVR PC.


So my early results are favorable as everything I've tried so far has worked as hoped.
 
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