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Help in understanding Optical vs HDMI


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#1 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 01 2013 - 09:16 AM

I have a new TV that has 2 HDMI input ports but one says HDMI ARC. I understand that ARC is supposed to be 2 way but here is where I get lost. Since the sound is not very good I wanted to add a sound bar (possibly). Right now I stream Internet through the ethernet cable to the TV, have Direct TV on HDMI 1 and my Blu Ray on HDMI 2. Since there is no AVR that means the only output that I have for a soundbar is the Optical outlet which means I would either have to connect to a optical in soundbar or get a digital to analog converter and hook it to an old stereo system.. The only other option that I can imagine is to connect the D* and blu ray to a HDMI switching device and connect these to HDMI 1 on the TV which would free up HDMI 2............But since HDMI 2 ARC says INPUT on the TV , then how can it be an output to send all of the signals from the internet, Direct TV, and Blu Ray to a sound bar that uses HDMI input.????? Also would the sound bar's volume be controlled by the TV remote or should it have it's own separate remote (which would mandate a viewable volume bar)?

#2 of 11 schan1269

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Posted March 01 2013 - 09:32 AM

In your case ARC is not usable. Arc is only usable with an HDMI audio system...which in turn, that audio system also has direct connection with your sources. The only audio that needs to "get out" of a TV are its own internal tuner and "apps". But, you are already using your two HDMI...so ignore the ARC. If you buy a HDMI soundbar, your Directv and BD will connect to it, then you'll care about the "app" sound. Otherwise use the optical output. Besides, ARC, between brands, is not guaranteed to work anyway. There are TONS, and TONS of threads where "My X brand TV and Y brand AVR/soundbar, the ARC doesn't work"... The typical reply is... "Did you read your manuals?...It states in BOTH your manuals that ARC may not work if the other device is a different brand.". Last I checked Onkyo and Yamaha quit selling "branded" TV in the US 30+ years ago. Pioneer quit a few years ago.

#3 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 01 2013 - 09:59 AM

So if I understand you correctly I would not want to get a soundbar with HDMI inputs for D* and blu ray and connect it to HDMI 1 then use HDMI2 arc to connect back to the soundbar for the internet APS like Netflex. My TV is a Panasonic plasma.? Could I not use the soundbar itself to pass D* and Blu Ray through to one HDMI port (or do I need a AVR also)? If not It then appears that the cheapest and possibly best solution would be to use the old Pioneer prologic surround AVR that has no HDMI connections or Toslink and go to monoprice and get a Toslink to analog converter to connect the Pioneer then dust off the old Bose woofer tweeter from the attic. Then would the feeds from D*, blu ray, and Netflix be routed through the optical if I turn the TV speakers off? Sounds like this method when combined with a Harmony remote may be the best solution

#4 of 11 schan1269

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Posted March 01 2013 - 10:16 AM

That is what I would do...even better... Send the audio directly from the Directv and BD player...although it probably makes zero difference with a 2.0 system. Using the TV "as the hub" means all your audio(that didn't originate with the internal tuner) is downsampled to 2.0PCM. It is up to you what to do. I do this exact thing in a guest bedroom with a Panny plasma and Boston Acoustics TVee25. The Directv goes to the plasma, the audio output goes to the soundbar. That sound bar has toslink and two analog.

#5 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 02 2013 - 02:00 AM

That is what I would do...even better... Send the audio directly from the Directv and BD player...although it probably makes zero difference with a 2.0 system. Using the TV "as the hub" means all your audio(that didn't originate with the internal tuner) is downsampled to 2.0PCM. It is up to you what to do. I do this exact thing in a guest bedroom with a Panny plasma and Boston Acoustics TVee25. The Directv goes to the plasma, the audio output goes to the soundbar. That sound bar has toslink and two analog.

In my family room I have D* connected with composite cables to the TV and also have a toslink from D* to my Denon 2309 AVR. This allows regular things like news etc to go directly to the TV unless I want to hear a 5-1 broadcast in which case with my Harmony remote should I select watch TV, it turns the TV vol to zero, turns on the AVR so the picture still goes to through but the sound comes through the AVR. If I want to access the net the harmony uses HDMI to change TV inputs to the HDMI port on the TV, turn on the AVR, turn on the Paystation3 which is connected to the HDMI HCP port on the AVR and I can make my choice of using the PS3 as a Blu Ray, game, or the net. What I was wondering was, If I buy some kind of soundbar, since I have a nearby ethernet gigabit switch now connected to both the Blu Ray and the Panny plazma, could I take advantage of running my net connection through the soundbar allowing me to get quaity sound rather than using the toslink connection from the Panasonic TV. I am a real dummy when it comes to soundbars. If i am going that route I need some help in selecting one that will not break the bank.

#6 of 11 schan1269

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Posted March 02 2013 - 03:49 AM

Gigabit/ethernet has absolutely zero to do with sound production.

#7 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 02 2013 - 05:34 AM

Gigabit/ethernet has absolutely zero to do with sound production.

No except that that is the source of my internet connection which is ethernet rather than wireless and is the 3rd input connection to the TV. The TV has HDMI 1, HDMI ARC 2, digital antenna, and ethernet. The ony other connections are the RGB composite and the RW audio for legacy devices. The TV has Toslink Audio out. Since a few of the Soundbar's I have looked at online say things like 2 or 3 HDMI inputs, my guess is these soundbar's should be removed from my list of posibilities and the only one's I should be considering are soundbars that use Toslink as their source. Panasonic gives little information about what adding a soundbar does. Would I go into the TV setup and disable the TV's speakers? Also in the specs it labels the TV output for the Toslink as PCM, Dolby Digiital. Does that mean that I would have to go into the TV setup and select one or the other to match what the sound bar expects on it's input? In that instance I would have to add to my search critera those specs to make sure of compatability. I don't want to break the bank and I admit I am a rank beginner at shopping for good results. Some of the desirable qualities that would be nice since this is a bedroom TV might be wireless earphones so as to not interupt my wife's sleep. Also a surround sound effect from the soundbar with a self contained woofer. Since the TV is wall mounted on a tilt bracket, and components like D*, Blu Ray, and ethernet switch rest on a dresser underneath the sound bar should be narrow. Also I prefer not having to add a AVR.. The above information leads me to believe that I need 3 Toslink inputs......One for D*, Blu Ray, and one from the TV itself to handle sound streamed in through the ethernet connection. This is where I get lost.

#8 of 11 schan1269

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Posted March 02 2013 - 05:39 AM

You are adding 100% thought to a process that needs 5%. You are way, way, way over-thinking this. Most soundbars are 2.0. Even the ones "with a sub" are 2.0. They just create the .1...you do not send it .1...cause it does not need it created before hand. HDMI is not needed for 2.0, never will be. If you want an HDMI soundbar...knock yourself out and get one. ARC is only necessary as a toslink replacement. ARC does not bring anything, at all, to an audio system that a toslink already provides....period. All ARC does is remove the need of a toslink. And the big problem with ARC is it requires the CEC to be on. (CEC is the Panny VieraLink). Even bigger problem...CEC is not an "HDMI standard". Meaning...unless you buy a Panasonic soundbar...completely forget ARC exists. If you buy ANYTHING other than a Panasonic...expect the CEC to not function...and if the CEC does not function, ARC won't either.

#9 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 02 2013 - 06:20 AM

I guess I am getting screwed over by some of the advertising hype. If the soundbar's are truly only 2=1 then the hype of surround (simulated) from the bar's are BS. I said I was a beginner. Since the TV will output LPCM (whatever that means?) and I would need but one toslink input then a cheapie like the Visio would be all I need. Or are there better options from another source I got the following The problem with using the digital optical output from the TV is that for any external sources (Blu-Ray, Cable/Satellite, game systems) any digital surround sound signal that is sent INTO the TV will be downconverted to analog stereo before it's output via the digital optical connection.

#10 of 11 schan1269

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Posted March 02 2013 - 06:45 AM

And again, since the soundbar is 2.0. Why do you care the TV downconverts incoming signals to 2.0? 2.0 into the soundbar means 2.0 from the TV. Period. 2.0 over ARC=2.0 over toslink=2.0 over analog And, if you already have this older stereo receiver sitting around...(Bose speakers aren't my favorite...but I'd take Bose with this Pioneer over any <$300 soundbar) http://www.amazon.co...=toslink analog done.

#11 of 11 dontknow

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Posted March 02 2013 - 08:40 AM

Was hoping to stay small but it looks ike the only way to realy get anything better is with an AVR like a Denon 1713 which will handle the HDMI ARC which will decode whatever it gets then send it HDMI to the speakers and pass the video on to the TV. I see I can get this AVR for about 320 which will also connect the streamed internet HD movies so I could get home theater in the BR and also could add some headphones for quiet viewing. I have no idea what speakers would work well with this set up but want something inconspicuous. If I am going to get only out to a soundbar 2-1 then I might as well get a toslink converter from Monoprice for 22 bucks or the one you suggest from Amazon and hook it to my old Pioneer Prolgic from the attic and use the Old Bose HTIB that did a 5-1. If I remember right I had even added a center channel speaker as the Bose was a woofer then had 2 wired double speakers for fronts and a couple of bookshelf speakers at the rear. I have Energy speakers for my Denon AVR in the Family room and the Audyssey set up works well. Thanks for the pointers




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