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Looking for something that can negotiate ARC for non-ARC receiver to pull audio from TV. (1 Viewer)

eltoddo

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I can't believe with all the high-quality legacy receivers out there that nobody makes a device that can "extract" audio from an ARC port on a TV and pass the audio on to the receiver. I've been searching but HDMI audio extractors all want to convert to some other medium: optical, analog, etc. I don't need to pass remote control signals for volume/power/input between the sources and receiver, and I suspect the need to support those capabilities is why nobody makes such a device for ARC based audio hand-off, since that's half the reason ARC exists.

My use case is this:
The reason I want to use ARC is that I have sources that are PCM uncompressed 5.1 surround sound (a PC, Nintendo Switch) that run to my 4K HDR TV. All my sources all go to one input on the TV (through a single HDMI 2.0b video switch), and I used to just have an optical cable passing audio to the receiver which supports HDMI but not ARC. This works fine for Dolby Digital, DTS or 2.1 PCM, but to get the bandwidth for uncompressed PCM you need to use HDMI or convert to analog and things get messy when converting. The receiver won't just pass 4K HDR video through the HDMI output, so I can't run things through it first.

The most elegant and simple solution I've found is to use an HDMI 2.0b splitter between the HDMI switch and TV to split the video from the audio. I connected the TV HDMI 2.0b input to output 1 of the video splitter, and output 2 goes to the HDMI receiver. This way when I want to hear all channels of a PCM surround signal, I switch the receiver to "listen" to the 4K video switch's output 2. Otherwise, my receiver is connected to my TV's optical output so I can still get audio from the TV's built-in apps, which we do use often enough to justify this setup for now (I know I should ditch the idea of the TV's built-in casting, but it's just too convenient, and I want to reduce the need for an external device to cast youtube, etc). While this setup works, it shouldn't have to be this way. Why isn't there a solution to attach an ARC HDMI output to an old HDMI capable receiver?

I found this device which might get me what I'm looking for, but I can't tell for sure: Amazon product (Google VHD-UHAE2 in case the link doesn't show). But I'm not convinced that the ARC port on it isn't just like the ARC port on my TV, getting me no closer to a solution.

For anyone who is curious here's the relevant components I'm using:
TV: Sony XBR-65X900E
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1020k
5-port HDMI 2.0b switch: Awakelion "[email protected] HDMI Switch"
HDMI 2.0b splitter: EZCOO "4K HDMI 2.0 Splitter 1x2"
Source 1: Xbox Series X
Source 2: PS4 Pro
Source 3: Nintendo Switch
Source 4: Various retro gaming consoles connected through other switching and conversion equipment.
Source 5: PC used for gaming and video content

If anyone has any ideas that I might have missed, or knows any product managers at any equipment vendors looking for a new product idea, let me know.
 

John Dirk

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I can't believe with all the high-quality legacy receivers out there that nobody makes a device that can "extract" audio from an ARC port on a TV and pass the audio on to the receiver.
I don't believe there would be enough market interest in such a device as ARC is simply not worth the trouble.

The receiver won't just pass 4K HDR video through the HDMI output, so I can't run things through it first.

You probably already know the real culprit here is your receiver. Pioneer fixed the shortcomings that are hampering you with the VSX-1021-K but, honestly, I would probably look to Denon for a suitable replacement as their products tend to offer more features and are generally better regarded. Pioneer [audio anyway]is also all but dead as they are currently owned by Onkyo.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Getting ARC to work on devices that support the protocol can be difficult (or sometimes impossible), so expecting to make it work with a device that doesn't support it is asking a lot. As John said, there just wouldn't be much of a market for such a device, and the support issues with all the different ways manufacturers implement ARC would be a nightmare.

If you are that adamant processing the latest audio formats from your components, then it's time to replace the receiver.
 

JohnRice

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The solution you've already come up with is the only solution available using the receiver you have now.

Simple fact of technology. If you want the benefit of newer stuff, you have to buy newer stuff. But as has been mentioned, this particular newer technology (ARC) is buggy, and still might not work. Personally, I wish ARC had never been invented.
 

eltoddo

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Hey all, your replies are much appreciated!

I kind of assumed I was in a "go buy a good ARC capable receiver" situation. I think a new ARC receiver will do the job I want to do. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something so obvious that everyone else knew and I didn't.

I'm just frustrated that we never got a passive replacement to the TOSLINK audio standard which just always worked, until you reach its bandwidth limit. Instead we got the Active (handshake and bidirectional communications link) ARC link instead, which seems to have its flaws that the industry can't seem to address.

@John Dirk, thanks for the heads up on Pioneer's acquisition! It's been a while since I had a finger on the pulse of the A/V industry so I appreciate that heads up, since I assumed they were still one of the top vendors as they were in the mid-2000s.

As I consider a new receiver, another related discussion I'd be up for hearing (maybe in a new thread) is if anyone can convince me that any of the Dolby and DTS formats are even relevant anymore. Seems to me that with uncompressed audio being available, anything that Dolby or DTS will be able to do will only compromise the original signal, at least from the purist position (to which I clearly lean) that if the producers of music/movies/games had intended for enhancement, they would have mastered it in. As far as I'm concerned, uncompressed audio, now that it's practical to have it everywhere, has obsoleted an entire industry of trademarked names and patented technologies looking to make your receiver more expensive.

I certainly don't trust any HDMI capable receiver to do the video switching until the industry gets its act together to recognize that an HDMI audio receiver should only care about audio and should never interfere with video just to pass along the data it doesn't need. This would require a single HDMI link split its negotiation of audio and video to independent streams, and I'm sure that comes with a series of headaches. But after the HDMI 2.1 debacle that the buggy Phillips silicon introduced, preventing [email protected] and [email protected] video signals from being sent to a capable TV or monitor when connected to an AUDIO RECEIVER, I don't really trust an audio receiver in the path of a digital video signal, for reasons beyond buggy implementations, but here we are.

Anyway, thanks all for taking the time for the thoughtful replies.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Most, if not all, receivers can pass through the video signal without altering it. You simply select that option as part of the setup.

Regarding Dolby and DTS, those formats are still relevant. Dolby TrueHD/Atmos and DTS-HD MA/DTS X are the newer generations of those formats. They carry lossless audio more efficiently than uncompressed PCM signals, meaning they take up less space on the disc while delivering the same quality. In order to get the highest quality playback from most discs, you’ll need the ability to decode those formats. Very few discs include uncompressed PCM audio - it’s not space efficient. This isn’t about altering the original audio mix in some way, but merely the method of delivering it.

As others have noted, a new receiver is the correct option to address the issues you’ve described. For at least a decade, a receiver has been the industry standard piece of equipment to provide both video and audio signals in a home theater setup. Using the TV as the input switcher both adds unnecessary complexity while constraining quality.
 

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