TV audio with Beam *and* headphones

  • 22 August 2021
  • 4 replies
  • 80 views

  • Contributor I
  • 2 replies

I bought a Beam for my parents' TV two years ago, because they were having trouble understanding dialog though their TV speakers. It has absolutely improved the situation. But they still wanted to get wireless headphones to improve their ability to hear some of the time. 

I bought them a 2-headset pair of Sennheiser HDR 120 headphones. What I did not verify ahead of time was that there was an analog audio out option on their TV. There is not. I looked into various splitters, but gave up after being overwhelmed by all the no-name options with poor descriptions of they could/could not do. Therefore the headphone boxes were never opened.

I came to this forum today for something else, and saw someone mention an AmazonBasics HDMI audio extractor, which brought me back to my quest. Unfortunately I did not find a solution searching this forum.

My #1 concern is that we do not lose CEC control of the Beam, because that's the only way to remote control it (without the Sonos app, at least) - it appears CEC support is not passed through many adapters.

My goals are:

- Keep ARC/CEC control for the Beam

- Allow use of the Beam and the headphones at the same time.

- if I cannot have both the Beam and the headphones work simultaneously, manually being able to switch between the two is OK… but I strongly prefer not to plug/unplug to switch. If this happens, they'll never use the setup.

Has anyone successfully done this, and if so, which adapters/splitters/extractors did you use?

AV Gear summary:

- Panasonic LED TV with 3 (possibly 4) HDMI inputs, 1 ARC. No analog audio outs.

- Sonos Beam

- Sennheiser HDR 120 headphones (RF wireless headphones, *not Bluetooth*) connect via analog RCA or minijack 

Content Gear:

- DishTV Hopper (via HDMI 1)
- Apple TV 4K (latest gen - via HDMI 3)

Thanks for any recommendations you may have.


4 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +15

Hi @bwc_,

 

I’m afraid I don’t have a solution for you, and it may be that there isn’t a satisfactory resolution to your quest. 

Most manufacturers’ implementation of ARC/CEC only allow for a single output to be selected at any one time. This is regardless of the different connection types (HDMI, optical, Bluetooth etc) and how many devices are connected simultaneously. It’s also why most TVs will not allow playback through an HDMI connected soundbar and the internal speakers at the same time. 

I’m afraid I don’t have near enough knowledge about audio extractors or the various devices available out there, but my reply will bump this up to the top of the active threads list so hopefully someone who has tried this setup can chime in and recommend something here.

Thanks, James.

on the TV audio out, I’m not hoping to use two simultaneously. I am hoping an HDMI splitter/extractor can allow the Beam and TV to continue interacting as they do normally, while simultaneously splitting a second audio feed off that I can make analog for headphone usage. 

Thanks, James.

on the TV audio out, I’m not hoping to use two simultaneously. I am hoping an HDMI splitter/extractor can allow the Beam and TV to continue interacting as they do normally, while simultaneously splitting a second audio feed off that I can make analog for headphone usage. 

 

You can’t split an HDMI-ARC cable/signal as your suggesting.  Without getting two technical, it’s a two way communication (which is why you see the the Sonos screensaver when you set the TV to that input) with video and audio (potentially) coming in, and audio coming out on other pins. 

 

However, this little device might be exactly what you need.

 

https://www.thenaudio.com/product/zone-2-earc-audio-processor/

Full disclosure, I had heard of the original Sharc previously, with good reviews, but just now am aware of this 2nd gen device that seems to be beefed up a bit.  The original might work for you as well, but you likely would need to use the optical audio option and therefore lose CEC controls.

 

edit: I did a little more digging and it looks like the headphone and RCA ports will only work when the incoming signal from the TV is PCM/stereo.  That could be a problem, as the Beam would tell the TV that it can handle dolby digitlal 5.1.  You would have to find some setting on the TV to force it to only play PCM/stereo.  And of course, you would be no point in surround speakers.

Danny,

thanks for the suggestion. This feels too sophisticated for what I need. Couldn’t justify more than $100. I don’t need to split the full HDMI, I just need to “tap into” the audio from the cable from the TV to the Beam, and convert it to analog. But I can’t lose the CEC control of the Beam.

Even if they lost surround sound on the Beam (left with just stereo), that’d be fine. And they’re never going to add rear speakers.

I appreciate the response though.

Reply