Best optical switch for playbar?

  • 6 December 2014
  • 23 replies
  • 21522 views

Userlevel 2
Hi could anyone help me with choosing a good optical switch to work with my playbar as so i can get the best out of my sky box,ps4,xbox one and apple tv as i believe I'm not getting the best out of my sons set up(playbar,sub,2xplay 1s)when the optical is connected to my tv and not the actual devices themselves. any ideas would be great.

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23 replies

Userlevel 3
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As an optical SPDIF connection is digital, it doesn't matter at all, what switch you use, nor which cables.

I have bought http://amzn.com/B003C15798 , which is a 4x inputs, 2x outputs remote controlled switch. It is controllable via Logitech Harmony remotes as well.
Userlevel 2
Unless you want a switch only for optical, I'd recommend taking a look at the Octava Unit. Not the cheapest solution, but it works really well!
Userlevel 3
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That Octava looks really nice! My SPDIF and HDMI switching is in two separate switches up to now. But this would combine both and add bonus features. Neat!
Userlevel 2
The Octava is all you need. It is pricey but it is the ultimate solution.
Userlevel 3
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The Octava is all you need. It is pricey but it is the ultimate solution.

The only thing I am missing are 2 HDMI outputs. I have a LCD TV and beamer/projection screen combination and want to be able to select which input device I want to output on each. But then again, there are 1in, 2out splitters. If the Octava would have had that second HDMI, it would have been the most perfect device for me.
Userlevel 1
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Save $200 and get this Monoprice model.

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=5557&seq=1&format=2

It does the same thing. I mean no disrespect, but I can't for the life of me figure out why people on here recommend the Octava so often when it is exponentially more expensive than alternatives that do the same thing. The only difference I can tell is the Octava also has optical inputs, but if your sources all feed the same audio via HDMI there's really not much point in that.

What you need for your specific requirements is a matrix switch. This one gets pretty good reviews and is $60-ish. 4 HDMI inputs, 2 outputs, optical out for your Playbar.

http://www.firefold.com/4x2-hdmi-matrix-switch
Userlevel 2
My reason for getting the Octava over the MonoPrice is that the PS3 can be made to convert DTS to DD, but only for output via Optical not HDMI, so I needed a switch with optical inputs.
Userlevel 3
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The Octava is expensive, maybe even more expensive than a HDMI and a separate optical switch. But the advantage over the monoprice device is, that it is integrating both functions in one device, which gives additional functionality.

For sure, not everybody needs that, but it is nice to know that it exists. I for my part do use my optical switch for my computer sound (no video involved, no HDMI) and use both for my Boxee Box (video via HDMI, audio via optical switch). I really would appreciate the Octava.
Userlevel 2
Hi All,
New user here. Been following the boards over the last year and took the plunge with Playbar, P1's and Sub for bedroom HT 6 months ago.
Finally got my Monoprice MD-415ARC and hooked up PS3, ATV, FIOS Motorola cable box. only got it working properly with the Harmony Ultimate after some tweaks. leaving it powered on, ARC off, dip switch in soundbarconfig etc etc.

huge world of diff with 5.1 compared to the crappy 2.0 out of my Samsung VT.
and yes - already bought a another P1 for another room.
Optical is fine for a sound bar, IMHO. no need for higher res movie sound formats. although HDMI will make life easier next time.
have not used blu rays in a while so don't miss DTS for now.
Userlevel 2
Are these devices converting DTS into DD?
Userlevel 2
monoprice switch does not do conv from DTS to DD
Userlevel 1
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monoprice switch does not do conv from DTS to DD

Nor does the Octava. I wasn't sure if that's what the previous question was in regard to or not.

That being said, many Bluray players (my Samsung included) will convert DTS to DD if you tell it to in the settings. Works like a champ in my setup.
Monoprice! mines almost 2 years old and never a problem!
Userlevel 2
I've been using this switch for a while and have been very happy with it. It switches 4 inputs to 2 outputs. I needed 4 inputs and thought it was cool that it could send any of the inputs to any of the outputs (even the same input out both outputs).

Search Amazon for "AGPtek Optical Matrix Switch 4x2". Was around $35 when I bought it via Prime. Great price for something that can do this with a little remote and tucks in nice behind the sounds bar.

I was forced to go the optical switch route because I have a LaserDisc player (RF Modulator to turn RF modulated 5.1 to Optical) and I wanted 5.1 sound and of course my Samsung 4K was forcing everything to stereo.

I like this box because it's small and has a remote. I use a logitec Harmony remote and just added it to that for my scenes and everything works great, especially with the small size and being able to hide it behind the sound bar since it has the RF repeater.

So, as others have learned, also make sure you get a BlueRay player that will convert DTS tracks to DD, then you have a nice clean DD only network. I've been extremely happy now that I've got full 5.1 sound on all my devices, really made the world of difference for me.

Port 1: Sumsung 4K TV
Port 2: Apple TV
Port 3: BlueRay Player
Port 4: LD Player (via RF Modulator)
Out Port 1: Sonos
Out Port 2: Free

Verified I get 5.1 from all my sources, unless of course the actual media is not 5.1. Huge difference on the BlueRay's and LD's with nice mastering on the audio, night and day difference for me vs my Samsung TV down mixing it to stereo. Granted, even the stereo sounds great, just not the same from the rears and sound envelope as with the pure 5.1 tracks.

Steve
Userlevel 1
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You can buy a passive optical splitter for about £2 - £3 on eBay and use it "backwards" to combine your optical inputs.
http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/400957345815
It can be used to combine two optical inputs into one. Or you could buy 3 of these to get 4 optical inputs into one.
No extra remote and NO switching
There is a caveat:
Some devices will output a "silent" optical signal when not in use (you will see the red glow at the end of the optical cable) and if two (or more) digital optical signals are being fed into the splitter at the same time then it won't be able to be decoded at the receiver (in this case the Playbar).
I have just bought one to combine my PS4 and Mac mini 5.1 sound outputs to the Playbar. I have discovered that the PS4 does NOT output a "silent" optical signal when in "sleep/standby/power saving mode." And after a lot of reading on the Internet about macmini's continuously outputting a "Silent" optical signal; I have found that this is not 100% true. After you close down the Mac application (Plex, ITunes, BBC iplayer etc) then the Macmini will stop outputting the optical signal !
So for less than £3 per splitter you can combine two (or more) 5.1 sources directly to your sonos 5.1 system without the need for a switching device!
Hope this helps someone, I'd been looking for a solution without having to manually switch optical inputs for ages!
Cheers,
Pete
Hi Pete_17

I have been trying to find a solution for the 5.1 solution for playbar and decided to have a go at the £3 splitter as you suggested. Now which cable do I need to connect to the splitter?

Currently I am connecting the cable that came with the playbar from the Tivo box to playbar and sound is much better than connection to the Samsung TV that converted to PCM.

I want to use the splitter to connect to the Tivo box and Android box (Minix Neo X8-H) to the playbar. Do I need to use Toslink to optical cable or the Toslink to toslink cable?

I suppose it is no longer required to connect the Samsung TV to the playbar?

Thanks in advance for your advise.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Amazon sells an Enko switch that uses a remote to switch between inputs 1 to 3, and in my case I trained my harmony remote to replace the remote that came with it, and all is well. Works very well so far, an elegant solution for switching toslink signals.

I also use a monoprice HDMI switch which splits out toslink so now I use the three inputs on the toslink Enko switch with one coming from the monoprice, one from the TV direct (2016 LG OLED) and one from my Roku 4 which I had to separately set apart from the monoprice HDMI switch to ensure I was able to use HDCP 2.2 for the handshake with the TV and watch 4k output.

Works all fantastic as far as I can tell.
You can buy a passive optical splitter for about £2 - £3 on eBay and use it "backwards" to combine your optical inputs.
http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/400957345815
It can be used to combine two optical inputs into one. Or you could buy 3 of these to get 4 optical inputs into one.
No extra remote and NO switching
There is a caveat:
Some devices will output a "silent" optical signal when not in use (you will see the red glow at the end of the optical cable) and if two (or more) digital optical signals are being fed into the splitter at the same time then it won't be able to be decoded at the receiver (in this case the Playbar).
I have just bought one to combine my PS4 and Mac mini 5.1 sound outputs to the Playbar. I have discovered that the PS4 does NOT output a "silent" optical signal when in "sleep/standby/power saving mode." And after a lot of reading on the Internet about macmini's continuously outputting a "Silent" optical signal; I have found that this is not 100% true. After you close down the Mac application (Plex, ITunes, BBC iplayer etc) then the Macmini will stop outputting the optical signal !
So for less than £3 per splitter you can combine two (or more) 5.1 sources directly to your sonos 5.1 system without the need for a switching device!
Hope this helps someone, I'd been looking for a solution without having to manually switch optical inputs for ages!
Cheers,
Pete


I've just done this as I thought it through logically and for a Toslink Fibre Audio this should work, only as long as everything meets the Caveat in terms of no other passive Audio Signal. The good thing is, there is no Switch either manual or remote required, as the Playbar will do all the work as long as there is only ever one signal input.

Simple, cheap and easy and in someways too easy and hence why some go for the all singing and dancing alternatives that are just not needed in many cases and circumstances.

ATB
Pete_17

Read this with interest. Need to connect a combination of Sky (UK) receiver, and Samsung TV (for apps such as Amazon/Netflix etc) to the Playbar. Will the cheap splitter work if connected to the Sky HD box and TV optical out? If that works ok, this is a no brainer for my simple set up.

Thanks.
loobar23

I can't answer for Pete obviously but only as in terms of what I've learned, and which I've added Apple TV 3 to my PS4 Optical Audio Inputs into my Playbar as my TV does not drive Optical out with HDMI into itself.

Why do you want to split your Audio Signals? If your TV delivers your Audio Out from a Toslink, why don't you just take that? You may not need to Optical Out from your Sky Box also, just your TV as a first port of call.

If you need both connected to your Playbar, there's a simple test you can do with a Toslink Fibre Audio to see if this works. When you connect a Fibre Cable from an Audio Out from a device which is On and delivering output, there should be light coming from the unconnected end of the Fibre Cable when the device is operating normally and outputting a signal. If you put a device in STBY or Sleep Mode, the light (red light or glow) should be extinguished. If when in Standby, Sleep (like my Apple TV and PS4) or Off there is no Red Light on the unconnected end, a simple Splitter will work fine.

You need to check from the Sky Box really.

But again, if you can just take the output from the TV, do it that way.

ATB
Sorry, I wasn't being clear. I plan to add a sub and one Play:1 (I already have one Play:1) and then have a clean 5.1 configuration. As per many of these threads - my TV has a limitation on pass through of externally connected HDMI devices optical wise (and I suspect ARC wise as well). As the output is only stereo I cannot take advantage of Dolby Digital from the Sky box, though I can from the apps on the TV like Netflix.

I don't think that this splitter will work if used in conjunction with the TV optical out, so a simple digital optical switch is needed. I think I have talked myself into it.....

Regards.
Hi loobar23, I had a simliar issue to you. My YouView digital box is connected to my Sony TV via HDMI, and even though I configured it (YouView to output (separately) HDMI and SPDIF surround sound, I wasn't getting surround sound via my two Play:1s. This is the kind of "downmixing" I've read about if you pass sound via HDMI though the telly (I'm a newbie as you can probably tell). So I've just bought myself a Fomson optical switch for £23 on Amazon and two extra optical SPDIF/Toslink cables. Now I've got TV and YouView box separately going into the optical switch via optical cable, with another optical cable connecting the switch itself to the Playbar. It works a treat. Now I've got surround sound on everything coming out of the Youview as well as from programmes coming from the Amazon Video app directly on the TV. ps: the switch comes with a remote control to toggle between the input devices. It comes with an infra red magic eye so you can hide the switch away.
Hi AlexW

Snap. I did the same and coincidentally have just set this up about an hour ago. Works perfectally. Unfortunately this is a slight ttade off as I used to have a full surround sound set up with AV receiver etc, but with little people tearing around the house I decided to start the process of downsizing my AV set up.

So far so good and sound wise I can't complain. Next question....do I buy the amp....?!