Recommend HDMI switch for my setup

  • 2 April 2017
  • 9 replies
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Planning to buy a Playbase and sub this week. Already have the 2 Play 1's. While I've done a search and realize there's plenty of suggestions for HDMI switches, I was hoping someone could review my setup and confirm an HDMI switch that would work for me.

I have a Samsung UN55D6050 TV from 2011. Unfortunately upon checking manual, it will not pass 5.1 from the HDMI inputs. The TV input will pass 5.1, however I don't use the built in Smart TV. I understand an HDMI switch can resolve this issue.

I have 5 devices I use with my TV:

1) Cable Box (HDMI)
2) Blu-Ray Player (HDMI)
3) AppleTV (HDMI)
4) Roku (HDMI)
5) Wii (Component)

I use a harmony remote to control all devices with one remote.

If I purchase an HDMI switch that supports ARC I should be good right? Will the audio from the Wii get passed via ARC to HDMI switch and out the Playbase as well? Or will I need an HDMI switch that also has component inputs?

And can someone recommend a few different options for these switches? I'd like to spend under $100 if at all possible. I see a lot of $200+ switches being recommended on other topics. Will a cheaper one be fine? I'd prefer to spend as little as possible on this purchase, but also want something reliable and painless so feel free to recommend more expensive options.

I'm also unsure if my blu-ray player (LG BD630) will do DTS to DD. I think most of my blu-ray collection has DD, but will my blu-ray player automatically know to output DD, or will it default to DTS? I don't want to be changing settings when starting a movie. If this is the case, will buying a blu-ray player such as the Samsung K8500 resolve this issue? It looks like it's one of the few players that do DTS to DD. While i have no use for a 4K blu-ray player now, I suppose if I replace my TV with a 4K UHD TV within the next year or so it may come in handy.

Any other thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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9 replies

Userlevel 2
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What you're looking for, which I think you already know, is an HDMI switch with an optical output and the ability to pass DD signals untouched from HDMI inputs out via optical. I had a fine experience with the Monoprice model #5557, which I think is around $40. There are probably newer versions from them that support 4K and whatnot, but I can't speak to their ability to pass through DD. Also, I don't believe it will do ARC. I'm sure you could find other switches that will, but from what I've read, that capability is very hit or miss, so you may want to find a solution for the Wii like an HDMI adapter or something.

There are some important nuances/limitations of this setup.

Dolby Digital Plus is the most common default codec these days for streaming services like Netflix. DD+ can't go over optical, so unless your device has the ability to "dumb it down" to regular DD, it will either downmix to stereo or you won't hear anything at all. Even if your device will transcode DD+ to DD, there's still a chance that it will only output that from its own optical output (assuming that it has one) and will still push DD+ via HDMI. Typically, from my experience, if a device has an optical output, it has the ability to do the transcoding. One nice thing about the harmony remote is that you could theoretically have the HDMI switch as the main hub and a secondary optical switch for any device that only outputs DD over optical and not have to worry about multiple input changes.
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Thanks for the Wii HDMI adapter idea. I didn't even know this existed. Here's a question though - if I get a 4 port HDMI switch and have 5 HDMI inputs, can I plug 1 HDMI input (e.g. the Wii) into one of the TV HDMI inputs instead of the switch if the HDMI switch supports ARC? Should I even bother with ARC? If I have a harmony remote, I imagine it doesn't really have as much value in my case.

Thanks for the info regarding DD+ too, I hadn't even thought of that. So for devices that still output DD+ over HDMI after DD+ to DD transcoding, I'll need an optical switch? I suppose that's why the Octavia switch is a popular choice among many SONOS users. Because it has the HDMI switching and optical switching all-in-one? Seems like a good product but meh, for $250, i'd almost rather invest that in a newer 4K TV that passes DD fine. I could go the separate HDMI and optical switch route and get something cheaper, but I'm also a little worries about simplicity. Once I get this all setup and program the harmony remote, I want this to be an effortless experience. Is this possible?

Do you happen to know if the 4th generation Apple TV will do DD+ to DD and push it over HDMI? I don't believe there's an optical output on it. How about the 3rd generation Roku?
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I'd be inclined to find a 5-port HDMI switch rather than running one source to the TV and relying on ARC. That said, I have no experience with ARC, so you may just want to do your research on what works.

You're understanding correctly on the DD+ to DD issue and the potential need for an optical switch. More complicated setup aside, it really shouldn't be any less user friendly given how seamlessly the Harmony works as long as you get an optical switch that is remote controlled (rather than auto-detection or manual). That said, if you have the latest ATV and a 3rd gen Roku (which I take to mean Roku 3), you don't have optical outputs to worry about anyway.

I know that the 3rd gen ATV (before it got taller) would output DD through both HDMI and optical and based on some limited research, it looks like the new one will too if you switch it from Auto to Dolby Surround audio. I also know that the Roku 3 would not. I believe some of the newer Rokus will transcode DD+ to DD (they specifically say that the Ultra does).

Not to sound like money is no issue, but I think you'd be better off getting the "right" sources that will output regular DD and/or upgrading your TV earlier than planned rather than spending a lot on a specialized switch or otherwise complicated setup just to end up not needing it when you do upgrade. ~$125 for the Roku Ultra which is a genuine upgrade in that it'll do 4K and HDR (even though you won't use that yet) seems to make more sense than $250 for the Octavia as a solution for issues that will probably go away as you upgrade.
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I'd be inclined to find a 5-port HDMI switch rather than running one source to the TV and relying on ARC. That said, I have no experience with ARC, so you may just want to do your research on what works.

You're understanding correctly on the DD+ to DD issue and the potential need for an optical switch. More complicated setup aside, it really shouldn't be any less user friendly given how seamlessly the Harmony works as long as you get an optical switch that is remote controlled (rather than auto-detection or manual). That said, if you have the latest ATV and a 3rd gen Roku (which I take to mean Roku 3), you don't have optical outputs to worry about anyway.

I know that the 3rd gen ATV (before it got taller) would output DD through both HDMI and optical and based on some limited research, it looks like the new one will too if you switch it from Auto to Dolby Surround audio. I also know that the Roku 3 would not. I believe some of the newer Rokus will transcode DD+ to DD (they specifically say that the Ultra does).

Not to sound like money is no issue, but I think you'd be better off getting the "right" sources that will output regular DD and/or upgrading your TV earlier than planned rather than spending a lot on a specialized switch or otherwise complicated setup just to end up not needing it when you do upgrade. ~$125 for the Roku Ultra which is a genuine upgrade in that it'll do 4K and HDR (even though you won't use that yet) seems to make more sense than $250 for the Octavia as a solution for issues that will probably go away as you upgrade.


Agreed. I'm looking at purchasing this HDMI switch: https://www.amazon.com/Switch-FosPower-Extractor-Converter-Optical/dp/B017MUWYLS/

It seems to meet all of my requirements.
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Hey Guys,

Im having a bit of trouble following.

I have
-samsung UE55ks7000
-play bar, sub and 2x play 1

Conected to the tv I have
-ps4
-virgin box

pictures show the box where I have all of my tv connections, there is a single cable running this box to the tv and at present I have a single optical running to my play bar.

Can someone please tell me if it is possible to use one of these ARC splitters and if so how. Ideally I just want to be able to turn my tv on and off and have it work not worry about what source I need for audio depending if I am watching netflix or amazon prime though the app on the tv, virgin box though the tv or ps4 though the tv.

Thank you in advance


Agreed. I'm looking at purchasing this HDMI switch: https://www.amazon.com/Switch-FosPower-Extractor-Converter-Optical/dp/B017MUWYLS/

It seems to meet all of my requirements.


I ended up picking up this switch, and hooked it into my tvs arc hdmi port, im using an old laptop with no opticial, and an xbox one hooked up to the switch, but am not having any luck getting 5.1, sound (the opticial out is hooked into the playbar from the switch). I have 2 play 3s, play bar and a sub hooked together to a samgsung tv (a model that doesnt pass 5.1 threw it.

I tried hooking the opticial cabe from the xbox one directly into the playbar, and poof, 5.1 so I know it can work that way, but I wanted the laptop to output in 5.1 so im hoping it can work via the switch. (I also have a chromecast id like to use with it as well)
Userlevel 3
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Agreed. I'm looking at purchasing this HDMI switch: https://www.amazon.com/Switch-FosPower-Extractor-Converter-Optical/dp/B017MUWYLS/

It seems to meet all of my requirements.


I ended up picking up this switch, and hooked it into my tvs arc hdmi port, im using an old laptop with no opticial, and an xbox one hooked up to the switch, but am not having any luck getting 5.1, sound (the opticial out is hooked into the playbar from the switch). I have 2 play 3s, play bar and a sub hooked together to a samgsung tv (a model that doesnt pass 5.1 threw it.

I tried hooking the opticial cabe from the xbox one directly into the playbar, and poof, 5.1 so I know it can work that way, but I wanted the laptop to output in 5.1 so im hoping it can work via the switch. (I also have a chromecast id like to use with it as well)


Sounds like the switch is your issue. I don't have that switch personally but after looking at the link and the remote, have you turned on the appropriate function? Looks like it'd be the 5.1 button and/or the SPDIF/LR button.
Userlevel 3
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Hey Guys,

Im having a bit of trouble following.

I have
-samsung UE55ks7000
-play bar, sub and 2x play 1

Conected to the tv I have
-ps4
-virgin box

pictures show the box where I have all of my tv connections, there is a single cable running this box to the tv and at present I have a single optical running to my play bar.

Can someone please tell me if it is possible to use one of these ARC splitters and if so how. Ideally I just want to be able to turn my tv on and off and have it work not worry about what source I need for audio depending if I am watching netflix or amazon prime though the app on the tv, virgin box though the tv or ps4 though the tv.

Thank you in advance



Is there an optical output from that Samsung splitter? I went with the Monoprice MD-415ARC found here https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005E2XLI2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Since I have 3 HDMI sources going into the HDMI splitter/audio extractor, I still wanted to be able to watch OTA TV in full 5.1. But since the Playbase only has 1 optical input, I purchased this optical switcher. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G188Z7A/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 And since I have everything controlled with a Harmony, just choosing the activity automatically selects the appropriate input on the HDMI splitter and the optical switch.
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having the optical come out of the samsung box will put us back to the problem of not being 5.1 as it will not output 5.1 over optical