Recommendations on Optical Audio Switcher for Playbar?


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Someone recommended an automatic 2 input optical audio switcher in one of the original playbar threads. It was from monoprice and the link is dead, and a search on monoprice makes it look like it's discontinued with nothing else up in its place.

I'm buying a new TV soon but based on what research I've done, it's impossible to be certain any TV I buy will have proper 5.1 optical switching. 99% chance it will not have it in spite of what people casually report on the internet.

So, I'll need to buy an optical audio switcher. I need to route at least three inputs, ideally four to help future proof me. And it needs to support 5.1. It does me no good if it downgrades the signal to 2.x.

I'm also debating over whether I should just buy another A/V receiver. I sold my old A/V receiver with my old 5.1 speaker set when I bought my playbar. As ridiculous as it sounds (and actually is), my best bet may be to buy a cheap $100 to $200 A/V receiver and use that for all my audio routing to the Playbar.

Then when friends come over and marvel at the slim form factor and design of the Playbar, I can point out that they'll need a gigantic A/V receiver in order to get it working properly.

I would also consider an HDMI switcher that has the appropriate audio output that parses out the correct 5.1 audio signal.

Ideally, whatever I choose, it's automatic with a manual override. I like the idea that whichever of the 4 inputs are outputting a signal is the one that is live. With the ability to manually switch for diagnostic or special use circumstances.

If that Monoprice unit comes back, even though it's just a dual unit, maybe I can get away with running two of them, one into the other, to get the 3 inputs that I need.

Or maybe someone will report that Sonos has come out with an official list of TVs that support the Playbar's intended functionality that it was engineered around (re: sending 5.1 out of optical). I haven't been on the forums in a few months and a cursory skim through thread posts didn't reveal anything new, although it sounds like Sonos may release a DTS update through software based on some rumors I read on the forums so that's exciting.

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+1 for the Octava HD41 ARC HDMI switch. Works like a charm with my Playbar setup.
I can thoroughly recommend the Octava solution with the Sonos Playbar. Yes it is expensive and I did hesitate - having already returned a CYP product to Amazon. However it works perfectly giving me 5.1 sound from my Humax Sattelite box, my a Sony Blue Ray (no optical out), my Apple TV and my Panasonic TV.

Well done Octava - the perfect solution for all Sonos Playbar owners
Thanks BrentD. A couple of short follow up questions.

1. Out of curiosity how will I get sound form my smart tv apps (eg, Netflix)? My components (ie, DVD and verizon dvr cable box will hook into the Monoprice switch via hdmi. The switch will hook up to the sonos via optical. Finally, the switch will connect to the tv via hdmi. So how is the sonos going to get sound from my tv (I get it will work when I'm using the cable box, but let's say I am using one of the smart tv's native apps, like Netflix). Does it communicate via the same hdmi connection.

2. The Octavia is significantly more expensive. Is it worth it? I am in the same boat as many of you. I spent over 2k on the sonos soundbar, amp, and two rear speakers. I think it sounds good as is, but when I used Netflix off my smart tv, which transmits in 5.1, it was pretty sick. I'd like to get that from cable TV and bluray as well. Given 2k on a system already, if the Octavia in a better option I can live with the expense.

I am the type that likes to set it and forget it. Thanks for all your help. This is tricky for a novice.
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I'm quite happy with my Inline audio switch (4 SPDIF inputs and 2 outputs, of which one is used for the Playbar), but I am currently wondering if a full-fledged audio converter might be better. Most DTS material I have can be converted via Kodi, but the FireTV I use for streming regularly outputs Dolby Digital Plus and thus only downmixes it to stereo for the Playbar.

Does anyone know of a small AV receiver that can be used to downmix DTS, DD+ and other formats to pure DD for the Playbar? There's not much space in the AV rack and I do not really need the amplifier portion of the receiver, just the decoding capabilities.

Any ideas?


I've search extensively for something like this and am pretty certain it doesn't exist. I think you're largely out of luck with DTS and DD+ unless you have a streaming device or a TV that will automatically transcode to DD. In general, it seems like devices with an optical output are capable of doing that transcoding work, but those are getting harder and harder to find on the newer streaming boxes (the exception being the Roku 4). Would be interesting if somebody just took the cheapest TV that will pass through 5.1 AND do the transcoding and ripped the guts out to use it as an HDMI switch/audio converter, but I've never heard of anyone doing that and it may very well be a terrible idea.
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That’s smart.... at the end of the day, and to some guest, it’s doesn’t feel practical to have to always adjust the box to the corresponding unit.

It’s just seems like there should be a more convenient way. I tried a HDMI box which will convert to one toslink cable but some of the units weren’t giving full 5.1 surround. In order to achieve this, I have to get the toslink adapter and the above comments explain the rest.

Unless I’m missing something, this is the only way.

Thanks again.
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You may want to check this hdmi/optical switch. It has optical switching as well as being able to convert audio from HDMI to optical.

The Octava HD41 ARC HDMI switch supports 4 HDMI sources and converts the connected HDMI source audio to Optical Audio output. Built in EDID Management is configured with 2Ch PCM, DD5.1 ensuring that the connected sources can output DD5.1 audio when available even if your HDTV does not supported it.

Also included are 4 independent Optical inputs for those wishing to switching in only optical sources.
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I just ordered an optical splitter from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/C2G-27027-Toslink-Digital-Splitter/dp/B0002344GG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371685972&sr=8-1&keywords=optical+audio+splitter

From what it looks like, it allows you to take two optical inputs and have one output. The reviews are mixed between extremely happy 5-stars and extremely unhappy 1 stars because people bought them not understanding how they work.

Essentially, it's just mixing the two signals together. So it only works if your devices don't output a signal when they are off. Most cable boxes do output a signal when off so they can't be used with this.

However, if you have a PS3 and Xbox 360 like I do, then you should be able to run the optical cables from both into here, and come up with a single output. I have verified that neither the PS3 nor the Xbox will output a signal when off.

This seems like a fantastic device because it requires no power, is cheap, and is small. It is essentially an "automatic switcher" because it only outputs whatever signal you run through it. Assuming you don't run both your PS3 and Xbox at the same time (which I never have), it won't be an issue.

I still have a problem of another device to figure out how to work into my Playbar, but this will work to reduce the necessary optical switcher ports by one. So I have 3 devices but only need a 2-port optical switcher because one of those ports will be this splitter that is both XBox and PS3.

I'm eyeballing the $80ish dollar Gefen splitter because they make really top quality products, but it doesn't have any IR remote option. In theory, I could just leave it set to my main TV device (a home theater PC) and when I want to play a video game I'll manually click the switch on the Gefen unit because I have to get up to pick up the controller or insert a blu ray into the PS3 to watch anyway. It feels pretty lame to need to do this because Sonos dropped the ball and invented a product with which there's no compatible TVs available. But such is life and the benefits of Sonos currently outweigh the need for this workaround by a slight margin.

One idea I have is that the Gefen switch requires a 5V power source and I might be able to rig a USB power cable such that I can power the switch off my Home Theater PC and thus avoid needing to use another AC power slot for it.
I have the one referred to by jbach in the post above and it works really well.

I was also considering whether to keep my receiver to do all the switching but thought this rather defeated the object of de-cluttering my living room.

The reason for purchasing this one over any other was that I have one HDMI lead routed to my TV though a partition wall and did not want to run three further cables and switch inputs on the TV.

I think the solution works far better where the TV is left on the same input and you switch with the box. The TV remote is redundant and the Sky HD remote controls volume and channels. All I have to do is remember to turn the TV on before I sit down and I am sorted for the evening!

I have four HDMI's and Four optical (Sky HD, Apple TV, Blu Ray, Popcorn Hour) cables running into the switch and one HDMI output to the TV and one Optical to the Playbar.

It switches automatically with most sources and you can turn the illuminations off on the front panel. For sources that do not auto select it has a little remote.

The downside.... It costs nearly £250 and to my mind is a little flimsy.
Thanks for posting this. I just ordered the HD41 ARC HDMI switch because it's exactly what I need.

I checked out some other products at the octavainc website which appear to be of really good quality.
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Depending on your budget, you might wanna look at Sony TVs; recently purchased one and it is passthrough (W900A). The way I thought was I was getting an extra $100 to invest in the TV because I wouldn't have to do it in a switch afterwards...
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i ordered this and it works perfectly -
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003L14WB8/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

i have two play 1 surrounds and the sub and it sounds amazing.
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I use this switch:

http://www.shinybowusa.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=50_61&products_id=164

Easy to find it for $225 on ebay

Professional feel / look and excellent performance
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I just ordered an optical splitter from Amazon. From what it looks like, it allows you to take two optical inputs and have one output. The reviews are ......

I completely agree with you and I am planning to buy this same device. However I have one concern. This is a cheap device and do you think that it might reduce the quality of the signal coming to it? I mean 2 signals come in, one come out. The device is not digital... I'm no engineer but wanted to ask if you know anything.
Thanks...
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I have a Monoprice switch w 4 hdmi in and one hdmi out/toslink out. It definitely does the trick for 1/3 the price and allow me to hear 5.1 sound. However every time I turn the TV off it power cycles and subsequently needs to be reset by hand before it will pass audio. Does this happen w the Octava?
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I have a Monoprice switch w 4 hdmi in and one hdmi out/toslink out. It definitely does the trick for 1/3 the price and allow me to hear 5.1 sound. However every time I turn the TV off it power cycles and subsequently needs to be reset by hand before it will pass audio. Does this happen w the Octava?

I read some reviews on Amazon that if you had a TV that could only handle 2 channels it will not output say a BD player in 5.1. But it worked straight out the box for you? Some people also said there was a button in the back that would allow it to work.
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I read some reviews on Amazon that if you had a TV that could only handle 2 channels it will not output say a BD player in 5.1. But it worked straight out the box for you? Some people also said there was a button in the back that would allow it to work.

I'm not completely clear on your question, but if you're using the Monoprice HDMI switcher, the optical cable comes from the switcher directly to the Playbar, so whatever your tv will or will not do isn't a factor.
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I have a Monoprice switch w 4 hdmi in and one hdmi out/toslink out. It definitely does the trick for 1/3 the price and allow me to hear 5.1 sound. However every time I turn the TV off it power cycles and subsequently needs to be reset by hand before it will pass audio. Does this happen w the Octava?
Your TV is sending the unit an HDMI CEC signal. This is the same type of signal that will turn your Bluray or other player off when you turn the TV off as well. You can usually turn this function off in your TV's settings and it shouldn't be a problem after that. Or if you have a Logitech Harmony or similar remote you can just tell it to turn the switcher off and on at the start and end of any activity you have programmed. This functionality may have a different name depending on what brand your TV. Like Panasonic calls it Viera Tools or something similar, Samsung calls it Anynet+....etc etc
Somewhat of a novice and trying to sort through all this. I get that I can't get true surround sound from my cable box and bluray, which are connected via hdmi to my tv. I use both these components plus the apps on my smart TV (eg, Netflix).

Will either of the solutions being discussed allow me to get get surround sound from my components (cable box, bluray), as well as from my tv.

Note that I currently just have the optical connecting the tv to the sound bar, so now I'm only getting true surround sound from my smart tv apps.

Appreciate the help.
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Somewhat of a novice and trying to sort through all this. I get that I can't get true surround sound from my cable box and bluray, which are connected via hdmi to my tv. I use both these components plus the apps on my smart TV (eg, Netflix).

Will either of the solutions being discussed allow me to get get surround sound from my components (cable box, bluray), as well as from my tv.

Note that I currently just have the optical connecting the tv to the sound bar, so now I'm only getting true surround sound from my smart tv apps.

Appreciate the help.

Yes. The Monoprice switch discussed will do the trick. One hdmi cable from the switch to your TV will provide the picture. Connect all your components to the switch and an optical cable from switch to Playbar for the audio. Turn off audio from your TV speakers once you do this.
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Thanks BrentD. A couple of short follow up questions.

1. Out of curiosity how will I get sound form my smart tv apps (eg, Netflix)? My components (ie, DVD and verizon dvr cable box will hook into the Monoprice switch via hdmi. The switch will hook up to the sonos via optical. Finally, the switch will connect to the tv via hdmi. So how is the sonos going to get sound from my tv (I get it will work when I'm using the cable box, but let's say I am using one of the smart tv's native apps, like Netflix). Does it communicate via the same hdmi connection.

2. The Octavia is significantly more expensive. Is it worth it? I am in the same boat as many of you. I spent over 2k on the sonos soundbar, amp, and two rear speakers. I think it sounds good as is, but when I used Netflix off my smart tv, which transmits in 5.1, it was pretty sick. I'd like to get that from cable TV and bluray as well. Given 2k on a system already, if the Octavia in a better option I can live with the expense.

I am the type that likes to set it and forget it. Thanks for all your help. This is tricky for a novice.

I honestly don't know the answer re:your smart TV apps. I don't believe your TV would be sending out audio via the HDMI input. For my purposes, the Monoprice switch I have is perfect for my needs and spending more on the Octava would be of no benefit to me. However, in your situation you may be able to make use of it for your smart TV apps by sending the optical out of your TV to one of the optical inputs on the Octava switch and using that input for your tv apps. Though, that is only if you have confirmed via the Sonos app that you have actually been getting 5.1 from your optical out when using the Netflix app on your TV. Most modern bluray players also have many of the same apps as your smart tv, though, so it may not even be necessary to use the ones from your TV.
Guys, I'm sorry to bother you but does SPDIF/TosLink switcher reduces the sound quality. How can I test that connecting three in one I can still get 5.1 home cinema sound?
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I bought this one
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BB0GY1C?keywords=ViewHD%20SPDIF%20%2F%20TOSLINK%20%2F%20Optical%20Audio%204x2%20Matrix%20Switch%20with%20Remote%20Control%20%7C%20VHD-SM4X2&qid=1444814492&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Very happy about the quality, Yes, 5.1 Dolby Digital works, and I have the flexibility 4x2 . My TV - satellite Box - Apple TV goes to this device and the output goes to the playbar. I basically left HDMI to connect apple TV and Satellite to the TV .

Caveats : manual switch only, and next gen Apple TV not having an optical out : When I'll buy the new apple TV I wll have to change to a hdmi-optical switch !!
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I'm quite happy with my Inline audio switch (4 SPDIF inputs and 2 outputs, of which one is used for the Playbar), but I am currently wondering if a full-fledged audio converter might be better. Most DTS material I have can be converted via Kodi, but the FireTV I use for streming regularly outputs Dolby Digital Plus and thus only downmixes it to stereo for the Playbar.

Does anyone know of a small AV receiver that can be used to downmix DTS, DD+ and other formats to pure DD for the Playbar? There's not much space in the AV rack and I do not really need the amplifier portion of the receiver, just the decoding capabilities.

Any ideas?
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I've search extensively for something like this and am pretty certain it doesn't exist. I think you're largely out of luck with DTS and DD+ unless you have a streaming device or a TV that will automatically transcode to DD.

Thanks for the (albeit negative) answer! I do have a streaming device that transcodes (FireTV w/ Kodi), but this does not work for Netflix/Watchever/Amazon Prime on the FireTV. My TV does pass some DD through, but sadly not all of it (I guess it signals that it can handle DD+ & DTS and also tries to pass this through as well, the Playbar only receives static).:(
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I might start a new thread, but I'll be purchasing the new 2015 Apple TV, that as many of us know, is losing the optical out option, and we'll have to find an hdmi to Toslink Optical switch of some kind to connect to the Playbar. My criteria has been keeping it as simple and inconspicuous as possible, but in the interest of trying out the new technology, I'm already exploring what my options are to connect my Apple TV content to my Playbar and surround setup.

I won't need a bunch of connections, just the minimalist connector to tie up the new Apple TV with hdmi output only, the TV's hdmi input connection, and the Playbar's Toslink connection. I think, if I get the nomenclature correctly, that's a splitter that will take the one hdmi feed from the Apple TV to yield one hdmi connection to the TV, and one Toslink connection to the Playbar. Ideally the splitter would sleep whenever the rest of the gear sleeps and not be an energy vampire when the TV is off.

Sonos customer support, I hope you are anticipating this question when the new Apple TV's go on sale October 26th!