I have a Playbar, and a Samsung TV that won't pass through 5.1 from its optical out if the input is HDMI. Our Motorola cable box is connected to our TV using HDMI, and I want to get the 5.1 when I watch TV.
I've looked through the questions and answers posted here and elsewhere, and it seems like some people have used an HDMI switch from Monoprice with an optical out to get around this problem. The suggestion is to connect the HDMI source to the HDMI switch, and the HDMI switch sends out the full 5.1 audio through the optical out and into the Playbar. (I'll call this the "HDMI switch" approach.)
The other approach is to connect the cable box's optical out directly to the Playbar. (I'll call this the "cable box direct" approach.) This works, but I don't like this approach because we leave our cable box on at all times, and when we turn off the TV, the Playbar still plays audio from the cable box, as the Playbar has no idea that the TV's been turned off. It's an inconvenience that I don't want to have to deal with.
Note that with either approach, there is no physical connection from the TV to the Playbar.
Having said all that, the main issue for me is that we use the TV's built-in Netflix and Amazon Video apps. If I went with the HDMI switch approach, then, when we watch Netflix, there will be no audio sent to the Playbar.
I looked into HDMI switches and ARC (using ARC to send the Netflix audio back to the HDMI switch, then out to the optical out), but this doesn't seem like it's been tested.
I also thought about using an optical out switch, where I could switch between optical out sources. However, to do this, I would have to get an HDMI switch with optical out, then connect that optical output into the optical out switch, then to the Playbar. That seems like a lot of work/money/effort.