HDMI audio extractors – any good?

  • Thread starter WaynePflughaupt
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WaynePflughaupt

WaynePflughaupt

Audioholic Samurai
Has anyone used any HDMI audio extractors like the one linked below? My main concern is that it does not degrade the picture quality. I am concerned about the low prices these things all have – this is most expensive one I’ve found. If someone has a higher-grade suggestion, I ‘m certainly open.


Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
MR.MAGOO

MR.MAGOO

Audioholic General
So you want to make bootleg movie soundtracks to sell on the street corner? LOL :p
 
S

SMc

Enthusiast
Has anyone used any HDMI audio extractors like the one linked below? My main concern is that it does not degrade the picture quality. I am concerned about the low prices these things all have – this is most expensive one I’ve found. If someone has a higher-grade suggestion, I ‘m certainly open.

I’d look at the Essence Evolve II-4K at $299. It’s a strange product category. Amazon recommends a $50 Tripp Lite but the apparently identical Amazon Basics is half the price. Go figure!

I tried the Monoprice Blackbird to replace switching functionality for an AVR whose HDMI had given up the ghost but I didn’t consider that the audio extracted depended on the HDMI endpoint. I could only get stereo from the optical output with the HDMI connected to my tv. Multichannel might be possible as advertised but I found a different solution.
 
Last edited:
WaynePflughaupt

WaynePflughaupt

Audioholic Samurai
I only need stereo audio for a secondary purpose, like a wireless headphone station etc. My main concern is that the video to the TV won’t be degraded by the device.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
S

SMc

Enthusiast
I only need stereo audio for a secondary purpose, like a wireless headphone station etc. My main concern is that the video to the TV won’t be degraded by the device.
I retrieved the Blackbird from storage and can confirm it extracted stereo without noticeable degradation to the video on my old 1080 Samsung. Your use might be more demanding! I would hope any device labeled 4K would serve.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
They work very well. Including the cheap ones. They do not have scalers or anything internal to manipulate the video or audio streams in any way. Most have a dip switch or dial to choose whether you want 5.1 audio for optical/coaxial output, or will have a stereo switch.

When you put these into 'STEREO', your source will see the sink device as a stereo only product. It will NOT transmit surround sound. These devices are not DSPs. They are not mixing from surround sound to stereo. They only accept PCM stereo audio to put out on the stereo connection on the unit. Stereo audio will still pass through the unit to the TV or whatever else is downstream on the HDMI, but stereo will be put out of the extractor as well.

I have switched to a system which performs a DSP downmix of surround sound to stereo, which is great in my setup, but not typical for most.

I have not seen any difference between the Crestron DA2 which is a top dollar HDMI splitter w/audio extractor and the units I've used from eBay.

I have never had a need to maintain surround sound and get stereo audio at the same time in any environment other than my home. So, my home gets the good stuff.
 
WaynePflughaupt

WaynePflughaupt

Audioholic Samurai
Thanks for the info everyone! Those Crestron units sell dirt cheap on ebay, I’ll go with that. I like the idea of something with a name brand.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
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BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
Thanks for the info everyone! Those Crestron units sell dirt cheap on ebay, I’ll go with that. I like the idea of something with a name brand.
Yes, Crestron gear that is decommissioned from commercial jobs is all over eBay and even current product from them can go for a very low price. I picked up a 16x16 HDMI matrix switcher from them for my video sourcing through my home and it works great. With their newest cards it can support full 18Gb/s HDMI, but I just use it for 1080p, which looks great. I use the cards with integrated DSP downmixing, which is really a cool feature. So, I retain my surround sound for my receiver, but have a stereo mix to feed to my headphones and other areas of my home.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
Do any of these work with DSD (2, or 5.1)?
Not that I'm aware of. Typically these units are extremely inexpensive and don't include any actual audio processing/conversion of any kind at all. They typically list that they will support PCM uncompressed stereo audio or some version of surround sound audio. The formats supported are often listed on the device.

I would aim very low with expectations of any format support for these devices. As cool as they are for certain products, they are also completely worthless for others. The lack of integrated DSP capabilities is a real bummer IMO.
 
M

MTVhike

Audioholic Intern
I don't think I'm trying to process the data, just convert it from one digital medium (HDMI) to another (Toslink or Spdif).
 
WaynePflughaupt

WaynePflughaupt

Audioholic Samurai
A belated follow up, it was a bust. The audio was extracted and the picture just fine, no issue there. But the extraction strips the HDMI output of 5.1, so all you get on the output is stereo. Reviewing @BMXTRIX’s post #6 I see he indeed did mentioned that, but it got past me. I guess I’ll have to upgrade to an AVR that converts HDMI to analog audio for secondary zones.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
M

MTVhike

Audioholic Intern
My conclusion from this discussion is that these devices which don't have a DAC, so the audio is remaining in the digital realm is essentially unchanged. Is that right? If I have such a device which DOES have a DAC, but I'm not using it, are the digital outputs unaffected by the presence of a DAC? It sounds like the Stereo/5.1 switch setting does affect the signal from the source. Is that right?
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
My conclusion from this discussion is that these devices which don't have a DAC, so the audio is remaining in the digital realm is essentially unchanged. Is that right? If I have such a device which DOES have a DAC, but I'm not using it, are the digital outputs unaffected by the presence of a DAC? It sounds like the Stereo/5.1 switch setting does affect the signal from the source. Is that right?
The audio coming over the HDMI cable can not be changed the the HDMI audio extractor. The only thing the HDMI audio extractor can do is tell the source to either use stereo audio or 5.1 surround sound through the switch which is on the audio extractor.

The stereo/5.1/passthru switch tells the SOURCE which audio format should be used. It does not actively change the incoming audio, but tells the source what audio to send out. If you set it to 5.1 audio, then you will get 5.1 audio into the extractor, then must use a optical cable to maintain that format.

I've used these many times in multiple setups without any issue at all. It is very important to get one with a switch on it though so it can send the proper request to the source device.
 
M

MTVhike

Audioholic Intern
I recently purchased an HDMI switch with audio extractor. I'm not sure that it's working properly, and the vendor is sending another one; the HDMI switch part and the DAC works, but neither of the digital audio outputs work - coaxial or optical. A "digital" shielded cable connects the coaxial output to the coaxial input of my AVR, but no output. If I run the coaxial cable to the output of my Sony Blu-ray player, it works. But the optical cable doesn't work for anything and I don't know what part is malfunctioning.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
What is the exact part you have?

The best way to check things is to ensure that you get good audio from your digital cables by connecting them directly to sources which have those audio outputs enabled as part of the device. Then you will go in with knowing that your current setup is ready for audio from a digital connection.
 
M

MTVhike

Audioholic Intern
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
It does look like you set it to 2 channel or 5.1 channel on the remote control. You definitely want to be sure you've selected 5.1 channel from the remote control so it knows to send surround sound.

The other thing is that you need to ensure your sources are setup to put out PCM audio (typically) and not bitstream audio. So, go into your product's settings and make sure it is set to PCM audio output over HDMI.

This MAY resolve your issue.
 
M

MTVhike

Audioholic Intern
BMXTRIX: You bring up another issue for which I haven't gotten an answer. I DO want to play DSD files (I guess those are bitstream). I know some (most?) DACs can't do DSD but I didn't get this for its DAC, but just to get optical and/or coaxial from my HDMI-connected devices.
 

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