Can I Connect HDMI and optical audio at the same time?
Modern A/V devices usually have one HDMI port that can support both audio and video, but what would you do if your sound system requires an Optical audio input?
This dilemma often occurs with people who have an older sound system model and a new A/V device or TV.
You may also experience this if you’re planning to use your optical sound system with new gaming consoles such as Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X.
Even though some A/V devices have both an HDMI and Optical audio inputs, it does not apply to all. And even if your device does have an HDMI port, it doesn’t instantly mean that you can use it for audio, especially if you’re using an old TV.
To learn more about HDMI and Optical audio and how you can use both at the same time, continue reading.
What is the difference between HDMI and Optical Audio?
When talking about the main function of both connections, their job is to transfer digital signals from point A to point B. The main difference between Optical audio and HDMI is that the latter supports audio and video, while the former can only carry audio.
Traditional HDMI cables use multiple small copper wires to transfer digital signals. On the other hand, Optical Audio uses fiber optic cables and laser lights to transmit digital audio signals.
In terms of audio quality, HDMI has the upper hand since it can support higher audio outputs over optical audio cables such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master audio. However, that doesn’t mean that Optical audio isn’t any good. It can still produce an excellent, reliable, and consistent sound.
Can you use both HDMI and Optical Audio?
The short answer is yes, but to use both, your equipment must be able to support the two. Take note, there has to be an HDMI port and an Optical audio input on your A/V device. When using optical and HDMI simultaneously, set it up properly so the HDMI will carry video signals, while the other carries the audio.
For example, if you want to connect your DVD player to your Optical audio sound system, all you have to do is plug in your speakers or soundbar to your player, and connect it to your TV.
Now, optical audio has been around since the 80s – this means that if you have an older sound system, chances are your sound system has an optical audio input instead of an HDMI. So how can you use it for an A/V player that only has HDMI and 3.5mm audio ports?
What if my A/V device doesn’t have an Optical Audio input?
For devices that only have an HDMI port, the best workaround is using HDMI Matrixes. An HDMI Matrix is a compact device that functions as a central distributor of audio and video signals.
One important thing for you to know before buying an HDMI Matrix is that not all Matrix have an Optical Audio input. Make sure you look for one that has an audio extraction feature so you could make good use of your optical sound system.
How to set up an HDMI Matrix
Setting up an HDMI Matrix is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is plug in all your devices. Your input devices could be your gaming console or your DVD player, and your output devices could be your TV or your monitor. Once that’s all set, all you have to do is plug in your optical sound system in its designated port and you’re good to go.
The last thing to remember when buying an HDMI Matrix is you should also consider the quality of your video outputs. For 4K TVs, your HDMI Matrix must support 4K quality as well. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use each at its fullest capacity.
To conclude, HDMI and Optical audio is possible as long as your A/V system and Sound system are compatible. And if they’re not, you can always resort to using an HDMI Matrix.
One good thing about using optical sound systems for your home is that, unlike HDMI cables, fiber optic wires won’t get affected by electromagnetic interference. If you’re wondering what that is, that’s the humming sound you hear when your HDMI cables come too close to a power cable. Plus, if you’re not that much of an audiophile, you won’t be hearing the difference between HDMI audio and Optical audio.
Once you’re ready to buy an HDMI Matrix, our shop has the best ones available in the market. Feel free to shop in our collection of HDMI Matrixes. For more good reads like this, you may also browse through our blogs and learn more about how HDMI devices work.