Latest in Ask

Image credit:

Ask Engadget HD: Using a HDTV to distribute audio

Ben Drawbaugh

Home theaters have almost always been a balance between usability and experience. On one had having surround sound while watching TV is much more enjoyable, but at the same time trying to explain to the significant other how to turn it all on can be a nightmare. And in the spirit of a solution, William writes in:

"I've been thinking that the next TV I bought would be the center of my system, with all of the HD inputs connected directly to my TV and the TV feeding digital sound to my multichannel Dolby Digital decoding amplifier. Then I noticed that the TVs SPDIF output doesn't work with HDMI inputs. This seems to me that it's negating the entire purpose of HDMI, using one simple cable. If I connect my DVD player to the TV using HDMI then I don't want to have to string a separate digital cable from my DVD player to my amplifier. I want to connect my TV to my amplifier once, and just use the power button and volume controls on the amp. Is this sort of thing common among TVs with digital sound outputs? Is it some copy restriction issue with the HDMI stuff that the digital sound can't then be shipped to a separate output?"

Unfortunately this is very common and we've heard the DRM excuse on this one a few times -- but who knows if it's true. The fact is that the receiver has been the junction point of the HT system for years, and even with HDMI it continues to be. The good news is that if you play your cards right you can still have one remote (non universal) that easily controls everything. The trick is buying equipment -- which might mean replacing what you already have -- that supports HDMI-CEC, and works well together. Using HDMI-CEC, the receiver's remote can send signals to the HDTV via HDMI to let it know when to turn off and on. Furthermore, you Blu-ray player can tell the receiver to change inputs when it is turned on, etc. The bad news is that although HDMI-CEC is a standard, most manufacturers only guarantee compatibility with their products.

Got a burning question that you'd love to toss out for Engadget HD (or its readers) to take a look at? Tired of Google's blank stares when you ask for real-world experiences? Hit us up at ask at engadgethd dawt com and keep an eye on this space -- your inquiry could be next.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr