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FAQ - HDMI Comments/Issues

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Slightly Revised 2020.12.10

This HDMI FAQ discusses the issues, pluses, minuses of HDMI connections

HDMI Comments:

1. Although HDMI carries video and audio, be careful when purchasing an A/V Receiver. Some AVRs only switch the audio and don't actually process it. This necessitates a separate digital audio connection to the AVR. Even when an AVR handles the HDMI audio, the audio signal no longer passes through to the TV (most AVRs) - sometimes people wish to listen to the TV speakers instead of turning on the AVR - something to be aware of. Some AVRs handle audio via HDMI, however, they don't handle HD Audio! (An analogue audio connection from the device to the TV may allow for use of the TV speakers depending on TV capabilities)

2. Be aware that HDMI should not be considered a superior connection to component video in terms of picture quality. Properly optimized inputs on a TV will usually look the same when using HDMI or CV for equivalent video formats. Obviously HDMI is required for certain functionality like 4K, ARC, HD audio, etc.

See: HDMI vs. Component - What's The Difference? | Tom's Guide
(Thanks to Caatnap for the original link and to gi32tgilkg for finding the new one)

Optimization: FAQ - What You Need To Do To Your New HDTV - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

The above is not true for upconverting DVD players as these require an HDMI connection for the upconversion to function, however, they usually don't have many issues. This is a player limitation, not a cable limitation.

3. You do not need to purchase an expensive HDMI cable. You can typically purchase an HDMI cable for about $20 from a computer store, or even less online. If your application is 15' or longer, then a heavier duty cable is usually required (22 ga), however, these can still be purchased for under $30 and a $100-300 cable is simply not required. If you have signal problems, especially if using a switch, going through an AVR or longer cables, a thicker gauge cable may solve the problem, or you may need a repeater. For 25' or longer connections, RedMere cables seem to work well.

Note that expensive doesn't necessarily mean "good". Get the cable with the correct specifications for the job - example 4K, HDMI 2.2, "high speed" etc. as required. Most (6' and shorter) cables can be purchased for under $10 online.

4. Since HDMI is "two way", this connection can be used to communicate between devices to have one device turn another on, or tune to that input, or even control another device. This can be useful for example if you turn on your DVD player and wish the TV to tune to that input automatically. The problem is that I may not want to tune to that input at that time, simply insert or remove a DVD, or perhaps listen to a CD.

Therefore you need to go into the user menus for both devices to turn this "HDMI-CEC" feature off, if desired, otherwise you may have devices turning each other on/off (or switching inputs, or setting formats, etc.) when you don't want them to. This is especially true when using programmable remotes like the Harmony where you would have the remote "fighting" with the devices, instead of controlling the devices.

This HDMI-CEC feature can even cause issues that stop other devices from booting/starting/handshaking properly. Unless you feel you need it and unless you don't have problems, turn it off.

If you're trying to make ARC (audio return channel) work, then the HDMI link feature has to be turned on, on both devices and both devices have to have the ARC option. You also may need to use specific HDMI ports.

It may also need to be on for AVR Standby Passthrough, but this will use more power in the AVR when it's in standby. Also, sometimes the sending device (say a BD player) may not send the correct audio to the AVR due to a "handshake" with the TV instead of with the AVR.

The "handshake" may also override any settings that you may invoke in the devices, so that despite your best efforts, a certain audio signal may be sent instead of the signal you wish to send.

Some devices do not have a menu for HDMI-CEC settings (many provider STBs), but the feature may still be "active", therefore you need to turn the feature off in the other devices (usually the TV and/or AVR's user menus)

Some devices may cause problems with other devices hooked up to an HDMI-CEC TV/AVR due to improperly written firmware, etc. Makes sure all your devices have the latest firmware

Certain inputs on TVs or AVRs may have different features associated with them. In order to have these function properly (ARC, 4K, etc), you need to use the correct input/output.

Possible Manufacturer Trade Names for HDMI-CEC below (Including AVRs, BD Players, etc):

AOC - E-link
Hitachi - HDMI-CEC
Insignia - InLink
Kodi - LibCEC
LG - SimpLink
Mitsubishi - NetCommand for HDMI
Onkyo - RIHD (Remote Interactive over HDMI)
Panasonic - VIERA Link or HDAVI Control or EZ-Sync
Philips - EasyLink
Pioneer - Kuro Link
Runco International - RuncoLink
Samsung - Anynet+
Sharp - Aquos Link
Sony - BRAVIA Link or BRAVIA Sync
Toshiba - Regza Link or CE-Link
Vizio - CEC
Other Devices/Names - HDMI Control, HDMI-CEC, CEC-Link

HDMI Pluses

A. Single cable from device to device instead of several cables.

B. Most Upconverting DVD players only upconvert via the HDMI connection. Also, HD-DVD/BD players only upconvert from SD-DVDs via HDMI.

C. HDMI connected directly to the AVR must be utilized for the HD audio formats like Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD-MA. (unless you have a BD player with Multi-Channel analogue audio outputs and an AVR with MC analogue audio inputs - pretty rare these days)

HDMI Minuses:

21. There are a huge number of handshake issues with HDMI/HDCP. The issues relate to the firmware versions of the various devices, which sometimes don't shake hands properly. The affected devices include:

  • HDTVs
  • STBs
  • AVRs
  • HDMI switches
  • Upconverting DVD players
  • HTPC
  • Etc. (basically anything with HDMI inputs or outputs)
  • Pace HDMI connections have been especially problematical with green lines, handshake issues, etc.

It is often extremely difficult to troubleshoot these issues since the HDTV supplier will blame the STB supplier, will blame the AVR supplier, etc. etc. Make sure all your equipment has the latest firmware (and/or drivers (PC)).

The handshake also takes some time, so don't expect everything to work instantaneously. Several seconds (5-20) may be required before the handshake is complete and everything functions properly.

22. The HDMI connector is not well designed and has no securing/latching mechanism, therefore, there are often handshake issues simply due to a poor connection. Sometimes the cable falls right out - especially with heavier cables. Some HDMI ports have actually been broken due to heavy cables, or cables bent at an angle due to inappropriate installation, like pushing a component back into an enclosure, bending the cable. To "lock" the cable to the device, search the internet for "Universal HDMI Locking Adapter". Here's a sample:

HDMI Cable Universal Locking Adapter by hd EZ lock for Loose HDMI

23. Some HDTVs do not accept 480i signals via HDMI or sometimes there are issues when 480i is used - a problem when setting up some STBs - use 480P on STBs that have a separate setting for the SD signals, or use component video cables, or set the STB to output 1080i only for example.

24. On some TVs, various user setup options may be greyed out when using an HDMI connection - Hue, colour, black levels, sharpness, etc. This is not usually the case with Component Video connections.

25. If you're using HDMI cables to connect a device like a STB or DVD player to the TV, the firmware sometimes restricts DD5.1 to the coaxial or the optical audio out.

26. Sometimes if you have an HDMI connection to the TV (for video), but use a digital connection to an AVR for audio and select Dolby Digital in the setup of the sending device, some TVs will state "HDMI audio not supported" or something similar on the screen because you're not sending the audio to the TV and don't care. This message may be repeated whenever you tune to that input.

27. Sometimes there are simply other issues that crop up inexplicably - lines on the screen, grey/black/snow on screen after a channel/format change, audio dropouts/pops, image shift, weird colour, lack of colour, restrictions on recording to DVD recorder, messages on screen about HDCP, CV connections, etc.

If you have snow on the screen or flicker, try setting your STB or device to 1080i Fixed only and not Auto, Auto-HDMI, etc. (or 1080P if that's an option)

28. Sometimes, especially with some older (or less expensive) TVs/equipment, you need to power up devices in a certain sequence. For example, it's usually best to power up the TV first, then a STB to ensure a good handshake. If you have an AVR, you may need to turn it on first. Some Pioneer AVRs seem to require being turned on first... Same for computers.

In addition, if you're using a programmable remote (like Harmony) to turn on all your devices, you may need to increase the (delay) time between turning on your devices to ensure a proper handshake.

29. Now that there are many people using upconverting DVD or BD players, many HDTVs cannot properly stretch 720P/1080i signals, so the TV uses the "full" mode. This mode is usually correct for anamorphic DVDs, however, it is not for non-anamorphic DVDs, therefore you will need to feed the TV a 480i/p signal to allow you to "zoom" these DVDs. Many upconverting DVD players have a user selection for "4:3 DVDs" which you may also use to properly view Widescreen (non-anamorphic) DVDs, however, that setting may not be correct for your regular 4:3 DVDs from TV programmes say.

30. Some HDTVs do not do closed captioning on HDMI inputs, even if the signal is 480i. (HDTVs only CC 480i signals via the inputs.) The sending device must perform the CC (which it typically can do)

31. If you turn off the TV, or if the TV is not on at the start, this sometimes stops audio (or other video) outputs on the STB or DVD player, so you can't listen to the music channels that are available on most service providers (or say CD audio on a DVD player).

In a related issue, if people try to use a STB designed for use with one TV, but try to rig it to work with 2, then (other) outputs can be compromized when using HDMI.

32. Recent firmware updates with some service providers have created issues in the STBs, so that they no longer function as the owner wishes - often overriding previous settings such as the desired output format, etc. The firmware updates have also caused issues going "through" AVRs since the firmware doesn't properly recognize the "repeater" functionality of the AVR.

33. If you have "sparklies" on the screen you have a poor connection or cable. Use a shorter cable or one with thicker gauge, or a repeater if the cable is long (longer than 25' often requires a repeater, or cables with RedMere technology).

34. If using a PC via HDMI, you may need to turn on the TV/AVR first, then boot the PC. Also, if you lose synch due to changing the inputs, etc, you may need to reboot the PC, after turning on the TV/AVR. Update all components with the most recent firmware and it may help.

DVI is even be worse for issues. Also some DVI inputs are not HDCP compliant.

Please PM 57 if you have suggestions for this FAQ
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Here's a link for "Things to check".
The following information is courtesy of MacTVJunkie:

When an HDMI connection is being established, in addition to the HDCP handshake, there is an EDID message (Extended Display Information Data) returned by all devices downstream of the source device. This message is essentially a declaration of capabilities by the device sending the message. It tells the receiving device what codecs (both audio and video) are supported.

So if you have a setup where a settop or blu-ray player is connected to an AV Receiver via HDMI and the AV Receiver is connected to an LCD panel via HDMI, then an EDID message is sent from the LCD panel to the AV Receiver and another EDID message is sent by the AV Receiver to the settop.

If the AV Receiver has it's HDMI output port configured for "Passthrough" or a similar nomenclature, then the AV Receiver will send the TV's EDID information instead of it's own. Thus, even though the receiver can do DTS 7.1/DD 7.1, the settop is told that the best audio that can be processed is DD 2.0 or PCM stereo (because that's what the TV can do). This is one of the most common reasons for getting the wrong (or no) audio from your player/settop when sending audio via HDMI.
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