Home Theater Audio – What is ARC, HDCP, Toslink, SPDIF, Dolby Atmos?

Home Theater Audio – What is ARC, HDCP, Toslink, SPDIF, Dolby Atmos?


So a lot of people are confused lately about
home theater audio. So today I’m going to tell you everything
you need to know about home theater audio so stay tuned. So as TVs have gotten thinner and thinner
their sound has actually gotten worse over the years. So this has lead people to go out and buy
a soundbar or a home theater receiver for better sound. Now most people are generally happy with their
new speakers but there are several ways you can connect them so if you’re not using the
best connection method, then you might be missing out on better sound. So today I want to go over all of your different
options and show you the best way to connect everything. Now I’m going to try and make this video as
short as I can but there is a lot of information to cram into this video, even some that you
might not be aware of do do try to stay to the end if you can. So first I want to start with surround sound
formats and configurations. Now there a ton of different ways that you
can setup surround sound speakers but I’m going to go over just a few to give you an
idea. So a surround sound format is basically what
tells your sound bar or your home theater receiver exactly which sounds to send to certain
speakers. So there are two major companies that specialize
in surround sound formats. The first one is Dolby and the other one is
DTS. So on most blurays you’re usually going to
see 1 of 4 different formats. If it’s Dolby then it will either be Dolby
Atmos or Dolby TrueHD. If it’s DTS then you’ll see DTS-HD or DTSX. So when you go out to the store to purchase
a home theater receiver you’ll see numbers like 5.2, 7.2, 9.2 and so on and these numbers
basically refer to the number of speakers that the receiver supports. So the first number tells you how many full
range speakers it supports and the second number tells you how many subwoofer speakers
it supports. So a basic home theater surround sound setup
is going to be considered 5.1 and this is going to include a center channel, 2 main
speakers, 2 surround speakers, and a subwoofer. So since you have 5 full range speakers and
1 subwoofer, it’s known as 5.1. So when you see things like 7.2, 9.2, or higher,
they’re basically expanding that 5.1 to more speakers. So these additional speakers can be used for
a ton of different things. You can have height channels, wide channels,
or even ceiling speakers. So for example, with Dolby Atmos and DTS-X,
those formats actually use overhead speakers so you can have 2 or more overhead speakers
in that setup and that’s going to give you way more immersive sound with things like
raindrops and overhead helicopters flying and stuff like that. And they also make Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. Now these are basically going to use top-mounted
speakers that are going to reflect off the ceiling and bounce back towards the listening
position and that’s going to make it sound like you have ceiling speakers. Now it’s not going to sound as good as actual
in-ceiling speakers but it does work pretty well in some rooms. Now if you want Dolby Atmos and you don’t
want to do a full home theater setup they do have Dolby Atmos soundbars and these work
by also reflecting sound off the ceiling to make it sound like the sound is coming directly
from the ceiling. So now that you understand the formats let’s
go over the different types of connections. So analog stereo cables are the most common
type of connection you’ll find for connecting audio devices. This is going to include things like RCA cables
or 3.5mm cables and ton of other different types of connections. Now these cables work just fine for connecting
things like a phone, a CD player or a bluetooth adapter. However, they don’t actually provide the best
audio quality, especially for a home theater setup since they only support 2 channel audio. Now one way you can get true surround sound
from stereo cables is using what’s called a multi channel connection and some devices
like computers and bluray players actually do have multi channel outputs on them and
some audio receivers have multi channel inputs so these devices are going to have separate
inputs for subwoofer, center channel, surround speakers, and your main speakers and they’re
all separated so you actually do get true surround sound. So a step up from stereo cables is a digital
connection using coax which is basically just a simple RCA cable or it can use a fiber optic
cable known as TOSLINK. Now TOSLINK is a better alternative to coax
since it’s going to be immune to most interference since it’s using fiber optics to send the
signal. So unlike a stereo connection, an optical connection
can actually send true DTS or Dolby surround formats directly to your receiver or your
soundbar. However, they don’t support the newer audio
formats like Dolby True-HD, Dolby Atmos, or DTSX since those require an HDMI cable. So this brings us to HDMI which is one of
the most complex topics when it comes to home audio and unlike an optical connection an HDMI cable supports all of the latest surround sound formats. So this has forced home audio manufacturers
to put HDMI ports on receivers and even some soundbars but it has caused some issues because
of HDCP. So I just recently did a video explaining
HDCP and HDMI versions so go ahead and check that video out if you haven’t already because
it has a lot of useful information in it but what this means is if you have a 4K bluray
player connected to your sound bar or home theater receiver you may not be able to send
4K video if it doesn’t support the right version and you’d be forced to upgrade it in order
to get 4K video to your TV and this is because some 4K content is actually protected using HDCP 2.2 and if any of the devices that you’re connecting it to doesn’t support that version of HDCP you’re either going to get no video or you’ll be limited to 1080p. So for example, let’s say you have your 4K
TV connected to your soundbar through HDMI and you also have a 4K bluray player connected
to the soundbar as well. Even though your 4K bluray player and your
TV probably support HDCP 2.2 your soundbar might not support it and in this case you’ll
either get no video at all or you’ll be limited to 1080p video and it won’t be in 4K. And the same is true for a home theater receiver. If it doesn’t support the right version of
HDCP you’re not going to get 4K video. Now there are a couple of ways around this
situation. The first way is to just use an optical connection. So if you don’t care about transmitting the
new surround sound formats like Atmos or any of those, you can simply use an optical connection
between your TV and your sound bar or home theater receiver and it will send the sound
just fine and it won’t affect your 4K video at all. And another alternative is to use what’s called
ARC or Audio Return Channel. So ARC allows you not only to use an HDMI
cable to send audio and video to your TV, but it also allows your TV to send audio back
through the cable to your soundbar or receiver. So this means you wouldn’t have to use an
optical cable in order to get audio from your TV’s built in apps back to your sound bar
or receiver. Another cool thing is that it will also pass
the audio from the devices that are connected to your TV back to your sound bar as well. So in order for this to work you can use any
HDMI cable. You just need to make sure that both your
TV and your soundbar or receiver support ARC. Now I know ARC seems really awesome but there
are some drawbacks to it. One issue is that even though it’s using HDMI
most TV’s don’t actually send surround formats through ARC so you’re going to be limited
to 2 channel audio which definitely sucks. And even the TVs that do send DTS aren’t able
to send the newer format like Atmos or DTS-HD so in my opinion this actually defeats the
purpose of it in most cases. So if you have an older audio receiver and
you want to be able to get the latest formats like Dolby Atmos then you have 2 options. The first thing you can do is get an HDCP
2.2 HDMI splitter and this is going to allow you to use 1 HDMI cable to send 4K video to your TV and use the other cable to send audio to your receiver. The other option is to simply use devices
that have 2 HDMI outputs. So some bluray players have more than 1 output
for this specific reason. It’s going to allow you to use 1 port for
your TV and use the other port for your receiver. So in both of these situations you wouldn’t
be affected by HDCP and you’d be able to take full advantage of 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos. Alright guys I know that was a lot of information. Hopefully I covered any questions you may
have had. If I missed anything go ahead and post in
the comments section and I’ll respond to your questions and comments. Now I have had several people ask me how they can support the channel so I’ve actually started a Patreon page. So if you’re interested you
can use the link in the video description to make a pledge. and that goes towards helping
me make more reviews and tutorials so I do appreciate your support and I’ll see you guys
in the next video.

100 thoughts on “Home Theater Audio – What is ARC, HDCP, Toslink, SPDIF, Dolby Atmos?

  1. Love the way you present the information. Very knowledgeable and well spoken. Easy to understand. Thanks I did subscribe…

  2. Most Blu-ray players have internal format conversion, so they'll send LPCM to any receiver without much fuss and no loss to sound quality.

  3. We have a Samsung 4k UHD tv, the UNMU8000F to be exact…we bought a Bose 700 soundbar with the wireless 700 sub woofer & wireless speakers. We've had it hooked up since march 31 (after the nightmare cuz its all based on the Bose app🤦🏼‍♀️), but it worked GREAT till Fri july 12…all of a sudden the HDMI connection for the bose soundbar was GONE. Hadn't moved it or messed with it. Did have an issue with the TV magically turning back on at night after we'd turned it off. Every night. Called Samsung, they said turn off the Anynet+. Ray would fix that. Well also made it so the soundbar didn't work. So via remote they did a factory reset. But after resetting EVERYTHING back up, still no HDMI for the Bose. So they had me switch the hdmi on the One Connect that the tv has to another port. Not an ARC port. No sound switched back. Lastly changed plugs in the surge protector. TV off problems fixed-sound through the sound bar not. Called Bose. Ugh…. they had me turn off the CEC on the app, unplug HDMI connections, unplug tv & soundbar then set the remote for TV and plug HDMI connections then plug in the soundbar then TV. Nope didn't work. So go optical. Sounds like crap. Bluetooth & Alexa sound amazing still… didn't spend nearly $2000 for a bluetooth speaker & a crappy tv sound system. Called Best Buy, always get the protection plan on EVERYTHING purchased there. Guy was nice had me check the Anynet+ off then on & BOOM WE'VE GOT SOUND……till Saturday night when we're could actually sit back & watch TV(finished season 3 of Stranger Things). Back to the HDMI not being an option to listen through the Bose. 2 hours messing with it, unplugging plugging even got out one if the gold plated HDMI cords. NOTHING!!! Tension at an all time high till I called Best Buy explained it AGAIN but this time to the manager. She said it's not supposed to do that & optical loses so much of the sound, especially since we also have a XboxOne s & an ultra blue ray movie… plus Vudu with alot of ultra videos that we can finally watch… so she said it's not an item that can be repaired, but they'd exchange it! So we got the same dang one thinking the other was a dud… we should stop thinking. It took 25 min to update. Promising, the other one never did that ever. Hooked all the HDMI connections to where they were supposed to go(oh didn't use the one it came with…..is that bad?). Then hooked it up to wifi & all that. Then the magical moment of scrolling over to click on sound for HDMI (the ARC port)…. not there. Is there a setting I'm missing, a step I messed up. I'm norm6 the go to person in the family to hook people TVs, stereos, ect up… buy ours like lost it….& I'm LOSING IT!!! 3 SOLID(mostly) DAYS OF MESSING WITH THIS IS DRIVING ME NUTS! I've have visions of throwing our our second floor onto the concrete. The optical not only sucks, but can't use the tv remote, or the Xfinity remote…just that horrid Bose remote that has a LONG delay for everything but sound. I dont want/need 5 remotes laying all over!! I want 1, ok maybe 2-3 cuz of the firestick… got a harmony 665…it doesn't adjust the sound either!!! That's a long process on a computer to program…. for nothing. And it's still connected optically. HELP!!! WE WANT THE HDMI ARC BACK!!! I'm at the end of my rope… dont know how to do a private thing on here, so I won't post my email address… but seriously help…..

  4. So if i got old AV Receiver with HDMI and 4k TV got ARC HDMI will be better use regular HDMI connection instead ARC right?
    Also do i need Digital audio optical cable to connect receiver and TV? Why? I got it connected just by HDMI and have good sound.
    Or i missing something else?

  5. I have a Denon AV receiver that I purchased back in February 2019.  One day it works fine but the next day no audio.  A talk with Denon support yielded no help.  How can it just stop working>  I made no changes or even touched the wiring.  I've already had the ONKYO I used to use go out because the HDMI ports quit working.  Why don't things work any more?

  6. Thank you for the update. I got into 5.1 way back in the mid 90s when I bought one of the first affordable Pioneer AC-3 (Dolby Digital) receivers and a laserdisc player. Loved the sound. I was young and single so I went all out, bought 4 full range floor standing Cerwin Vega speakers and a big center channel speaker. I never got a subwoofer because I always wanted to get a 15" Velodyne, but never did. Had to give it all up in the recession when I moved out of the country to find work. I need to come back and get reestablished. I want that Atmos/ DTS-X sound!

  7. What if your receiver is so old that it doesn't have HDMI inputs? I have a Denon I got 12 yrs ago but haven't used much and would like to fin a way to hook Mr new Blue Ray player up to it, but the Blue Ray player only has one way to send the signal and that's via HDMI.

  8. I have optical out port in my Samsung TV. Can I connect the RCA cables from home theatre to RCA cable ports in TV?

  9. Hey dude. Awesome Video, but I do have some more questions.

    My Config:

    – TV: PHILIPS 55PUS6703/12 (HDMI 1: ARC but no 4K, HDMI 2 and 3: 4K but nor ARC)
    – Soundbar: LG SK9Y with Rear Speakers (1 x HDMI IN, 1 X HDMI OUT (ARC), 1 x TOSLINK)
    – AVR: Pioneer VSX-330

    Sources: PS4 (for 4k Playback with Dolby Atmos), Steam Link, Sat Receiver, Fire TV Stick

    For managing Inputs and Outputs and used devices I have a Logitech Harmony Hub with a Harmony 950.

    What do I want?

    Connect all sources to the TV and Soundbar and being able to manage everything with the Harmony. PS4 should be able to play 4K with Dolby Atmos. The other sources only support 1080p anyway.

    My Idea was to get a HDMI Switch which supports HDCP 2.2, HDR10, [email protected] and Dolby Atmos.

    So all 4 Sources connected to the switch, the output of the switch is connected to the input of the soundbar an the output of the soundbar is connected to the HDMI2 Port on the TV. Alle with HDMI Cables.

    WIll this configuration work?

    First I wanted to use the AVR as a "Switch" but it doesn't support Dolby Atmos and I was told that I shouldn't use an AVR and a Soundbar at the same time.

    Thanks for your answer in adavance.

  10. I only have a basic 5.1 system, and my TV only supports 30hz on it's HDMI ARC port anyway. So would it just be a better idea to stick with optical for me? Less fuss and not missing out on much?

  11. Can anyone tell me is the Yamaha 108 ok to buy. I want it for my 55 inch tv in the bedroom. I need something because the tv speakers are a no good

  12. Awsome video. I have a older marantz av receiver but its with no hdmi.. if I use optical out or in will that allow me to use surround on my av receiver my tv is a new Samsung 4k.

  13. how to test to see if it cable still works I was listing to the stereo thru cable/sat resource then 10 mins later got no sound but everything else works and the there is no sound on the sub

  14. Hi, I'm Tapan…my tcl tv having an spdif port looks like coaxial type and an old Iball 2.1 woofer (spdif not compatible) while connecting woofer to tv with rca cable, sounds dead low..lower..lowest..
    kindly guide me how to connect my woofer to spdif port of TCL tv for better sound quality !

    thank you,
    [email protected]

  15. It’s a nice video 👍
    I have a LG 4k tv(49UF77OT) and it’s connected to Sony BDV E 3100 home theatre. Tv has ARC option . When I usually watch movie by connecting usb on tv and sound through home theatre but there is a lag in video and sound.
    How can I fix this?
    Will toslink cable transfer 5.1 surround?
    Waiting for your reply

  16. Wouldn't your reciever do the same thing when in putting a xbox or a roku into your reciever & 1 output to your TV or projector while the reciever sends out sound through its auto source

  17. Im still confused about one thing. I have an older receiver and you said buying the hdcp hdmi splitter would give dolby atmos?, Or are you just talking about people who want 4k video without having to worry about if their receiver supports 4k and their receiver support dolby atmos and they dont want to use ARC?

  18. I am planning to buy a soundbar..I have a LG full HD led tv 43 inch ..which should I use to connect my soundbar to TV ..via optical or hdmi arc…if you tell me what will be the best according to my TV …. according to that I will purchase a soundbar….please tell me

  19. That was very informative and ty for this video. Question I have as a PC guy is how can we get audio leveling on our TV's, Xbox's and streaming devices that actually works like a computers graphics card and or sound card? I have a 4k samsung tv has it's version of audio leveling built in and it sucks, i stream from my Xbox One and it sucks lol ok to clear this up the audio leveling i am talking about is the sound difference between action scenes and vocals. Now on my Theater system off the TV or Xbox One my receiver is at about 64 on the volume and it's super hard to hear the vocals then car crashes and bullets come in and it's like a war zone in the room!!! When i use my pc to play movies not only do they look better the audio leveling option really freaking works!!!!! stereo at 50 vocals and action scenes are equal in sound! How can this be solved without using a computer? Most people probably didn't even know about this and how awesome windows is at EQ-ing sound.

  20. Very informative video. I sure didn't know there has been so much more types of SS added to home theater systems. I'm still on a 1080P system. All my equipment does both DTS and Dolby 5.1. I've never seen anything encoded in DTS. My receiver can decode Dolby 7.1 but I've never encountered anything encoded in 7.1 either. I'm not looking to got 4K anytime soon as long as my TV's are working just fine. Besides, there's not much 4K around, there are some streaming channels, my Roku Ultra can stream 4K but it also uses 4X the data. So I''l just stick with my 1080P and 5.1 SS. I do have optical connections at least.

  21. You something like SMART-BROTHER off the movie 'undercover brother' LOL!  Fantastic information and very well articulated!  Thank you as you introduced somethings to me which are very important, since I am about to upgrade my stereo and grab some Martin Logan speakers and now I know that I'm going to have to make that head unit right!

  22. Listen, I'm just looking at the screen in front of me so I don't need the sound to be coming at me from all directions.

  23. so arc is mainly if you want to use a device connected to your tv, and send sound back to your receiver. without having to use an optical cable, because hdmi supports all dolby formats. ok thank you, you really cleared this up for me.

  24. Yes the old toslink standard doesnt have enough bandwidth for the latest Dolby formats. You need HDMI ARC. Also one of the biggest pains is audio/video lip sync issues. Both the TV, reciever/sound bar and media players will have settings to adjust audio delay. Its gotten way more complicated in the last 5-10 years. I have to set it all up for my 62 year old mother. There was too much audio delay by default, I had to remove it all in the settings on both the TV and soundbar. And she dont even have 4k, good luck getting 4k HDR all working, usually a setting for that on every device that needs to be enabled.

  25. Hey guys I am having a huge challenge with my home theater Sony STR-ZA3000es. It is a 4K av receiver from 2015. It is currently giving me 4K in my desktop computer. But not on my ps4 or Xbox one x. Both show unsupported. Only showing full HD on 1080p. Some posts online show the av receiver is not HDR eventhou it has two Output ports HDCP 2.2. My computer on the other hand is showing UHD resolution. Some people online are saying HDR can be achieve with a firmware update but Sony never released anything. Not sure what to do here. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  26. This is the very first video I've seen from you. It was outstanding, to say the least. Very informative, at a not too fast, or too slow, pace. Thanks for taking the time to make this video. Subscribed.

  27. Can you please do a video on the best soundbar for the price. Also do a video on the best budget surround sound build .

  28. Serious question. If you connect soundbar to tv (with hdmi or optical) and you connect your blueray player to tv as well(instead of connecting blueray to soundbar as shown in video) would you stil have suround system and would picture be 4k?

  29. So Toslink doesnt support DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD to be played losslessly, but will it be able to compress it so that you still hear it trough that connection?

  30. Good video, I’m faced with my sound bar not having 4K pass through but has dolby atmos. I get 4K HDR but no atmos with my hdmi arc setup to my Apple 4K Tv. Do you have the link to the 4k splitter in your video?

  31. You have a teaching ability to take complex situations and make them EASIER TO UNDERSTAND & GRASP! I have the LG OLED 65" C9 and my soundbar soon to arrive is a LG 10YG – and with your explanations I will be able to and understand why how to connect the 4K disk player correctly… Bright young man YOU ARE! It has the ARC(s) the DTS-X and Dolby Atmos….

  32. Now i know why my 4k wont go through my Yamaha receiver. Even tho it says it has 4k? But when I'd run the HDMI cable straight to my tv i had 4k. But then no 7.1? Time for a new onkyo

  33. Hi i connected my jbl 2.1 soundbar and sony bravia tv.. soundbar display says hdmi arc connected and tv displays audio system active .. but no audio output. Can you help me out please. And thanks in advance

  34. Which avr is best yamaha 7.2,pioneer 9.2, onkyo 7.2. And i want to know about THX. Only onkyo is available it is best one can you please explain

  35. Nice video. I just bought a Samsung R450 2.1 soundbar and I have it hooked up to a Rogers nextbox via optical link. My Samsung NU8000 then connects to the soundbar via Bluetooth, so I can use the tv remote to control the soundbar. However, I'm having trouble getting good quality sound when watching content on the Rogers box when the soundbar is on the bluetooth input. If I change the input to D.in [optical link], then the sound drastically improves.

    Any ideas what might be going on?

  36. My 75” only got HDMI Arc output, which receiver should I use or what’s the best option to get best audio/video output. Plz advice. I am planning on getting a home theater but I have to start with receiver but don’t know which one. Plz advice

  37. My LG smart tv has a toslink port but My subwoofer has only has a 35mm aux cable. Are there any adapters that enable aux cables to connect to toslink tv ports?

  38. I started reading through the comments to see if my issue was addressed but couldnt find anything. My video and audio are distributed from the basement into my receiver then through a hdbaseT converter and to HDMI to my TV upstairs. I bought a sony zf9 and want the apps that I will use on the TV to go to my audio receiver in the basement then to receiver and back up to my speakers on the first floor. What devices will allow me to do this? will ARC work and if not is there a workaround?

  39. In the market for a 5.1 or 5.2 receiver & I found one online for a good price. & It shows to be dolby atmos but still shows to be 5.2, why not show it as 3.2.2?? Still a little confused.

  40. dobly is the thing funny coz is not about brands in full bobly effect its the frequency and the location of the speakers
    u can end up with almost three different dobly speakers from three brands and they aren't cheap sometimes even ya walls and ceiling matter
    one dobly speakers almost the same price of an av receivers

  41. Would you know if an old Bose 3.2.1 lifestyle system can be hooked up to a new Sony TV?
    I love the surround sound from the bose.

  42. I did this exact setup with my PS4 but the screen keeps blinking back and forth between a black screen and the PS4 display. Also when I DO see the PS4 display it looks lower quality than normal like a bunch of static pixels or something

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