HDMI Audio Extractors: Decoupling Sound from the Video Signal
What is an HDMI Audio Extractor?
An HDMI audio extractor is a device that splits the audio and video signals carried in an HDMI cable. It provides separate audio-only HDMI and RCA/3.5mm outputs from an HDMI source.
HDMI audio extractors allow you to connect the HDMI video to a TV while routing the sound separately to an audio system. This is useful in cases where the TV lacks analog or digital audio outputs.
Typical Uses for HDMI Audio Extractors
Common applications of HDMI audio extractors include:
- Connecting soundbar or speakers to a smart TV’s HDMI
- Extracting digital optical/coaxial audio from media streamers
- Adding HDMI to older receivers lacking ARC
- Enabling surround sound from TV apps and streaming
They provide a workaround for TVs that fail to output multichannel audio digitally from their built-in apps.
Key Features to Look For
When choosing an HDMI audio extractor, seek out models offering:
- Support for Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, etc
- 1080p or 4K HDMI passthrough
- Optical Toslink and RCA outputs
- HDMI looping for video output to TV
Advanced models even include coaxial digital audio output and 3.5mm analog connectivity.
How to Connect an HDMI Audio Extractor
Using an HDMI audio extractor is straightforward:
- Connect media device to extractor’s HDMI input
- Link extractor’s HDMI output to TV input
- Connect optical/RCA audio to your speakers
- Configure your TV to use external speakers
The video signal flows through while sound is copied to the separate outputs. Just be sure to enable external audio on your TV.
Considerations and Limitations
Things to keep in mind when using HDMI audio extractors:
- Only 2 channel PCM stereo from media players
- AC3 Dolby and DTS support only from built-in TV apps
- No Dolby Atmos passthrough support
- No volume control – must adjust on speakers
While convenient, extractors are limited compared to full home theater receivers. Evaluate your specific audio needs.
Alternatives to HDMI Audio Extractors
Other options besides extractors include:
- Using TV’s headphone jack output
- Selecting TV’s speakers and optical output
- Connecting devices directly to receiver
- Upgrading to a smart HDMI ARC compatible receiver
Factor in your source equipment capabilities, audio needs, and budget when weighing alternatives.
HDMI audio extractors provide a simple method for routing audio from modern TVs to external speakers. While not a perfect solution for all scenarios, they unlock audio capabilities otherwise inaccessible through a TV’s HDMI connection.