The arrival of the home cinema system has brought with it the need for better quality sound systems. It also means that sometimes we might need some extras.
Some may want to put their home cinema audio through a separate sound system. If so, they will probably be wondering, what is an HDMI audio extractor? Well, it’s time to find out. But before we do, let’s make sure we understand what some of the terms mean.
What Is HDMI?
The letters HDMI stand for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It may be the most commonly used High Definition interface for the transmission of HD audio and video while only using one cable.
It is the favored cable for home entertainment enthusiasts. These days it has replaced the old analog cables, which needed separate video and audio cables.
It is a versatile cable and is used to connect up DVDs, TVs, and BluRay players. It will work with PlayStation and Xbox as well. You will even find it on Mac computers and other laptops, and in-car entertainment systems.
What is an HDMI Audio Extractor?
Having determined that we use HDMI to transmit audio and video through one cable, what does an HDMI Audio Extractor do?
As you might have guessed from the title, you use it to split the audio and video signals. It basically extracts and redirects your audio signal. This can be directed either to a digital or an analog source and allows you to play your audio using a separate device.
The HDMI Audio Extractor will allow you to seamlessly integrate your digital home theatre system and your home sound system together.
Why Do You Need One?
If you want to convert HDMI into analog or another format, you will need an extractor. HDMI transmits a digital signal. So, sending it to an analog system would not produce a usable signal. Therefore, whenever you want to convert an HDMI signal to audio-only, you will need an HDMI Audio Extractor.
Is The Sound Quality Affected?
There are some instances where the sound can be degraded, but they are most likely not caused by the extractor. Some things that can affect the quality of the audio are:
- Sample Rate.
- The HDMI version your devices support.
- Cable length.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of these scenarios; the most critical element is the sample rate…
The Effect Of The Sample Rate
The higher the sample rate, the better. If you have a lower sample rate, it can have two effects.
- The overall sound can be less defined.
- It might not reproduce some of the higher frequencies.
Since it was created, HDMI has used the same sample rate. However, its design does allow for sample rate specifications to vary according to the device.
Therefore, the rule of the weakest link will apply. Your sound quality will be controlled by the device with the least capability in the chain. This might, or it might not be the extractor. And it will depend to a great extent on which version of HDMI your devices support.
The Length of The Signal Path
Or, to put it another way, the length of your cable. This might seem irrelevant to some in our high-tech age, but it affects sound quality. Let’s take a brief look at why.
When two HDMI devices link up, they perform what is known as a “digital handshake.” Information is shared between the two participants. This will establish the connection parameters and capabilities. One of these parameters is the sample rate.
Time From Output to Input
Devices are designed to operate at a given sample rate. But the length of the cable linking them up can vary the output to the input travel time that is required.
Each device has an internal clock that will time the transfer rate. At the point of the “handshake,” they communicate, and a sample rate is determined. However, longer cables can mean a degraded signal which will mean a loss of sound quality.
There Doesn’t Need to Be A Loss In Quality
It is usually a practical exercise. If you only need four of five feet of cable for the connection, that is what you should use. If you use twenty feet, then you are creating problems for yourself, apart from the amount of cabling lying around.
It is not how close the devices are together but the amount of connection material (the cabling) involved. If you use the right amount of cable, then you should be able to enjoy some good quality sound.
Choosing Your Extractor
You will find that the latest audio extractors use HDMI 2.0. There are newer versions, of course, as there always are. As with all audio equipment, there are budget ranges, and some come with a heftier price. The cheaper models usually only give you stereo sound.
If you want an HDMI extractor for a 5.1 or 7.1 system, it is going to cost more. Plus, you will need some extra cabling to connect it all up. And when choosing your extractor, make sure you have a compatible output format.
Here are some examples of some great products that are currently available…
- HDMI 2.0 Audio Extractor
- J-Tech Digital 4K 60HZ HDMI Audio Extractor
- Monoprice Blackbird 4K HDMI Audio Extractor
Building a Sound System at Home?
We can help you find the components you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, the Best High End Home Theater Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best Subwoofers for Music, and the Best Ceiling Speakers For Dolby Atmos you can buy in 2021.
What Is An HDMI Audio Extractor? – Final Thoughts
You have just arrived back from purchasing the home cinema system of your dreams. It’s all there and plugged in, and away you go, settling down to watch a movie.
But somehow, the sound isn’t what you thought it might be. You are all looking at your home sound system and thinking it might be better hooked up to that. In most cases, you would be right. A quality HDMI Audio Extractor is what you will need to get the sound going. So get hold of one, do some simple wiring and enjoy the sound you deserve for your favorite movies.
Until next time, happy listening.