There are many reasons why people need to split the audio and video output from an HDMI connection. For instance, they might need to output HDMI from a camcorder that’s live-streaming over an HDMI projector. However, the projector’s speaker might be terrible, necessitating the use of an audio output but there’s only an HDMI output and cable available. They might also need a separate connection for a sound system while your HDTV merely serves as a monitor with the extra sound coming from its own speakers. There’s also the PS4 Slim dilemma and its lack of a non-HDMI port for RCA and component sound systems.
In such cases, a splitter is required to split the audio and video transmissions from the camcorder that’s otherwise combined in one cable via the HDMI format. However, if you already have amplified audio, an AV receiver or even a wireless HDMI kit might be worthwhile if only for the ease of hooking up other inputs into your sound system.
What You Need to Know
When it comes to how to split HDMI audio and video, an HDMI splitter normally gets the job done by default. You can also go wireless and get a receiver to transmit your HDMI signal across any HDMI display or sound system linked to it. However, be careful of the price!
- How About Going Wireless with a Transmitter and Receiver? Perhaps it’s possible to do things wirelessly. Hook up a wireless HDMI receiver to a speaker with an HDMI port and then put an HDMI transmitter on your HDMI source device. This should work in separating the output from video to an HDMI display and audio to a passive speaker. You can also just pass through the HDMI display and speaker by putting in multiple receivers over one transmitter, thus splitting the difference between the two output devices.
- HDMI Audio Extractors Also Exist: For about $40 or so you can buy various HDMI audio extractors that you can use in order to transmit the audio connection via HDMI, coaxial, and RCA audio cables. You can use legacy sound systems that still work or go digital sound if you like. An audio extractor is different from a splitter in that it’s more focused on sound extraction alone. A splitter is capable of doing the same thing as an audio extractor but it can additionally split transmission among HDMI cables to allow for multiple display systems, like having a dual to quad monitor setup.
- A Basic AV Receiver versus Splitters and Extractors: The problem with using a wireless receiver is that while it’s more convenient, you have to pay for that convenience heftily. More to the point, once you buy an amp, speaker, audio extractor, and HDMI splitter, you’ve pretty much hit the price of a basic AV receiver. It might actually be better to buy all those things and do the same thing as what you’re intending to do with the AV receiver. It’s a tug-of-war between convenience and affordability, such that if you don’t necessarily need to go wireless for your home theater needs, a cheaper wired solution that won’t break your budget will suffice.
- What’s The Difference Between an Extractor and Splitter? A splitter splits the transmission to allow for dual monitor or dual HDTV setups. The signal sent still contains both audio and video but the ones receiving it, like a sound system or a speakerless monitor, will only recognize and play the transmission it could use. In contrast, an HDMI extractor uses one HDMI input and one HDMI output in order to extract the sound signal only from the twin signals of a normal HDMI cable, allowing it to get sent to component or coaxial cables through its SPDIF audio output and RCA R/L stereo output.
- Similarities and Differences of The Extractor and Splitter: You can’t plug the TV into the HDMI input of an extractor because the HDMI ports of television don’t send out signals but only receives them. This is also the case with the splitter input since it’s supposed to only split the signal sent out by an HDMI source device to different output devices like display monitors and speaker systems. However, an extractor is cheaper than a splitter due to it allowing only audio extraction, such that you can’t use it for dual-monitor setups unless you want the second HDTV to act like a pictureless radio.
- What to Look for in an Extractor Splitter: Rather than buy a splitter and extractor separately, you can also get a device that doubles as both for all HDMI connections. This way, you can keep your budget as low as possible and deal with all issues related to making a simple device-to-display connection even more complicated than before. Some of these products even have additional perks or features work looking into, like RCA L/R stereo connections for legacy systems to full support of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and above (but those might cost a pretty penny too so watch out).
- The Split-and-Extract Solution: You want to search for an audio extractor splitter appliance capable of splitting 5.1 CH or 2 CH audio from HDMI source devices like the Sony PlayStation 3 and 4, Chromecast, a Blu-Ray Disc player, a DVD player, an Xbox 360 and Xbox One, a satellite or cable box, Fire TV, Apple TV, Nintendo Wii-U and Switch, and so forth. It’s your perfect high-fidelity audio-only solution if your receiver, soundbar, surround sound system lacks an HDMI output and your electronics only has an HDMI output and maybe an additional component output at best.
- The Limitations of a Typical Extractor: Although splitter-extractors are the most cost-effective choice on this list, it does come with certain limitations that may or may not affect your viewing pleasure depending on your circumstances and your sound system setup. For example, an affordable extractor will typically have limits like an inability to support Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus although it handles 5.1 CH Dolby Digital, DTS, and 2CH PCM just fine along with analog RCA L/R connections. It might also be unable to support the HDMI-ARC or Audio Return Channel. It prioritizes audio extraction over fidelity unless you can cough up extra cash for both.
- The Shortcomings of the Splitter: A cheap splitter might not work all that well in transmitting sound to a sound system or even a second monitor with a speaker due to HDCP. More to the point, if the system you’re splitting the HDMI transmission for isn’t HDCP-compliant, then the HDCP video might not play on that output at all, be it a video or audio display. An extractor is specifically made to bypass this anti-piracy safeguard. A splitter might, on the off-chance, activate the fallback mode with degraded resolution or sound on the non-HDCP or legacy system, but this isn’t a universal occurrence.
- How About an HDMI Converter? As for the HDMI converter, it’s practically the same as the HDMI audio extractor but this time around it’s more focused on converting the HDMI audio output into a different output, so you’ll be faced with more audio degradation for the sake of allowing your HDMI to play on an old-timey radio or a SCART television set from the 1980s. It’s also less focused on extracting audio than the HDMI-to-HDMI audio extractor that seeks to keep faith with the high-quality audio. However, many products take the terms extractor, converter, and splitter interchangeably even if they mean different things.
- How About an HDMI Adapter? The adapter is possibly the cheapest and simplest of all the audio-splitting formats out there but for this reason, it’s also the least likely to work. An adapter works just fine when connecting an HDMI connection to an Ethernet or DisplayPort 1.2 connection for extension purposes. These connections are practically the same, allowing for easy adaptation. You need an extractor or converter when handling non-HDMI or legacy sound systems that a simple adapter won’t be able to fix. This is especially true when they use optical cables with coaxial connectors or analog systems with RCA connectors.
- Getting Affordable AV Receivers via Craiglist: You can set your maximum price at $50 for a decent HDMI splitter when searching for one on Craiglist with the caveat that you get what you pay for and Craiglist isn’t as dependable as Amazon or even eBay when it comes to getting you quality products. In any sizeable market, you can get loads of hits. There are even some available at the giveaway section. However, Craiglist is basically an advertisement platform for users by users, so you’re essentially bargain shopping for a secondhand HDMI receiver with the hopes that it will last you a long enough time despite the discount.
Do you want to split the audio and video output of an HDMI device so that its video is displayed on one monitor while its audio is transmitted to an amp or sound system? The splitter is usually the way to go—specifically one that’s also an extractor—followed by using an AV receiver to allow for easier transmission without the use of splitters, adapters, extractors, and converters.
Both choices have their own respective pros and cons. Receivers or wireless setups are much more expensive. Splitters are more affordable and can solve most any audio-extracting problem but they’re not perfect either so choose wisely.