HDMI switcher: How they work and when to use HDMI switches

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HDMI switch Front and back

An HDMI switcher is a tool for controlling multiple devices on displays with only one HDMI input. While they don’t offer the same sound conditioning as an AV receiver. When combined with a power amplifier, the HDMI switch offers the same basic functionality as an AV receiver.

However, this configuration is not an ideal replacement for an A / V receiver. You won’t get the same sound conditioning from your display device’s internal preamp that you would get in the pre-amp stage of an A / V receiver. And you won’t be able to take advantage of consumer electronic control (CEC), which allows you to control all of your devices from a single source. remote control.

How does the HDMI switcher work?

An HDMI switcher allows you to route two or more HDMI source channels to one channel. An HDMI switcher is an easy way to increase the number of inputs a device (usually a TV) can accept. Your TV is set to a single input source and you are using the HDMI switch to replace the input selector on your TV.

An HDMI cable has 19 pairs of wires that end with 19 pins on an HDMI plug. Each of these contacts conveys different information, not only about the picture and sound. But also about the device, playback controls, and clock settings. In an HDMI switch, signals from these 19 pairs of wires are routed to the corresponding output pins.

Since mixing two or more overlapping signals can cause harmful interference and signal clipping. The HDMI switch selects signals from one input source at a time. While it could theoretically be a mechanical process, almost all HDMI switches are powered to allow the use of remote control.

These are usually simple devices like the Techole 4k HDMI Splitter (on Amazon). Which only allows two inputs to be controlled. But there are more reliable devices, such as the Zettaguard 4k 60Hz 4 × 1 HDMI Switcher (Amazon). That is designed to be a more complete solution to your input control needs.

Does the HDMI switch replace an A / V receiver?

The HDMI switch replaces only the AV receiver’s AV input switching capability. Asking if an HDMI switch can replace an A / V receiver is like asking if a computer monitor can replace a television.

Yes, an HDMI switch replaces one of the basic functions of an A / V receiver. But any home theater fanatic can tell you that A / V receivers are more than just a switch between your devices.

Most importantly, the HDMI switch prevents you from connecting additional speakers to it as an A / V receiver does. If you are going to use your TV’s built-in speakers, or if you are going to output TV audio to a power amplifier. You can avoid using an AV receiver. However, you will not get the versatile audio conditioning and effective signal management that you get from an AV receiver.

When would you use an HDMI switcher?

Apparently, the HDMI switcher will not be part of a home entertainment system that you design from the ground up. The most commonly used HDMI switch is to expand the connectivity options for inadequate equipment.

That is, the HDMI switcher should be seen as a patch to enhance a custom home entertainment system, not as a replacement for more expensive hardware.

The most common use for an HDMI switch is when you have a device with only one HDMI input. But want to use multiple HDMI devices. Without an HDMI switch, you’d have to upgrade to an A / V receiver. This may be more than you want if you are not using external speakers.

An HDMI switch is significantly smaller and cheaper than an A / V receiver. If you need a lightweight solution for connecting multiple devices to a single input TV. An HDMI switcher might be a good option.

When would you use an A / V receiver instead of an HDMI switch?

If you want to create a robust home theater system , you probably want to use an A / V receiver. The A / V Receiver is a one-stop solution for connecting all of your devices. It allows audio to be routed directly to a set of speakers and images to a display device, and controls this for many different inputs.

Unlike an HDMI switcher, an A / V receiver will let you optimize picture and sound quality. It also provides both pre-amplification and power amplification, balancing the sound and then supplying power to the loudspeaker.

If your equipment can use Consumer Electronics Control (CEC). You can use the remote control for one of your devices to control all of your devices. You won’t be able to do this easily with an HDMI switcher, and you’ll have to tweak it every time if your system devices don’t always support HDMI eARC.

In general, if you are choosing between an A / V receiver and an HDMI switcher. There are several reasons why you would like to use an HDMI switcher. When it comes to quality and usability, AV receivers outperform HDMI switches every time.

However, if you are looking to save space and do not want to invest in a specific system that you integrate an HDMI switcher into, an HDMI switcher may be for you

Ultimately, an HDMI switcher is a low-cost alternative to solutions that mean a significant upgrade to your home theater system. If you don’t want to seriously upgrade your system, an HDMI switch may be sufficient for your purposes.

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