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Monoprice Blackbird Review (HDMI Audio Extractor)

Rate this HDMI Audio Extractor

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 16 12.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 47 36.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 52 40.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 13 10.2%

  • Total voters
    128

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Monoprice Blackbird 4K series HDMI 7.1 audio extractor. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $30.79.
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor review.jpg

I like the Link light which indicates signal on HDMI input. The switch lets you "lie" to the source and tell it you have 8 channel audio even though your TV for example only has stereo. For non-PCM data you have the "bitstream" to pass it down to another decoder. Back panel shows a very useful Toslink optical output in addition to 8 channels of audio:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor back panel pass through review.jpg


Yes, you have to use 3.5mm plugs but hey, you didn't pay much for this! :)

In my use, the box nicely attached to the output of my PC Intel HDMI output. One other fancy/expensive one I tested would not work at all. Alas, I could not get the output to work with my computer monitor. Maybe it is pilot error. Maybe it is the stupid HDMI. As with all of these products, compatibility is hit and miss so be ready to return it if it doesn't work in your setup.

Monoprice Blackbird Measurements
Here is our dashboard of HDMI in and analog stereo out:

Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor measurements Front.png


As noted, it didn't matter which of the 4 channel pairs I tested. They all had the same low output of just 1 volt and SINAD of 86 dB. Latter is caused by too much distortion.
best hdmi audio extractor review.png


best hdmi audio extractor review zoomed.png


Normally I would be depressed at this point, wondering why I was put on earth. Then I tested S/PDIF Toslink output:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor Toslink measurements Front.png


Ah, there is salvation! :) We get basically 24 bit, unmolested output. This means you can connect your favorite DAC and get as much extra performance as you like.

Continuing with analog output performance, noise is actually reasonable:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor DNR measurements Front.png


Multitone is not:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor Multitone measurements Front.png


Nor is jitter although audibly is probably OK:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor Jitter measurements Front.png


IMD test shows that we are not that far ahead of a cheap phone dongle:
Monoprice blackbird 4K audio extractor IMD measurements Front.png


I couldn't run the rest of my tests due to issue of ASIO emulation in my test setup (not a fault of the unit).

Conclusions
The analog performance of this HDMI audio extractor could embarrass a self respecting audiophile. But is good enough for everyday work. The great thing is that you have S/PDIF output for perfect audio to connect to your favorite DAC. There, you could get stated of the art performance. Heck, you could buy this little box as an accessory to add HDMI input to any DAC you want!!! It is so cheap and not much more than the cost of an HDMI cable or two.

Hopefully compatibility is not a major issue. You may want to read about that elsewhere.

Overall, I am going to recommend the Monoprice HDMI 7.1 audio extractor. It is a bargain with great expansion capability.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Snoopy

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It is worth noting that they do not support 4k60 and HDR. So the best use for it is to use with some streamer (like ChromeCast) to play music. No no for any current gen console (XSX/PS5) owners, or even any home theatre system.
But U could use the hdmi eARC (out) of a current gen TV and from there use the optical out into a DAC?
 

abdo123

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I would probably buy this if we had like 15dB better noise performance.

There is literally no products like these anymore. They’re slowly going extinct.
 

Jimster480

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In this case it might IMHO be better to use the TV-S toslink out.
Some TVs have poor toslink output.

Looks like it could have its place as a cheap extractor.... I didn't expect much in the way of performance at this price. A good 8channel DAC chip costs more than this entire unit.
Can you do a teardown @amirm? Wondering what chips they are actually using for 8 channels in such a low price.
My guess is TI chips or some really low end CS chips.
 

delta76

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But U could use the hdmi eARC (out) of a current gen TV and from there use the optical out into a DAC?
no, I don't think this supports eArc. You need a device built specifically for that. If I understand correctly, eArc carries data over the ethernet channel, it is not same data channel as normal AV signal. So if you output from your eARC port on your TV to this, it simply sees no audio

I recently purchased one from aliexpress and so far, so good


as it's HDMI => HDMI I assume no quality is lost, I could be wrong but for the price, happy with it
 
Last edited:

Lambda

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S/PDIF output for perfect audio to connect to your favorite DAC.
If only my favorite DAC Would come with S/PDIF in

I don't get why its not USB powered.
it's 5V anyways

the only thing its doing not bad is Digital to digital,
Amazon has Lots of HDMI to SPDIF converter from 10-20€ i assume they all don't mess up the digital signal?
 

Music1969

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it is the same on output but the one on amazon support new version of HDMI (2.0b). not enough for XSX/PS5, but if you are using it for PS4/XO and home theatre, it's good enough

What about Apple TV 4K ?

Some HDCP thing could cause issues or should be ok?
 

delta76

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What about Apple TV 4K ?

Some HDCP thing could cause issues or should be ok?
It has hdcp 2.2 so i assume it will work. In 99% of the cases those standards will work fine, but a quirky implementation can be incompatible with another strict implementation. We never know until we try
 

AudioSceptic

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Monoprice Blackbird 4K series HDMI 7.1 audio extractor. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $30.79.
View attachment 223911
I like the Link light which indicates signal on HDMI input. The switch lets you "lie" to the source and tell it you have 8 channel audio even though your TV for example only has stereo. For non-PCM data you have the "bitstream" to pass it down to another decoder. Back panel shows a very useful Toslink optical output in addition to 8 channels of audio:
View attachment 223915

Yes, you have to use 3.5mm plugs but hey, you didn't pay much for this! :)

In my use, the box nicely attached to the output of my PC Intel HDMI output. One other fancy/expensive one I tested would not work at all. Alas, I could not get the output to work with my computer monitor. Maybe it is pilot error. Maybe it is the stupid HDMI. As with all of these products, compatibility is hit and miss so be ready to return it if it doesn't work in your setup.

Monoprice Blackbird Measurements
Here is our dashboard of HDMI in and analog stereo out:

View attachment 223916

As noted, it didn't matter which of the 4 channel pairs I tested. They all had the same low output of just 1 volt and SINAD of 86 dB. Latter is caused by too much distortion.
View attachment 223917

View attachment 223918

Normally I would be depressed at this point, wondering why I was put on earth. Then I tested S/PDIF Toslink output:
View attachment 223920

Ah, there is salvation! :) We get basically 24 bit, unmolested output. This means you can connect your favorite DAC and get as much extra performance as you like.

Continuing with analog output performance, noise is actually reasonable:
View attachment 223921

Multitone is not:
View attachment 223922

Nor is jitter although audibly is probably OK:
View attachment 223923

IMD test shows that we are not that far ahead of a cheap phone dongle:
View attachment 223924

I couldn't run the rest of my tests due to issue of ASIO emulation in my test setup (not a fault of the unit).

Conclusions
The analog performance of this HDMI audio extractor could embarrass a self respecting audiophile. But is good enough for everyday work. The great thing is that you have S/PDIF output for perfect audio to connect to your favorite DAC. There, you could get stated of the art performance. Heck, you could buy this little box as an accessory to add HDMI input to any DAC you want!!! It is so cheap and not much more than the cost of an HDMI cable or two.

Hopefully compatibility is not a major issue. You may want to read about that elsewhere.

Overall, I am going to recommend the Monoprice HDMI 7.1 audio extractor. It is a bargain with great expansion capability.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Great for the price: you could easily spend more on the cables to connect it than on the device itself. Just one question, though: there are 8 channels of analogue output from 4 3.5 mm sockets, but what comes out of the Toslink? Is it just the 2 front (stereo) channels?
 

delta76

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Great for the price: you could easily spend more on the cables to connect it than on the device itself. Just one question, though: there are 8 channels of analogue output from 4 3.5 mm sockets, but what comes out of the Toslink? Is it just the 2 front (stereo) channels?
I would assume it is either 2.0 pcm or5.1 compressed output. There should be a switch for that
 

respice finem

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toslink is limited to 5.1 compressed output. earc is capable of 7.1 uncompressed output. if you just want Stereo output, toslink is fine. but if you want surround sound, it's not the best.
While this is correct, it is not the question I was answering, see here:
Converting eARC multichannel to Toslink 2-channel is no advantage (for me) compared to using the TVs toslink out, without an external device.
The only "indication" would be indeed a very "lousy" TV toslink output, which I didn't come across yet (doesn't mean it can't happen).
 

PeteL

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One other fancy/expensive one I tested would not work at all. Alas, I could not get the output to work with my computer monitor. Maybe it is pilot error. Maybe it is the stupid HDMI. As with all of these products, compatibility is hit and miss so be ready to return it if it doesn't work in your setup.
Likely stupid HDMI, I find so bothering how this standard struggle so much with backward or universal compatibility. You didn't pay much but it's not the case for all including AVRs that has such a low lifetime. How is it that a wired connection cannot achieve what a wireless connection like WIFI can do in term of robustness and widespread compatibility. It amaze me.
 
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