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Monoprice Blackbird Review (HDMI Audio Extractor)

Rate this HDMI Audio Extractor

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 16 12.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 47 37.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 52 40.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 12 9.4%

  • Total voters
    127

ROOSKIE

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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

Can someone tell me a use for this?
Along with what @DonR. Mentioned another example would be feeding power monitors from the TV to create a decent surround set up.
Something like a 5.1 with 5 JBL 305's or similar. Or even just to tease out a LCR 3 channel system.
I can think of dozens of applications.
For $30-40 you can have any number of combos using powered monotors.
In a lot of use cases this may be a budget oriented system, 2nd system, garage thing, computer nearfield surround thing or a way to add some hometheater to an otherwise 2 channel music oriented hifi rig.
 

Sound86

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I'm not sure I can agree with that. Do you have some sort of proof? Admittedly I don't like Amazon for many reasons.
As far as I know they stream their audio in FLAC, does it get any better than this in streaming?
And yeah of course there is a discussion about what you can hear or rather perceive as different in audio. I know the argument why 16bit and 44.1khz for CD was chosen and why anything more should not make any difference to human hearing, but well, does it make any difference if my source or DAC can deliver more information to my amp, even if I will not get any benefit from it?
Just saying... Anyway I guess we can all agree that from the process of sound reproduction an LP can not even come close

As a sidenote; any cat owners here? Might be 192khz audio was just the revolution audiophile cats were always waiting for...
 

DrZingo

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Qobuz uses HD FLAC files as well. Personally, I didn't like Amazon as I kept getting recommended new releases for contemporary popular music, which I don't much listen to. There didn't seem to be any way to save one's genre preferences.
 
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Jp2002

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Does this downmix the audio to 2.0 if you choose tv or really just extract L&R? (use case = I want to use a minidsp flex as an crossover (The streamer uses the usb audio input for music and I want to use the toslink as input from the home cinema processor)

So my plan was to use the zone 2 hdmi from the home cinema processor this to get only the left and right channel and feed this to the toslink input on flex, which is then used as an crossover.
 

Sound86

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Qobuz uses HD FLAC files as well. Personally, I didn't like Amazon as I kept getting recommended new releases for contemporary popular music, which I don't much listen to. There didn't seem to be any way to save one's genre preferences.
I didnt know Qobuz does as well, never paid much attention to it.

In my book the best algorithm for personal recommendations and checking what other people enjoy is Spotify.
 

yahrightthere

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Not only Topping. If you want to learn more, simply use the search function and key in " Topping spdif, or Dac spdif TV, or se 90 spdif " and so on.

And not all combinations are faulty.
No...thank you...I don't look for answers to problems I don't have.
 
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RHG55

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Can anyone confirm that this device will extract the digital stereo output from the Apple TV and will allow the HDMI to pass through unperturbed, so it can be connected to an AVR?
 

DonR

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Does this downmix the audio to 2.0 if you choose tv or really just extract L&R? (use case = I want to use a minidsp flex as an crossover (The streamer uses the usb audio input for music and I want to use the toslink as input from the home cinema processor)

So my plan was to use the zone 2 hdmi from the home cinema processor this to get only the left and right channel and feed this to the toslink input on flex, which is then used as an crossover.
It will tell the sending device that the receiver is only 2-channel so downmixing will happen on the sender. To get just FL/FR use the 7.1 setting and just use the FL/FR jack.
 

simplywyn

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I'm a bit confused here. I just bought one of these, and I can CLEARLY hear the massive improvement in sound switching from my TV's toslink out compared to this. In fact I can now crank up the music and feel way more immersed compared to before where it felt like it was limited.

Can someone explain what's going on? The TV gets the HDMI audio and then converts it I'm guessing with terrible SINAD?

@amirm - could you measure the SINAD of the audio coming out of the TV alone?

My setup is basically Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> This converter -> Optical -> Topping D90

Before it was Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> old Samsun TV 1080p -> Optical -> Topping D90

Once I got rid of the TV, the sound is far superior.
 
D

Deleted member 50971

Guest
I'm a bit confused here. I just bought one of these, and I can CLEARLY hear the massive improvement in sound switching from my TV's toslink out compared to this. In fact I can now crank up the music and feel way more immersed compared to before where it felt like it was limited.

Can someone explain what's going on? The TV gets the HDMI audio and then converts it I'm guessing with terrible SINAD?

@amirm - could you measure the SINAD of the audio coming out of the TV alone?

My setup is basically Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> This converter -> Optical -> Topping D90

Before it was Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> old Samsun TV 1080p -> Optical -> Topping D90

Once I got rid of the TV, the sound is far superior.
More than likely placebo, it happens to the best of us. Unless something is drastically wrong with the digital out of the TV.

Same thing happened to me the other day, I hooked up the new Wiim mini streamer, and I thought it sounded terrible, muddy mushy terrible. Then I A/B the Wiim and my smart phone hooked up to USB, and they sounded exactly the same.

Edit;

Admittedly I don’t have a lot of experience with digital out of TVs, I never use them, are they that bad? Someone else could answer that.
 

simplywyn

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More than likely placebo, it happens to the best of us. Unless something is drastically wrong with the digital out of the TV.

Same thing happened to me the other day, I hooked up the new Wiim mini streamer, and I thought it sounded terrible, muddy mushy terrible. Then I A/B the Wiim and my smart phone hooked up to USB, and they sounded exactly the same.
Could be, but there is one test I did, a specific part of a soundtrack. Without the TV, it literally shook the room, with the TV, there was no shake. So clearly the low frequencies were being shaved off with the TV in place.

Went back and forth and it was pretty clear the TV (it's from 2013) was reducing some of the sounds.
 

mdsimon2

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I'm a bit confused here. I just bought one of these, and I can CLEARLY hear the massive improvement in sound switching from my TV's toslink out compared to this. In fact I can now crank up the music and feel way more immersed compared to before where it felt like it was limited.

Can someone explain what's going on? The TV gets the HDMI audio and then converts it I'm guessing with terrible SINAD?

@amirm - could you measure the SINAD of the audio coming out of the TV alone?

My setup is basically Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> This converter -> Optical -> Topping D90

Before it was Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> old Samsun TV 1080p -> Optical -> Topping D90

Once I got rid of the TV, the sound is far superior.

I don't know about your TV but my TV has a garbage resampler that will not retain 16 bit fidelity due to high noise. Interestingly enough it also drops the signal level by 0.5 dB which will likely sound worse. I've posted this before but below is a comparison of my TV and a HDMI extractor.

TV resampling - 88 SINAD
index.php


HDMI extractor - 129 dB SINAD
index.php


Michael
 
D

Deleted member 50971

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I don't know about your TV but my TV has a garbage resampler that will not retain 16 bit fidelity due to high noise. Interestingly enough it also drops the signal level by 0.5 dB which will likely sound worse. I've posted this before but below is a comparison of my TV and a HDMI extractor.

TV resampling - 88 SINAD
index.php


HDMI extractor - 129 dB SINAD
index.php


Michael
Interesting.
 

simplywyn

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I don't know about your TV but my TV has a garbage resampler that will not retain 16 bit fidelity due to high noise. Interestingly enough it also drops the signal level by 0.5 dB which will likely sound worse. I've posted this before but below is a comparison of my TV and a HDMI extractor.

TV resampling - 88 SINAD
index.php


HDMI extractor - 129 dB SINAD
index.php


Michael
This is brilliant, can anyone test sinad on your tvs?
 

mdsimon2

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This is brilliant, can anyone test sinad on your tvs?
Testing digital stuff is pretty easy if you have an audio interface with a SPDIF or TOSLINK input. I don't remember exactly but I think I actually made these measurements with a mac mini 2014 which has a TOSLINK input (so does the mac mini 2012).

Michael
 

SMc

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I'm a bit confused here. I just bought one of these, and I can CLEARLY hear the massive improvement in sound switching from my TV's toslink out compared to this. In fact I can now crank up the music and feel way more immersed compared to before where it felt like it was limited.

Can someone explain what's going on? The TV gets the HDMI audio and then converts it I'm guessing with terrible SINAD?

@amirm - could you measure the SINAD of the audio coming out of the TV alone?

My setup is basically Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> This converter -> Optical -> Topping D90

Before it was Apple TV -> Apple Music Lossless -> HDMI -> old Samsun TV 1080p -> Optical -> Topping D90

Once I got rid of the TV, the sound is far superior.
I just had a similar experience with a similar J-Tech device and a similarly old Samsung tv! While I was disappointed that I couldn’t get it to pass Dolby Digital to the receiver, I felt a big sound quality improvement. The stereo presentation didn’t make me miss DD for a change.

Yes, placebo is real but I’m also willing to consider an old tv so primitive that it won’t pass multichannel might not be completely transparent in its digital output.
 

simplywyn

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I just had a similar experience with a similar J-Tech device and a similarly old Samsung tv! While I was disappointed that I couldn’t get it to pass Dolby Digital to the receiver, I felt a big sound quality improvement. The stereo presentation didn’t make me miss DD for a change.

Yes, placebo is real but I’m also willing to consider an old tv so primitive that it won’t pass multichannel might not be completely transparent in its digital output.
I will try the same on my new Sony 900f and report back. Ordered another one of these.

The J-tech device and monoprice are the same devices, they use the same circuit board and just rebranded FYI, just buy the cheapest one.
 
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DonR

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TV might be employing some filtering/boosting to the signal before optical output.
 

Fench

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The J-tech device and monoprice are the same devices, they use the same circuit board and just rebranded FYI, just buy the cheapest one.
Identical extractors, widely sold and reviewed:
  • J-Tech Digital JTD18G-H5CH
  • Monoprice Blackbird 4K 18Gbps
  • OREI HDA-912 4K 60Hz 18G HDMI 2.0
  • Vanco HD4KAE 4K
  • Cable Matters 4K (sold out)
  • ...
According to a reviewer on Amazon: "This is a rebranded HDV-MB01 with a GSCoolink GSV2002."
If so, this is likely the OEM: http://hdcvt.com/index.php/product/des?id=176

I'm using the J-Tech version to get hi-res audio from the second HDMI output (for audio only) of a Sony blu-ray player, via Toslink to an RME DAC.
It allows to extract up to 192kHz, 24bit stereo from SACDs (176.4/24) and HiFi Pure Audio blu-ray discs (192/24 or 96/24).
Besides the HDMI audio-only output, the Sony UBP-X800M2 features a coaxial out. It also includes a WiFi streamer.
The Sony releases audio from SACD and HFPA in full resolution over HDMI, but it downsamples it over coaxial (SACD to 44.1kHz, HFPA to 48 kHz).
Audio from the built-in streamer is not downsampled over either output.
 
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SMc

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According to a reviewer on Amazon: "This is a rebranded HDV-MB01 with a GSCoolink GSV2002."
If so, this is likely the OEM: http://hdcvt.com/index.php/product/des?id=176

I'm using the J-Tech version to get hi-res audio from the second HDMI output (for audio only) of a Sony blu-ray player, via Toslink to an RME DAC.
Yes, I chose a version without multichannel DACs to save a couple of bucks. The 5.1 switch doesn't seem to enable passing Dolby Digital which is unfortunate. I had hoped it would fool the HDMI into not seeing the stereo only tv.

I bought because my Sony X800 stopped loading Netflix and Amazon Prime ("app too big"). Streaming with the Sony always had problems, especially audio distorted with what sounded like low bit rates no matter the player settings. It's bad when undemanding center channel dialogue is accompanied by birdies.
 
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