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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

JeffS7444

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Monoprice HDMI audio extractors are super-useful if you have a cinema sound system built around certain Sonos products which have TOSLINK inputs but no HDMI (Sonos Playbar, Ray). I was able to bitstream 5.1-channel soundtracks through my switch/extractor just fine.

And before anyone gets too excited about using a USB HDMI capture dongle as the basis for a DIY A/V processor, remember that those things don't pass HDCP-encrypted content, at least not the video. And for some reason, even some seemingly innocent devices like Amscope USB microscope cameras may not work with it.
 

simplywyn

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I've having trouble extracting sound from my AppleTV (it has to be formatted into stereo mode)

If I try to play any movies with 7.1 or dolby, it completely craps out. Anyone else have these issues?

Nvm, my Denafrips is totally fine... it's my Topping D90 that's a mess for some reason.
 
Last edited:

SMc

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I've having trouble extracting sound from my AppleTV (it has to be formatted into stereo mode)

If I try to play any movies with 7.1 or dolby, it completely craps out. Anyone else have these issues?
Check the output mode of the Apple. The extractor can take Dolby Digital but it won’t do Dolby Digital+. I can’t check for pcm with my Roku. I assume AIFF is off the table.
 

ripmixburn

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Will this unit likely solve the cruddy optical output of my new LG TV?

My receiver is not 4K capable so I run HDMI from my Apple TV to the LG and then toslink to my av receiver.

The issues are:
1. Audio track is not received and I need to stop/start movie
2. Old DTS albums I’ve ripped don’t play in 5.1 (oddly only all tracks in left and center speaker)

Will definitely buy if it’s likely to fix!
 

Fench

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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.
Sony removed Amazon Prime from later versions/firmwares of the X800. Now there's only Netflix and YouTube, which i don't use either (they're already on my LG TV). But the X800 performs very well as a renderer on streaming hi-res music, from Qobuz in my case. Controller is BubbleUPnP app on an Android phone. With the HDMI extractor, you only need 1 optical input on your DAC for playing hi-res discs and WiFi audio streaming.
 

simplywyn

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Ok so after testing guys. I HIGHLY recommend you guys get this thing if you’re running an Apple TV to tv to Dac combo.

I have a q950 and a r11 connected to two TVs, and adding this has improved the bass for both speakers by quite a bit.

The detail for q950 shot up a lot and the bass is way tighter, almost feels like there was some crazy processing going on in the tv, now coming out as raw. Voices sound far crisper and forward than before.

For r11, I can now crank it up to room thundering levels, literally floor shaking without losing detail. So it was definitely reducing sinad before and adding tons of noise and distortion.

With these devices I feel like I’m getting at least a clean signal (now sounds similar if I hook up my pc to the dac directly)

Hope this helps guys, made a HUGE difference for me. Only 30 bucks has improved like thousands of dollars of equipment

It’s all a bout finding the weak link in your equipment.

Ironically the q950 was hooked up to a 2019 x900f, and the dongle made quite a big change as I think x900f applied tons of dsp.

The r11s were hooked up to a 2013 Samsung Tv, and the dongles basically removed the low quality resampler in the tv. The change was more of a less noise / more detail change rather than a dramatic change of sound signature like the q950 mentioned above

Overall, for 60 bucks and a few extra hdmi cables … this was a marvellous buy
 

ripmixburn

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Will this unit likely solve the cruddy optical output of my new LG TV?

My receiver is not 4K capable so I run HDMI from my Apple TV to the LG and then toslink to my av receiver.

The issues are:
1. Audio track is not received and I need to stop/start movie
2. Old DTS albums I’ve ripped don’t play in 5.1 (oddly only all tracks in left and center speaker)

Will definitely buy if it’s likely to fix!

To answer my own question, I think that an HDMI splitter seems like a better solution in my case: simpler, cheaper, no power required, and hopefully with fewer issues.
 

aldiaudio

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So I have this HDMI Audio Extractor in my shopping cart. Is there any reason why I should fear this having worse S/PDIF performance than the Monoprice Blackbird?
Because my idea was to hook this to a small digital amplifier.

Maybe you could also have a look on my other post where I listed a few models from Fosi, SMLS and Loxjie and could tell me what would be the best one?
 

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
Can we look at this further? Since a vast majority of us probably connect to TVs, and then resample the optical sound from HDMI into our fancy DACS I feel like we've found a place of weak link.

What TV do you have? I can't tell if there is a big difference or not.
 

mdsimon2

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Can we look at this further? Since a vast majority of us probably connect to TVs, and then resample the optical sound from HDMI into our fancy DACS I feel like we've found a place of weak link.

What TV do you have? I can't tell if there is a big difference or not.

TV is a Vizio M558-G1 so not very high end. The reason why I switched to an extractor is because I was getting the occasional dropout. I didn't initially have the measurement equipment to look at the TV SPDIF output so I didn't know the measurement difference between the extractor and TV when I switched, all I knew is that the extractor solved the drop outs. Also at the time I was using a rather noisy DAC (OpenDRC-DA8 which uses the poorly reviewed miniDSP U-DAC8 reviewed here -> https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...inidsp-u-dac8-8-channel-usb-dac-review.10123/) so the poor resampling was definitely masked by the poor performance of the DAC.

The biggest difference between the extractor and TV is noise. It is important to note when looking at the FFT that although the noise floor looks like it is at -140 dB that is not actually the case and it only looks like that from FFT gain. With the TV integrated noise from 20-20K is -88 dB which is obviously worse than CD quality compared to the extractor at -129 dB (which might be limited by my measurement device). All that being said if you aren't hearing noise and aren't experiencing drop outs I wouldn't worry about it.

Michael
 

mdsimon2

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Here is another data point to add to the discussion.

My current setup uses decently low noise equipment (Okto dac8 pro, Hypex NC252MP) so you can see the difference in system SNR at the speaker terminals using the extractor vs TV as a function of volume position on the Okto. Orange is extractor and blue is TV. The plot stops at -8 dB as amplifiers will clip if the input is 0 dBFS and the Okto volume control is above 8 dB.

24 bit input data
1661455533657.png


16 bit input data
1661456013935.png


A few things of note, first at lower volume levels system SNR is dominated by DAC / amplifier residual noise in both cases. Second as you reduce source bit depth the difference between the extractor and TV gets smaller. And of course it is doubtful that any 16 bit recordings are using all 16 bits of dynamic range so in practice the difference between the extractor and the TV is even less.

Michael
 

Chilli

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Here is another data point to add to the discussion.

My current setup uses decently low noise equipment (Okto dac8 pro, Hypex NC252MP) so you can see the difference in system SNR at the speaker terminals using the extractor vs TV as a function of volume position on the Okto. Orange is extractor and blue is TV. The plot stops at -8 dB as amplifiers will clip if the input is 0 dBFS and the Okto volume control is above 8 dB.

24 bit input data
View attachment 226578

16 bit input data
View attachment 226582

A few things of note, first at lower volume levels system SNR is dominated by DAC / amplifier residual noise in both cases. Second as you reduce source bit depth the difference between the extractor and TV gets smaller. And of course it is doubtful that any 16 bit recordings are using all 16 bits of dynamic range so in practice the difference between the extractor and the TV is even less.

Michael
Thanks Michael. Great stuff.
Which hdmi extractor do you use?
So, are you using a vol control after the dac, so running the dac at max? Or just running the dac with its dig vol (as the graph suggests).
 

mdsimon2

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I use this extractor -> https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24278 as I only have a stereo setup (although DIY active) and do not need multi-channel. I used another cheap extractor previously that also measured fine but it wouldn't pass [email protected] Hz so switched to the monoprice.

I use the digital volume control of the Okto dac8 pro as I have not seen an 8 channel analog volume control that can beat it in terms of noise performance.

Michael
 

pseudoid

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There possibly is an important point to consider when mixing different HDMI versions (e.g., V1.4 + V2.0) inputs and outputs.
My current Rotel pre/pro (for example) will revert to the lower (HDMI numerical version/resolution) if the outputs (or the inputs) are inter-mixed between different HDMI versions.
 

SMc

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There possibly is an important point to consider when mixing different HDMI versions (e.g., V1.4 + V2.0) inputs and outputs.
My current Rotel pre/pro (for example) will revert to the lower (HDMI numerical version/resolution) if the outputs (or the inputs) are inter-mixed between different HDMI versions.
A similar concern is whether it limits itself to the lowest audio format HDMI sees. I hoped I could get multichannel DD but I think it's limited to my tv's stereo format. Fortunately the quality of the extracted stereo was a pleasant surprise.

If anyone has succeeded in using one of these to get 5.1 downstream of a stereo tv, please share the secret of how it can be done!
 

pvehling

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Note, this only has HDCP 1.4 so you can't get 4k HDR/Dolby Vision with Video passthrough.. If you have a blu-ray player with a second HDMI out, this would work to get actual 24-bit 48khz PCM Stereo from your player instead of a dithered 16-bit output from the players optical/coax port.
 

pvehling

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Will this unit likely solve the cruddy optical output of my new LG TV?

My receiver is not 4K capable so I run HDMI from my Apple TV to the LG and then toslink to my av receiver.

The issues are:
1. Audio track is not received and I need to stop/start movie
2. Old DTS albums I’ve ripped don’t play in 5.1 (oddly only all tracks in left and center speaker)

Will definitely buy if it’s likely to fix!
Ugh, the optical port on my LG OLED is finnicky too. I use it for PCM stereo from a Firestick or the internal apps, but my E50 does not like it (random popping). I have to use my Schiit Modi 3 optical to get pop-free audio from the TV.
 

Fench

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If you have a blu-ray player with a second HDMI out, this would work to get actual 24-bit 48khz PCM Stereo from your player instead of a dithered 16-bit output from the players optical/coax port.
Actually, even up to 192kHz, 24bit; see here.
 

Blumlein 88

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Will this unit likely solve the cruddy optical output of my new LG TV?

My receiver is not 4K capable so I run HDMI from my Apple TV to the LG and then toslink to my av receiver.

The issues are:
1. Audio track is not received and I need to stop/start movie
2. Old DTS albums I’ve ripped don’t play in 5.1 (oddly only all tracks in left and center speaker)

Will definitely buy if it’s likely to fix!
@ripmixburn
This other device might work better for you if your AVR has HDMI inputs. I use it for similar reasons. Send it signal from my Roku stick, it outputs 4k HDR to my projector and has a 2nd HDMI output which is the earlier standard which is meant to carry the multichannel info to the AVR.

Also has optical out which should work for Dolby Digital, but I've not used it myself.


 
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