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Monoprice Blackbird Review (HDMI Audio Extractor)

Rate this HDMI Audio Extractor

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    Votes: 16 12.6%
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    Votes: 47 37.0%
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pseudoid

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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.
Come to think of it and if the last Emotiva XMC-2 tested is an example; AVRs (and/or AVpre-pros) are no 'poster children' for anything beyond CD-quality, either... meh!
 

dok58

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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.
Quick question. I've also got a Sony UBP-X800 and I'm looking to get up to 192/24 audio from Blu-rays. Obviously as you said the coax downsamples so HDMI is the way to go.

I remember reading somewhere someone had to set their HDMI extractor to the 5ch setting (even when listening in stereo) otherwise in the 2ch setting the unit would only deliver 44.1/16.

The unit they were reviewing was one of these similar HDMI extractor devices but not exactly like these ones (which are all clearly the same board inside).

My question is do you use the 5ch output or 2ch output to get 192/24 output? I'm about to buy one to hook up a Schiit Modius DAC via optical but want to be 100% sure I can get maximum resolution out of my Blu-rays.

Dylan
 

Fench

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>>> My question is do you use the 5ch output or 2ch output to get 192/24 output? <<<

Set the switch on the HDMI audio extractor to 5CH and you'll get 192kHz, 24bit stereo from HiFi Pure Audio blu-ray discs.
Tested with:
HFPA disc: Supertramp, Crime of the Century
Extractors: J-Tech Digital JTD18G-H5CH and Cable Matters 4K
Sony UBP-X800M2, audio settings:
Digital Audio OutputPCM
DSD Output ModeOff
BD Secondary ModeOff
DTS Neo:6Off
48kHz/96kHz/192kHz PCM192kHz
DSEE HXOff
Audio DRCAuto
DownmixStereo

The downside of this setup is, if you play 5CH DVDs the extractor appears to send only the left & right front channels over its optical output; the dialogue center channel is missing. (Yes, even with 'Downmix' set to Stereo.) However you can use the coaxial out of the Sony to get proper stereo from 5CH DVDs.
 

sunao

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I have this small extractor from Monoprice. I only can extract 92/24bit 2ch PCM or less. Not 5.1ch with bitstream EDID. Also I tried to extract DSD, but no luck.. Does anyone know how to get DSD or LPCM 5.1? My DAC supports DoP I am sure.

I can listen both DSD 5.1ch and LPCM 5.1ch w all HDMI. My assumption was SPDIF is not capable to transfer such data, yet eading this thread it's a possible to feed DSD or 5.1 LPCM.

I may miss something important...!?
 

pvehling

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These won't support DSD unless they specifically say they do, especially over optical. The listing on the monoprice site should list all supported options
 

sunao

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Thanks @pvehling for quick res. I re-read a specification (a sheet included to the device), it says Bitstream Mode = Raw digital audio data from HDMI. But Indeed nothing mentions about DSD. I misunderstood DSD can be treat a high bit rate PCM-ish format (DxD) then transmit.
What I found from a spec sheet:
  • HDMI Audio Format is LPCM(2, 5.1, 7.1), DTS(2, 5.1), Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio , up to 192Hz
  • Digital Optical is LPCM(2, 5.1 and 7.1), DTS(2, 5.1), up to 192 Hz
This device is not a cheap alt of D.BoB. Then my research continues how to get 5.1 signal from my DVD-audio with this :)
 

pvehling

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>>> My question is do you use the 5ch output or 2ch output to get 192/24 output? <<<

Set the switch on the HDMI audio extractor to 5CH and you'll get 192kHz, 24bit stereo from HiFi Pure Audio blu-ray discs.
Tested with:
HFPA disc: Supertramp, Crime of the Century
Extractors: J-Tech Digital JTD18G-H5CH and Cable Matters 4K
Sony UBP-X800M2, audio settings:
Digital Audio OutputPCM
DSD Output ModeOff
BD Secondary ModeOff
DTS Neo:6Off
48kHz/96kHz/192kHz PCM192kHz
DSEE HXOff
Audio DRCAuto
DownmixStereo

The downside of this setup is, if you play 5CH DVDs the extractor appears to send only the left & right front channels over its optical output; the dialogue center channel is missing. (Yes, even with 'Downmix' set to Stereo.) However you can use the coaxial out of the Sony to get proper stereo from 5CH DVDs.
@Fench The Sony X800s doesn't downmix PCM audio internally, so the receiver must send the correct EDID to the player. If you put monoprice in 5.1, it will accept the 24/192 but the player thinks it has 5 channels, so it will send 5 channels... and you'll only have LR and losing all the rest with no downmix. That downmix option is only for dolby digital over the COAX out. The "TV" setting will be 2 channel EDID (which may be limited to 24/48 despite what the specs say) that the Sony sees and internally downmixes. It's annoying for sure, and a dumb limit of the X800 series.
 

pvehling

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Thanks @pvehling for quick res. I re-read a specification (a sheet included to the device), it says Bitstream Mode = Raw digital audio data from HDMI. But Indeed nothing mentions about DSD. I misunderstood DSD can be treat a high bit rate PCM-ish format (DxD) then transmit.
What I found from a spec sheet:
  • HDMI Audio Format is LPCM(2, 5.1, 7.1), DTS(2, 5.1), Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio , up to 192Hz
  • Digital Optical is LPCM(2, 5.1 and 7.1), DTS(2, 5.1), up to 192 Hz
This device is not a cheap alt of D.BoB. Then my research continues how to get 5.1 signal from my DVD-audio with this :)
@sunao Those optical specs look wrong, there's not enough bandwidth to get uncompressed 5.1/7.1 from optical SPDIF, so you'll be stuck with 2 channel. Do you use an AVR? Why not just plug the player into that for 5.1 and bypass this unit altogether? If not, what DAC are you using that has 5.1?
 

sunao

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@pvehling : my intention is to make Sony x800m2 source both HDMI (to AV receiver) and optical (to DoP, Benchmark DAC3 B), it does not mean I will use both system at a same time though. Only when I listen a SACD/DVD-Audio music, I want to get Benchmark DAC through...which I've never done before. I was using AV receiver for ~10 years for such disks.

In fact 2ch is enough. but just I am /curious/ how to get 5.1 via optical...my understanding was SPDIF is not capable.

Anyway, I can see a couple of cheap audio extractor supports DSD. I will get one of them to play with :)
 

pvehling

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@sunao awesome, let us know what you find! I haven't tried DSF files on the X800, but one weird feature is that it plays 2ch SACD's over coax at PCM/dithered 16 bit / 44.1, which is pretty rare for a disc player (due to copy protection). I've never seen another player do this.. but at that point, you might as well just have the player convert to PCM and use the second HDMI port to get 24/88.2 from the extractor over optical.

Another weird option is that X800 players have that DSEE HX upsample thing, so if you did play those dithered SACDs over the Coax port, it would 1) Convert the SACD to 16/44.1, then 2) upsample that to 88.2.. which is a lot of processing and makes no sense. Best to just use the 2nd HDMI port and the extractor for 2ch :D
 

Fench

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@Fench The Sony X800s doesn't downmix PCM audio internally, so the receiver must send the correct EDID to the player. If you put monoprice in 5.1, it will accept the 24/192 but the player thinks it has 5 channels, so it will send 5 channels... and you'll only have LR and losing all the rest with no downmix. That downmix option is only for dolby digital over the COAX out. The "TV" setting will be 2 channel EDID (which may be limited to 24/48 despite what the specs say) that the Sony sees and internally downmixes. It's annoying for sure, and a dumb limit of the X800 series.

Thanks for the info, phveling.
Anyway, SACDs and HFPA discs have a hi-res stereo layer which will automatically be played with the Sony X800 settings I listed above and with the extractor EDID switch in 5CH (or 5.1 or Bitstream) position. DSD (2.8 MHz) from SACD is converted by the Sony to 176.4 kHz, 24 bit PCM. HFPA delivers 96 or 192 kHz, 24 bit PCM. It comes in these formats from the extractor's optical out, as displayed on the TV connected to the Sony and on my RME DAC. It all sounds beautiful. This also goes when using the Sony's built-in streamer, making the affordable Sony and extractor a combo of great value for money.
Unfortunately, many DVDs lack a stereo layer, and the downmix of their 5.1 audio layer to stereo is indeed only available through the Sony's coaxial out. Not a big sacrifice considering the hi-res audio capabilities of the combo, but you're right it's still a bit annoying and it seems useless from a copyright protection point of view to inhibit downmix to stereo over HDMI of these low-res signals.
 

sunao

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@Fench and @pvehling , many thanks to share your knowledge.

I am under an impression that Sony x800 give DSD on HDMI when I set to bitstream for their digital output setting. Not having HDMI extractor w DSD capable yet. So it's my expectation/assumption...
 

pvehling

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@sunao that is correct, however the extractor needs to support DSD or pass through to HDMI - it won't send DSD from the x800 HDMI to the extractor, then extractor to DAC via optical (or coax).
 

Fench

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@sunao that is correct, however the extractor needs to support DSD or pass through to HDMI - it won't send DSD from the x800 HDMI to the extractor, then extractor to DAC via optical (or coax).
@pvehling and @sunao , FWIW:
For extracting DSD from SACD and sending that via SPDIF (optical or coaxial) to a DOP capable DAC, the ChiFi extractor box referenced below is reported to work alright. This HDMI extractor wraps up the DSD signal in DOP format (= DSD Over PCM), which is unwrapped to the original DSD signal by the DAC without alteration. I didn't try this extractor myself, but others on various threads and forums positively reported on it.
If you decide to get one, make sure the product title mentions "DOP" and please share your findings, in particular in combination with the Sony X800M2:

 

Frontino

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I just asked Topping if they could consider making an HDMI audio extractor without DAC and with individual digital coaxial output for each of the 7.1 channels.

That would avoid crosstalk and give the user the choice to use the preferred external DAC for each channel.

Of course, that would work only in LPCM, but I think decoding should happen in optical disc players anyway.
 

Frontino

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Having one of these with high quality DACs, RCA/XLR outputs, and volume control/preamp would be perfect for me. I wouldn't need to spend $$$ on a receiver or prepro with a million unused features and licensing.
I sent a mail to Topping with the same suggestion.

Actually, I asked for a digital 7.1 splitter: no DAC, just 8 coax output to avoid crosstalk. Of course, that would require 8 DACs in total, but they could make a hybrid extractor with both analogue out and digital out for each channel.
 
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