Can You Use HDMI And Optical Audio At The Same Time?

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Can you use HDMI and optical audio at the same time? Which one should you choose? We have the answers to any questions you may have on this subject. 

Optical audio is older than HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface). These connection methods have many similarities, but they also have some variances.

The answer is yes and no when using a high-definition multimedia interface and an optical connection simultaneously. It shouldn’t be a problem for you because we discussed why the question has two right solutions.

Interestingly, this article covers all you need to know about high-definition multimedia interface and optical audio (also known as TOSLINK).


Can You Use HDMI And Optical Audio At The Same Time?

Optical audio

Optical audio

This answer is very dependent on the devices you use and their capabilities.

Even if both connections are accessible, many TVs will not allow both connections simultaneously. 

If you connect both cables, they will automatically swap to the last one. If you have both cables plugged in, some TVs will let you pick which one you wish to use. However, they will not allow you to utilize both simultaneously.

Some TVs have the capability of transmitting signals through several cables. You’ll plug in both cables, have sound and video data pass through both. 

If you’re not sure if your television will let you do that? Check the instruction manual that came with your television. You may also Google it to double-check.

However, you should know that no device can simultaneously reproduce two separate sound streams. In other words, if you connect your TV and soundbar with two cables at the same time, your soundbar won’t be able to play both signals at the same time. You’ll have to choose between the two.

There are also cases where the answer is yes. 

If one of your devices doesn’t support the high-definition multimedia interface, you’ll need a TOSLINK cable for sound transmission and the high-definition multimedia interface for video transmission.

A high-definition multimedia interface sends sound in the same high-definition format as optical wires. The TOSLINK or HDMI cables cannot send HD audio or high-quality sounds, such as Dolby HD or the original 7.1 surround sound

Using these connections to deliver premium sound or 7.1 surround sound will lower the sound to 5.1 surround sound. These two connectors are only capable of transmitting 5.1 sound signals.

What Can You Do If You Want To Use Both HDMI And Optical Audio?

HDMI cable

HDMI cable 

If you truly need both high-definition multimedia interface and TOSLINK to function simultaneously and your TV won’t let you, there is still something you can do. Getting a sound extractor is the finest choice for you.

In most circumstances, the sound extractor will allow you to send sound from a different device without degrading the visual quality transmitted over the HDMI cable.

As a result, this gadget will allow you to play sound on a device other than the one you’re using to see the movie.

It’s especially beneficial if your playback device isn’t capable of playing sound or if you wish to transmit sound to two distinct speaker systems simultaneously.

The audio extractor is also useful for converting a digital high-definition multimedia interface into an analog signal.

You can find many excellent sound extractors on the internet. Before making a purchase, we recommend that you read the reviews.

In addition, you should thoroughly examine the product’s specs. That way, you’ll be certain that you’ll be able to transmit the signal you want.

HDMI Vs. Optical – Which One Should You Choose? 

This section is dedicated to everyone who does not need TOSLINK and high-definition multimedia interface connections simultaneously. As a result, they’ll have to decide which of these cables to employ in the future.

What Is HDMI Audio?

HDMI connection

HDMI connection 

A high-definition multimedia interface permits audio and video signals to go over a single HDMI connection. Thanks to HDMI ARC technology, TOSLINK cables are no longer required for audio connections.

If your TV and soundbar support the high-definition multimedia interface, you may send both video and audio to and from your TV and soundbar using a single high-definition multimedia interface connection. However, there is a stipulation for HDMI ARC to operate.

If the criterion is not satisfied, you will need an optical audio cable to send sound, while the high-definition multimedia interface cable will transfer visual information. So, what exactly is the problem?

The need is straightforward: both devices must support high-definition multimedia interfaces.

This fact necessitates the inclusion of a dedicated ARC port among the several high-definition multimedia interface ports on each device.

To put it another way, if you wish to connect your TV and soundbar through the high-definition multimedia interface, the TV must have a specific HDMI connector, as well as the soundbar.

You won’t be able to transmit sound and video using a single high-definition multimedia interface connection if one of the devices doesn’t support the capability. 

How does HDMI Audio Works?

You won’t need a complicated setup or setting. However, for high-definition multimedia interfaces to operate on some TVs, you’ll need to enable the HDMI CEC option under Settings.

So, let’s have a look at how a high-definition multimedia interface works. You don’t even need a specific cable. You may utilize your existing HDMI cable for this setup if it’s still in excellent condition.

  1. Connect one end of the HDMI cable to your television’s HDMI ARC port. To identify it from the other ports, the HDMI port is always labeled. So, look for the “HDMI” labeled port and plug in your cable.
  2. Connect the other end to your soundbar or audio receiver’s HDMI connector.
  3. Turn on the television and the soundbar.

Start watching movies or listening to music. The HDMI wire will send all of the audio from your TV to the soundbar. Furthermore, if you use the soundbar to replay something, it will broadcast the sound through your TV.

It doesn’t appear to be difficult, does it? You won’t need a TOSLINK cable if your TV and soundbar support the high-definition multimedia interface.

The video below will show you how to connect HDMI cable to TV:

What Is Optical Audio?

Optical digital audio input jack

Optical digital audio input jack

Optical audio is a link that sends sound between two devices, a TV and a soundbar. One key difference between high-definition multimedia interface and optical digital audio is that TOSLINK connections cannot send video.

Optical cables are exclusively intended to transport sound signals between linked devices. This technique is widely used and supported by nearly all audio devices on the market. 

How Optical Audio Works?

The TOSLINK connection transfers the sound signal. You can hear the sound once the receiving device converts and amplifies the signal.

What is the procedure for enabling optical output?

  1. Show Disabled Devices by right-clicking anywhere in the list of Playback tabs.
  2. A device labeled digital output or optical output should emerge at this point.
  3. To activate it, right-click and select “Enable.”

Learn how to connect the optical cable to TV from this video:

The Verdict

Both high-definition multimedia interfaces and optical connections transmit sound signals from one device to another. The fundamental distinction is that a TOSLINK cable cannot send video. 

Optical cables use light to transfer sound signals. If you’re concerned about outside interference, you’ll learn that TOSLINK connections are relatively impervious to it. 

However, there is a significant disadvantage. TOSLINK cables have a restricted capacity because they are an older innovation. As a result, they will not transmit the audio signal in its greatest quality.

On the other hand, a high-definition multimedia interface cable is copper, inexpensive and simple to create. It is capable of transmitting high-resolution sound. It is why the majority of specialists and AV enthusiasts choose this connection.

As a result, a high-definition multimedia interface is a way to go if you need a cable to transport sound and video.

See more:

What HDMI Cable Comes With PS5?

How To Tell If HDMI Cable Is 2.0?

How To Choose An HDMI Cable?


As you can see, there isn’t a simple solution to use the high-definition multimedia interface and optical audio simultaneously. Even so, if you need to send a video signal through one and sound through the other, you have a few alternatives to consider. 

In most circumstances, you’ll need to add an HDMI audio extractor to your setup, especially if your TV won’t let you utilize both of these cords simultaneously.

Suppose you don’t want to deal with the difficulty of acquiring audio output from both the high-definition multimedia interface and an optical connection simultaneously. In that case, you may always select the one you need more and leave the other cord as a backup in case the first one fails.


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