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Is Your Equipment Compatible With Each Other?

by Admin


In the old analog days, there was almost no such thing as copy protection on audio and video signals. You could pretty much split and send a signal anywhere with no concern about whether it was going to get blocked by the Copyright Police. Granted, the main reason for this was because the quality of the signals was so poor in those days, that nobody really cared if you tried to make your own homemade copy. Those of you who remember home copies of VHS tapes know exactly what I’m talking about! (Remember the dual decks they made for this?) But these days, with digital 4K video and high-resolution audio signals, it’s an entirely different matter, as we’ll discuss below.

Modern Copy Protection

When digital first arrived on the scene, the movie and recording industries were nervous. Now it would be easier than ever to make perfect homemade copies of your songs and movies. When 4K movies came out, however, they were positively terrified. So, they all got together and created something called HDCP, or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, which prevents you from pirating your 4K content. The HDCP 2.2 standard ensures that there is a completely secure connection between the source (e.g. the Blu-ray player or the 4K Apple TV) and the display (e.g. your TV). It does this through something called EDID, or Extended Display Identification Data. In layman’s terms, your 4K Roku sends a signal out that says, “hey, I’m a 4K streaming player, I need to be protected. Who else is here today?” That signal gets passed on through your receiver, to your TV, which replies something like, “I’m a 4K TV, I’m protected, and we’re good to go!”

Old Equipment Won’t Play

If you have a new 4K source, and a new 4K TV, but an older receiver, the EDID signal may get interrupted. Your older receiver has no idea what 4K is, because it was made 20 years ago. So, it probably won’t pass along the EDID signal, in which case, the source won’t complete the handshake with the display, and the 4K content will be blocked. This can be done in the form of loss of audio, video or both. If you have anything else in the signal path – e.g. a splitter, matrix switch, balun, etc. – those too can cause the signal to be blocked, just from not passing along the proper EDID.

What Can I Do?

The easiest solution is to just make sure everything in your equipment chain – from the source, all the way through to the TV – is HDCP 2.2 compatible. All modern equipment made in the last 5 years or so is. But, if you have an older piece of equipment that you love and don’t want to get rid of, there are other ways around it. You can buy devices that allow you to manually send out the proper EDID signal to your display and back, so that your movies won’t get blocked. Another approach taken by many modern Blu-ray players is the use of dual HDMI outputs. This allows you to send the video signal directly to the 4K TV, where it will perform the proper EDID/HDCP handshake. The second HDMI output sends the audio signal, which doesn’t require the copy protection handshake, to the older receiver.


SIf you’re having trouble with your signals from your new Apple TV, Roku, Blu-ray player, etc., you may just have a copy protection problem. The simplest solution is to upgrade your equipment so that everything in the chain passes along the proper electronic device identification data, or EDID. If you have a more sophisticated system with matrix switches and baluns, you probably need to consult your custom electronics integrator. They have several different things that they can try to make sure your equipment is functioning properly. Trust me, this new copy protection handling is a major pain in the you-know-what for them too. But at least they know how to deal with it, so make them do the work!