5 Ways to Get Audio From a Blu-Ray Disc Player

Audio connection options for Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players

Blu-ray is an integral part of the home entertainment experience. For those that have an HDTV or 4K Ultra HD TV, Blu-ray is easy to add on the video connection front, but getting the most out of Blu-ray's audio capabilities can sometimes be a little confusing.

Although there are up to five ways to access audio from a Blu-ray Disc player presented below, not all Blu-ray Disc players provide all options. Most only provide one or two. The available options also apply to Ultra HD Blu-ray Players. When purchasing a player, check to see if its audio connection options match the rest of your home theater audio and video setup.

01
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Connect a Blu-Ray Disc Player Directly to a TV via HDMI Connection

HDMI Cable and Connections
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The easiest way to access audio from a Blu-ray Disc player is to connect the HDMI output of the player to an HDMI-equipped TV. Since the HDMI cable carries both the audio and video signal to the TV, you will be able to access audio from a Blu-ray Disc. The downside is that you are depending on the audio capabilities of the TV to reproduce the sound, which doesn't deliver a good result.

02
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Loop HDMI Through a Home Theater Receiver

HDMI Inputs Home Theater Receiver – Blu-ray

While accessing the audio using an HDMI connection to a TV produces so-so quality, connecting a Blu-ray Disc player to an HDMI-equipped home theater receiver provides a better sound quality option, provided your home theater receiver has built-in Dolby TrueHD and/or DTS-HD Master Audio decoders.

A growing number of home theater receivers made from 2015 forward incorporate Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

If you loop the HDMI output from a Blu-ray Disc player through a home theater receiver to a TV, the receiver will pass the video through to the TV, and will access the audio portion and perform additional decoding or processing before passing the audio signal through to the receiver's amplifier stage and on to the speakers.

The thing to check is whether your receiver has "pass-through" HDMI connections for audio or if the receiver can access the audio signals for further decoding/processing. This will be illustrated and explained in the user manual for your specific home theater receiver.

Select Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray Players have two HDMI outputs. One HDMI output can be used to send video directly to a TV or video projector with the second output sending audio to a home theater receiver.

OPPO Digital BDP-103D Dual HDMI Outputs
03
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Use Digital Optical or Coaxial Audio Connections

Blu-ray Disc Player Audio Connections - Digital Optical - Coaxial Audio Connection - Dual View

Robert Silva

Digital optical and digital coaxial connections are most commonly used for accessing audio from a DVD player, but most Blu-ray Disc players offer this option as well.

The downside is these connections can only access standard Dolby Digital/DTS surround signals and not higher resolution digital surround sound formats, such as Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio, and DTS:X.

However, if you are satisfied with sonic results you previously experienced with a DVD player, you'll also get the same results when using a digital optical or digital coaxial connection with a Blu-ray disc player.

Some Blu-ray Disc players provide both digital optical and digital coaxial audio connections, but most only provide one — usually, it'll be digital optical. Check your home theater receiver and Blu-ray Disc player to see which choice you have.

04
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Use 5.1/7.1 Channel Analog Audio Connections

Blu-ray Disc Player Multi-Channel Analog Audio Outputs

OPPO Digital

 

If you have a Blu-ray Disc player that is equipped with 5.1/7.1 channel analog outputs (also referred to as Multi-Channel Analog outputs), you can access the player's own internal Dolby/DTS surround sound decoders and send multichannel uncompressed PCM audio from the Blu-ray Disc Player to a compatible home theater receiver.

In this type of setup, the Blu-ray Disc player decodes all the surround sound formats internally and sends the decoded signal to a home theater receiver or amplifier in a format referred to as uncompressed PCM. The amplifier or receiver then amplifies and distributes the sound to the speakers.

This is useful when you have a home theater receiver that does not have digital optical/coaxial or HDMI audio input access, but can accommodate either 5.1/ 7.1 channel analog audio input signals.

If your Blu-ray Disc player also incorporates the ability to listen to SACDs or DVD-Audio Discs and has 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio outputs, its built-in DACs (Digital-to-Analog Audio Converters) may be better than the ones in your home theater receiver. If so, it is desirable to connect the 5.1/7.1-channel analog output connections to a home theater receiver, instead of the HDMI connection (at least for audio).

Most "lower-priced" Blu-ray Disc players don't have 5.1/7.1 analog audio output connections. If you desire this feature, check the specifications or physically inspect the rear connection panel of the Blu-ray Disc player to confirm the presence or absence of this option.

05
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Use Two Channel Analog Audio Connections

Blu-ray Disc Player Audio Connections - 2-Channel Analog Stereo Audio Connection

Robert Silva

The audio connection of last resort to connect a Blu-ray Disc player to a home theater receiver, or even a TV, is the 2-channel (Stereo) analog audio connection.

This prevents access to digital surround sound audio formats. However, if you have a TV, soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box, or home theater receiver that offers Dolby Prologic, Prologic II, or Prologic IIx processing, you can extract a surround sound signal from embedded cues present within a two-channel stereo audio signal. This method of accessing surround sound is not as accurate as true Dolby or DTS decoding, but it provides an acceptable result from two-channel sources.

If you use a Blu-ray Disc player to listen to music CDs, it may be desirable to connect both the HDMI output and the 2-channel analog output connections to a home theater receiver. Use HDMI to access movie soundtracks on Blu-ray and DVD discs, then switch your home theater receiver to the analog stereo connections when listening to CDs.

Beginning in 2013, an increasing number of Blu-ray Disc players have eliminated the analog two-channel stereo audio output option. However, they are still available on some higher-end players. If you need or desire this option, your choices may be limited, unless you want to reach deeper into your pocketbook.