How to split a 4K Dolby Vision source such as Tivo EDGE to a 4K TV and to secondary rooms' 1080P TVs including Netflix & Amazon Prime and RF remote control

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 25 2021 (updated on Jan 29 2021) in
  • HomeTheater
  • Review
  • Why?

    This article sets out to show which exact combination of components and settings I used to successfully allow my wife and I to watch the same thing on TV simultaneously, even when we're not in the same room. My home already had a 100' HDMI cable and a 75' CAT5e cable strung to two upstairs rooms, but our recent upgrade our Family Room TV to our first 4K TV meant I had to re-do EVERYthing about the way I was getting video upstairs. My old 1080P splitter certainly wasn't going to do.

    This is not a sponsored post, all items were purchased by TinkerTry, LLC.

    If our situation is similar to your situation, this article could be VERY helpful to you. I went down many online rabbit holes reading all sorts of schemes to handle today's reality of High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection. Folks have written a lot about defeating HDCP / stripping HDCP, / bypassing HDCP, but I wanted to see if I could get what I needed for my home without resorting to anything like that. I had SO many issues with the variety of 4K splitters I tried that didn't work, so you better believe it was quite a relief to find a solution that was both affordable and relatively simply. I'm always a fan of having as few points of failure as possible, and I was strongly motivated by my wife to avoid having to re-do any 75 or 100' lengths of wiring that involved creepign around our attic, especially since we recent re-did a section of popcorn ceiling where my leg went through from the attic from a mishap some years ago. Oops.

    Here's all the stuff doing the magic of preserving full 4K with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support for the primary 4K display, while simultaneously offering a 1080P version of that experience to remote TVs too. I know it's not pretty, the focus was on serviceability and reliability, and this is all hidden away behind my TV. I used 3M Command strips to attach the devices in a non-permanent manner. You can pretty easily trace the path of the signals by following the numbers. I found the distant HD TVs sometimes had blank video and no audio after I simulated an rare-but-battery-depleting power outage by turning off the UPS, then turning it back on again. To work around this power sequencing issue, I attached the non-surge-protected power strip seen at right to my uninterrupted power supply. This way, the easy-to-see-and-reach illuminated power switch can be used to resolve this blank video issue easily. The TiVo Edge 4K source is off camera at bottom-right, and you can see the 4K HDMI and optical cables labeled 1 coming out of it. The very thick active HDMI cable near the middle is a 100' run going to the 2nd floor that I ran years ago, before CAT5e extenders were commonplace and affordable.

    What works for us are fairly simple, affordable, and legal devices that are readily available on Amazon and other sources. It took months and a LOT of trial and error and frustration, as it was fairly easy to get video working in the remote rooms, but what was missing was audio when watching paid TV like Netflix or Amazon Prime on the TiVo. Argh. After many weeks of struggle, my sudden ah ha moment was to replace the remote room's HDMI audio with the digital audio coming from my TiVo EDGE's Opitcal TOSLINK connector. A quick search revealed exactly such a device exists. Tada! That was the final, crucial piece in this grueling-to-assemble puzzle, felt so good to see it all work out in the end.

    My methods don't seem to be a strategy for remote video/audio distribution that I could find anywhere online, so I'm hopeful others will find that this article spares them of considerable frustration. Listed below, you'll see the exact pieces that worked for me. Your results may vary, especially if your situation isn't identical. HDMI TVs handshakes can be finicky, and new hardware versions and software/firmware versions come out products like these splitters and extenders. Also keep this in mind, while 4K 1x2 HDMI splitter might work fine, the 4K 1x4 HDMI splitter from the same company might not, something I learned the hard way!

    After wrapping this project up, I actually bought a spare 4K splitter to have this extra on-hand, should one of my two splitters fail down the road some day. This is intended to greatly reducing the chances that I'll ever have to venture down this massive time-sink of trail-and-error misery again, and/or annoy my family again with sometimes multi-week delays in ordering that are rather understandable, given the pandemic era we're still very much in, spending extra time at home.

    So let's get going, here's my list of stuff.

    Our Family Room's Home Theater

    • One 65" 4K OLED TV
      OLED65CXPUA LG CX 65 inch Class 4K Smart OLED TV w/ AI ThinQ® bought at $650 off on Cyber Monday at BestBuy
      Features HDMI 2.1, and is said to be 120 Hz FreeSync and G-Sync capable, which is not something I've tested since I don't own any such GPUs.

    • One TiVo EDGE
      FYI, what TiVo designed for multi-room viewing is the TiVo MINI VOX, each room with independent video and its own remote. But what if you just want to share what you're watching, like my wife and I sometimes enjoy doing? It's quite possible. Did you know you can pair multiple RF remotes to one TiVo EDGE? Their range is quite good, and they seem to easily work across multiple floors in my home. We don't want to pay for a subscription for an additional TiVo, so I'm pretty happy with this new configuration. So we now have the following home theater in our home.
      While a 4K and Dolby Atmos receiver with HDMI eARC would be preferred, using just the optical connector to our 11 year old Sony STR-DA5600ES Amplifier continues to do Dolby 7.1 quite nicely for us, after tweaking some lip sync timing, a common issue with HDMI audio.
      TiVo Edge for Cable | Cable TV, DVR and Streaming 4K UHD Media Player with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos

    Our Family Room's Home Theater DIY "Distribution Panel"


    • Two 5V Power Adapters
      CanaKit 5V 2.5A Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Power Supply/Adapter (UL Listed)
      That's right, the EZCO splitters don't come with adapters, so I went with some quality power supplies with integrated noise filters, as I bumped into some strange issues when using some power bricks I happened to have laying around. While I'm not a fan of the Micro USB form factor as they don't lock in place particularly well and are vulnerable to damage due to lateral foroces. To mitigate the risk, I used a little bit of cable management and straight relieve to be sure things stay put, even when moving nearby things around.

    I set the slider switch to Optical.

    • One Orei HDMI Extender
      HDMI Extender Balun by Orei Upto 330 Feet 1080p Signal Over Single CAT5e/CAT6 Ethernet Cable, Deep Color, One to Many, IR Control (EX-330(Upgraded))
      comes with power supplies and a Transceiver and Receiver pair, plug them in, and it just works, even with my 75' or so of older CAT5e cabling. Suprisingly, there is actually a pricier 4K-capable version of this OREI extender that can supposedly still use just a CAT5e cable, not something I've tested. The other advantage of that step-up model is no latency, lossless uncompressed video, and improved audio support, "Works with all HDMI 1.3, 1.4 and 2.0: Supports 3D andLPCM,Dolby-AC3, DTS7.1, DSD/Dolby /DTS-HD master audio." Mine doesn't support those standards, but I don't have an amplifier attached to my distant TV that would support those standards anyway. I'll still be testing it at 1080P soon though, and will update this article accordingly if I'm impressed by it.




    Our Upstairs Rooms

    2010 Sony KDL-55HX800

    22" Samsung UN22D5000NF
    • One 2011 vintage 22" Samsung UN22D5000NF 1080P TV staying put in another upstairs room, with PIP for simultaneous use as a secondary computer monitor.


    Footnote - Failures

    The products listed in this section below didn't work for my use case, they probably work just fine for other more common, exactly-as-intended use cases. They are likely perfectly fine products. While I’m a bit embarrassed to share this list, the hope is that I can spare others from some trial-and-error hassle:

    Which HDMI splitters did I try that didn't work (blank or flickering or corrupt video) for my particular, somewhat unusual remote TV application?

    Which extenders did I try that didn't work with my particular CAT5e cable?

    I also tried this booster to see if it would help get the 100' HDMI cable run working with more brands of splitters, nope:

    I also tried this device to see if blank video and/or audio on the remote TVs could be resolved, nope:

    See also at TinkerTry


    See also

    HDCP articles:

    Somebody asked, does anyone know of an HDMI splitter that strips HDCP 2.2?