How Does 3D Affect A Surround Sound Set-up?

3D Glasses with Sights on a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, 3D TV, and Home Theater Receiver
3D Glasses with Sights on a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, 3D TV, and Home Theater Receiver. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

3D is definitely a visual experience, but when you watch a 3D movie, you also need to hear the sound. However, how is sound handled with 3D? Do you also need to buy a new home theater receiver or amplifier?

This is not a straight yes or no answer... 3D definitely changes how we are able to watch video, but sound still remains an integral part of the total home theater experience.

What Does and Doesn't Change

The good news is that when you introduce 3D into a home theater setup, access to available surround sound formats remain intact (although new formats are periodically added, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) with the introduction of 3D into a home theater setup.

However, depending on what Blu-ray Disc player or home theater receiver you have determines how you might make the physical audio connections between a 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player and the home theater receiver.

Blu-ray Disc Player Options

One difference implemented on some 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc Players is the addition of a second HDMI output; which provides one HDMI output for video and one for audio.

The reason for the addition of a second HDMI output is that 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc players utilize HDMI 1.4 outputs. However, since "older" many HDMI-equipped home theater receivers in use are not HDMI 1.4 compliant, they are not able to pass an encoded 3D video signal that has to utilize the HDMI 1.4 connection.

Note: If you are purchasing a new Home Theater Receiver, there are a growing number that are now HDMI 1.4 compliant.

So, to prevent any conflicts, a 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player with one HDMI 1.4 output for connection to a 3D-enabled TV for 3D access and an HDMI 1.3 output to connect to your home theater receiver can carry all of the audio that many HDMI-equipped home theater receivers need to access.

Home Theater Receiver Options

Ideally, if you really want to be fully 3D signal compliant across the entire connection chain of your home theater system, you need to have a home theater receiver that is 3D compatible by having HDMI 1.4a connections), especially if you rely on your home theater receiver for video switching or processing.

However, you can avoid this additional costly upgrade by planning ahead. Find out three ways you can still use a non-3D compliant home theater receiver with a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Disc player.

In the grand scheme of things, upgrading to an HDMI 1.4 compliant home theater receiver, need not necessarily be a high priority, as you can send the video signal directly from the Blu-ray Disc Player to the TV and the audio from the player to the home theater receiver separately, but it does add an extra cable connection to your setup, and you may not be able to access all of the available surround sound formats with a specific connection option you may be using. For more on this, read my article: Do Video Signals Need To Be Routed Through a Home Theater Receiver?

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