Connecting up your audio setup & audio settings

#1

This wiki article should cover all your general questions about how to connect up your OSMC device to get the best audio possible. There’s also a section with explanations of some of Kodi’s audio settings as well as information about the audio capabilities of our OSMC devices.


Supported devices

Connecting up your equipment:

1. You have a display with an HDMI input and you have an AVR with HDMI inputs and outputs.
2. You have an AVR/amplifier with no HDMI inputs.
3. You have an AVR/amplifier and your display has no HDMI input.
4. You have no AVR/amplifier.
5. A special case: using (e)ARC.

Recommended audio settings for different scenarios:

1. …when using your AVR/soundbar/TV’s HDMI input.
2. …when connecting your OSMC device to your AVR/soundbar/amplifier’s S/PDIF input.
3. …when connecting your OSMC device to your AVR/soundbar/amplifier’s analogue input.

Some of the audio settings explained in more detail:

FAQs:


Thank you, @grahamh, for your part of this wiki article!

Connecting up your equipment for best audio
Audio setup and information
DVD stutter
unlisted #2
#3

Supported devices:

OSMC supports a range of devices: All Raspberry Pis (except RPi4 at the time of writing) and our own Vero series (Vero 1, Vero 2, Vero 4K and Vero 4K +).

  • Veros have an HDMI port for video and audio, a 3.5mm port for analogue audio and composite video (A/V) (not Vero 1) and an S/PDIF port (TOSLINK or coaxial).

  • Raspberry Pis have an HDMI port and a 3.5mm A/V port. Third-party HATs are available to provide better quality analogue and S/PDIF audio.

Users can also connect USB soundcards to any OSMC supported device. Most high-quality USB soundcards output only analogue stereo.

How you connect up your TV/monitor/projector (‘display’) and your AVR/soundbar/amplifier (‘amplifier’) depends on the capabilities of your equipment. The following recommendations are general. You will have to read the manuals for your display and amplifier carefully to get the best arrangement, especially if you want CEC to work in a particular way.

Acronyms Use your favourite search engine if you don’t understand the following terms
Needed: HDMI, AVR, ARC, CEC, DD, AC-3, DTS, (L)PCM.
May need: S/PDIF, TOSLINK, USB, HAT (for Raspberry Pi), CVBS, TRS, TRRS, OMTP, CTIA, DVI, VGA.


Back to the top.

#4

1. You have a display with an HDMI input and you have an AVR with HDMI inputs and outputs.

Connect your OSMC device HDMI output to one AVR HDMI input and connect the display to one AVR HDMI output. You will be able to play all audio and video formats that your AVR supports. If your display accepts more video formats than your amplifier can pass through (e.g. 4k @ 50/60Hz) you will need an HDMI splitter to enjoy those and at the same time using the full audio capabilities of your AVR.

Go here and follow the recommendations for audio settings in Kodi for an AVR using HDMI.


Back to the top.

#5

2. You have an AVR/amplifier with no HDMI inputs.

Connect your OSMC device’s HDMI output to your display. You have two basic options for audio as follows.

2.1. Connect your non-HDMI AVR/amplifier to your OSMC device

You will not be able to use your amplifier to play audio from the display with this arrangement but may be able to play more digital formats.

2.1.1. If your AVR/amplifier has TOSLINK (optical) inputs:

  • connect your Vero’s (1, 4K or 4K +) TOSLINK output (or RPi HAT TOSLINK) to your AVR/amplifier.
    or
  • connect your Vero 2’s S/PDIF output through a coaxial-TOSLINK converter.

You will be able to play stereo LPCM and will most likely be able to play DTS and DD 5.1 surround (but not DTS-MA or TrueHD) depending on your AVR’s/amplifier’s capabilities.

2.1.2. If your AVR/amplifier has a digital coaxial input:

  • connect your Vero’s (1, 4K or 4K +) TOSLINK output through an optical-coaxial converter to your AVR/amplifier.
    or
  • connect your Vero 2’s S/PDIF output to the AVR/amplifier.
    or
  • connect your RPi HAT digital port to the AVR/amplifier, using a converter if necessary.

This will perform the same as 2.1.1. above, except some coaxial inputs offer higher samplerates than some TOSLINK inputs (TOSLINK is often limited to 24 bit 96 kHz).

2.1.3. If your amplifier only has analogue inputs, connect your amplifier to your OSMC device’s analogue output (this option is not available for Vero 1).

Note: The A/V port on Vero 2, 4K and 4K + is the 3.5mm jack nearer to the ethernet port. For audio only, you can use a standard TRS plug. When using a TRRS plug on Vero 4K and 4K + it must be wired as ‘OMTP’, i.e. left-right-video-ground. The 3.5mm A/V port on Vero 2 and Raspberry Pi is ‘CTIA’, i.e. left-right-ground-video. See here for a good explanation.

Go here and follow the recommendations for audio settings in Kodi for S/PDIF or analogue AVR/amplifier as appropriate.

2.2. Connect your AVR/amplifier to your display

With this option, you will be able to play audio from the display (e.g. terrestrial TV) to your AVR/amplifier but you may only be able to send stereo to your AVR/amplifier.

2.2.1. If yourAVR/amplifier has digital inputs and your display has a digital output, connect your display’s digital output to your AVR/amplifier, if necessary using a TOSLINK-coaxial or coaxial-TOSLINK converter. You will be able to play stereo and may be able to play DTS and DD 5.1 surround.

2.2.2. If your display does not have a digital output, connect the display’s analogue audio out or headphone jack to your AVR/amplifier. You will only be able to play stereo. You will likely get better quality audio directly from your Vero or your Raspberry Pi’s analogue HAT than from your display, but you will definitely get better quality audio from the display than from Raspberry Pi’s on-board audio jack.

Go here and follow the recommendations for audio settings in Kodi for an AVR using HDMI.


Back to the top.

#6

3. You have an AVR/amplifier and your display has no HDMI input.

3.1. You can connect your OSMC device (except Vero 1) to your display’s composite video input (if available) using the device’s A/V port. You cannot then use the HDMI port for audio only. You can only use the analogue or S/PDIF ports as described in 2.1. above.

3.2. You can choose from a variety of HDMI video and audio converters and splitters that suit your display and sound equipment, for example HDMI to DVI/VGA/composite/component with various audio interfaces - TOSLINK, digital coaxial or analogue.


Back to the top.

#7

4. You have no amplifier.

Connect your OSMC device to your display by HDMI or using one of the methods in 3. above.

Go here and follow the recommendations for audio settings in Kodi for an AVR using HDMI or go here and follow the recommendations for audio settings in Kodi for an AVR/amplifier using analogue.


Back to the top.

#8

5. A special case: using (e)ARC.

(e)ARC: If you want to play audio through your display to your AVR (e.g. when a TV is tuned to a terrestrial station) use the display’s input that supports (e)ARC. If you don’t have (e)ARC capability on either your display or AVR, you will have to use another display audio output (analogue or S/PDIF) to achieve this.
(e)ARC is not used when playing media from your OSMC device through your AVR/amplifier.

Some users may wish to connect their OSMC device directly to their display and still use (e)ARC back to their AVR, for example, if the TV supports HDR while the AVR does not.

  • ARC does not support HD audio - only the formats supported by S/PDIF. In this case, you will have to choose Kodi’s audio settings as if you were using S/PDIF output. It is also possible your display will not accept DTS and/or Dolby Digital (AC3). In that case, there is no way to get multi-channel audio to your amplifier through ARC. You must set Kodi’s output channels to 2.0 so that multi-channel audio is mixed down to stereo. If you can’t hear speech from the front-centre channel, that setting is the first one to check.
  • eARC does support HD audio - it can handle the same formats HDMI “normally” can. In this case, you will have to choose Kodi’s audio settings as if you were using HDMI output. It is possible your eARC capable display does not support passthrough of all audio formats to a connected AVR. Please refer to your display’s manual for more information (or test it by trial and error). If your display doesn’t passthrough all the formats you want to get to your AVR, connect your OSMC device directly to one of your AVR’s HDMI inputs and your display to one of your AVR’s HDMI outputs.

Back to the top.

#9

Recommended audio settings for different scenarios:


…when using your AVR/soundbar/TV’s HDMI input.

Go to Settings/System/Audio… Select the following settings (keep in mind to set the settings level to ‘Expert’ in the bottom left corner of the settings window to see all settings necessary) :

  • Audio device:
    • Vero 2, 4K/4K +: PCM or HDMI
    • Vero 1: HDMI
    • Raspberry Pi: HDMI
  • Number of channels: 7.1 (so your AVR/soundbar/TV can do the processing of LPCM according to your speaker setup)
    • Some HDMI devices can only process 2-channel LPCM! Please check your AVR/soundbar/TV’s manual for a list of supported HDMI audio formats… If your AVR/soundbar/TV only supports 2-channel LPCM, please set Number of channels to 2.0 and enable AC3 transcoding, if you don’t want all HD audio down-mixed to 2.0 LPCM (also see the explanation of AC3 transcoding a bit further down)
  • Output configuration: Best match
  • Passthrough: enabled (on Raspberry Pi select Passthrough device: HDMI)
  • DTS/AC3 passthrough: enabled*
  • DTS-HD passthrough: enabled** (if your AVR/soundbar/TV supports it)
  • TrueHD passthrough: enabled** (if your AVR/soundbar/TV supports it)
  • E-AC3 passthrough: enabled (if your AVR/soundbar/TV supports it)

* Raspberry Pis do not support DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD passthrough. If you’d like to get the best audio experience by decoding HD audio DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD tracks to surround LPCM, disable this setting on your RPi. This also applies, if you connect up your Vero to an AVR not capable of processing HD audio via HDMI. If you leave it enabled, instead of decoding DTS-HD to surround LPCM, only the core DTS track will be passed on - losing audio quality this way.
** Vero 2 and all Raspberry Pis do not support passthrough of DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD.

Keep in mind to disable “Sync playback to display” under Settings/Player/Videos for passthrough to work!


Back to the top.

#10

…when connecting your OSMC device to your AVR/soundbar’s S/PDIF input.

Go to Settings/System/Audio… Select the following settings (keep in mind to set the settings level to ‘Expert’ in the bottom left corner of the settings window to see all settings necessary) :

  • Audio device:
    • Vero 2, 4K/4K +: PCM or HDMI
    • Vero 1: S/PDIF
    • Raspberry Pi: your S/PDIF soundcard
  • Number of channels: 2.0 (S/PDIF only supports 2-channel LPCM)
  • Output configuration: Best match
  • Passthrough: enabled (on Raspberry Pi select Passthrough device: your S/PDIF soundcard)
  • DTS/AC3 passthrough: enabled
  • DTS-HD passthrough: disabled (only present on Vero 1 and Vero 4K/4K +)
  • TrueHD passthrough: disabled (only present on Vero 1 and Vero 4K/4K +)
  • E-AC3 passthrough: disabled
  • AC3 transcoding: enabled (enable this if you don’t want multi-channel LPCM and HD audio down-mixed to 2.0 LPCM, also see the explanation of AC3 transcoding a bit further down)

Keep in mind to disable “Sync playback to display” under Settings/Player/Videos for passthrough to work!


Back to the top.

#11

…when connecting your OSMC device to your AVR/soundbar’s analogue input.

Go to Settings/System/Audio… Select the following settings (keep in mind to set the settings level to ‘Expert’ in the bottom left corner of the settings window to see all settings necessary) :

  • Audio device:
    • Vero 2, 4K/4K +: PCM or HDMI
    • Vero 1: HDMI
    • Raspberry Pi: Analogue
  • Number of channels: 2.0
  • Output configuration: Best match
  • Passthrough: disabled

Keep in mind that the analogue port is not amplified to power low sensitivity headphones at a satisfactory volume level!


Back to the top.

#12

Some of the audio settings explained in more detail:


Output configuration

The Kodi wiki states the following concerning this setting (AudioEngine, under 5.3 ActiveAE):

ActiveAE has three build-in profiles: Best Match, Optimized and Fixed.

  • Fixed takes care that all audio you will play is play in the very same data format. Your receiver does not need to switch modes.
  • Best Match is what previously existed as the “audiophile” mode. Whenever a new video or music playback starts, the audio engine will select the best sink for that stream. By design Best Match and gapless playback are not compatible. If you rely on gapless playback, consider using Optimized instead.
  • Optimized is something special, as it tries to reduce the reopening of sinks a lot. One example is live-TV where it switches between 5.1 to 2.0 during commercials. In order to not open the device anew and loosing some (milliseconds of) audio, the 2.0 commercials are played with the already open 5.1 sink by muting the non existent channels.

We recommend using Best match all the time for these reasons:

  • Fixed resamples everything (that doesn’t match the selected output samplerate), but most audio hardware can process all audio samplerates anyway.
  • Optimized may produce very weird results when queuing different audio files for playback. Especially when files with different channel layouts are mixed in a queued playback (e.g. 2.0 and 5.1 files), sound may be played from wrong/unexpected speakers.
  • Also, both fixed and optimized are not recommended, if you’re interested in bit-perfect playback (which the Vero 4K/4K+ supports, see here: Can Vero do bit-perfect playback?). Those two settings will resample your audio files often or most of the time (optimized resamples, if the samplerate of a queued files is not the same as the samplerate of the file before that in your queue).

If you’re interested in bit-perfect playback, set the output configuration to Best match and set the Kodi volume to 100% (using a Kodi remote app e.g.)!

Keep in mind to set the settings level to ‘Expert’ in the bottom left corner of the settings window to see all settings.


Back to the top.

#13

AC3 transcoding

This setting is only available if you set the Number of channels to 2.0. In this case, surround LPCM channels will normally be downmixed and HD passthrough formats will be decoded and down-mixed to LPCM 2.0. If you want to retain surround audio also with those formats in this scenario, AC3 transcoding will do the trick: It transcodes all LPCM and HD audio stream’s surround audio into a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital (AC3) stream on-the-fly to give you the best surround sound possible with your setup.
Just keep in mind: Same as decoding of lossless tracks to LPCM, transcoding won’t preserve any 3D audio information of DTS:X, Dolby Atmos or AURO-3D - the 3D metadata can only be streamed to a capable receiver when the audio stream is transported untouched!

Keep in mind to set the settings level to ‘Expert’ in the bottom left corner of the settings window to see all settings.


Back to the top.

#14

Keep audio device alive

This setting is not needed in the normal use case of your OSMC device. It’s meant for systems where more than one audio application wants to use the audio sink. The keep alive setting will force Kodi to always retain control of the audio sink thus making it impossible for other audio applications to take over. As the normal use case of your OSMC device only has one application that will make use of the audio sink (Kodi), this setting can be ignored and it basically doesn’t matter what you set it to.


Back to the top.

#15

Send low volume noise

This setting helps with two issues, if you’re sensitive about them:

  1. The audio sink of the Vero takes a very short time to open which leads to a short period of silence before the actual audio is audible (this mostly affects PCM playback, not so much passthrough).
  2. Some audio receiving equipment falls into a standby mode when no audio information is received through its input. This setting may help preventing an audio receiving device from going into standby. It has also been reported that some audio receiving devices make strange “plop” noises when the state of the input changes. So, this setting may help to prevent too many changes from happening (by keeping the Vero’s audio sink open all the time).

Back to the top.

#16

Mute HDMI audio (Vero 4K/4K + only)

This setting is audio related, but it is to be found in a different settings window: Settings/System/Video. Enable this setting, if you’re e.g. connecting your Vero 4K/4K + to your TV via HDMI and to your AVR/soundbar via S/PDIF/analogue and you don’t want the TV to receive any audio via HDMI. The setting will mute audio on HDMI only - S/PDIF and analogue will still output audio.


Back to the top.

#17

FAQs:


What is HD audio?

HD audio files are considered audio formats that can be passed through via HDMI by our Vero 1 and Vero 4K/4K + (not the Vero 2 or any Raspberry Pi). These include: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD MA, DTS:X and AURO-3D.
Dolby Digital Plus (or DD+/E-AC3) and DTS-HD HRA are special cases as they sit somewhere between HD and non-HD audio (link!).


Back to the top.

#18

Why can’t I passthrough HD audio via S/PDIF?

S/PDIF’s maximum supported bandwidth equals the audio bandwidth needed for 2-channel 24 bit 192 kHz PCM audio. The bandwidth needed for HD audio to be passed through is a lot higher - which is only supported by the HDMI interface. Be aware: some older and even today’s equipment only supports a maximum of 2-channel 24 bit 96 kHz PCM audio via S/PDIF!


Back to the top.

#19

Why are Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC3) and DTS-HD HRA special cases?

Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD HRA are using a bandwidth equal to 2-channel 24 bit 192 kHz PCM audio which is supported by some S/PDIF equipment. If your AVR/soundbar/TV supports Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD HRA and offers support for 2-channel 24 bit 192 kHz via S/PDIF, passthrough of Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD HRA may also work via S/PDIF. This is the reason why Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD HRA are sitting in the middle of HD and non-HD audio, so to say.


Back to the top.

#20

Which versions of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are there? And how is AURO-3D different?

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X exist in two different versions each. Both 3D audio formats are additions to existing Dolby and DTS audio formats in the form of added audio metadata for 3D audio objects. Older equipment that doesn’t support Atmos and DTS:X will just ignore the metadata. Dolby Atmos can have either a Dolby TrueHD core (which would be lossless Atmos) or a Dolby Digital Plus core (which would be lossy Atmos). The same applies for DTS:X: The core can either be DTS-HD MA (lossless) or DTS-HD HRA (lossy). Lossy Atmos is quite common for streaming applications nowadays (like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video) whereas the lossy version of DTS:X is still very rare and mostly used on non-English BD or UHD BD releases for space reasons (secondary DTS:X tracks).
AURO-3D is also an addition to a core audio stream, but it doesn’t utilize 3D audio objects. It adds another layer of fixed audio channels on top of the existing 5.1 or 7.1 channels. The core audio format used for AURO-3D is one of these two lossless formats: LPCM or DTS-HD MA. There is no lossy version of AURO-3D and the most used channel layout for AURO-3D is 9.1 at the moment (5.1 ear level speakers, 4 upper level speakers). It supports 11.1 and 13.1 speaker layouts as well.


Back to the top.