Home Theater Network
Audio Connections



HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is a user–friendly interconnect that carries digital video and digital audio signals all in one cable. HDMI supports up to 8 channels of high–resolution digital audio with a maximum sampling frequency of 192kHz for all 8 channels. To give a comparison, standard CDs have a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz, while high-resolution DVD–Audio discs have a maximum sampling frequency of 96kHz for up to 6 channels.

The digital audio HDMI carries can be uncompressed, or any of the popular compressed formats such as Dolby, S/PDIF, or DTS. If you are planning on connecting HDMI to a high–resolution music format such as SACD or DVD–Audio, make sure to double check what HDMI specification the source carries. DVD–Audio requires HDMI specification 1.1 while SACD required HDMI specification 1.2. The newer HDMI 1.3 specification allows for lossless audio streams for all eight channels, and supports both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. The chart below highlights the diffrences between HDMI 1.2 and 1.3.

HDMI 1.2
HDMI 1.3
Max Data Rate 4.95 Gb/s 10.2 Gb/s
Max Bandwidth 165 MHz 340 MHz
Supports DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 Yes Yes
Supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD No Yes
Max Audio Sample Frequency
(2 channels only)
192 kHz 768 kHz
Max Audio Sample Frequency
(3 to 8 channels)
96 kHz
(4 streams max)
192 kHz
(8 streams max)
Max Resoltion/Framerate 1080p (UXGA) 1440p (WQXGA)
Max color bit depth 24 bits 48 bits
Maximum Colors 16.7 Million 281 Trillion

Click here for more information on HDMI’s video capabilities.


i.Linki.Link Input

i.Link is the least popular digital audio interconnect. It is mostly used for high-resolution music formats such as SACD and DVD-A. Developed by Sony, i.Link is based on firewire or IEEE 1394. An i.Link interconnect has 4-pins instead of the regular 6-pins found in firewire. However, i.Link is similar to firewire in its data rate capacity of 400 Mb/s. This data rate makes i.Link more than capable in handling Dolby or DTS surround sound audio.



S/PDIF is a digital audio signal that is commonly transmitted through a RCA interconnect. HTPCs and other computers like to use S/PDIF due to its all-digital format. The S/PDIF signal is an analog to digital encoding scheme with common sampling frequencies of 48kHz and 44.1KHz, and resolutions of 20 or 24 bits.

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