Firestick in Canada

Firestick in Canada: a reader asks…

I have a home theatre consisting of the following equipment: a Benq PE 7700 projector, a Sherwood Newcastle R-863 receiver w/surround-sound speakers, a Cambridge DVD player, and a new Amazon 3rd Gen Firestick. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get this all working together with the new Firestick and am not having any luck. I tried a converter box, but that isn’t getting me what I need. Can you help?

Ok, you gave me lots more detail separately, so let me break things down for you.

  1. Your Benq manual is online here
  2. Your Sherwood receiver manual is online here
  3. I’m going to assume your Cambridge DVD player has an HDMI OUT port (you’re not using)

The EnjoyGadgets device you bought is not what you need, you should return it if you can.

First, a quick few facts about Digital versus Analog video and audio:

  1. Digital signal connections used are: HDMI for both video and audio, and either Optical/SPDIF or Coaxial (RCA cable) for audio only. Analog connections use either RCA cables or sometimes S-Video cables.
  2. Trying to mix or convert digital to analog involves a huge downshift in quality, not to mention that all digital video/audio equipment uses HD copyright protection (driven by various laws for digital rights management) which makes it very difficult/nigh impossible for different device types to work together. You’re best off keeping all digital from your sources (Firestick and DVD player) to your destinations (screen and speakers).

I believe what you want is get HD digital video from your sources (e.g., the Firestick and probably the DVD player) to your screen in all high definition quality. That means using HDMI for video connections only.

And you want to get digital 5.1 surround-sound audio from your sources to your receiver and onto your speakers without degradation. That means using HDMI and either Optical/SPDIF or Coaxial connections only.

So let’s start over with a clean slate. I’m assuming your Cambridge DVD player has an HDMI OUT port. You may (now or in the future) have other HDMI streaming sources, so I’ve given you some extra choices below.

What you need is a combination “HDMI switcher box with digital audio extraction”. The switcher part handles your different sources (the Firestick and the DVD player, plus any others you may have or get):

  1. For HD video, the signal goes from the HDMI OUT ports of your sources (Firestick and DVD player) through the box and to the HDMI IN port of the Benq projector.
  2. For digital audio, the signal goes from the HDMI OUT ports of your sources through the box and to either an optical or coaxial cable connected to a matching IN port on your Sherwood receiver.

If you only want to handle the Firestick and DVD player, either of these boxes has two HDMI IN ports and both an Optical and a Coaxial output, so you can use whatever port type is available on the receiver

If you want to be able to handle more than just two HDMI devices (for future expansion), then consider one of these instead:

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You’ll need to decide which of these you want. You only need one box (I’ve given you 4 choices, you can also look for ones without the coaxial option if you have an available optical port on your receiver). You’ll place this box with an HDMI cable going from the HDMI OUT port on the box to the HDMI IN port on the Benq projector. You’ll also need to run either an optical or coaxial cable from the box’s Digital Audio OUT port to a matching IN port on the Sherwood receiver.

As far as length of cables is concerned, it’ll be up to you where you place the box, since you may not have easy wiring runs from Benq to Sherwood, and your DVD player. The switcher/extractor box also needs electrical power, as does the Firestick. You’ll want an HDMI cable running from your DVD player to the switcher/extractor box ready (but not plugged in yet).

Make all the physical cable connections between Benq, Sherwood and switcher/extractor box before you plug in your sources to the switcher/extractor box. Turn on your Benq projector and set it to use the HDMI IN source. Turn on your Sherwood receiver and set it to use the optical or coaxial IN source (coming from the switcher/extractor box).

Now, plug in the wall adapter that came with the Firestick to the microUSB port on the side of the Firestick, and plug the firestick into HDMI IN 1 on the switcher/extractor box. In a moment, you should see the video on your screen. Try playing any movie content on the Firestick and you should hear surround sound from the speakers. If you don’t, you may have to adjust the Firestick’s audio setting, but that’s unlikely as the Firestick should automatically choose the right output format – this since you’ve already connected your receiver using the optical or coaxial cable. The reason is that the Firestick initiates HDCP (HD copyright Protection) circuitry which validates the Firestick and connected equipment, so it can ‘see’ your Sherwood receiver as well as your Benq projector. All should be good.

Next switch the switcher/extractor box (using its included remote) from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 and plug the HDMI cable coming from the DVD player into the switcher/extractor box’s HDMI 2 IN port. Turn on the DVD player and play a DVD. That will give you the video on the screen and the surround sound from your speakers. All should be good too!

So now, use the switcher/extractor’s remote to switch between your Firestick and DVD player. Leave your receiver set to use the same source (the switcher/extractor box) and you don’t have to change the receiver as you switch from Firestick to DVD player.

fistful-of-dongle-adapter-cables-image-from-shutterstock

If you have any other cables connecting devices together (like analog cables for either audio or video), you no longer need any of them and should disconnect them from the components. Your Benq projector will only get video from the HDMI IN port, and your Sherwood receiver will only get digital audio from the optical or coaxial IN port connected to the switcher/extractor. Your sources (Firestick and DVD player) will already be ‘authorized’ via HDCP and know the connected components are valid, as long as power isn’t interrupted. If you have a blackout, you may need to disconnect and reconnect the Firestick and/or DVD player to get them to re-authorize HDCP with your Benq and Sherwood components, although they should remember between power outages (but not guaranteed, HDCP is finicky).

So give this a try and let me know how it goes for you. Feel free to ask me any follow-up questions if you’re not sure about any of the above. Be sure to follow the connection instructions above in the order I’ve given them, as HDCP can be quite tricky.


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