How Does the HDMI Pass Through Feature Work?

Norvan Martin
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If you want a video or audio signal from your HD sources or HD set-top box via your HDMI cable to your home theater, you can’t get it done without an HDMI pass-through. Let’s see everything you need to know about this feature to improve your entertainment experience.

HDMI Pass through allows you to output HDMI signal (audio/video) from a source device such as a console, Blu-ray Disc, or cable box to a TV even when the receiver is in standby mode. Pleas however note that all of the devices used must be connected using an HDMI connection for this feature to work.

Let’s look into more details about The HDMI pass-through feature. 

What Does Video Pass Through Mean?

When we say a home theater or hand-held device has pass-through video capability, we mean the video can exist in the same form and value as it entered into the audio system. The same applies to audio pass-through.

What Does Video Pass Through Mean

With HDMI pass-through, you can get high-quality content since the signals from your source components travel through intermediary components without any alteration.

Should I Use Audio Pass-Through

The correct answer depends on your needs. We’ve said pass-through could give you better-quality sound.

Besides that, audio pass-through helps you reduce the number of cables required for a surround sound setup. So, you get better quality without spending much on cables. However, you can’t reap these benefits if you don’t have a high-quality AV receiver.

Once you find a high-quality AV receiver, you can think about whether to use an audio pass-through or not. Remember that you should never enable a codec type that the receiver doesn’t support. If you do so, you’ll get poor playback video, characterized by low frames-per-second video as well as no audio.

How Do I Use HDMI Pass-Through?

For the HDMI pass-through to work, you should follow the steps below to set your AV receiver:

  1. Press the Home button on your remote control
  2. Select Settings
  3. Choose HDMI Settings
  4. Select Pass Through
  5. Choose Auto

Once you religiously follow these simple steps, the HDMI Pass-through feature will let you output the audio and video HDMI signal from various source devices to the TV even when the receiver is on standby.

Note: You should ensure that all the devices you use are connected using an HDMI connection for this feature to work. Other than that, please remember that if you’ve connected multiple HDMI devices to the receiver, the device that you used last before the receiver was turned off will be given priority.

How Do I Use the Xbox One’s HDMI-In Pass-Through Port to Plug in Other Consoles?

Contrary to popular opinion, you can plug other gaming consoles into your Xbox One, Xbox One S, or Xbox One X’s HDMI-In port. You can follow the steps below to achieve this without spending a cent on an HDMI switcher:

  1. Turn the gaming console off and look at the back to find “HDMI In.”
  2. Get the Blu-Ray player, console, or any other device you prefer to use
  3. Get a high-quality HDMI cable.
  4. Plug one end of the cable on the device’s HDMI out socket
  5. Plug the other end into your Xbox One’s HDMI In socket
  6. On the Xbox One, go to My games & apps. Proceed to the apps section and select OneGuide (Three broken lines represent this app).
  7. Once you’ve turned on the other device, launch “OneGuide.”
  8. Follow the prompts to complete the setup.

Now you are done and might not need to repeat the process in the future. If you don’t uninstall the app, here’s what you’ll do in the future:

  1. Power on your Xbox One
  2. Turn on your other device
  3. Launch “OneGuide” on the gaming console

Note: Ensure your Xbox One is always turned on to receive the other device’s output

Why Do Receivers Have HDMI Inputs?

Without HDMI inputs, your receiver can’t give you the kind of experience that you deserve. HDMI out ports are designed to provide a connection method between your HDMI-enabled devices and your receiver.

So, the HDMI inputs allow you to use HDMI cables to transmit video and audio signals to your speaker system, computer, or TV from the receiver.

Do All TVs Have HDMI Out?

Not all. However, most of the new TVs, particularly smart ones, feature HDMI-ARC compatibility. Since 2009, it has become a common standard on almost all televisions, receivers, and soundbars.

Can HDMI Be Used for Input and Output?

If you want to know whether you can convert HDMI Output to Input, the most straightforward answer is, “NO.” You should explore other simple alternatives to realize your entertainment goal.

It’s challenging to convert your HDMI input to output since the internal circuitry is too different. You should get and use a device that will allow you to receive signals. Alternatively, you can buy an HDMI switcher, if applicable.

Which is Better PCM or Passthrough?

Pulse-code modulation (PCM) can’t deliver more than 7.1 channels. In other words, if you opt for it, you may not get the kind of entertainment you desire.

This one may apply if you don’t want the 3D audio part to be lost. So, HDMI pass-through could be all you are seeking. Once you enable pass-through, the 3D audio formats will work.

Is Optical Better than HDMI?

When hooking up your soundbar or audio system, you need to understand that optical and HDMI are designed to pass digital audio from one device to another. Besides, they are better than red and white cables (analog cables). What’s more, HDMI and optical can pass multi-channel audio such as Dolby Digital.

Is Optical Better than HDMI

Apart from the similarities above, HDMI passes higher-resolution audio, including DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Unfortunately, you can’t transmit these formats across optical. Moreover, HDMI passes video signals. So, if you are asking why you should learn how the DHMI pass-through feature works, you can see the underlying benefits.

However, you can find optical to be the best choice if you have an older, low-quality receiver or have everything connected to your television. As we’ve mentioned, this option suits you best if you have no problem missing Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio.

What is HDMI 4K Pass-Through?

The 4K pass-through feature is HDCP 2.2-compatible and allows data to go through the system without degradation.

You can enjoy video signal input via HDMI connection as a clearer video with depth thanks to an AV receiver that includes the 4K upscaling function.

Is 4K Pass Through Necessary?

No, 4K pass through is not necessary, because it’s mainly dependent on your setup. However, it’s also better.

For example, you can enjoy ultra HD content on a TV-like TCL 50S535 with no loss of audio or visual signals. You just need to connect it to the TV.

Do You Need Special HDMI for 4K?

For the most part, any HDMI cable will do as long as it meets certain requirements.

Some cables might not be able to handle the bandwidth needed for high-resolution content like Ultra HD (also called UHD or simply “Ultra”).

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that your standard-speed HDMI won’t work with such TVs.

Is HDR Better than 4K?

Yes, HDR is more visually impactful than 4K. This is because it delivers a higher contrast – a larger color and brightness range than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR).

That said, both standards are common among premium digital TVs since they deliver stellar image quality.

Standby HDMI Pass Through

The idea of HDMI Standby Pass-Through is quite simple. There may be times when you want to watch TV, but you don’t want to turn on the rest of your home theater system.

Fortunately, you can enable the standby mode to turn off the receiver while still passing the audio and video to your display.


HDMI pass-through is an excellent solution if you want a feature that’ll improve your receiver’s value and guarantee you quality entertainment. HDMI cables are cheap, and you’ll only need a few of them for a surround sound setup. Now that you know how the HDMI pass-through feature works and have all the essential setup tips, feel free to enable this feature whenever you want to improve your experience.                                                                                                                                 

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin