I’m very new here to this forum. I have owned a Uniti 2 for several years. However, I have just purchased a Uniti Nova, and I watch quite a lot of movies from Netflix on my two year old Samsung QLED TV, always listening to the TV audio through B&W 603s via my Uniti 2, connected with a TOSLINK Optic. Would I get better results with the Nova, if I used an HDMI connection from the TV?

Personally I’m not a great fan of HDMI - a mechanically poor connection and way too much hassle with all the potential copy-protection handshaking protocol nightmares - and prefer the electrical separation between the noisy kit like TV, sat boxes, cable boxes etc. afforded by using an optical connection.


You get the same digital audio signal (bitwise). Newer HDMI-ARC version could support multi-channel surround as well (even lossless, IIRC), but the Naims are all stereo only anyway. So no benefit here.

As Richard already hints at, optical TOSLINK has a few benefits:

  • Electrical isolation.
  • Thinner, easier to handle cables. (More or less beneficial, depending on placement of units.)
  • Basically works all the time. (I think reports about problems are really rare.)

The HDMI-ARC has a few potential benefits in the area of usability and convenience:

  • CEC - you can send control information across the link as well, e.g. control the Nova’s volume with the TV remote.
  • CEC - sensing of the TV being switched on or off, and configure the Nova (optionally) to switch on/off along with it.

That is, if the HDMI-ARC works reliably between your TV and the Nova. There’s very mixed results from users with different TVs (producer, model, firmware), cables used, etc. - for some it works as intended, others give up and go to optical TOSLINK. (See the reasons Richard lists above.)

I think these questions will be the decisive questions for most people, easily outweighing any minimal audio differences due to the different inputs on the Nova.

So, you can either drop-in the Nova in the Uniti 2 place (continue to use optical SPDIF), and keep it at that.
Or you try with a HDMI cable if it works for your combination - both from cable placement and actual usability improvements.

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Many thanks for your replies. I’ll continue to use the TOSLINK Optic


Don’t forget there is now optical HDMI for 48Gbps over long runs. The optical transducers are powered by HDMI power and done all in the plug and data is packed into optical frames and sent over optical and unpacked at the other end. It’s transparent to the connected devices because it’s built into the lead itself.

And of course if you’re doing HD DTS or Dolby multi channel, Toslink just won’t work.

But I agree, the isolation is nice and I use Toslink to connect all my “cheap crap” to my audio systems to avoid ground plane pollution.

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It’s worth trying both, but HDMI is the most compromised for audio (most of the time)

Absolutely. But for some audio formats, it’s the only option.

Some devices offer audio only HDMI output. My old Denon BR player had not only audio only HDMI out but a separate source to DAC clock sync cable too. For linking the clock on the HDMI transport to the endpoint.

It’s a shame HDMI for audio was implemented and the old digital out stopped, I believe the likes of storm and to a lesser extent Trinnov do a reasonable job with HDMI in, but I am still using analogue out having tried what was perceived to be the best for audio a few years ago an Acurus ACT4. I ended up going back to analogue out and only using HDMI for picture

S/PDIF simply doesn’t supoort the bandwith for Dolby True-HD or DTS-MA in either Toslink or coaxial connections.

Some high end DACs and transports even have to use two digital coax interconnects for left and right. So really if it wasn’t going to be HDMI then we would need a brand new digital audio carrier. I don’t see it happening. There’s ethernet and USB which might be better connections but the transports are noisier than HDMI. It’s the HDMI physical plug that’s the main drawback. It’s weak, prone to mechanical damage, etc. For AV, there is a lot of upside to having a single interface aware of all the packed content on it and negotiating with the sending endpoint and no downside.

HDMI is very good if you want Hi-Res stereo out of your BluRay Player into an external DAC you get the full 24/96 or 24/192 from BluRay Discs, where as, due to copyright protection Digital Coaxial or Optical is limited to 16/48.
For TV optical connection the signal from my two TV’s, one LG and one Samsung is only 16/48 so no problem into an external DAC/Device.

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