What is SPDIF in Smart TV?

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Written By Dinu Sri

Dr H. T. D. S. Madusanka is an electronic expert with 10 years of experience, involved in the research and development of SMART HOME systems.

SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) is an audio connection used in Smart TVs to transmit high-definition audio. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding SPDIF in Smart TVs, its advantages, and disadvantages. SPDIF can transmit both uncompressed and compressed 5.1/7.1 surround sounds like DTS or Dolby Digital.

The SPDIF interface comes in two forms: coaxial and optical. While HDMI carries both audio and digital video signals, SPDIF specializes in audio-only, making it ideal for devices like soundbars or home theater systems. The transmission delay is minimal, often just a few milliseconds, ensuring high-quality audio.

However, the use of SPDIF is declining as newer forms of audio transmission like HDMI ARC gain popularity. Despite this, some brands of Smart TVs, such as Samsung and Apple, still feature SPDIF ports. The article also addresses frequently asked questions like the primary use of SPDIF and its comparison with HDMI.

What is SPDIF in Smart TV?

S/PDIF stands for Sony/Phillips Digital Interface, which is an audio connection used to transmit HD quality of audio. You also use this connection to connect the home theatre systems with set-top boxes, games consoles, and any other type of entertainment device.

S/PDIF has two channels of uncompressed and compressed 5.1/7.1 surround sounds like DTS or Dolby Digital. The connectors that the SPDIF interface associates or connects with is presented in two ways: Coaxial and optical.

While HDMI carries audio and digital video signals, SPDIF is known to take audio-only. Therefore, it works for devices that only need an audio output like a soundbar or a home theatre system. 

Advantages of SPDIF Port

  • There is more than less delay in the transmission since SPDIF only needs a few steps to get digital from the analogue and vice versa. The SPDIF takes only a few milliseconds to convert digital to analogue.
  • Since the focus is only on audio, SPDIF gives a great sound quality than the other connector as they do not require much time to convert sound to analog for it to convert it again to digital. This way, almost no information gets left behind.
  • It can transmit compressed as well as uncompressed audio signals.
  • You can choose from two coaxial or optical connectors, as per your choice.

Disadvantages of SPDIF port

  • If you use coaxial cables for a SPDIF port, then the transmission will depend on the quality of the cable. If it is durable, then only it will work for a longer time.
  • Good sound quality can be hard to understand since we do not know what the standards of comparison are! You can only compare between two devices to understand the difference better. Therefore, it does not matter if you are using a fast or a slow net connection or the 7.1 channels. As long as there is a drastic change, you won’t be able to say anything.
  • The right kind of equipment and its quality would greatly decide the quality of sound transmission. If you use a low-quality sound system, then the quality of sound you hear will be bad.
  • Nowadays, the use of the SPDIF port is absolutely low. Home theatre systems audio systems are using less and less of this port since the visual demand has increased over time; these days, people watch movies and TV shows online on their Television sets which comes with a fire stick connection or a set-top box that has its connection cables. Therefore, SPDIF is hardly used now. Therefore, there is no scope for improvement.

What brand of smart TV has a SPDIF port?

After knowing the possible merits and demerits of the SPDIF port, I will walk you through some brands of smart TVs that still use SPDIF ports and are known for their super amazing Dolby Atmos quality sound:

  • Samsung Smart TV, 43-inch Crystal 4K UHD
  • Vu Smart TV-Premium, 55-inch TV with 4K.
  • Samsung 32 inch Smart HD TV
  • New Apple TV, 4K32GB
  • Marson V88 4K smart TV box
  • Mi TV Pro 49 inch.

How do I use SPDIF on my TV?

If you connect your audio through this port, then read below:

  1. Connect the SPDIF cable into the MB SPDIF connector.
  2. Check the Bracket optical LED of SPDIF is lit up or not.
  3. Connect the speaker with the H/W digital decoder.
  4. Attach the coaxial cable and SPFID.
  5. Also, connect it with the optical cable.

What is SPDIF’s primary use?

The best usage of a S/PDI interface is to transfer the digital audio to the TV for surround sound. Through this mode, you can connect the output part or a sound player to a home theatre that is compatible with DTS.

Which is better, HDMI or SPDIF?

If you are concerned with the audio quality, you should buy an HDMI. It stands even better than a SPDIF since it passes on high resolution and audio.

Is SPDIF high quality?

The coaxial sound output allows the SPDIF to provide a high sound quality of the source audio. Since spdif does not convert the digital audio to analog, no quality is compromised.

Do Samsung TVs have an optical outlet?

In Samsung TVs, the optical audio port is usually behind the TV. Instead, you can use the SPDIF port as a transmitter for the TV’s sound, which is connected to an external device like a soundbar or a home theatre system.

Do TVs have SPDIF?

Yes, SPDIF is used in TVs as an optical output. However, new forms of audio transmission have been released, like the HDMI ARC, which can put out a video as well as audio. So it fits the more recent world better than the SPDIF.