Clearing Up Confusion: HDMI 2.0 vs. 2.0a

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Q I am looking to buy a Pioneer Elite AV receiver, but I hear that they have problems with 4K/Ultra HD video passthrough. Is this correct? —Charlie F. / via e-mail

A I can’t say I’ve heard of that issue. The specs for each model in Pioneer’s Elite 2015 AV receiver line cite “Full Bandwidth HDMI (4K UltraHD 60p/4:4:4) with HDCP 2.2.” This means that the receivers have HDMI 2.0 connections capable of handling up to 60-frame-per-second UHD TV signals, along with support for the HDCP 2.2 copy protection required for passthrough of signals from the forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray format.

One thing that the 2015 Pioneer Elite line is missing—and I’m going to speculate that this is what you’re referring to—is HDMI 2.0a connections, which are required for passthrough of high dynamic range (HDR) content (a feature that additionally requires a TV with HDR capability). So, to answer your question, 2015 Pioneer Elite receivers provide the necessary HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 connections to pass through 4K/Ultra HD video. But if you’re talking about 4K/Ultra HD video with high dynamic range, it’s true that Pioneer’s 2015 Elite receiver line lacks the necessary HDMI 2.0a connections to handle it.

More information on HDMI 2.0a from the HDMI Forum.

Here’s a video that provides a quick overview of HDMI 2.0a (ignore the lame questions):

utopianemo's picture

Which Elite line is considered 2015? the SC-8x or SC-9x? Since most of the 9x line came out about November of last year, I would assume that is considered 2016. Correct?

mikem's picture

Once again the average consumer is up the creek with all the new a/v standards and technology. I consider myself a rather knowledgeable audiophile and this new tech. landscape is still daunting for me. What a mess. Specifically though are the hdmi standards and the still troubling terminal connectors. If I had a penny for all the times the connector came disconnected I could buy a new a/v system, let alone the whole 'handshaking' fiasco. I just finished setting up a new system for a friend who still had analog dvd and vhs. I tried to explain the whole digital delay and his eyes were as big as a saucer. A week later he called and asked me to uninstall everything and go back to his old analog system. Frankly I couldn't blame him. BTW he spent 9K on his system........

Gonzaga_1's picture

On top of all the HDMI, HDCP, etc. upgrades and firmware updates nearly every year the consumer also has to worry about how will it actually work once they get it home and will they find any flaws within the money back return period. Sadly only the school of hard knocks will tell you this. I purchased the SC-85 (2015) model and I can enjoy it but one of many items I absolutely hate is using the ARC feature as it is a complete disaster. For example, if I am streaming music via a computer or Airplay without the TV on and then decide to turn the TV on, because the ARC feature is enabled it will switch the receiver over to the TV input which renders the music listening completely dead. To explain completely dead, because the receiver had to automatically jump to the TV input for ARC I cannot simply change back to the music listening input. If I try the receiver completely fails to output sound. Therefore I have to turn everything off, disconnect the computer or whatever I was initially using, then turn the TV on to watch TV, wait for the receiver to jump to the TV input, then if I still want to stream music or any other type of multitasking I then have to turn the computer back on and reconnect that. Another lemon experience is how slow it is for the receiver to process my PS3 video. Quite often the Blu-ray movie will be playing audio well before it can process the video to send to the TV. And if I try to contact Pioneer about my lemon equipment they could care less. Buyer beware I wouldn’t consider Pioneer ever again.

chrisheinonen's picture

This is more a function of ARC and how it is designed than the Pioneer alone. First, most receivers use the same HDMI chipsets so the Pioneer won't differ. ARC almost never works as reliably as it should, and I've completely given up on it. I find it's far easier to run the extra cable that uses the TV optical output to an optical input on the receiver for TV sound. Then you don't run into these issues with ARC and HDMI CEC.

msardo's picture


May I please ask if you know if my receiver - the Yamaha RX-A2030 - is compatible with 4K passthrough - basically, I have the same question as the original person writing this article, but just for a different receiver.

Kind thanks - Mark

Deus02's picture

Your model AVR IS already capable of 4K pass through and processing, check your owners manual for more information. It will only activate if connected to a 4K compatible monitor. Click on your on screen menu and enter the SET-UP mode, at the bottom of the screen, scan over to video and click on it and there will be a couple of choices where you will then click on "processing or direct"(click on processing) and then along with a couple of other choices, resolution will come on screen. Click on resolution and it, along with the other output resolution choices, probably will show 4K blacked out and as I mentioned above, it will not be active unless it is connected to a 4K compatible monitor.

Do you also have the latest firmware update(1.70) that came out last fall and about year ago there was a firmware update for HDMI 2.0? Did you ever get notification of that. It might be worthwhile checking out Yamaha's support section.

msardo's picture

Hell0 - and thank you "Deus02" - that is a very helpful reply and yes, I had done the 1.7 firmware upgrade way back after it had just come out. At that point, I was more interested in the audio features (still am, audio nut at heart) but I get the sense that my current 1080P TV is starting to fade in performance - it has a lot of years and hours on it - so I was hoping NOT to have to buy a new AVR at the same time as the new TV.

mikem's picture

What I decided to do over the course of buying components is staying with the same brand - just to keep my sanity and avoid pitching components out the window. I use Pioneer Elite receivers since there's then no learning curve for me. I am aware that Pioneer receivers run very hot, even in the open. I finally had to take a laptop cooling pad and place it on top of the receiver. My BD players Oppo's. Sat is DTV. All of them have their own unique gremlins but I've had them so long I can easily troubleshoot them. Years ago when plug n' play first arrived it was nicknamed 'plug n' pray." In my opinion a HT system, aside from speakers, is a crap shoot - especially the damn HDMI mess. Regarding customer service good luck. The primary reason I bought an Oppo (aside from the quality of it) is their customer service. It is truly 5 star. The other component I would mention is my Audioengine PC speakers. Their customer service is also 5 star. However (and I do not know if the speakers are at fault) is my PC does not recognize them. After pulling my hair (what I have left of it)is to disconnect/reconnect the USB hub. plug.

Matthew Posner's picture

In a conversation with Pioneer Elite technical support this morning they stated that the firmware update for the SC-99 from HDMI 2.0 to HDMI 2.0a to support HDR will be released "shortly"