Do I Need an HDCP 2.2-Compliant Receiver for 4K/Ultra HD TV?

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Q I’m trying to choose between new AV receivers from Sony, Denon, and Yamaha. The Sony is the frontrunner, but I am hesitant to pull the trigger because it’s not HDCP 2.2 compliant. If I connect an HTPC to this AVR, will I have problems in the future playing Ultra HD movies? How about satellite? Will I have the same problem if I eventually upgrade to an Ultra HD-capable satellite receiver?—Sam Shirzadegan

A The answer to both questions, sadly, is yes. HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) 2.2 is the latest version of an industry-standard copy protection scheme created to prevent the hijacking of digital AV signals carried over an HDMI or DVI connection. Earlier HDCP versions were devised to prevent copying of content on Blu-ray, but this newest version has been developed specifially for Ultra HD TV.

While most new UHDTVs that came out in 2014 provide HDMI 2.0 connections with HDCP 2.2, and forthcoming sources such 4K Blu-ray and Ultra HD satellite receivers will also be HDCP 2.2-compliant, only a handful of new AV receivers—all of them from Onkyo—have HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2. So what will happen when, a year or two down the road, you’re ready to route an Ultra HD source such as a 4K Blu-ray player, HTPC, or satellite receiver through a non-compliant receiver? The source will attempt to “handshake” with the non-HDCP 2.2 receiver, and when that authentication process fails, you will likely be presented with a blank screen.

Are there any workarounds to deal with this problem? Kind of. You could always bypass the receiver and make a direct HDMI connection to an Ultra HD display. In this case, audio would typically be transmitted seperately to the receiver over an optical or coaxial digital hookup, and video carried over HDMI. Better yet, since you’re concerned about Ultra-HD compatibility (and not everyone is) you could hold out for more HDCP 2.2-compatible receivers to become available so you’ll have a wider range of choices.

Rob Sabin's picture
I was glad to see Al address and further publicize this issue, as we've begun addressing it in every one of our AVR and HDTV reviews. HDCP 2.2--or rather, the lack of it--is the AVR industry's dirty little secret for the 2014 model year. It even took us a little while to catch on to the fact that so many new AVRs being touted as cutting-edge, future-proofed HDMI 2.0 models, including what looks like most of the new Atmos-enabled AVRs, will not be able to pass at least some (if not all) 4K signals from the emerging 4K delivery mechanisms. We've seen this feature only in Onkyo/Integra models this year so far; neither the Denon, Marantz, Pioneer or Sony HDMI 2.0 models we've tested have HDCP 2.2, and we're confirming for Yamaha. Except for Onkyo, none of the above mentioned brands makes any mention on their Website of HDCP, even while promoting their HDMI 2.0 models as being able to pass Ultra HD signals at up to 60 Hz frame rate. [UPDATE: See comment below re: new Sony models just in market.]
Nyal Mellor's picture

Thought you should know that Sony's new AVRs have HDCP2.2. They are the STR-ZA1000ES, 2000ES and 3000ES. The 2000 and 3000 are available now, the 1000 in January.

Rob Sabin's picture
Thanks for this heads up. These new Sony models, which made their debut at the CEDIA show, are clearly listed on Sony's site as HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 compliant.
Rob Sabin's picture
Our Yamaha press contact also just confirmed for me that none of Yamaha's current products have HDCP 2.2, including their top Aventage models that support Dolby Atmos.
rdh79730's picture

I was just getting ready to pull the trigger on one of the Yamaha Aventage models. I saw a 4K TV the other day for the first time (yes, I live under a rock) and was blown away. So now taht I know want one, I don't want receiver that will be obsolete immediately. Is this something that can be fixed in the software (i.e. firmware update) or is it a board issue?

Rob Sabin's picture
Yamaha responded specifically to this question saying it was not upgradeable, which mirrors what we've heard from other manufacturers. I don't know for sure, but I'd gather it's a hardware solution.
rdh79730's picture

There's always next year, I guess. Maybe Yamaha will fix this in the next lineup. I was really high on Yamaha based on reviews and the fact that they have built in wifi at a decent price point. I'm sick of Denon. And Pioneer insist on making you buy their external wifi or your own router. And Sony? NEVER AGAIN. They get great reviews, but are always plagued with problems. The last 3 Sony products I've bought have been lemons. My TV was even part of a class action lawsuit. Even my wife has banned me from buying anymore Sony products.

Rob Sabin's picture
I think we can all have confidence that next year's models will all be caught up on this technical detail.
Mrsnikoph78's picture

I was probably going to pick up a 2014 receiver but am glad I didn't - knowing that the standard is changing is a complete deal-breaker. I doubt I'll own a 4K TV anytime soon, but knowing the receiver will be bricked when I do makes spending on a new one just stupid. These companies should be ashamed of themselves for essentially selling obsolescence this year. I figure most people could agree that a great receiver is something you want to keep for a long time (like a great TV). With separates putting you well into the $1000+ range, the majority of us need and want a compatible receiver at a low cost (say, $500 max).

My old Yamaha, which still sounds excellent at 9-10 years old despite being a low-end model, will have to continue to suffice for now. I had to clean the old grease off the volume knob, and sadly it can't do any DD HD+ material (popular with Netflix), but who cares I guess. I have to say, being trapped with Pro-Logic for awhile now has had me thinking more and more about doing a 2.1 system and being done with it. Keeping up ever-changing formats and standards can be a pain. In stereo we trust.

DRM might make audio business execs sleep better at night, but it would be a whole lot smarter to think about how access to content (and competitive pricing) could be used to grow the user base and hence discourage boot-legging. I figure the first On-line company to provide 48 hour "rentals" of streaming HD content @ $1 will destroy the Red Box, local businesses, and even challenge Hulu, Amazon and Netflix.

With both equipment and content always seeming to get more expensive and complicated, the no-b.s. approach will always be a powerful draw.

Anyway, do we know if the standard change is going to affect other audio appliances out there? Like some soundbars or separates?

Rob Sabin's picture
So yes, this would affect soundbars that do HDMI switching or a prepro that came out today with HDMI 2.0 but without HDCP 2.2. For example, Sony's new HT-ST5 premium soundbar, which we just finished evaluating, offers HDMI 2.0 but not HDCP 2.2.

I should mention, though, that it's not 100% clear to me right now exactly what non-compliance will mean. Is it content or device specific? Meaning: does the HDCP handshake take place when your AVR is presented with an HDCP 2.2 compliant source device, which then denies access to any switcher or dislay that is not HDCP 2.2? it the presentation of specific content encoded with HDCP 2.2, meaning that perhaps some 4K will pass from your source device and some will not? It's perhaps a moot question -- I suppose anything worth watching will be offered with HDCP 2.2 protection...

mikem's picture

What really pisses me off about this is that once again hollywood paranoia wins again. Thanks Disney. Further, how is the average customer going to know any of these behind-the-scenes shenanigans?

Craig Mecak's picture

No one has mentioned the 'other' problem, of HDMI V2.0 'lite', which retains the old 10GBs rate of v 1.4. The real HDMI V2.0 runs at 18GBs. The AV manufacturers may not tell you that the V2.0 they're using only runs at maximum 10GBs, meaning 2160p/60 at only 4:2:0 chroma resolution and max. 8 bit. The 18GBs version can do 2160p/60 at 4:2:2 at 10 or 12 bit.

machielg's picture

Exactly, sometimes are receiver supports HDCP 2.2 but not the 4K/60fps!

BlewMonkey's picture

So just last week I bought a reciever, Elite sc81, then I see this. SC 81 is not compliant with the latest HDCP. But what all is needed if I want to be "future proof"? Does every component from source origin (blue ray disc or streaming device) to reciever to flat screen or projector? Or does only one device need to be? My current flat panel is only 1080P capable. If I buy a 4K next year that is HDCP 2.2 compliant, would that be enough to allow my SC81 to pass the signal through? I think I know that answer to that and therfore I am thinking of exchanging for an Onkyo. Thanks in advance for your response and suggestions.

gregorygray's picture

I know that the current Onkyo models have one 2.2 input. The other HDMI inputs are 2.0. Will we need to have more than one 2.2 HDMI input on the AVR?
Next question, Could we use the one 2.2 input and still use the ARC function for the sound back to the AVR?

BlewMonkey's picture

I did not know that only one input on the Onkyo is HDCP2.2 compliant. So that pretty much makes me lean toward keeping what I got and maybe in 2-4 years when we have consistent and non-wavering standards on 2160P, then I will upgrade.

mailman's picture

What a waste all of this effort is, it creates huge headaches for compatibility, upgrading gear, etc... and for everything they try you can still download any content you wish in full HD if you choose to.

chameera's picture

I gotta question for someone with some knowledge with the HDCP 2.2. I have a Sony XBR-55X900A 4K T.V, I will be changing my HDMI ports to 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (Sony will Change the board as still I am under warranty). And if I buy a receiver (With HDMI 2.0 and 4K 60Hz pass-through) without HDCP 2.2 what would happen ? Will my receiver still would pass the 4K content, i.e. act more like a HDMI switch and will that compromise the picture quality ? If someone can give me an advice that will be great !! Thanks you