Owning your very own home theater is one of life’s rare treats, especially if there’s a room in your abode exclusively outfitted to house your majestic TV or projector screen, speakers, and various A/V components. If you’re a serious connoisseur of all things sound-and-picture, we’re guessing your media cave is running an A/V receiver with HDMI switching capabilities. While most receivers offer plenty of ports to connect your gear to, what do you do if you run out of inputs? Or, what if you’re simply wiring your components to your TV and your Samsung or Vizio doesn’t have enough HDMI ports for all your game systems?
Fortunately, all you need is an HDMI switcher. The best HDMI switchers feature four or more HDMI connections, with ports powered by the latest HD chipsets to bring you the best picture and sound quality you can get. High-quality switchers also offer functions like auto-switching, 4K and 3D support, and remote control operation.
If you’re in need of an HDMI switcher, we’ve compiled this roundup of the best models on the market right now.
The best HDMI switchers at a glance
Why you should buy it: You’re looking for a top-of-the-line switcher with a future-proofed home theater interface.
Who it’s for: Those who want a premium gateway for their premium A/V gear.
Why we picked the Kinivo 550BN 4K/60Hz HDMI Switch:
Kinivo’s line of HDMI switchers has some of the most popular on the market, and for good reason. Measuring 4.6 inches long and 2.5 inches tall, it’s a breeze to sneak the 550BN in with your existing components without creating wire clutter. Best of all, there’s no need to factor in where to run a power cable, as the switcher itself runs off a lithium-ion battery (included). Part of Kinivo’s Pro Series, the 550BN features five HDMI inputs, each rated for 4K/60Hz with a data throughput of 18Gbps. Optimized for premium UHD pass-through, the 550BN supports HDR and Dolby Vision picture codecs, as well as Dolby Atmos, making it ideal for top-tier 4K Blu-ray players, UHD-capable gaming systems, and just about any other HD component you can throw at it.
Input switching is either automatic or manual. For auto-switching, performance is based on the connected hardware. Say you want to fire up your Xbox Series X. Once you power the system, the 550BN will automatically switch to the HDMI input your system is connected to. If you prefer manual switching, you can disable auto-sensing and change inputs with the included remote. Some users have reported the switcher being a bit finicky with certain components, although the vast majority report no issues whatsoever. While it’s one of the more expensive switchers on our list, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the Kinivo’s reliability and audio/video codec support.
Why you should buy it: You want a 4K switcher that gets the job done.
Who it’s for: Those looking for a high-quality switcher that doesn’t break the bank.
Why we picked the Kinivo 501BN 4K/30Hz HDMI Switch:
Featuring the same number of HDMI inputs as its older brother, the aforementioned 550BN, the Kinivo 501BN is a little cheaper than the company’s flagship switcher. In terms of specs and performance, the difference here is the 501BN only supports 4K/30Hz at a slower data throughput of 10Gbps. There’s also no onboard support for Dolby Vision or HDR.
Like the 550BN, input switching is either automatic (based on connected hardware) or manual through the switcher’s IR remote. For only $10 less than the 550BN, you’ll net yourself improved codec support, faster throughput, and future-proofed HDMI inputs if you opt for the flagship tier. But for those shopping on a strict budget or home theater owners with older HD hardware, the Kinivo 501BN may be all you need.
Why you should buy it: You want an HDMI switcher that handles all of today’s best audio codecs.
Who it’s for: Those that can’t bear to pass up premium sound.
Why we picked the Roofull Premium HDMI Switch:
This five-port HDMI switcher by Roofull is HDMI 2.0 compliant with backward compatibility for all older HDMI protocols. While 2.0 is still one of the most common standards, there’s a chance you may need to replace the switcher if you plan on re-outfitting your A/V rack with HDMI 2.1 components. With that in mind, the Roofull’s five inputs are each rated for 4K/60Hz with a throughput of 18Gbps. Component switching is handled by auto-sensing or manual operation (remote or Switch button on the unit).
Featuring onboard support for Dolby Vision, HDCP, as well as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and most other Dolby and DTS audio codecs, the Roofull’s performance and compatibility more than matches its $40 price tag. The only drawback we can think of is the unit does require a physical power connection, so consider that if your home theater room is running out of electrical outlets. If that’s big trouble, you could also consider one of these surge protectors.
Why you should buy it: You’ve got a trove of HD equipment that needs connecting.
Who it’s for: Those who can’t leave a single component unplugged.
Why we picked the Iogear GHSW8181:
Some of us must simply connect every single HD component we have to our TV. That’s why we’ve included the Iogear GHSW8181 in our roundup. This eight-port HDMI switcher is equipped to handle full 1080p HD signals, 12-bit Deep Color, and Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. For device selection, there’s no auto-switching on the GHSW8181, so you’ll need to use the front buttons or the included remote to cycle between inputs.
Notice we’ve made no mention of 4K. Unfortunately, this switcher only supports standard HD signals. You’ll also need to make some room for another power cable, as this titan of a switcher needs one. Frankly, for the dough you’ll shell out on this switcher, it may be a better investment to go with an A/V receiver — if your media room isn’t running one already.
Why you should buy it: You’re short on ports and don’t want to drop the dough on a top-tier switcher.
Who it’s for: Those who only require one or two additional HDMI connections.
Why we picked the Gana 3×1 HDMI Switch:
Maybe you only need to add one or two additional HDMI inputs to your home theater. For around $12, you can grab yourself this three-to-one switcher by Gana. The three inputs each support 4K/30Hz with a lesser data throughput of only 3Gbps. Unlike the other switchers in our roundup, the Gana features a built-in HDMI 1.8 output connection, meaning you won’t need to supply your own HDMI cable to connect it to your TV or projection system. There’s also no required power cable, as the switcher itself is powered by the components you have connected to it.
For the money, this is one of the best inexpensive switchers on the market, but there are a few drawbacks. For starters, there’s no remote control. This means you’ll need to manually press the Select button on the top of the unit every time you want to switch inputs. The switcher does feature auto-switching, but some users have reported infrequent reliability with this function. Also, if you’re trying to keep your gear hidden, there’s little chance of a clean look with the Gana, as the switcher’s HDMI pigtail isn’t very long. If you don’t mind these minor inconveniences, there’s no reason to stray from the Gana.
Why you should buy it: You’re a fan of picture-in-picture multi-viewing.
Who it’s for: Those looking to view more than one HD source at the same time.
Why we picked the Zettaguard 4×1 HDMI Switch:
This Zettaguard switcher features four HDMI inputs, with each port capable of 4K/30Hz. One of the more minimalist switchers on our list, it’s easy to tuck this guy away in a media cabinet or wherever you choose to house your A/V components. While not capable of some of the stronger data throughputs and picture/audio codecs that the other switchers in this roundup can handle, the Zettaguard edges forward with one winning feature — picture-in-picture (PIP) displays.
The switcher is capable of displaying up to two sub-screens for your HD components, in addition to one main HD image that will take up most of the screen. Cycling between sub-screens and the main image is quick and easy with the included IR remote. While we may not suggest it for those looking to get the very best sound out of a picture outputted from an HDMI switcher, it’s a great device for experiencing more than one HD source at once.
Article Tags: HDMI · Switchers