Xbox Series X's HDMI 2.1 headache with AV receivers finally has a solution

HDMI adapter
(Image credit: Sound United)

One of the Xbox Series X's most hyped features is its HDMI 2.1 support, allowing for vast quantities of data to pass through to 4K TVs, 8K TVs, and compatible AV receivers – and it looks like of the biggest bugbears in this ecosystem is now on the cusp of being fixed.

Sound United, the parent company of Denon and Marantz, has proposed a hardware solution to HDMI 2.1 connection issues arising when connecting the Xbox Series X to an affected AV receiver, which had previously "prevented the passthrough of 4K/120 and 8K/60 HDR video" from Microsoft's flagship games console (via 8K Association).

This has meant players have been unable to utilize some of the console's most impressive specifications for a growing number of Xbox Series X games that can be played in 4K resolution at 120fps.

The issue only occurs when linking up the console through the AV receiver, rather than directly to a television – except in Japan, where Sharp 8K TVs are said to replicate the issue – but has been causing problems for those that rely on an AV receiver in their home theater system. Affected models include Denon's X-Series range, Marantz's SR range, and Yamaha's RX-V4A and RX-V6A (via What Hi-Fi?).

What's the solution?

The solution proposed by Sound United involves a dedicated HDMI adapter – a "new box" that mediates the signal between the Xbox Series X and AV receiver, and "corrects the 4K/120 or 8K/60 HDR signal so users do not see a blank screen when the AVR is then connected to an 8K or 4K TV."

If you're worried about having to fork out for yet another piece of hardware, fear not: the 8K Association states that the HDMI adapter (SPK618) is "free for affected AVR owners", whether you own a Denon or Marantz AV receiver.

Yamaha AV receivers are also said to be affected by the issue, though the company appears to have been left out of the above announcement. Yamaha does, however, advise affected users to plug their Xbox Series X console directly into their TV, and use an eARC connection to loop the audio signal back into the receiver.

It's not just Microsoft that's faced obstacles around HDMI 2.1 support, of course. The Sony PS5 struggled at launch to output HDR as well as 4K/120fps play on new Samsung TVs, though a firmware update in March 2021 managed to fix the issue.

There are a host of new input and format standards on the latest games consoles, and it's no surprise to see some teething issues this early in the generation. By the time supply issues for the Xbox Series X and PS5 are over, though – which might take until 2022 at this rate – we expect there'll be very little to complain about.

You might also want to check out the capabilities of HDMI on PS5.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.