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HDCP 2.2 copy protection and 4K Ultra HD TV

What you need to know if you're buying a TV, home theater receiver, or sound bar

Steve Kindig has been an electronics enthusiast for over 30 years. He has written extensively about home and car A/V gear for Crutchfield since 1985. Steve is also a volunteer DJ at community radio station WTJU, where he is a regular host of the American folk show "Atlantic Weekly," as well as the world music program "Radio Tropicale."

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HDMI input with HDCP 2.2

Nearly all 2014 and later 4K TVs from the major brands feature at least one HDMI input that is HDCP 2.2-compliant, to connect to 4K video sources like Ultra HD Blu-ray players.

In a Nutshell

HDCP 2.2 is a technology designed to prevent illegal copying of 4K Ultra HD content.

Every link in your video chain must support HDCP 2.2 — your TV, video source, and any component the video signal passes through. If one does not, you won't see a 4K picture.

HDMI 2.0 is also required for TVs and components to be able to pass 4K video. But you can't assume that every device that has HDMI 2.0 will also support HDCP 2.2. 

See our growing selection of receivers that support HDCP 2.2. There are also several 4K-compatible sound bars that support HDCP 2.2Nearly all name-brand 2014 and newer 4K TVs have at least one HDMI input that’s compatible with HDCP 2.2.

Full Story

If you're in the market for a 4K Ultra High Definition TV, you may have run across references to "HDCP 2.2." Devices that support HDCP 2.2 are more likely to be compatible with current and future 4K content, so it's worth taking a few minutes to understand it.

HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, a copy prevention technology that’s been used on HDMI connections for over ten years. Version 2.2 is the latest, designed specifically to prevent illegal copying of 4K Ultra HD content. Like earlier versions, HDCP 2.2 creates a secure connection between a source and display via a “digital handshake.”

Lots of 4K TVs and 4K media players have been sold since the first models arrived in mid-2013, and many of those products — especially from 2013 — lack support for HDCP 2.2. Worse, these products cannot be upgraded because HDCP 2.2 requires a “hardware” update — it’s not fixable with a firmware update.  

With the popularity of 4K TVs, you'll be seeing loads of new 4K source components in the next few years: 4K Blu-ray players and media players for sure, and eventually, 4K-capable satellite and cable TV receivers, too. Every one of those components will have HDCP 2.2 copy prevention. If you attempt to connect one of them to a 4K TV that doesn’t support HDCP 2.2, you won’t see a 4K picture. That's the sad truth whether the content is streamed or downloaded from the web, or played from a disc.

No weak links allowed in the signal chain

The HDCP 2.2 issue doesn’t just apply to Ultra High Definition TVs and video sources — it affects any other components in the signal chain. If you run your HDMI connection through a home theater receiver or sound bar, it’ll need to be HDCP 2.2 compliant, as well. Any device in the chain that prevents the HDCP digital handshake from happening will prevent you from seeing a 4K image.

HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0
When you read about 4K TVs, you’ll often see references to both HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0, which can be a little confusing. HDMI 2.0 is also required for TVs and components to be able to pass 4K video. The big difference is that HDMI 2.0 is backward-compatible with previous HDMI versions, while HDCP 2.2 is not backward-compatible when it comes to 4K video. That means you can connect older sources, like a regular Blu-ray player or cable box to a new 4K TV and enjoy an HD picture. But if a 4K TV senses a 4K video source, it's going to look for the HDCP authentication in order to complete the digital handshake. If it doesn't see it, no 4K picture.

Tips to help you avoid nasty surprises

HDCP 2.2 is all about protecting 4K Ultra HD content. If you’re perfectly happy with the 1080p picture you’re getting from your current HDTV and Blu-ray player, and have no plans to upgrade to 4K, there’s no reason to be concerned about HDCP 2.2 right now.

Play it safe and stick with name-brand TVs and components
If you are shopping for a 4K TV, you should definitely look for HDCP 2.2 compatibility. Nearly all name-brand 2014 and newer 4K TVs have at least one HDMI input that’s compatible with HDCP 2.2. We have confirmed it on the 2014 and 2015 Samsung, Sony, and LG 4K models that we carry. On the other hand, some non-name-brand 4K TVs carried by Wal-Mart and warehouse clubs do not support HDCP 2.2.

If you plan to complement your new 4K TV by also upgrading your A/V receiver or sound bar, you'll want to check to see if their inputs/outputs are HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 enabled.

Samsung Ultra HD Blu-ray player back panel

Samsung's UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player has two HDMI outputs. The “main” output is HDCP 2.2-compliant, so you can enjoy a 4K picture with your compatible Ultra HD TV. Connect the audio output to your non-2.2 receiver or sound bar for clean, clear sound.

One clever workaround is to choose a 4K video source with dual HDMI outputs, which makes it possible for the video signal to bypass the receiver. Samsung's UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player has this feature (see photo, above). We're hoping that all UHD Blu-ray players will offer dual HDMI outs, for maximum compatibility with connected equipment.

The transition to Ultra High Definition will certainly frustrate some early adopters who, at some point, won’t be able to watch some types of 4K content on their non-HDCP-2.2-capable TVs. But overall, the widespread adoption of HDCP 2.2 should help the entire 4K ecosystem grow and thrive by making Hollywood studios and other content providers feel confident about making more premium 4K material available.

  • Darren St Laurent from Denver, CO

    Posted on 5/14/2015 12:35:55 PM

    Good article. You should make sure to mention HDCP 2.2 compliance and warnings in any 4K UHD article. Regarding the Sony 4K Ultra Media Player & HDCP 2.2 I have a Sony 4K Ultra Media Player FMP-X10, a Sony STR-DA5800ES stereo receiver and a Sony Bravia 4K TVs XBR-65X950B for a 4K setup. Even though they are all new 4K devices from Sony and all updated to latest firmware. Because the Sony STR-DA5800ES stereo receiver does not support HDCP 2.2, the Sony 4K Ultra Media Player will not output 4K through the Sony receiver. You may want to make sure that any devices such as the Sony 4K Ultra Media Player FMP-X10 which won't output HDMI to devices that do not support HDCP 2.2, that articles for 4K are sure to mention HDCP 2.2 issues between devices. The normal HDMI wiring setup is to feed all devices HDMI inputs to the home theater receiver and the HDMI output to the 4K TV or Projector and the stereo receiver works as a 4K HDMI switcher. But any 4K stereo receiver that does not support HDCP 2.2 or only for 1 HDMI port should probably come with a warning about 4K HDMI compatibility issues. Thanks Darren

  • Phil from Las Vegas, NV USA

    Posted on 5/20/2015 3:10:04 PM

    This seems to be a marketing trick to force consumers to buy new equipment.

  • Larry Fries from San Jacinto

    Posted on 8/29/2015 9:24:57 PM

    Is there a limit to how far the industry will go to require complete replacement of entire devices to enrich their "bottom" line?

  • Christopher from Plano

    Posted on 9/10/2015 1:07:21 PM

    I'm sure the consumer electronics industry benefits from this, but the blame should fall upon the media companies that mandate these levels of content protection. I'm sure the electronics companies would be happy not being the focus of customers wrath when these handshakes don't work exactly like they're supposed to. They don't implement barriers lightly.

  • Dave from Ellicott City

    Posted on 10/28/2015 11:24:46 AM

    The problem I have with this whole 4k and HDTV technology is the video compression used by the cable providers. It totally defeats the technology. I currently have Verizon FiOS and the HD cable video quality on my 60" Samsung is ridiculously inferior to the signal I can receive (HD) over the air from local broadcasters. It's an absolute joke considering the premium I pay for the FiOS HD service. Until we the public wise up and demand additional bandwidth (considering we pay for it) we get what they feel they can get away with providing, unfortunately. I'm just about ready to disconnect!

  • Khürt Williams from Princeton

    Posted on 1/4/2016 4:17:25 PM

    Sigh. Yet another stupid barrier to law abiding consumption of media content that will have little affect on the hard core content pirates. I just spent 30 minutes chatting with a Crutchfield analyst before I could make a buying decision because I had to make sure the sound bar and 4K TV would have to issues passing content through from my TiVo Bolt. Aargh!!!

  • chris from Tampa

    Posted on 4/22/2016 10:21:21 AM

    Agreed, hardcore pirates will find a work around.

  • Jason from Brooksville, FL

    Posted on 5/11/2016 2:47:44 PM

    Thank you for the article and the information! The more I read, the more I realize my TV replacement is going to cost me an entire A/V setup, and even then will likely NEVER be future proofed... Or keep nefarious individuals from getting what they want. Argh... I just want my plasma back with component cables!! We're being forced into using inferior technology and services with inferior results AND made to pay for it...

  • jay from Ukiah

    Posted on 5/31/2016 7:54:26 PM

    Well dtv sent me a software update two days ago that enforced hdcp 2.2 compliance and knocked my home theater on it's azz. I have an older Panasonic 1080i plasma which was apparently the weak link in the chain. What ticks me off is ANY non complaint device in your home theater setup will force you out of using HDMI. I had a quite new model dtv receiver (2.2 compliant), Yamaha rx-v379 (2.2 complaint), PS3 (not sure about compliance??) and older tv as stated. Since I don't even have 4K this action seemed overkill. Two days with tech support reading from scripts somewhere in the Ukraine left me with go RGB component or take your business elsewhere. RGB was OK for tv but then hdmi from ps3 would not work going the av receiver any longer. So I took my business elsewhere since component and digital audio out from dtv to receiver to tv worked but nothing else. Just ridiculous.

  • Rich K from Union City

    Posted on 8/16/2016 12:49:25 AM

    I'd like to just be able to send TV audio to the second zone of my Yamaha 1040, so I can listen in the kitchen while I cook, but the HDCP police have decided that would be a violation of their licensing lock down. So instead I listen to the radio, and don't buy their content at all. My entire life, I've spent far too much time forcing this industry to take my money.

  • Nobody from my head

    Posted on 11/27/2016 8:13:19 AM

    I have yet to see ANY technology that keeps pirates at bay for long, as always we the legal consumers will be the ones to suffer, the industry simply use pirates as an excuse to force us to buy crap we otherwise would not need, the very argument of piracy is based on people not wanting to pay for things so why do companies keep counting illegal content as part of their theoretical revenue numbers when they KNOW for a fact that those people they are blaming for losses did not have any intention in spending their money to begin with?, I say maybe 5 out of 20 pirates would buy the product if they couldn't steal it... maybe, but not all of them as the industry would have us believe, some can't even afford the products for starters and some just get it because its "free" to them, kind of like getting that free sample at the store of something you have no intention of buying but you get it because its free, I do not support piracy in any way, shape or form, but I am also not an idiot, I don't just believe everything the industry tells me 100%, I'm sure its a real inconvenience to them having to make all this other compliant electronics to go with that new TV we got.

  • Billy bob from Nova

    Posted on 12/6/2016 12:23:48 PM

    WTF... I am getting older now so my hearing and eye sight is less than optimal. My income is becoming limited and I do not have a special room dedicated to high end specialized entertainment! These so called improvements and security measures are of no benefit to the growing senior population. What ever happened to the economical KISS concept. Get real people. Don't buy into this unnecessary technical narrative.

  • David from Paradise

    Posted on 12/7/2016 5:47:48 PM

    You just talked me out of buying a 4K TV! I'm glad I read the above article. I was planning on running my older audio equipment and current cable modem. Not happy with the industry trying to bulk the public.

  • Ron Greenlee from San Luis Obispo, CA

    Posted on 1/7/2017 12:32:13 PM

    I have a sherbourn PT-7030 which does not pass 4K. A Samsung 4K UHD TV. Just got a 4K UHD Roku. How do I get video to my TV and audio to my AV Proccesor?

  • Marlk Holloway from Houston

    Posted on 2/12/2017 3:31:07 AM

    I had to share this with one of my Graphic Art site's that make 3D Content for everything from Basic Art to Movies and 4K and VR is the next step in Graphics and as Graphic Artist. We need to keep up with the latest Tech. Thank you for putting this together. It helps me explain this to my fellow Artist.

  • Andy from Lexington Park

    Posted on 4/27/2017 9:19:50 PM

    That figures. I bought a Sony STR-DN1040 Receiver because of 4K pass-through for future use. I assume this means that it won't work now.

  • Anthony from Dearborn

    Posted on 5/5/2017 2:11:56 PM

    And the goal posts just keep on moving!

  • Waseem from Dallas

    Posted on 5/21/2017 7:35:09 AM

    Summary: We are here to make people life more miserable than ever in the name of copyright.

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