Although we love the PSVR and the PS4 Pro, Sony really dropped the ball when it came to creating the PSVR’s Processing Unit.
For those of you not in the know, the PSVR comes with a breakout box, which has to connect to your PS4 and your TV with a few extra HDMI cables. This is so that a person not wearing the headset can see what’s happening on the TV or see an alternate screen if the PSVR supports multiplayer. It’s a great idea and reduces some of the isolationism that can be felt when using the headset but the breakout box comes with a rather large flaw; it lacks HDCP 2.2 support.
HDCP 2.2 is required for the implementation of High Dynamic Range (HDR) in certain titles. Assuming your TV supports HDR then you’ll be treated to more accurate colour reproduction and more striking lighting effects.
It’s not a deal breaker for most players, some say they can’t even tell the difference, but for AV enthusiasts like myself it’s heartbreaking to have the feature stripped out of my PS4 Pro (HDR is also available on PS4) when I have my PSVR set up too.
The free but highly impractical solution is to get down on your knees and unplug some cables every time you switch between regular games and PSVR, however, not only is this cumbersome and annoying but it could also cause premature wear of the HDMI socket on the PS4/PS4 Pro.
The next solution is to buy a male to female HDMI lead/adapter. Leaving this permanently plugged into the back of your PS4 means that it’s only the connector exposed to wear when you choose to switch.
Neither of these solutions are good enough to me. With a wife who likes tidy, my entertainment setup doesn’t allow for cables to be pulled in and out all of the time, not only are they hard to access, the PS4 Pro and PSVR breakout box skid around our wooden floor every time they’re moved.
Something had to be done.
So myself and the OOC team decided to do some research on switches. There are hundreds out there to choose from. From low-cost 3-port switches to expensive multi-port powered devices, price however does not really come into it, it’s the supported specs that matter.
Looking for a low cost solution we bought five different 3-port switches from Amazon. All of them claimed to support HDCP 2.2, some of them claimed to support 60hz and only one of them claimed to support HDR.
In addition to the switches we bought three Amazon Basics HDMI 2.0+ High Speed HDMI cables.
We won’t run through the different devices or what the results as because there’s no point, in the end only one worked:
A small £15 device made by a company called CSL. The box is around two thirds the size of a deck of playing cards, made of metal with a good weight to it. It allows one input and two outputs however being bi-directional this is rather inconsequential. On the top of the device is a push button which switches between the two outputs, you know which one you’ve selected thanks to a blue LED which becomes active when a signal is detected. It’s a little bright for our liking but a bit of black tape and remembering wether depressed means one device or another soon sorted that.
It wasn’t plain sailing at first, this device almost got returned with all of the others, no matter what we tried we couldn’t get the device to display anything at all from the PS4 Pro. After talking with the supplier they suggested we use shorter cables, but our brand new Amazon cables were 0.9m and anything smaller would have been impractical. We nearly gave up until we looked at the box of random HDMI cables we had lying around. Instead of going shorter, why not go longer?
Success! In the end it took two 1.5m cables from an old Sky+ box to get it working. As far as we were aware, the cables were only rated for HDCP 1.4 but apparently not, with a bit more testing and switching to make sure it wasn’t a fluke we’d finally found a device that would switch between our PSVR and PS4 Pro while maintaining HDCP 2.2, 60Hz, RGB and the all important HDR on the latter device, all without restarting the system.
So if you’re looking to get a seamless PS4/PSVR HDR setup here is what you need. Firstly the switch. Next you’ll need a lot of HDMI cables. We can’t recommend where to buy the Sky+ cables because we can’t guarantee they’ll be the same as ours but we do know that the supplied PS4/PS4 Pro cable doesn’t work nor do Amazon cables. So what we can suggest is that you try as many different ones as possible, it will work eventually. In some cases you will get a flickering or snowy image, don’t persevere, ditch the cables and move on. You’re also going to need an additional HDMI socket on the TV.
The cables you are focusing on are the two between the PS4, the switch and the TV (highlighted in red in the image below). The cables for the PSVR are inconsequential and you can use any cables you like.
The whole setup should look like this:
What is happening is that the PS4 is feeding all of its signal into the switch. If left on standard the original HDR HDCP 2.2 signal will pass straight through to the TV. When you press the button on the switch, the same signal gets sent through to the PSVR box, which, due to it’s limitations, strips out HDMI and converts the signal to HDCP 1.4 and then sends it to the TV. The great thing about this switch we discovered is that it can do this on the fly, some other success stories have resulted in switches that need the PS4 to be rebooted before working on a different setting.
So there we have it, an almost perfect PSVR/PS4 setup. We wish we could promise you that it’s going to work out of the box but the truth is you’ll be tearing your hair out as you try tens of HDMI cables to get a result, however if you want to swap between glorious 60Hz, RGB, HDR and PSVR with the touch of a button, it’s worth the effort.