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HDMI: Going the Distance

by:TBT     2020-08-09
Most standard HDMI cables are compliant up to lengths of 32 feet without any sort of extender. Not only is the type of cable you use a factor, but the device being connected is a factor as well. HDMI compatible devices are equipped with a receiver chip that has a 'cable equalization' feature that counters the signal reduction and can extend the length of any cable being used. With a quality receiver chip, the signal could be carried along a 75 foot standard cable or a 50 foot high speed cable.There is a variety of other devices that can extend the HDMI signal longer distances: Category 5/6 cable extenders, Active cables, Fiber Optic cables, amplifiers, repeaters, and equalizers.
Category 5/6 cable extenders (you may know this as the blue ethernet cable) can carry an HDMI signal with an adapter. The CAT5/6 cable carries a signal over a twisted pair cable which is good for noise rejection. This allows the signal to carry distances up to 820 feet. Active cables use electronics built within the cable that boosts the signal and carries it distances of up to 100 feet. Fiber Optic cables uses a precision glass fiber cable, opposed to the standard copper cable found in other HDMI cables. The glass fiber allows the signal to be free of electromagnetic interference which means the signal will be carried a much longer distance, up to 1000 feet! The downside to the Fiber optic cable is it is more fragile than the cables equipped with the copper cable, and many require an external power source which could be inconvenient. Amplifiers and Repeaters are very similar. Both receive the HDMI signal, strengthen the signal, and then retransmit it so it may travel a longer distance. The difference between them is the amplifier will retransmit the signal it receives, in the condition it receives it, where the repeater will regenerate the original signal before transmitting it. Both the amplifier and The repeater should connect 2 equal HDMI cables. What's great about the repeater is you can connect as many cables and repeaters together as you want, and the signal will keep repeating. One repeater can extend the signal to 100 feet. The equalizer adjusts the balance in the frequency of the signal. In doing so, it strengthens the energy, allowing the signal to carry longer distances up to 200 feet. The equalizer should be placed at the end of a long HDMI cable, then connected to a shorter HDMI cable that will connect with the TV or Monitor. The equalizer's power is supplied by an external power supply, but can function shorter distances by the 5V signal from the HDMI source.
You could just connect multiple HDMI cables together to achieve your desired length, but without an extender, the signal will not hold and you may experience flickering or other clarity problems associated with a weak signal.
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