• Do I need Composite or Component cables?
    The difference between a composite cable and a component cable can often be seen in the number of connectors on each cable.  A composite cable is your traditional 3-headed RCA cable, commonly called a yellow, red, white cable, while a Component cable is more commonly known for having 5 RCA heads, red, red, white, blue and green.  Each of these heads is dedicated to transmitting a certain type of data though.  Composite cables use just a single cable to pass through video, while component uses three, it is because of this that component cables are able to push through a higher quality video signal.  While neither are able to push through a resolution higher than 1080i, they are still often seen in older DvD players, televisions and video game consoles.
     
                    
    Composite Cable Component Cable

  • What are the fire safety ratings that your cables are available in?
    What are the fire safety ratings that your cables are available in?

    Fire safety ratings are grades given to cables based on the material they are made of and the material that covers them.  It is important to know what fire safety rating your cables have before running them in certain areas or through certain spaces.  It can be considered hazardous to run cables without a certain fire rating in some places and the repercussions for ignoring these can be as severe as damage to property or life and failing an inspection because of a cable without the proper rating can result in loss of insurance and a fine.  Check with your local code inspection department to find out which fire safety ratings you need to use for the area you are planning on installing your cables.

    VW-1
    VW-1 is a flame test commonly used in the United States to determine the cable's resistance to fire.  Cables that have a VW-1 rating have passed this test and are considered fire resistant.  However, a VW-1 rating does not necessarily mean that the cable is safe to run in wall.  We strongly recommend contacting your local code enforcement, or your insurance company.  They will be able to better advise on whether or not a VW-1 rating is safe for in wall usage.

    CL2
    A CL2 rating meaning that a cable has passed the required NEC test for a high rating of fire resistance.  The cable's materials are not going to burn during a sudden surge of electricity up to 150 watts and the cable itself will not carry a flame.  CL2 is what we most often recommend for in wall usage, we still recommend contacting your local code enforcement for confirmation, as this rating may be unnecessary or possibly even insufficient.  This rating is most commonly found on our copper cables such as our HDMI cables, Bare Copper Wire, VGA, DVI and Coaxial cables.

    CL3
    A CL3 rating is very similar to CL2 in the respects that they are both usable in wall, and are both resistant to holding and carrying flames.  The main difference between the two is the wattage that a CL3 rated cable can carry.  While CL2 cables can carry a surge of up to 150 watts, and CL3 can carry twice that at 300 watts.  A CL3 rated cable can take the place of any CL3, however, a CL2 cannot take the place of a CL3.  We only have a very limited selection of CL3 rated cables with only the Luxe Series of HDMI cables carrying this rating.

    Plenum
    Plenum rated cables are meant to be used in areas with a lot of air flow, typically air ventilation systems.  These cables have a special type of insulation and jacketing that cause them to smoke and burn far less than other cables.  It is because of these characteristics that they are considered safe to run through areas that will give or take air from populated areas as they will not release toxic chemicals into the air for people attempting to evacuate to breathe in.  A Plenum rated cable should be able to take the place of any CL2 or CL3 cable, though, as always, we recommend contacting your code enforcement office as these cables to tend to be more expensive and would serve no real purpose if a CL2 or CL3 cable is all that is needed.  We offer Plenum rated cables for HDMI, VGA, and Bare Copper Wire.

    CM, CMR and CMP
    CM, CMR and CMP are ratings given to our Network cables.  These ratings are very similar to the previously discussed CL2, CL3 and Plenum, but are given specifically to network cables due to their lower wattage.  CM cables share the same values as CL2 and CL3 cables, in that they are most often accepted for simple in wall installation.  CMR, sometimes called Riser rating, is usually required for network cables that will span one or more floors.  CMR cables are treated and tested to prevent a fire from travelling along the cable itself, insuring that the cable will not allow a fire to quickly span several floors quickly.  CMP is the equivalent of a plenum rated cable.  These cables are much thicker and more ridged than CM and CMR due to their thicker jacketing.  As always, we advise contacting your local code enforcement for specifics on which of these cables you are able to use in whatever installation you plan on using them with.  We offer all three of these cables types with various Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a cables.

    Non-Copper Cables
    All of the fire safety ratings we have mentioned so far are for copper based cables.  We are often asked if our optical cables are able to be run in wall.  The brief answer is, yes they are.  Our fiber optic cables are OFNR rated, Optical fiber nonconductive riser.  This means that the cables have been tested to resist a fire should they come in contact with fire.  As these cables to not carry any electricity, they themselves could not become the cause of a fire in the event of an electrical surge.

  • Which cable is right for me?
    There are many cables that can be used for many different types of audio and video devices.  The goal of this article is to help identify which cable you have, or which cable you may need.  

    HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
    High Definition Multimedia Interface, abbreviated HDMI, cables are among the most common video cables used today.  You will find these cables used for most cable boxes, televisions, DVRs, computers, monitors, and BluRay Players.  They are identified by a long flat side on the top of the head with two indented corners leading to a shorter flat bottom.  HDMI cables can come in several sizes, though the smaller sizes are often only found on portable devices such as Cameras or Tablets.  These are often referred to as Mini HDMI or Micro HDMI.  HDMI Mini will be the same size as a standard HDMI but much thinner, while the Micro HDMI will look will be both thinner and smaller than a standard HDMI.
     From left to right: Standard HDMI, HDMI Micro, HDMI Mini.

    Displayport
    Displayport cables are a newer form of video cable that are most often used by Apple and high end Graphics Cards.  We most commonly see these on iMacs, graphic cards, laptops, and computer monitors.  Displayport comes in two varieties, standard and Mini.  The standard Displayport will look very similar to an HDMI head, however only one of it's corner will be indented.  A Mini Displayport Head will look like a smaller square with two indented corners.  We are more likely to see Mini Displayport cables on modern iMacs sometimes called Thuderbolt cables by Apple.  Although it is not very common some of the older iMac devices did use a port called Mini DVI.  This port is not seen on any current Apple products and has been slated of obsolescence, meaning that no future Apple products will use this port.

    DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
    Digital Visual Interface, abbreviated DVI, is a common video connector used in many computer monitors, televisions, laptops and graphics cards.  It is often described as a trapezoid with numerous pins and is often accompanied by a screw on each side of the connector head.  DVI is a little older than HDMI or Displayport and comes in several forms.  While all of DVI's forms look similar, the amount of pins will often tell us just what kind of DVI cable we are using.  Now, something to keep in mind with DVI is that it is used for both Digital and Analog video.  These are considered DVI-A (Analog) and DVI-D (Digital), though we often also see DVI-I (Integrated) which is capable of doing either Digital or Analog signal.  On a final note, DVI can be either single or dual link.  This will determine how much data the cable is able to push through and define what resolutions that DVI cable or port will be able to output.



    VGA (Video Graphics Array)
    Video Graphics Array, abbreviated VGA, is an older video cable that is often seen on projectors, computer monitors, computers, laptops, and older iMac computers.  These are often described as a small trapezoid with 15 small pins on the inside and a screw on each side of the head.  VGA cables are sometimes confused with DB9 cables, as they both have the same shape and similar size, but have different pin outs with the DB9 having 9 pins and the VGA having 15 pins.  VGA cables use an analog signal and are therefore difficult to convert into digital formats such as HDMI.

  • Which HDMI cable do I need?
    Here at Monoprice we offer a very wide variety of cables.  We have HDMI cables that cater to just about any need You may have.  While it is great to have such a wide variety of cables to choose from, it can be overwhelming, and many customers wonder if they are really getting the right cable for them.  The goal of this article is to help you better understand which cables are going to be the right cable for your set up and which cables just might not live up to your expectations.

    Resolution
    The first thing we want to do is determine the resolution of your display and the resolution that your source device is going to output.  Once we have these we can try to find an HDMI cable that will be able to give both devices what they want.  Keep in mind, if the source and display are not both capable of using the same signal then the lower of the two will be the resolution that will be displayed.  This is also true for the HDMI cable we select.  If the HDMI cable we select is weaker than the display or source, then it will bottle neck the resolution to it's highest resolution, despite what the source or display are capable of broadcasting.

    Data Rate
    Many of our cables will tell You the amount of data they are capable of pushing through.  These will be either 4.95gbps, 10.2gbps or 18gbps.  These will often determine the speed of the cable with 4.95gbps pushing 720p, 10,2gbps pushing 1080p and 18gbps pushing 4k.  10.2gbps is also capable of pushing through 4k, but only at 30hz.

    Length
    Our HDMI cables come in many lengths starting at 1.5ft and going up to 330ft.  While all of these cables, no matter their size, are capable of broadcasting a signal, there are some restrictions on length.  Longer HDMI cables will often require some form of extra charge or boost and will usually be thicker than shorter cables.  When determining what the length of your cable needs to be, it is best to try to find the shortest distance between source and display, but there are cables that cater to longer lengths that are still able to give us stronger resolutions.  The longest passive cable we carry capable for 4K is a 20ft length and 50ft with an active cable.  

    Gauge 
    The gauge, or thickness, of the cable plays a large factor in how much data can be transfer back and forth.  The AWG, American Wire Gauge, of most of our cables can be found on their product page.  The higher the number, for example 36awg, the thinner the cable.  While the lower the number, for example 24awg, the thicker the cable.  A thicker cable will have a much easier time transmitting larger amounts of data than the thinner cable and will often be able to support a higher resolution without needing an amplifier or equalizer.  Generally, longer cables are going to be thicker than shorter cables, but there are exceptions to the rule.  For example, a 28awg cable will not be able to put the same resolution through at 20 feet that a 24awg cable could, and at even longer lengths the 28awg cable might not be able to broadcast at all unless it were an active cable or had an equalizer to help push that data through.

    Active and Passive
    By now we've mentioned the terms Active and Passive when speaking about our HDMI cables.  Passive cables are your standard HDMI cable in terms of operation.  Passive cables can be run in either direction and will often be much thicker at longer runs.  Passive cables at longer length will have problems with higher resolutions.  For a passive cable, max length for a 1080p signal is approximately 15ft for a 24awg cable.  Active cables come with more rules.  Active cables are directional and will have a label or marker on each head to tell if that end goes to a source device or a display device.  Active cables draw extra power from the display device and WILL NOT work in reverse. There is no way to reverse their direction if installed incorrectly.  We strongly encourage double checking an active cable before it is run in wall to ensure that the proper ends are going to the device they are meant for and if the cable works.  Active cables are capable of sending signals over longer distances over passive cable.  We also do not recommend running an Active cable between two distribution devices or in conjunction with any type of extension.  We recommend running Actives cable directly to a Display device.  In a setup using switches or splitters an active can be used on the output side of the distribution devices.  

    HDR
    High Dynamic Range, abbreviated HDR, is a format we are seeing more and more frequently from higher end TVs.  HDR, also sometimes referred to as HDMI 2.0a, has the exact same plug in as any other HDMI, but requires more data to be drawn through the cable.  Because of this we advise the usage of our 18gbps HDMI cables, in particular our Certified Premium HDMI cables.