• HDMI Frequently Asked Questions

    Does HDMI accommodate long cable lengths?

    Yes, HDMI technology has been designed to use standard copper cable construction at long lengths. In order to allow cable manufacturers to improve their products through the use of new technologies, HDMI specifies the required performance of a cable, but does not specify a maximum cable length. Cables are expected to be about to send a reliable signal at lengths of up to 15 meters approximately. As semiconductor technology improves, even longer stretches can be reached with fiber optic cables, and with active cable technologies such as amplifiers or repeaters.

    However, in regards to 3D, Monoprice highly recommends the use of an HDMI extender for maintaining a 1080P/3D signal over lengths past 25ft. 

    We recommend using a High Speed Extender like product number 8122 HDMI® Extender CAT 6 Cable

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10105&cs_id=1010504&p_id=8122&seq=1&format=2

    Even though our 22AWG cables and up to and including the 100ft cable offer a speed of 6.75Gbps (which will carry 1080P and 3D signals), we still recommend using an extender for longer runs for optimum performance. 

    Does HDMI carry audio?
                                                                                           
    Compared to video signals, audio signals require significantly less bandwidth, even for the highest quality. This means that all HDMI equipment can handle high-quality audio signals, including uncompressed 2-channel PCM with sample sizes up to 24-bits and a 192 KHz sampling rate. It can also support compressed 5.1 and 7.1 channel audio. 
     
    With the introduction of HDMI 2.0 as well it can support 1536KHz audio sample frequency for better audio fidelity and deliver simultaneous multi-stream audio to multiple users.

    More advanced audio types are also supported, but these require a bit more bandwidth. These include Dolby TrueHD™ and DTS-HD Master Audio™. However, even Standard HDMI Cables have sufficient bandwidth to carry these audio signals, along with the basic HDMI video resolutions (720p/1080i). 

    One more audio consideration is the Audio Return Channel feature in the HDMI specification. The Audio Return Channel is a way to carry audio signals back down the wire. This is most commonly used when you have an HDTV using its internal tuner (i.e., not getting its signal from an external source device). In this case, if you want the audio to play over your surround sound speaker system, you will need a way to carry the audio signal from your TV to the receiver/amplifier. 

    The Audio Return Channel is the part of the HDMI specification that accomplishes this. However, while all HDMI cables can carry the Audio Return Channel, only equipment that is specifically designed to process and/or transfer the Audio Return Channel can take advantage of this feature. If the feature set for a piece of equipment does not specifically list support for the Audio Return Channel, then it does not include Audio Return Channel support.

    Does HDMI support 3D?

    3D is a feature of High Speed HDMI video. Processing 3D signals requires more bandwidth, but in general, if a device has the bandwidth for full 1080p and 4K resolutions, it should also be able to pass 3D video signals. 
    When shopping for HDMI devices, whether they are source devices (e.g., Blu-ray players), sink/display devices (e.g., televisions), or repeater devices (e.g., switches or splitters), you should look for specific support for the features that are important to you. If you do not need 4K or HDMI Ethernet Channel support, there is no need to spend money on equipment or cables that include those features. 
    For "repeater" class devices (e.g., switches, splitters, and extenders), another primary consideration is the video amplifier bandwidth. There are a couple of important numbers to keep in mind when looking at these devices: 
    2.25 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to transmit a 720p/1080i signal at 60Hz with 8-bit per channel color depth is 0.75 Gbps per channel, or 2.25 Gbps total. 
    4.95 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to transmit a 1080p signal at 60Hz with 8-bit per channel color depth is 1.65 Gbps per channel, or 4.95 Gbps total. 
    6.75 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to process a Full High Definition 3D signal (1920x1080 resolution for each eye at 24 Hz refresh rate) is 2.25 Gbps per channel, or 6.75 Gbps total. 
    10.2 Gbps - The current minimum bandwidth requirement of the High Speed HDMI standard is 3.4 Gbps per channel, or 10.2 Gbps total.
    18Gbps – Supports hdmi 2.0 specs and can deliver 4k at 60hz including the specs of previous versions

    What are the differences between Standard and High Speed HDMI cables?

    When shopping for HDMI devices, whether they are source devices (e.g., blu-ray players), sink/display devices (e.g., televisions), or repeater devices (e.g., switches or splitters), you should look for specific support for the features that are important to you. If you do not need 4K or HDMI Ethernet Channel support, there is no need to spend money on equipment or cables that include those features. 

    For "repeater" class devices (e.g., switches, splitters, and extenders), another primary consideration is the video amplifier bandwidth. There are a couple of important numbers to keep in mind when looking at these devices: 
    2.25 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to transmit a 720p/1080i signal at 60Hz with 8-bit per channel color depth is 0.75 Gbps per channel, or 2.25 Gbps total. 

    4.95 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to transmit a 1080p signal at 60Hz with 8-bit per channel color depth is 1.65 Gbps per channel, or 4.95 Gbps total. 

    6.75 Gbps - The minimum bandwidth required to process a Full High Definition 3D signal (1920x1080 resolution for each eye at 24 Hz refresh rate) is 2.25 Gbps per channel, or 6.75 Gbps total. 

    10.2 Gbps - The current minimum bandwidth requirement of the High Speed HDMI standard is 3.4 Gbps per channel, or 10.2 Gbps total.
     
    18Gbps – Supports hdmi 2.0 specs and can deliver 4k at 60hz including the specs of previous versions

    HDMI Cable - Basic Choices 

    With HDMI Cables things are much simpler. For home theater applications, there are two choices with a single option for each. The two choices are: 

    High Speed HDMI Cable - This is a cable designed to handle 1080p and 4K resolutions. It is required to have a bandwidth of at least 10.2 Gbps, which is enough to process all but one of the features in HDMI at the same time, including 3D, 48-bit Deep Color, Audio Return Channel, and any type HDMI supported audio signal. The one feature it cannot handle is the HDMI Ethernet Channel. 

    Standard HDMI Cable - This is a cable designed to handle 720p/1080i resolutions and capable of a total minimum bandwidth of 2.25 Gbps. Standard HDMI Cables can handle some of the HDMI features, but not all at the same time like a High Speed HDMI Cable can. The one feature it cannot support is the HDMI Ethernet Channel. 

    As you probably guessed by now, the one option for each of these cable types is the addition of support for the HDMI Ethernet Channel: 

    High Speed HDMI Cable With Ethernet - This cable can do everything that an High Speed HDMI Cable can do, with the addition of support for the HDMI Ethernet Channel. 

    Standard HDMI Cable With Ethernet - This cable can do everything that a Standard HDMI Cable can do, with the addition of support for the HDMI Ethernet Channel. 

    There is a fifth cable type, which is the Standard Automotive HDMI Cable, but that doesn't apply to home theater applications. If you've got a car HDMI installation, you will use this cable and won't have any other choices to make. 

    In general, if you are hooking up a 1080p 3D ready blu-ray player to your 1080p 3D ready TV, you will want a High Speed HDMI Cable. If you've got a TV that is only capable of 720p and you won't be using 3D, you will want a Standard HDMI Cable. 

    However, it can get a bit more complicated... 

    HDMI Cables - AWG Explained 

    A cursory examination of the Monoprice HDMI Cables pages will reveal that there are more choices than just Standard and High Speed. What is likely to jump out at you are the different AWG (American Wire Gauge) ratings of the different cables. There are 28 AWG High Speed HDMI Cables and 22 AWG Standard HDMI Cables. What does all this mean? 

    First, AWG (American Wire Gauge) is a measure of the thickness, or gauge, of a wire. The system is based on the number of times a wire could be wound around a spool of a given width, so a 30 AWG wire could be wound 30 times, while a 20 AWG wire could handle only 20 windings. Therefore a 20 AWG wire is thicker, with a larger diameter, than a 30 AWG wire. 

    Wire gauge directly relates to the amount of electrical current that can be carried on the wire. The larger diameter of wire, the more current it can carry. In terms of HDMI this means that a larger gauge wire (smaller AWG number) is capable of higher bandwidth than a smaller gauge (larger AWG number). Therefore, a 22 AWG wire is capable of higher bandwidth than a 28 AWG wire. 

    If you look closely at the HDMI Cables pages, you will see that there are cutoff points for High Speed HDMI Cables in each AWG grouping. Beyond the cutoff the cables of the same AWG are rated as Standard HDMI Cables. The longer cables are not made any differently, however. As the length of a wire increases, so does the overall resistance of the wire. Increased resistance means decreased current capacity and therefore decreased bandwidth in HDMI terms. 

    The cutoff points for High Speed HDMI Cables of each AWG rating are: 
    28 AWG = maximum 10 feet 
    26 AWG = maximum 12 feet 
    24 AWG = maximum 15 feet 
    22 AWG = maximum 25 feet 

    So a 12 foot 28 AWG HDMI Cable is not rated for the full 10.2 Gbps required for the High Speed designation. However, it doesn't just jump down to the minimum 2.25 Gbps required for Standard HDMI Cables. It may be capable of 9.5 Gbps, which is almost enough for the High Speed rating, but because it isn't 10.2 Gbps, it must therefore be classified as a Standard HDMI Cable. The longer the wire, the lower the bandwidth it will be able to handle. However, all of our HDMI Cables are capable of at least the 2.25 Gbps minimum required for Standard HDMI Cables. 

    HDMI Cables - More Considerations 

    There are a couple more considerations when choosing an HDMI Cable. 
    First is the application. If you are connecting a cable directly from the source (blu-ray) to the sink/display (TV), you can be assured that if the cable is rated for High Speed, you can get the full 10.2 Gbps, especially if your length is less than the cutoff length. 

    However, if you are installing a repeater device, such as an AV receiver, an HDMI switch or splitter, or anything else in between, you should consider that each connection adds some amount of resistance to the total connection. So, even if your total length is less than 10 feet, you may have too much total resistance for a set of 28 AWG cables to handle High Speed signals.

    For this reason, Monoprice always recommends the use of minimum 24 AWG cables when connecting any intermediate device between the source and the sink/display. It may even be advisable to go with 22 AWG cables, just to be safe.
     


  • If a cable says in-wall; do I have to use the cable in-wall?
    No, CL2 rated cables come with slow burning outer jackets to meet building safety codes. This feature has no impact on the performance of the cable and the cables can be used both in-wall and out of wall.

  • What are Plenum cables used for?
    Plenum rated cable is for use in the plenum spaces of a commercial office building. The plenum spaces are used for circulation of air in a large building. Plenum cables have specially formulated outer jackets that will not produce toxic fumes when burned. While it is okay to use a higher rated cable in lower level applications, you should not do it the other way around, also referred to as CMP cables.

  • 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.

  • What audio formats does S/PDIF support?
    S/PDIF can do two channel uncompressed PCM or compressed 5.1/7.1 audio that is used in DTS audio codec. S/PDIF is not able to support Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio which is what HDMI is able to support.

  • What does CL2 mean?
    Inwall rated cables have a slow burning outer jacket so that in the event of a fire, the flames won't be spread by the cables. Most areas have fire codes that require CL2 rated cables for inwall installs. You should check with your local fire department to see what the requirements are in your area.

  • What is HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) and are your HDMI cables HDCP compliant?
    High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a form of digital copy protection developed by Intel Corporation to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. Currently, any and all future Monoprice.com product carrying the HDMI badging is HDCP compliant and will conform to future version of the standard.

  • What is the difference between DVI, HDMI, and VGA?
    DVI. HDMI. VGA. These abbreviations may not sound like household names, but chances are you’re likely to spot them in most homes. Known as “cable connectors,” these fellas are responsible for the transfer of digital video content, and all operate differently.

    DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface, HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface, and VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. In the early days of computers, monitors were originally monochrome or two-color. Over the years, technology has allowed for better and better ways of transmitting visual images to your computer monitor. That’s where cable connectors come into play.

    Cable connectors The oldest VGA (analog) hardware was developed in 1987 and produced from 1987 to present day, followed by DVI (analog), which was developed in 1999 and produced from 1999 to present day. HDMI (digital) was developed in December 2002, and produced from 2003 to present day.

    The number of pins per each connector varies. VGA is equipped with 15 pins, HDMI with 19 pins, and DVI with 29 pins.  If you guessed that the newest connectors have the best picture quality and fastest speeds, you’d be right! Let’s take a look why.

    A Glance At Cable Connectors

    VGA was first developed by IBM in 1987. The VGA standard originally allowed for a display resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, but has gone through many revisions since being introduced. The most common is Super VGA (SVGA), which allows for resolutions greater than 640x480, such as 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768. VGA allows for the display of 256 colors on computer monitors, uses RGB color (Red, Green, and Blue), and is always shaped like a trapezoid. VGA is today’s basic standard for color resolution in computer monitors, and represents the lowest common denominator for compatibility. (Note: HDMI does not transmit audio signals to VGA adapters.  You will need separate audio cables.)

    DVI was designed by Digital Display Working Group in 1999, in attempts to replace the date technology of the VGA. This hardware allowed computer monitors to display a true-color pallette. (Note: HDMI does not transmit audio signals to DVI adapters. You will need separate audio cables.)

    HDMI was developed by the following companies in December of 2002: Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic/National/Quasar), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson, RCA and Toshiba. Due to its high-definition capabilities, HDMI makes previous technologies completely obsolete. HDMI’s functionality enables the transmission of high-definition audio/video, along with 8-channel audio transmission.

    Though the predecessor to newer and more progressive hardware, VGA still plays an integral role for current technology. 99 percent of all desktop monitors still have a VGA port, while a full 30 percent only have a VGA connector! Furthermore, more than 70 percent of flat-panel TVs have VGA connectors, and projectors are primarily for VGA.

  • 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.