The HowToAV team gives a definitive guide to audio visual signal transmission distances using the various AV cable formats. Expert advice from Daniel Branton, CYP Europe.
HDMI, VGA, AV-over-IP and fiber are just some of the options available for transmitting audio visual signals over cable; but what are the true distances that can confidently be achieved in transmitting high definition audio and video over each cable type?
Signal / Cable Type
Maximum Signal Transmission Distance
|HDMI||4k UHD||10 metres|
|HDMI Premium||4k UHD 60Hz 4:4:4||7 metres|
|HDMI Active Optical Cable||4k UHD 60Hz 4:4:4||20 metres|
|Fiber Optic Cable||4k UHD 60Hz 4:4:4||30 kilometres|
|HDBaseT Lite||1080p||60 metres|
|HDBaseT Lite||4k UHD||40 metres|
|Full HDBaseT||1080p||100 metres|
|AV-over-IP||4k UHD 60Hz 4:4:4||200 metres|
VGA may now be something of a legacy technology, but some regions and applications still make good use of this robust analogue AV signal format.
A realistic cable transmission distance from VGA would be 30 metres. Being an analogue signal, VGA can be prone to interference from other electrical signals in the vicinity of the cable. Therefore, it is recommended that the longer the VGA signal distance required, the higher quality of VGA cable should be applied.
The distance limitation of HDMI will largely be determined by the content being sent through the cable – for example, is the HDMI signal 1080p or high-bandwidth 4K UHD resolution? The higher the resolution and frame rate, the shorter the transmission distance achievable without affecting the quality of the signal.
An HDMI signal at 1080p will transmit up to 15 metres or more. Any cable length further than that may start to experience ‘sparkle’ on thew screen or potential intermittent signal loss.
Increasing the HDMI signal to ‘low bandwidth’ 4k signals (such as 4k 4:2:0), the signal transmission distance will be reduced slightly as more information is sent through the cable. Expect transmission distances of 10 metres + without signal disruption.
Higher bandwidth 4k UHD signals (such as 60Hz 4:4:4) require even greater amount of data to be sent through the cable and it’s at this level that HDMI Premium Certified Cable should be considered. Premium HDMI cable is capable of transmitting high bandwidth HDMI up to 7 metres. Longer distances may be achieved, but as with all installations, test the system and the cable before installing!
These HDMI cables use fiber rather than copper main connection to provide a more efficient, higher performance signal transmission, resulting in longer distances of up to – and above- 20 metres.
No external power supply is required as active optical cables take the 5v power from the HDMI input/output of the system’s source or display.
Fiber Optic Cable is capable of extremely long transmission distances of more than 30 kms – yes! 30,000 metres! Used primarily in large scale, commercial installations, but some large residential AV projects also make us of this long-distance cable transmission option.
HDBaseT uses standard Category 5e/6 Ethernet cable to simultaneously transmit HDMI, control, data and power signals from source to display. Using specific HDBaseT transmitter/receiver kits to convert signals at each end of the Ethernet cable.
HDBaseT is available in 'Lite' and 'Full' versions; Lite is capable of up to 60 metres transmission distances, whereas Full will achieve up to 100 metres (dependent upon signal resolutions).
The latest trend in IP-based devices allows AV signals to be transmitted over the network, via a network switch – using AV-over-IP transmitter/receiver kits, to deliver transmission distances of up to 200 metres.
Find out more about AV & HDMI signals
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