What is a Fiber Optic HDMI Cable? Are They Any Better?
HDMI cables have become a staple in electronics setups across the world. Their versatility and usability have made them the standard when it comes to transferring video and audio from source to screen. While HDMI standards change, so do the types of cables on the market. One recent change is the addition of fiber optic technology into HDMI.
A fiber optic HDMI cable is an HDMI cable that uses strands of fine glass filament to transfer data as light pulses, and they’re better in some situations, like if you’re trying to reach a far-away screen. Fiber optics can reliably transfer data over long distances whereas copper HDMI cables cannot.
When it comes to fiber optic HDMI cables, there are some things to know before you buy. While they may be great for certain applications, for others, they might be overkill. If you are looking to future-proof your media setup, it might be a good idea to switch over now. But don’t think that a fiber optic cable will suddenly make your image quality better. If you want to learn more about fiber optic HDMI cables, read on.
What Is a Fiber Optic HDMI Cable?
Fiber optic has become sort of a buzzword in tech circles. One mention of the term and automatically your brain goes to more advanced and higher performing electronics. With fiber optic revolutionizing the way we get the internet, why not apply the tech to other mediums like HDMI cables?
While it might surprise you, fiber optic HDMI cables have actually been around for quite a while. You know those big LED billboards, well, they utilize fiber optic HDMI. Those giant screens in time square? Well, those use fiber optic HDMI as well. But what does it mean when we say fiber optic?
Fiber optic technology uses strands of fine glass filament to transfer data as light pulses. HDMI cables using fiber optic need to be able to convert the data from the source into light and back into a readable signal. This means that at each end of a fiber optic HDMI cable are two converters.
The cables are small, easy to use, and can support data speeds of up to 18Gbps. This makes them the perfect choice for high-resolution videos like 4K and 5K. As far as commercially available cables using fiber optics, the market has been growing over the years. Here are a few cables that you can find online:
- AmazonBasics High-Speed Fiber Optic HDMI (on Amazon)
- DTECH Fiber Optic HDMI (also on Amazon)
- FURUI High-Speed Fiber Optic HDMI (again on Amazon)
The first thing you might notice when browsing these options is the price. While you can get a high-quality copper-based HDMI cable for under $20, fiber optic cable is much more costly. This might make you ask the question: what makes them better anyway?
Why Would You Choose a Fiber Optic HDMI Cable?
Let’s talk about what makes a fiber optic HDMI cable different from a copper HDMI cable. While they may look similar, as we have learned, there are some differences when it comes to construction. While you might think there is a huge difference between the two, fiber optic HDMI cables really only aim to serve one purpose, and that is cable run length.
Unlike optical cables, copper-based HDMI cables have issues with interference and length. The main issue here is going to be the length. If you want to transfer 4K video over a copper HDMI, you can only reach around 30 ft. before you start having issues (more on that in our HDMI troubleshooting guide).
With fiber optic, that distance maximum is absolutely smashed. As we explained in our other tutorial on HDMI length, a fiber optic cable can transfer data at a staggering 1000 ft. For most home applications, this is overkill, and this is why for commercial use, fiber optic HDMI is often used. For those huge LED billboards and stadium screens, the source is usually too far away to reliably use copper HDMI.
If you want to use a copper-based cable at a distance of over 30 ft. you’ll need a repeater. A repeater, like this one (from Amazon), is fairly affordable and can work if you need to. But if you are running a cable over 30 ft., it might be a better option to go for a fiber optic cable.
Why You Wouldn’t Want a Fiber Optic HDMI Cable
Before you go and replace all the HDMI cables in your house, there are some downsides to using a fiber optic version. The first thing you want to know is the image quality of both cables. Without going into too much detail, both copper and fiber optic cables will deliver similar video quality.
This means if you are transferring a 4K video, both cables can handle the job. If you were to compare two screens, one using fiber one copper, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the two. The only variable that would change these results is distance. If the source is over 30 ft. away, you will see that the copper HDMI image has some noise.
Another factor to keep in mind is durability. While most fiber optic cables are fairly durable, there is no denying how fragile fiber optic filaments are. Manufacturers will indeed do their best to ensure everything is protected, but if you bend the cable too much, you risk damaging the fibers.
When this happens, it means you are going to experience blackouts. Because these cables require a clear path from one end to the other, even a small break can cause outages. Lastly, fiber optic HDMI cables only work one way. This means one end is for the source and one for the screen. You can’t flip the cable around. This configuration means things like HDMI ARC are right out.
Fiber optic HDMI cables can be great if you need to reach a source that is more than 30 ft. away. They can offer reliable data transfers at long distances and are the latest in HDMI technology. While they don’t offer a better image quality than high-quality copper HDMI cables, they have their purpose.
Why Optical HDMI Cables are Preferred over Common HDMI
The market as a whole has seen the era of HD as the 5G network and 8K technology being deployed successively, making the optical HDMI cable a must-have solution for transmitting high-definition audio and video.
HDMI cables on the current market today mainly include copper cables and AOC optical fiber cables and photoelectric composite HDMI cables. As the updated certification standards are to be released by the HDMI Association, HDMI cables using optical fiber as the transmission medium will begin to acquire their own market share in data transmission. But how do the HDMI Cables win over the market’s favor, though it is more costly than the conventional copper cable? Find the answer in this article now!
Table of Contents
What is Fiber Optic HDMI Cable?
Before you get further knowledge of this definition, the question of “what does HDMI stands for? ”may pop up in your brain. HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and is frequently used for transferring both HD digital audio and video information over a single cable.
Optical HDMI Cable, also called HDMI AOC（Active Optical Cable), is a kind of HDMI cable that uses optical fiber to achieve HDMI definition signal transmission and its photoelectric conversion lines are integrated at the interface. Optical fiber is a transmission medium used to transmit optical signals; Unlike the conventional copper HDMI cables, optical HDMI cables adopt optical fiber as a transmission medium and features an HDMI interface at both ends.
The Structure of Optical HDMI Cable
Fiber optic HDMI cables in the current market are mostly made up of 4 fiber cores plus 7 copper wires. The former is used for data transmission; among the 7 copper wires, one is for power supply, one for CEC, two for sound return (ARC), and one set of DDC signal (two core wires are foamed and one ground wire is shielded by aluminum foil) for communication protocol.
Some optical HDMI cables may feature 4 fibers and 9 copper wires. Generally speaking, HDMI AOC cables is a high-speed signal transmission solution consisting of two transceivers and one optical jumper with 2 HDMI converters on both ends. The HDMI converters are often silver, although some brands come with gold-plated HDMI connectors. It also features other optical components including optical TRX IC, VCSEL(TX), and photo-code (RX).
The Evolution of HDMI Standard
There are various standards concerning HDMI. It is necessary to read up on these standards before you deeply learn more about optical HDMI cables.
In 2002, the earliest HDMI version HDMI1.0 was launched with a maximum bandwidth of 4.95Gbps. It supports DVD, Blu-ray, and Rec. 709 color gamut in the video, and 8-channel PCM, 24bit/192kHz audio source, which means that it had been able to support 1080p full HD resolution and 7.1 audio system. In 2004, Version HDMI1．1 updated its function in DVD－Audio. DSD lossless format was added to the supporting list in Version HDMI1. 2 the next year.
In 2006, version HDMI1.3 increased the bandwidth to 10.2Gbps, supporting xvYCC wide color gamut, and applying new audio technology such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HDMA in terms of audio. Afterward, small modified versions such as 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.3b1, and 1.3c were successively released. In the same year, the world’s first Blu-ray player SamsungBD-P1000 was launched and it had been already equipped with an HDMI interface then.
2009 saw the version HDMI1.4 that first support 4K30p and 3D, and a 100Mbps network transmission function was included.
According to version HDMI 2.0 in 2013, supported bandwidth was raised from 10.2Gbps to 18Gbps; and it supports 4K60p and is compatible with Rec. 2020 color depth. In terms of audio, 32-channel audio sources had been available.
There were two versions released in 2015: one is HDMI2.0a with extra support for HDR; the other is HDMI2．0b additionally supporting another high dynamic range technology HLG.
In 2017, HDMI 2. 1 increased the supported bandwidth transmission rate to 48Gbps all at once, supporting video of 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz resolution and 16bit color depth, and dynamic HDR data transmission is possible, which can be compared to Dolby Vision.
Distinct Advantages of HDMI AOC
• Less Signal attenuation
The long-distance signal transmission attenuation(signal loss) over optical fiber HDMI AOC cable is almost zero due to the photoelectric conversion technology, and the long-distance transmission can reach 500 meters.
Signal transmission on copper HDMI cables exceeding 7.5 meters is prone to signal degradation due to the difference of the copper cable attenuation parameters. For devices like projectors and surveillance video equipment, data transmission over copper HDMI cables will lead to poor experience of ultra-clear HD definition equipment. However, with optical HDMI cables, users do not have to worry about these problems at all, and problems like attenuation and distortion of the transmitted signal will never trouble you.
Extended Transmission Distance
At present, the common working method of optical fiber HDMI cable in the market is that copper cable electronic wire is for the low-speed signal transmission and the optical fiber is for high-speed data transmission. In this method, A transmission length problem is inevitably exists triggered by the drawback of copper HDMI cables. Optical fiber transmits high-speed data by converting the original electrical signal into an optical signal and the so-called attenuation can be neglected or even doesn’t exist at all. The longest transmission distance could reach over 300m. This feature is particularly important for home theaters because even for living room theaters, the embedded HDMI cable is at least 10 meters or more.
Good Anti-EMI Performance
The optical fiber HDMI AOC cable transmits optical signals including high-definition signals up to Ultra HD 4K/60p and is not subject to external electromagnetic interference. It can achieve true and flawless digital optical audio and ensure high fidelity of transmission. Digital signal transmission through optical fiber HDMI AOC, cables especially for audio with high transmission material requirements, can bring you an amazing experience both on hearing and viewing with the ultra-low background noise and flawless sound, making you feel like sitting in a cinema and enjoying Hollywood films.
The optical fiber HDMI cable has been updated to HDMI2.0 standard, which makes it directly transmit 4K 60FPS ultra-clear signals without being affected by distance. Therefore, the optical HDMI cables are able to function in various situations that high-definition digital video display equipment, and large-area cabling infrastructure connection are required. These situations include home theater, remote information release systems, radio and television control, public security high-definition monitoring systems, high-definition video conference office, large-scale medical imaging systems, industrial automation systems, etc.
Because the optical fiber HDMI cable is made up of optical fiber material, it is smaller and lighter than the conventional HDMI cable. Also, HDMI AOC(Active Optical Cable) supports higher bandwidth and transmits high-resolution audio like DTS-HD quality audio and can even transmit HD videos without compressing them. You don’t have to worry about whether it can transmit a high-bandwidth of 4K video and 3D video signal.
In fact, fiber optic HDMI cables have many unrivaled advantages compared with copper HDMI cables, such as strong corrosion-resistance, perfect radiation resistance, good wind-ability, no sparks, small leakage, strong confidentiality, etc., Thus, fiber optical HDMI AOC can even work perfectly in special environments like military areas.
When Should You Use Fiber Optic HDMI?
Some may have a question like “Do I need to use an optical cable with HDMI?”
Generally, it is the best transmission solution to connect most modern audiovisual devices, assuming each device has an HDMI port! The optical HDMI cable transmits the digital video and audio signals with high-performance and low-power in a variety of your devices like multimedia, DVD player, computer, HDTV, projector.
The HDMI 2.1 specification defines an ultra-high-speed HDMI cable (UHS Cable), which supports a bandwidth high transmission speed of up to 48 Gigabits per second, and is designed to ensure support for HDMI2.1 functions, including uncompressed [email protected] and [email protected] However, when the distance is over 3 meters, you need a power supply to drive the signal transmission in order to meet the specification of HDMI 2.1. If the distance exceeds 5 meters, copper HDMI cable would not meet the demand either. Therefore, an HDMI Active Optical Cable can solve the problem perfectly in such instances.
To make it brief, if you only need a two to three-meter long HDMI cable, an optical HDMI cable is optional, for a conventional HDMI cable can meet your demand. However, when the transmission distance is more than 10 meters, an optical HDMI AOC cable may be on the first spot of your priority list to enjoy the quality surround sound.
HPD→eARC-, Utility→eARC+(CMDC, DMAC)
2ch L-PCM audio 48KHz
8ch L-PCM audio 192 KHz
DTS Master, DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, and more
HDMI Cable with Ethernet
What will its Future Look Like?
With the definition and certification of the specification authorized by the HDMI Association, optical HDMI will enter a rapid development period. Although the current price of optical fiber HDMI cables is relatively high, a lot of manufacturers have invested in this field, and the price has not soared as what users expected. In addition to its lower cost, the optical HDMI cable itself has strong physical advantages. Most consuming optical communications keep in step with the development of optical communications in the data center. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that the future of optical fiber HDMI will be more promising than photoelectric composite HDMI cables.
The conventional HDMI cable is subject to signal attenuation, making it difficult to meet the 18Gbps high-bandwidth transmission requirements. But the HDMI optical fiber cable does not need to worry about the transmission bandwidth at all, and you can enjoy the quality DTS HD master audio and colorful high-definition picture. Based on the analysis of optical fiber HDMI cable, it can be inferred that optical fiber HDMI AOC will become a necessary solution for HD data transmission in the future.
HDMI cable AVE HDAOC-5 (5 meters, optical)
Technology supporting 4K 60Hz has already become commonplace.
But her customers ran into an unexpected problem.
99% of signal sources do not penetrate the signal with this resolution more than 3 meters. A good copper cable (24AWG) can extend this length to 5 meters.
But if your signal source and receiver are located further away, then devices for signal transmission over such distances may cost more than the signal source.
To solve this problem, AVE offers new HDAOC hybrid cables.
The cable consists of 4 fiber optic channels through which the main signal is transmitted.
And 7 copper channels with a cross section of 28AWG, technical and information channels are transmitted through them, in which there is a small data flow.
In addition, copper channels serve as a framework for fragile fiber optic channels.
Fiber channels have obvious advantages over copper channels. This is the speed of signal transmission and the absence of resistance.
This type of cable can transmit a 4K 60Hz YUV 4:4:4 signal over distances up to 150 meters.
Cable thickness – 4.8mm
Connector width – 14mm
Despite the frame of copper channels, there is still a fragile optical fiber inside, so the cable cannot be bent at a right angle, it will simply break.
When laying, it is recommended to go through the corners either with an arc with a radius of 80mm or with a loop.
The cable is directional, one of its connectors is marked “Source” (signal source), and the second “Display” (signal receiver).
It will not work in the opposite direction (except for the reverse transmission of the CEC and ARC control signals).
• 24K gold-plated connectors, aluminum connector housing.
• Supports 4K@60Hz (4:4:4) resolutions
• Data rates up to 18Gbps
• Supports PCM, Dolby Digital TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio digital audio channels
• Supports HDMI modes: HDCP 2. 2, HDR 10, ARC, CEC, skip EDID block unchanged
• RFI/EMI Immunity
• Halogen-free low-smoke sheath
When connecting hybrid cables in series, please note that no more than two such cables can operate in one circuit and their total length cannot exceed 100 meters.
Please note. Fiber optic cable is a thing subject to mechanical damage. Do not trust his gasket to people who do not understand what they are working with.
It should not be unwound on the floor, so as not to accidentally step on it, not to drop something heavy on it.
Given that, according to paragraph 4, Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of January 19, 1998 No. 55, cables are included in the list of goods of good quality that cannot be exchanged (returned).
We recommend that you test the cable before using it without unwinding it. The way it is wound at the factory is difficult to repeat, this is a guarantee of immunity.
For testing, it is enough to unwind from the coil 20-30 cm on each side.
If the cable did not work during testing, then the situation is clear and easily solved.
HDMI Cable Optical 2.1 Pro-HD Optical Fiber 8K-4K HDR
→ Connecting Cables
→ HDMI – HDMI cables
→ PRO HD
→ HDMI cable 2.1 Pro-HD Optical Fiber 8K-4K HDR
PRO-HD MAX 8K
HDMI 2.1 8K optical cable Pro-HD Optical 8K-4K HDR length from 1.5 to 100 meters
9 0009 Maximum resolution: 8K@60Hz, 4K@120Hz, 2K@165Hz, 1080P@240Hz
HDMI 2.1 version
Transfer rates up to 48 Gbps
Four-core fiber optic conductor
Very light and flexible cable
Audio Return Channel
Zinc alloy plugs
90 009 Gold plated contacts
|1.5 meters||5 900 rub|
|3 meters||6 900 rub|
|5 meters||7 300 rub|
|8 meters||7 600 rub|
|10 meters||7 900 rub|
|12 meters||9 900 rub|
|15 meters||11 990 RUB|
|20 meters||13 900 rub|
|25 meters||16 900 rub|
|30 meters||21 500 rub|
|40 meters||23 900 rub|
|50 meters||32 900 rub|
|100 meters||46 700 rub|
Cable length, m
all lengths up to 300 meters
HDR10, HDCP 2.2, 8K@60Hz, 2160p@120Hz (4Kx2K), 1080p@240Hz (Full HD), 3D, 1080i/720p, Deep Color, DTS™ HD, Dolby® True HD, Dolby® Digital Plus, PCM, DVD Audio, SACD, 8-channel audio (24Bit/192kHz)
CEC, HDCP, EDID
4 layers of cable shield
8K@60Hz, 4K@120Hz, 2K@165Hz, 1080P@240Hz
← High Quality HDMI Cable v2.0 4K HDR Pro-HD Premium
HDMI 2.0 optical cable Pro-HD Lite 4K HDR →
HDMI cable optical 2.1 D-TECH Optical Fiber 8K-4K HDR
|10 meters||15 500 rub|
|15 meters||16 900 rub|
|20 meters||19 900 rub|
|25 meters||23 900 rub|
|30 meters||29 900 rub|
HDMI optical cable 2.