Do Premium HDMI cables make a difference?

Now that we are truly dealing with high bandwidth 4K UHD content, CIE's HowToAV team investigates the latest Premium grade HDMI cables and how they can improve your AV system performance...

What is a Premium HDMI cable and can it improve the performance of 4k UHD video transmission?

In the world of HDMI there are a number of different standards available in the market, for instance:

HDMI 1.3

The introduction of high speed transmissions up to 10.2 Gbps.

HDMI 1.4 / 1.4a

Introduced 3G 4k which is 4k UHD at 30 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 LPCM audio.

 

HDMI 2.0 / 2.0a / 2.0b

The benefits of full 6G processing for content delivered up to 4k UHD at 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 and even up to 32 channels of audio, 4:2:0 chroma sub-sampling that can cut you bandwidth in half by minimising the colour data sent to your panel, 4k at 30 Hz 12-bit deep colour and HDR10 support.

 

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1 promises full dynamic frame by frame dynamic HDR.

 

Is there a HDMI cable for every standard?

No there are actually only 3 categories that you should be aware of, Standard, Highspeed and Premium:

Standard HDMI Cable

Standard HDMI Cable is perfectly suited to support resolution outputs such as Sky HD 1080i 50 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4.

Highspeed HDMI Cable

Highspeed HDMI cable is guaranteed to deliver 3G 10.2 Gbps video transmission or resolutions such as 4k UHD 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4, but be mindful of cable distance when delivering these types of resolutions and keep them under 7m - personally I’d advise 5m where possible.

 

Premium HDMI Cable

Now that we’re truly dealing with high bandwidth video transmission that requires the full capability of your highspeed cable which is 18 Gbps, your high speed cables are starting to fail and becoming intermittent in performance!

So 4k UHD content that is being delivered at 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 or content that can deliver a wider colour gamut and HDR metadata such as 4k UHD 30 Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 and even the full promise of SKYQ 4k UHD 50 Hz 10-bit 4:2:0 you are likely to fall in to a few issues.

Enter Premium HDMI cable that can deliver these video transmission and up to 5m!

The new premium cable uses superior materials, improved wire management in terms of how each pair is twisted and soldered and added shielding to minimise Electro Magnetic Interference.

Fundamentally, a basic high speed cable untwists the internal pairs before termination whereas the  premium cable is twisted and soldered right up to the pin.

As we see more and more UHD content coming to our screens, we’re going to find Premium HDMI cables become the new standard for high bandwidth 4k UHD video transmission.


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