Component, DVI and HDMI over CAT-5

May 22, 2006

HDMI BalunNow this post might not be of much interest to those of you with easily accessible, free standing home theater systems but for those of you with multi-room video needs or those wanting to add DVI/HDMI cabling to projector after the fact, take note.

You might have resigned yourself to the fact that if component, DVI or HDMI cabling wasn’t run at the time of your original system install, that it’s now too late to do anything about it.

All may not be lost just yet, any installer worth his salt (in the past 10 years or so) probably ran a few extra runs of CAT-5 or maybe even CAT-6. If so you have options you may not even be aware of.

Video over CAT-5 via baluns isn’t a new concept; we’ve used them with varying degrees of success for the past 10 years or so. The baluns up to this point have mainly been designed to transmit S-Video and Component over CAT-5 in applications where running a 3-wire component cable just wasn’t feasible, or in situations where for whatever reason the proper wiring wasn’t ran, sans CAT-5 cables.

I mentioned the varying degrees of success we’ve had with the devices, this is typically attributable to the design and overall quality of the baluns. Often these products have been designed with commercial applications in mind, i.e. reliability and cost outweighed overall performance.

Intelix has taken the S-Video and Component model to the next logical conclusion with the addition of DVI and HDMI support. Intelix seems to have solved many of our original gripes with baluns by increasing the video bandwidth potential and powering the digital baluns via a separate run of CAT-5.

In a previous post I mentioned the DVI-Balun from Intelix but what about HDMI transmission via CAT-5? Yeah you knew where I was going with this one.

The HDMI Balun from Intelix at $559.95 isn’t exactly a inexpensive solution but given the alternative of potentially having to cut holes in your sheet-rock, run the missing wiring and then pay to have the sheet-rock repaired, it makes the cost of the balun a little more palatable.

Another departure from the typical Component over CAT-5 baluns is Intelix’s addition of digital audio transmission on the same cable as the component signal. I can think of several installations where this solution would have saved us from hours of “problem-solving”.

Limitations:

Ok so we’ve discussed some solutions for applications that now require component, DVI or HDMI after the original installation, but let’s examine the limitations of these solutions a little closer.

Intelix’s FAQ mentions the following limitations and warnings.

Baluns are not the ideal solution for every application.

Balun performance may be compromised in facilities with excessive RF interference.

Twisted pair cabling, such as Cat 5, carrying an audio-visual signal should not be run within one foot of fluorescent lights.

Twisted pair cabling, such as Cat 5, carrying an audio-visual signal should not be run for more than three feet parallel to high voltage lines.

Twisted pair cabling, such as Cat 5, carrying an audio-visual signal should not be passively split or routed through an ethernet hub or switcher.

Data, such as computer ethernet traffic, should not run on the same twisted pair cable as your audio-visual signal.

Balun performance may be compromised with excessive jumping and signal conversions.

Summary:

If you previously resigned yourself to the fact that your system couldn’t handle your preferred audio/video transmission methods due to inadequate wiring, hopefully I’ve given you some alternative solutions here.

But keep in mind; I am in no way advocating baluns as a “easy out” from using traditional hard-wired cabling. These baluns aren’t inexpensive and should only be used in situations where traditional cabling methods aren’t feasible.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater How-to


Comments

  • Brian Hoyt

    http://www.gefen.com/kvm/product.jsp?prod_id=3872
    Looking at the picture I would say Gefen and Intelix may be sourcing from same place. I find that a fair amount with the DVI/HDMI switching market. Seems there are few companies making the actual hardware.

  • Brian Hoyt

    http://www.gefen.com/kvm/product.jsp?prod_id=3872
    Looking at the picture I would say Gefen and Intelix may be sourcing from same place. I find that a fair amount with the DVI/HDMI switching market. Seems there are few companies making the actual hardware.

  • B.Greenway

    This is the Gefen switcher I use http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2004/09/gefen_2x1_hdtv.html

    Didn’t know they made baluns though. I’ll have to look into the Audio Authority CAT-5 piece, we’ve used their distribution amps before and they worked great.

  • B.Greenway

    This is the Gefen switcher I use http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2004/09/gefen_2x1_hdtv.html

    Didn’t know they made baluns though. I’ll have to look into the Audio Authority CAT-5 piece, we’ve used their distribution amps before and they worked great.

  • shakaZOLO

    What about Gefen? We’ve been using those with great success for DVI and HDMI. But….the coolest product I’ve used of late, is the Audio Authority 9870 Component Video over cat5. What’s cool is that you jack your 2x cat5s into a sleek 2gang brushed silver wallplate that has component video, digital coax audio, stereo and IR pass-thru on the same plate. Very clean installation. Each 9870 kit gives you two locations from one input. Now…..if they could only do the same for DVI / HDMI.

  • shakaZOLO

    What about Gefen? We’ve been using those with great success for DVI and HDMI. But….the coolest product I’ve used of late, is the Audio Authority 9870 Component Video over cat5. What’s cool is that you jack your 2x cat5s into a sleek 2gang brushed silver wallplate that has component video, digital coax audio, stereo and IR pass-thru on the same plate. Very clean installation. Each 9870 kit gives you two locations from one input. Now…..if they could only do the same for DVI / HDMI.