HDMI Distribution Amplifiers
Mar 31, 2014 12:10 PM, By Christopher Maione, CTS-D, DSCE, DMC-D
As the digital sunrise continues and we see less and less of VGA and more HDMI devices, the need for distributing HDMI signal to multiple display devices has become evident. In the early attempts to “distribute” HDMI, the copyright police did not understand the legitimate use of HDMI distribution in the AV industry and the AV industry didn’t understand how to legally get around the copyright protection—known as High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), also referred to as High-definition Copyright Protection (HDCP)—and how to effectively use the handshake information— known as Extended Display Identification Data (EDID)—being sent to the display. Most of these issues, at least in the current versions of HDMI and HDCP, have been resolved and AV equipment manufacturers are producing stable HDMI distribution devices. However, depending on the HDMI source, the HDMI distribution amplifier, and the connected display devices, there are still occasions where the display will “go black” because it does not adequately receive the distributed HDMI signal, make the HDCP handshake, or recognize the EDID signal. The following devices are simple yet useful tools for taking a single HDMI signal and distributing it (in most cases 1x4) to four display devices.
The Altona HDDA-4 is a 1x4 HDMI distribution amp that provides high-definition signal passing at resolutions up to 4K. EDID learning on the first output automatically supports connected devices’ highest quality resolutions and audio formats, and replicates on other outputs. It can pass 3D signals and supports audio passing of up to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio quality formats. It is HDCP compliant. The front panel contains LEDs to show signal, power, and EDID learning statuses. Firmware can be updated via a single mini USB on its rear panel. Dual-purpose rack or wall-mounting ears come standard with the HDDA-4.
Aurora Multimedia’s ASP-14H distribution amplifier transmits HDMI 1.3 signals to displays in four different locations. It handles up to 1920x1200 PC resolutions, 1080p, and 2K. It is enabled with EDID learning capability and supports 12-bit deep color and high-definition audio. The housing incorporates predrilled rack ears for easy mounting. LEDs and a toggle switch on the front panel tell signal and power status. Its video output bandwidth is 6.75Gbps and it is HDCP 1.2 compliant.
The Black Box AVSP-HDMI 1X4 HDMI splitter allows signal mapping to four independent outputs from a single source. It supports up to full HD 1080p resolutions and can distribute them up to 16.4ft. Audio is passed via either the HDMI connections or over independent 3.5mm jacks. It offers EDID and HDCP management and has LED indicators on the front panel to show signal status on all ports. It has an automatic power-saver mode that kicks in when the input signal is dropped. An accessory mounting kit is sold separately.
The Comprehensive Cable CDA-HD400 is the four-output version of its HDMI signal splitter suite. It is HDCP 1.2 and HDMI 1.3 compliant and supports resolutions of up to 1920x1200, including all standard and high-definition signals. It is a RoHs-compliant plug-and-play unit with signal and power status LEDs.
The HDMI DA 4 is part of Extron’s HDMI DA series of distribution amps, sitting between the DA2 and DA6. Offering signal distribution via powered HDMI outputs, the DA4 supports data rates up to 6.75Gbps, has 12-bit color, and Extron’s constant EDID and HDCP verification technologies. The DA4 can accept 1080p @60Hz, 2K, and WUXGA (1920x1200) PC resolutions. Any of the four output signals can be muted through RS-232 control capability. Configuration and maintenance is managed through connection by USB or RS-232 to a PC. LEDs provide signal status on the front panel. Options include four different mounting/placement accessory products.
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