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Is HDMI Better than Component Video w ith Fiber Optic

by asoroken / November 15, 2007 12:03 PM PST

I understand that HDMI cable are less cumbersome than component cables, but is the quality better? Is the video better than component? Also, can I access full Dolby audio with HDMI cables, or do I need coax or fiber optic to access digital audio and the benefits of Dolby?

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You really have to try both ways to see if one is better
by NM_Bill / November 15, 2007 12:24 PM PST

for you.

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HDMI vs. Component
by dinox64 / November 16, 2007 2:41 PM PST

HDMI is better because it's an all digital signal where Component is analog.If you're seeking true Hidef go with HDMI.I myself use component and completely happy.It all depends on how close you are to your screen and the type of image you're looking at.Most people sitting at a distance of three times the length diagonally of your screen(which is suppose to be optimal viewing distance)can't tell HD from ED.
Now as far as audio signals I am not sure the HDMI does audio so if it does'nt you will need a seperate audio cable.Fiber is an all digital signal.Happens to be what I use.Can I tell a difference?No,but music freaks can.I just like the fact that I run one cable instead of having to run anywhere from seven(5.1)to maybe fourteen(7.1) depending on speaker inputs on your AVR.Does it sound like I know what i'm talking about?I only know enough to get me by.

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Wave of the future vs. personal results in the here & now.
by NM_Bill / November 16, 2007 11:26 PM PST
In reply to: HDMI vs. Component

Being digital is not necessarily being God. It's only the difference being digital as oppposed to analog. Does a multi-thousand dollar speaker know if the signal came by digital or analog? No. My Honda gets me to the same place as someone elses Lexus.

We strive for more broadband in digital exactly because digital is a converted sampling. Programming synthesizes a smoothing out of the sample which does inherently come most all the time with some missing or distorted information. Want better interpretation? Hence the want for much more bandwidth.

A modern standard with just one cable is indeed convenient. As implemented in the real world, it's not inherently better. Implementation is imperfect. Equipment makers will improve with time.

I don't tend to jump on bandwagons where differences can largely be discerned only on test equipment. You are using component as well as me. No scientist here.

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"Being digital is not necessarily being God"
by dtuna42 / December 31, 2010 11:29 AM PST

I know this post is a couple years old, but I thought that the statement, "Being digital is not necessarily being God" was pretty funny.

Generally speaking - I think it is safe to assume that digital is better than analog. How much better? Probably doesn't matter watching regular TV shows on 20"-30" TV's. So, using the analogy about how a Honda can get you to the same place that a Lexus can, I would say that yes, this is true, and that when commuting 30 minutes to work in the morning, it probably doesn't matter which car you're driving. But when you start talking about 8-12 hour road trips, blasting down back-country roads, having fun on freeway entrance/exit ramps, or while cruising at 150mph on deserted section of Autobahn, well, I would say that you would probably be just a tad bit happier in the Lexus. And if you have a gi-normous screen plasma / LED / LCD HDTV, and typically watch sports or movies (more specifically, action-movies), the benefits of the digital signal might become more obvious.

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Yes, HDMI does audio
by blues-harp / November 19, 2007 11:11 AM PST
In reply to: HDMI vs. Component

That's why it was invented. Its predecessor, DVI, didn't support audio as it was designed for computer monitors. If you're not sure, why not Google it and find out before posting your confusion to the public?

Another advantage of HDMI - if you can call it an advantage - is that it supports digital security. Since component video is analog, it can be copied easily. Not so with HDMI. As the paranoia level among content providers and equipment manufacturers inevitably increases, you will see industry forces moving us away from component video. A specific example is that certain high-definition tuners intentionally block the full high-definition signal on their component outputs, instead providing it only on the HDMI output.

So to future-proof yourself, assuming that you're configuring new equipment and haven't already committed to component, HDMI is the way to go.

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Re:HDMI vs. Component
by Pannylover4ever / November 19, 2007 2:01 PM PST
In reply to: HDMI vs. Component

I believe you might have missed a couple of things here.

Digital isn't always superior to analog, the main advantage of digital is the error correction function tends to keep the signal clear for long cable runs. Your screen eventually has to convert the signal to analog, since no one can see or hear digital anything. Digital or analog depends on your equipment, more than anything. If your component cables are six feet or less, the loss is probably barely measurable.

Certain screens, like some Panasonic PDP screens for example, have more grayscales and some additional color accuracy with digital, in that case you may see some difference, you may not.

Not sure what you mean by "True Hidef", anything 720P and over is considered HD. Only the two HD DVD formats along with the PS3 and Xbox360 currently use 1080P. No broadcast anywhere is above 1080i, and won't be anywhere in the near future, due to the high bandwidth requirements.

Although more of a personal preference, the SMTPE optimal viewing distance is 2x diagonal screen size for a 30 degree viewing angle. The lesser known THX optimal viewing distance is 1.37 diagonal screen size for a 40 degree viewing angle. I think 2x screen size is where most people would tend to be comfortable at. See the data here:

I kind of lost you in the one cable vs seven, or fourteen. I assume your speakers are connected with copper wires, regardless of whether you use fiber for your receiver or not. I assume you are referring to players with a built in decoder, connected to your Amp with each channel using a separate cable.

HDMI combines the video and audio signals in one cable. You could use a DVI cable and one fiber cable for similar results, resulting in two cables vs one.

I have however heard of people having issues getting the audio back out the the screen and into the amp when using HDMI. If anyone has examples of this problem or solutions for it, I would be interested in hearing about it.

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Issues getting audio back from TV to Amp using HDMI.
by jimca3 / November 23, 2007 5:22 AM PST
In reply to: Re:HDMI vs. Component

I had this problem when I first hooked up my new 42" Panasonic and upconverting DVD player (one year ago today as a matter of fact). I wanted to get audio to the TV and surround sound receiver independently so I could watch TV or a DVD with or without the Amp on. The Panasonic has an Optical Audio Output, so I ran HDMI from DVD to HDTV, then Optical Audio from TV to Amp. For some reason, I couldn't get 5.1 to the Amp, just PLII. After running the Optical Audio from DVD directly to the Amp, I was able to get 5.1 just fine.

I've since added a DirecTV H20, which I also connected to the HDTV via HDMI and Optical Audio to a second digital audio input on my Receiver. Picture and sound from both sources is great.

Who knows whether it was the HDMI, the DVD, the Panasonic output or operator error, but since I had a viable work-around and got what I wanted, I abandoned the audio output on the Panasonic and never bothered to figure out why I couldn't use it to get 5.1 to the amp.

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its the TV's fault
by jostenmeat / November 23, 2007 5:47 AM PST

it's a pretty common thing for that to happen. It also happens with Samsung, and Im sure there are others.

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Another solution...
by SWLinPHX / November 23, 2007 6:42 AM PST

For those whose audio system is also a DVD player (home theater systems) you can kill two birds with one stone. I hooked two HDMI's up, one from my cable company's HDTV receiver w/DVR to Samsung 67" DLP HDTV, and then another from the home theater (audio/DVD player) to the second HDMI port on the Samsung. For some reason that was never explained to me, i was unable to get successful pass-thru using a chain of cable box to DVD/audio to HDTV. They each needed to connect to the HDTV directly.

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is hdmi beter than coax
by shaner64 / January 22, 2013 12:05 PM PST
In reply to: HDMI vs. Component
.HDMI has audio and video
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is HDMI Better than Component Video..
by compusolver / November 19, 2007 6:54 AM PST

Like the previous posters, I can't report seeing any big difference between HDMI and Component video, but there is one issue that hasn't been addressed yet -

You have to consider your source, because anytime you convert between analog and digital (either direction) you are going to lose data. Since most hi-def signals you're getting, whether from DVD, cable or satellite, are going to be digital, then you're better off with HDMI, but if you're getting your hi-def from an antenna, then go with component.

- Hank Castello

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What dose an antenna have to do with anything
by Tlil / November 19, 2007 11:37 AM PST

i dont agree with saying component is better for antenna and hdmi is better for dvd, it should make no difference what source you use compared to the connection coming from it.

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by froasier / February 25, 2008 3:43 PM PST

ALL HD sources are digital--over-the-air included. However, this doesn't make a practical difference in cable selection. Your point is moot.

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In a word. . ."NO"
by ecduma / November 19, 2007 9:35 AM PST

There are unfortunately, too many variables for this to be easily answered. The biggest myth is that hdmi is better because it upholds the digital signal. The truth of the matter is that your cable box/receiver breaks down the signal that comes into it. It then deciphers it and then produces a new and different digital signal through hdmi. That's why the coax coming from the wall doesn't look like the hdmi cable going to your tv. Therefore, whether it produces a set of analog signals to be sent through your component cable or digital to be sent through your hdmi cable is really more dependent on things other than the type of signal it produces.

What hdmi does do, is add security to the signal. This is why the industry WILL move to hdmi over time, as premium hd video providers have already demonstrated. All hi-def video players(whether in the form of hd-dvd or blue-ray) use hdmi. They would not move forward with content that could not be secured as they would lose money through illegal reproductions.

So which one is better? It is really dependent on two major factors. One is your equipment. Older equipment, whether it be the signal producer (cable box, satellite receiver, etc.) OR your receiver (television, hdmi hub, etc.) will probably do better with component. This is because it's the technology that had the most following and understanding a couple of years ago. Notice that this is an "OR" situation because even if you have a Tom Brady delivering the signal, a pee-wee league receiver is likely going to get popped in the face and cry with no reception. Happy (Hdmi has gone through some upgrades with time.) Newer equipment, may do better with hdmi. However, please realize that broadcasts are currently limited to 1080i. No one is producing a 1080p signal (Dish, Cable, or digital airwave). The second factor is the media with which you're sending the signal through. Bad cables=bad transmission. Tony Romo only connects with Terrell Owens if no one swats the ball in between. But when they do connect, you see a beautiful picture! (I live in Dallas)

So, the only way to tell for sure, is to purchase a good hdmi cable, and a good component cable, and test the two to see which one your equipment is more compatable with. I'm CERTAINLY not recommending monster-stuff. I've found GREAT success with the high end stuff from at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully this helps! As a sidenote, I've done this and I have both component and hdmi in my home theater set-up to satisfy different pieces of equipment.

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Is HDMI better than component inputs?
by webs1982 / November 20, 2007 1:31 AM PST
In reply to: In a word. . ."NO"

I'm glad that everyone was so quick to correct the misconception that you would still need separate audio cables if you use HDMI for your video. It does indeed run both video and audio, and quite well too.

I just recently compared component and HDMI in my setup (46" Samsung LCD TV, upsampling DVD player [to 1080i], and an XBOX 360.

As far as audio goes, there is a definite improvement from the standard red & white "RCA" cables to HDMI. Clarity is better, imaging (the ability to envision the placement of the sources of the sound) is better, and there seems to be better support for the mid-range sounds as well.

As for video, in my setup HDMI is the winner without question. I simultaneously hooked up the component and HDMI cables to my upsampling DVD player. Using the THX Optimizer program as a guide, I adjusted the picture settings to the best quality possible for both sources. I was then able to compare rather quickly simply by switching sources on my TV.

I watched several movies, both live action with CGI and computer animated (Matrix, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia), and the difference was astounding. With the HDMI cable, detail was better, contrast was more dynamic, colors were represented more accurately (which is surprising considering this WAS one of the strengths of component cables), and there was much less "noise" in the picture. I found the same to be true for my XBOX 360 at 1080p.

While I don't have a next generation DVD player (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray), I can say without question that for upsampling DVD players and video game consoles, HDMI is the way to go. But ultimately, it's a matter of opinion. Try hooking both sets of cables up to do a simultaneous comparison for yourself.

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by jostenmeat / November 20, 2007 6:27 AM PST

I would like to thank you for your honest input based on your experience.

However, there is a serious aspect that you may not be aware of.

Using your "upsampling DVD player", will NOT allow upsampling/upconverting/upscaling using components, past the res of 480p. This has to do with HDCP crap in all of these dvd players. As the previous poster said, HDCP is the main reason why we are all going towards HDMI. This is absolutely the truth.

The only upsampling DVD player capable of 1080i upscaling by component is the Oppo 970, to the best of my knowledge, but only after it has been hacked.

The HDCP in your dvd player IS the reason why components don't look as good. I believe in any case.

Now, when you try components vs hdmi on a set top box, the comparisons are probably going to be much more similar, if not completely indiscernable as it has been with my experience.

Lastly, regarding 1080p output on an Xbox. This is where HDMI has an advantage. AFAIK, components max out at 1080i. Many of us do not have 1080p yet. Shoot, some of us don't even have 1080p displays. But, in this case, I would also use your HDMI cable for the Xbox, assuming you have a display that can handle the 1080p, right? Cheers.

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by jostenmeat / November 20, 2007 6:28 AM PST
In reply to: In a word. . ."NO"

I would like to personally thank you for your post. May I give you a warm welcome to CNET av forum.

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Questions Remains in Regard to Audio Quality... I think???
by asoroken / November 24, 2007 8:55 AM PST
In reply to: In a word. . ."NO"

As the originator of this post, I want to mention that I was also concerned with the AUDIO quality of HDMI versus digital audio over coax/fiber optic. I want to make sure that I can access all of the features of Dolby through HDMI.

After doing some research, I found "new and improved" HDMI cables on Monoprice that tout a greater bandwith that accomodates some of the new Dolby features. See below:

"The latest revision for HDMI doubles the bandwidth of the original and has opened the door for a host of potential new advancements in Home Theater Audio/Video performance. New features such a ?Deep Color,? higher color gamut, and high resolution, multi-channel audio formats like Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio will make higher bandwidth demands than ever before. Equipment manufacturers are bringing out new devices to take advantage of these new features..."

So, perhaps the older HDMI standard doesn't support the latest Dolby technology???

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HDMI has a website that explains the standard in detail.
by NM_Bill / November 24, 2007 10:02 AM PST

It is quite involved & touches on all facets of the substantially improved potentials of 1.3. Indeed much of it remains only potential as no program content has been specifically produced yet to demonstrate those potentials. The extra depth of features will be expensive to program & as such, might possibly not be seen. Remember quite a few "important" breakthroughs over the years that never went anywhere?

The sound potential includes the latest versions of Dolby.

You note monoprice has cables as well as other sellers that are now labeled to be things like 1.3 bandwidth certified. I have no info yet that these claims are substantiated.

Each progressive HDMI standard has addressed increased capabilities including those as to Dolby. Of course the older standards now look primitive in what they addressed relative to the latest. We shouldn't forget that good implementation by equipment makers is not necessarily a given.

About 1 & 1/2 years ago "Secrets of Home Theater Hi Fi" tested several well known brands as to audio via HDMI vs. component connections & with early less than stellar implementation of earlier HDMI, more than half the units tested performed better audio with component than HDMI. That is why I keep urging folks to make sure they try connections both ways to see which gives them & their particular equipment the best performance.

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HDMI versions
by froasier / February 25, 2008 4:39 PM PST

The different standards use the same cable. There is nothing "new and improved" about the cable--it's the player and receiver that must implement the new version. Also as long as the player can output uncompressed audio it doesn't matter what version of Dolby/DTS the version of HDMI supports because they all support uncompressed (which is what Dolby/DTS end up as anyways, whether at the player or receiver end).

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General Guideline (in Order Of Quality)
by SWLinPHX / November 19, 2007 9:17 PM PST

Here are the basic options in order of quality (and often inception):

1. Analog audio from RF (coaxial) cable signal
2. Analog audio from RCA phono plugs (usually red & white)
3. Plugs & pins such as 1/8" stereo plug, 1/4" stereo plug & XLR plug (sound equipment & pro audio only)
3. Digital coaxial audio cable
4. Digital optical audio cable

1. Analog video from RF (coaxial) cable signal
2. Analog video from RCA composite plug (usually yellow)
3. Analog S-video cable
4. Analog component video cable (red/green/blue)
5. VGA for computer monitors & equipment
6. Digital DVI for computer & AV equipment

***What HDMI does is combine the best audio signal (digital optical audio) with the best video signal (digital DVI) into one complete cable!

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Which cables are better
by Kristi7717 / November 22, 2007 4:12 PM PST

Hi I found this thread so interesting as I wrestled with this very question when I recently purchased a new Sony Bravia 32 inch TV, a home theater/DVD player, speakers and a cable box for high definition TV and the HD channels.

I got a book with my Sony equipment and from the cable company and it said what the last poster SWLinPhx said in his chart. It showed the best option to the last option exactly as his chart shows. Even the
S-video cables were the 3rd choice.It was time consuming but well worth it to read all the manuals that came with all the equipment. If you read the same thing twice in 2 different manuals it's usually true.

The cable company said that the HDMI and fiber optic cables were not necessary but the electronics store said they would give me a clearer signal and possibly be needed in the future if signals are sent out over 1080. (we thought they were just trying to sell expensive cables as I paid over $100 for one of them)

I tried the component first. The picture was not very good at all, especially on the anaolog and the digital (non HD) channels. In fact I phoned the cable company back to see if my install had been done wrong.

I had already purchased all the expensive Monster cables and immediately hooked everything up with those instead of taking htem back to the store for a refund. The picture on digital improved a little, the HD channels improved a lot, the colors were crisper, the picture clearer. The regular analog channels were not very good no matter which cables I used. I think this is because once you watch HD channels it is very hard to go back to analog.

In fact I read somewhere that Hollywood is already worried about how they will appear on HD Tv as the picture is so clear. You can literally see through their makeup if they have imperfections and you can't on analog. Some TV hosts/hostesses looked older to me. This should give you an idea on how good the picture is.

The component cables are said to be comparable but I did not find that to be the case. Now if I can just figure out how to hook up my new laptop to the tv or the home theater box......

Thanks for an interesting thread. I find most of the topics in this forum are exactly things I have wondered about this year.


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Just a tip...
by SWLinPHX / November 23, 2007 3:12 AM PST

Hi Kristi...

Keep in mind with digital and HDTV the best choice is always to "stay digital" if possible: digital coaxial or optical audio for audio, DVI for video; and as mentioned, HDMI does both. Component is superior to composite (yellow) and even S-Video, but is still analog. They were introduced when DVD players became more common about ten years ago, but before HDTV's and HD-DVD/Blu-Ray was a consideration.

Don't be fooled into the extra price and packaging you pay for "Monster" brand cables. They rely on the fact that once consumers plunk down the money for a hi-end TV and audio system they will figure, "what the heck, I might as well splurge on the best connection." As long as the cables don't seem real thin or flimsy, all that matters is the type of cable. Any known brand is fine and you can often get great deals by buying them in ready-to-go cable packages, sold near the HDTV's and audio systems at places such as Costco or Wal-Mart. You shouldn't have to pay the ridiculous $100+ for an HDMI cable, no matter who manufactured it!

And yes, with the combination of an HDTV signal, HDTV broadcast shows and an HDTV itself it truly is remarkable, especially for previous large standard screens that used to look even worse than normal analog when enlarged to that size. Make-up on talk show guests is really apparent. Also, check out the opening panoramas to shows like CSI: Miami. If you pause it it looks like a postcard, or, if you make a tube with your hand, like you are looking at real scenery from afar!

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by froasier / February 25, 2008 4:23 PM PST
In reply to: Just a tip...

Analog isn't a bad thing! Component is perfectly capable of a full HD signal. Poor results with component are usually due to poor setup or DRM limiting the quality.

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by froasier / February 25, 2008 4:27 PM PST

Use a VGA cable if possible to connect your laptop. Also, a $15 HDMI cable is just as good as a $100+ HDMI cable (at short lengths).

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by froasier / February 25, 2008 4:17 PM PST

First of all, HDMI is not optical in any way, so digital optical audio is still technically better. However, digital audio is digital audio (assuming negligible interference). Also I don't know why you would say stereo plugs are better quality than RCA, and XLR isn't appropriate to include in this context.

Second, VGA is the best for CRT displays, which arguably provide better quality in some ways than other display types. You also forgot digital cable.

***What HDMI does is combine very good audio and very good video into one cable that supports DRM.

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by froasier / February 25, 2008 4:30 PM PST

Every version of HDMI supports full 8-channel uncompressed audio, so if your player can output it uncompressed then it's the same as optical. HDMI 1.3 adds support for direct transmission of the compressed Dolby or DTS stream, so if your player doesn't decompress then you need 1.3 to get the same quality as optical.

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