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HDMI Splitters

How To Setup Multiple HD Displays Using an HDMI Splitter

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) signals are transmitted through HDMI cables made for use with Bluray, DVD, etc., high-resolution video feeds. These feeds can then be routed to computer monitors or TV screens for viewing. When you want to send HDMI signals to several screens simultaneously, you can use HDMI splitters to distribute signals among multiple screens. HDMI cables typically have one end that fits into the device output. The other end of an HDMI cable has, at least, two outputs split from one line. Alternatively, an output device can be connected to hardware splitters with an HDMI cable. These are used in conjunction with an external power source that splits signals among several display devices. Cables are easily configurable to split one line among multiple screens at once.

About HDMI Splitters

HDMI splitters are capable of splitting only the original signals shown on connected devices. Images appearing on multiple screens are identical and cannot be controlled independently when screens are connected to HDMI-compatible devices like HD antennas and/or receivers. HDMI splitters should not be confused with HDMI routing switchers, which assign multiple HDMI-compatible output sources into signals that you can change either manually or by remote control. You can also direct what output is transmitted to displays. Before purchasing an HDMI splitter, you need to know if the splitter can provide the amount of data transmission necessary for each device that is connected to the splitter. For example, you should know the refresh rate, color depth, and resolution. Always use a high-quality cable to ensure your display device is capable of receiving encodings for resolutions that exceed non-digital formats. If your cables and HDMI splitter cannot send appropriate amounts of data, your signal quality will be reduced, and small resolutions may be your only option.

Installing and Using an HDMI Splitter

To begin, you'll need:

  • An HDMI-compliant output source device
  • HDMI-compliant displays
  • HDMI cable (you could also use hardware/adapters and an alternative type of data transfer wire)
  • HDMI splitter with enough output sources to accommodate your needs

For connections into televisions, turn off the TV and all other HDMI devices to which you intend to connect an HDMI splitter. Plug the HDMI splitter into an HDMI port located at the side or on the back of your TV. Next, connect the HDMI devices into open HDMI splitter ports (source devices). Remember, you will only be able to plug in one or two sources into your HDMI splitter. Turn on your TV and all sources connected to your HDMI splitter. Now you'll have to scroll through the TV input until you find the HDMI input corresponding to where you have connected your HDMI splitter. Press the button on the HDMI splitter remote control or the HDMI splitter box to switch between sources that have been connected to your HDMI splitter. You should see the display on the screen alternating between or among your sources. It could take several seconds before the source is displayed.

Installing Split Device Feeds

Begin by plugging an HDMI splitter into an HDMI input on your source device. Next, plug an HDMI cable into an input on the HDMI splitter for your destination devices. Plug HDMI cables into available HDMI input on devices you want to display video and audio feed. For example, displaying audio/video feed from a single Blu-ray onto two screens means you will need to plug an HDMI splitter into your Blu-ray player. Now, connect two HDMI cables into an HDMI splitter. Next, plug the other cable end into HDMI inputs on your destination TVs. Turn on your TVs and scroll through inputs until you find an HDMI input associated with the location where you already plugged an HDMI cable into each device.

When two screens are better than one, HDMI splitters are key. Taking one signal from a device like a cable box or Blu-ray player, splitters duplicate the signal so it can be run to multiple televisions. When selecting a splitter, take into account the number of outputs you need as well as the distance you are trying to go. For most situations, a powered splitter will offer the best results and the most flexibility. FireFold offers powered and unpowered options for HDMI splitters and HDMI distribution amplifiers from two to 16 outputs. Need 3D? No problem. Many of FireFold’s HDMI splitters arrive 3D ready.

HDMI Splitter versus HDMI Switch

In the "old days," there was a wide range of different video and audio cables that you could choose from for your home theater depending on your preferences. Component cables were affordable, but composite offered a slightly better image. If you wanted to splurge you might go for an S-video cable, but not every device in your home could necessarily use that specific type. Thanks to the rise of HDTVs and the digital world in which we now live, all of your options are essentially streamlined into one cable: HDMI. An HDMI cable is not only one of the ways to get a true 1080p image from your video source to your TV, but it is also the only option that transmits both audio and video in high definition over the same cable. While your cable options have gotten easier, accessories like splitters and switches are still commonly confused. When do you need to use an HDMI splitter vs. an HDMI switch and what do they even do in the first place? The answer is thankfully fairly straightforward.

What is an HDMI Splitter?

As its name suggests, an HDMI splitter is a device that takes a single HDMI signal and splits it in multiple directions, sending that same signal to multiple devices. Say you were a restaurant owner and had five different HDTVs in your establishment so that patrons could all watch the game from wherever they were sitting. That would mean you would essentially need to purchase or rent five different cable boxes from your service provider, right? Wrong. With a splitter, you can plug that cable box into one device and then run an additional HDMI cable to each screen that you were working with. All of your devices would display the same high-quality image at all times thanks to a single handy HDMI splitter. HDMI splitters are very common in places like bars, restaurants, offices and even in advanced home theaters where you may have more than one television that you want to display the same image at the same time.

What is a Switch?

An HDMI switch, on the other hand, is a device that will come in handy if you are working with a display with only one or two HDMI inputs on it and have more than that many devices that you are trying to connect. In essence, it is essentially the opposite of an HDMI splitter in many ways. Say you had a Blu-ray player, a home video game console, and a high definition cable box, all of which requires its own HDMI cable. You are all set, right? Well, not if your TV only has one HDMI input on it. Without a switch, your only option would be to unplug devices when they are not in use to make room for the one you are using, which can be difficult and time-consuming. With a switch, you would plug all of those cables into the switch and then plug the switch into your TV. If you wanted to use your Blu-ray player, you would press the button for that device on the switch. Do you want to switch over to your game console? Just press that button and proceed as normal. In that regard, a switch is a handy device that essentially adds HDMI inputs to a display as a computer monitor or HDTV, helping use add as many devices to your home theater as you would like without unplugging and managing HDMI cables all the time.

HDMI Splitters and HDMI Switches

An HDMI splitter is a great tool to have when you want to display the content from one source on multiple televisions. In this post, we dive into the specifics and the types of HDMI splitters available, when you want to use them, and how they can help your media setup.

The Benefits of an HDMI Splitter

The Basics

An HDMI splitter is a device that takes the video and audio content from a single source and then duplicates, or “splits”, that signal into many, which enables the signal to be displayed on multiple sources. For example, an HDMI splitter can take the content from one satellite box and display that content on multiple TVs. Depending on the type of HDMI splitter, the content is then displayed on two or more screens. HDMI splitters are great space savers. Instead of equipping a second TV with its own satellite or cable box, you can just use an HDMI splitter in one area of your entertainment center, cutting down on the number of items you need for the other TV. Most HDMI splitters have a slim and sleek design, which means you don’t have to worry about a bulky object taking up space around your media center. The type of HDMI splitter varies by the number of outputs available, the distance the signal can travel, and the extras available, such as 3D capability. We’ll provide a quick overview of the types of HDMI splitters available and the benefits of each. The most basic type of HDMI splitter is a 1x2 HDMI splitter. The 1x2 indicates that the splitter is able to share content between two different TVs or monitors from a single source. If you have an area in your home where you wish to use two screens either next to each other or in different rooms, then the 1x2 HDMI splitter will do the job. There are many options available that are 3D capable and that support a range of resolutions. If you went ahead and purchased a 4k television, there are also 1x2 HDMI splitters available that support this resolution. The next step up from a 1x2 HDMI splitter is one that can send a signal from the single source to four or more TVs or monitors. The number of TVs the HDMI splitter can support is usually indicated by a ratio. For example, a 1x4 HDMI splitter can send content from one source to four televisions, a 1x8 splitter can support eight televisions, and so on. HDMI splitters that can support four or more TVs are usually used in places like sports bars, classrooms, or conference rooms.

Additional Considerations

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When deciding which HDMI splitter to purchase, it is important to first determine the number of TVs or monitors that will display the signal. If you only wish to display the content on two screens, then you will only need a 1x2 HDMI splitter. But if you wish to display the content on multiple screens, then an HDMI splitter that can support more output devices is needed. When navigating the choices available, also take into consideration the resolution the HDMI splitter can support. There are options that can support 4k televisions and others that support a lower resolution. Just keep in mind that if you have two TVs that have different resolutions, the HDMI splitter can only support the lower resolution—it can’t convert the signal to the larger resolution. So if you wish to display the game on two TVs, one that has 4k resolution and the other that has 720p, the splitter will display the content at the lower resolution. HDMI splitters also differ in the distance they can cover. There are some HDMI splitter options that include an amplifier that allows you to extend an HDMI signal up to 330 feet away. If the connection cable isn’t included, be sure to purchase a premium cable that can carry signals over long distances. Don’t forget about the audio. Most HDMI splitters will support standard, Direct Stream Digital (DSD), and HD (HBR), just be sure to check the specifications to ensure that the splitter will support your preferred audio. It is also important not to confuse an HDMI splitter with an HDMI switch. An HDMI switch allows you to connect multiple sources to one TV, saving you from having to plug and unplug cables when you want to switch between devices. Another useful tool but a completely different function from an HDMI splitter!

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How To Use

Installing an HDMI splitter is easy and requires minimal additional equipment. First, decide where you want to store the HDMI splitter, and make sure it can easily connect to the source device—be it the satellite or cable box, DVD player, or Blu-ray player. Using an HDMI cable, connect the source’s HDMI output port to the HDMI splitter’s input port. Next step is to connect the HDMI splitter to the other TV or monitor. Just plug in, and you’re set. HDMI splitters are definitely useful and are a critical component when you want to display the same content on multiple televisions. Just check that you have the number of outputs you need, the correct resolution, and any extras like 3D capability.

HDMI Splitter FAQ

Can you split an HDMI output?

In most cases, splitting and HDMI output simple requires an HDMI splitter to distribute the signal. If you are transmitting long distances, you may need a splitter with built-in signal amplification.

How does an HDMI cable splitter work?

An HDMI splitter takes the signal from a single source like a cable box, Blu-ray player, or gaming console, and distributes that signal between multiple displays.

What is an HDMI splitter used for?

HDMI splitters are used in areas where you want the same content displayed on multiple screens. Common examples are in sports bars, patio entertainment areas, and digital signage.

How do you connect an HDMI splitter?

Most HDMI splitters have a fairly straightforward connection where an HDMI cable connects the source device to the splitter, then multiple HDMI cables connect the splitter to the TVs or displays on the other side of the application. More advanced splitters that also boost the signal so it can travel longer distances might employ RJ-45 Cat5 or Cat6 cables at some point during the installation, but consult the owner's manual for specific details.

What is a powered HDMI splitter?

A powered HDMI splitter is a unit that requires a power adapter for operation.

Do I need an HDMI splitter or switch?

If you are trying to duplicate content from one source to multiple screens, you need an HDMI splitter. If you are trying to connect multiple source devices (cable box, Blu-ray player, etc.) to a single display, you need an HDMI switch. If you are trying to accomplish both scenarios, then you would need an HDMI matrix switch.

Can you hook up two TVs to one cable box?

Yes, that is exactly the type of scenario a splitter is made for. Connect an HDMI cable from your cable box to the splitter, then connect two cables from the outputs on the splitter to the inputs on your TVs.