What Does an HDMI Splitter Do?

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With HDMI advancements over time, making it the primary signal format for high-resolution video, many users came across different problems that required hardware solutions. Whether you need to split, duplicate, boost, downscale, or redirect your HDMI signal, there is a device that can help you do it.

HDMI splitter is a simple, reliable, and elegant device that splits one input HDMI signal into two or more output signals depending on the splitter’s type and capabilities.

How does it work?

It works by basically splitting and mirroring an input signal, effectively creating two or more identical ones but with significant power loss. This split means that, by creating two output signals, you are also cutting the power of that signal in half.

The purpose of an HDMI splitter in one simple picture

The purpose of an HDMI splitter in one simple picture

Passive HDMI splitter

The passive HDMI splitter is the more straightforward, cheaper type of HDMI splitter that requires no additional power source to operate. However, it has its downsides. It can only manage two output signals, and it cannot cover long distances. But, if you need more than two output signals or to bridge a longer length with a cable, you will need to boost the outgoing signal’s power. In that case, you will need a different, more powerful, more expensive, and complicated type of splitter, an active HDMI splitter.

Active HDMI splitter

This device is a bit more complex type of HDMI splitter because it also requires a power source. By splitting the input signal into more than two identical, outgoing signals, you are dividing input power so much, and it becomes too weak to carry the signal. For this reason, in applications that require three, four, or more outgoing signals, you need to power them up with some external power. 

What kind of devices can you connect with an HDMI splitter?

Let’s say you have a laptop and you need to connect it to 2 big TV screens for a presentation. Your laptop will probably have just one HDMI output, and you need the same signal for each TV. All you need is a 1-to-2 splitter, and your audience can enjoy your presentation on both screens.

Or, let’s say you have a coffee shop or similar, and your customers are used to watching sports events. You can set up multiple TV’s to cover the entire coffee shop and use an HDMI splitter to feed them with the same signal from one source device.

Note: With a splitter, you will always have the SAME pictures on all displays.

What are the common HDMI splitter issues?

There are a few common issues people have while using HDMI splitter. The most common ones are picture fading, no sound, no signal, or, in some cases, getting a lower quality picture on some devices than before using the splitter.

Picture fading

This common problem manifests itself by having a fuzzy and fading picture on the receiving display. There can be multiple reasons for this to happen, but the most common cause is wrong cable positioning. If you check all the cables and make sure they are in the correct slots and connected, that should fix the problem.

No sound

If you are receiving a good and clear picture but no sound, it could be that the cable is not connected correctly. Please turn off all devices, unplug all the HDMI cables along that line, check them and plug them back in, making sure that they are all the way in and plugged into the correct ports. If this doesn’t fix the problem, try joggling your cables to see if any set of them works. If it does, replace the faulty cable with the new one.

No signal

Like we explained previously, an HDMI splitter works by splitting the signal and power. If you are using cheap cables and a cheap splitter, and/or if the distance between the source of the signal and receiving display is too long, you might experience this problem. The solution is upgrading to a better splitter and better cables. The loss of power will not be high enough to cause any signal issue. You may already have a good quality splitter and cables but still suffer from no signal. If you know all devices are working correctly, consider hooking up a signal amplifier to the splitter. It should boost the power of the signal and solve the problem.

In simple terms, if you have any issues, make sure all devices are working properly before connecting them. Then make sure all the cables are plugged into the correct ports and that you have not exceeded specified distances. If that doesn’t work, consider upgrading.

You do not have the best possible picture quality

This problem will occur if you are using devices with different resolutions. The splitter will recognize the device with the lowest resolution and send that resolution to all devices connected to it.

Suppose you are sending a 4k signal to the splitter, and you have one 4k and one 1080p display on the other end. In that case, the splitter will detect the lowest resolution and adjust the signal to it. That means you will get optimal picture quality on your 1080p display, but the other will lose some. This loss will probably not be very noticeable in most cases. Still, some people want to get the maximum out of every device they have. 

If you are experiencing this problem, you will need to buy an HDMI down-scaler. You need to install this device between the splitter and 1080p display. By doing this, your splitter will think both displays are 4k and send that resolution. At the same time, the down-scaler will then reduce it to 1080p for the display with the lower quality picture.

HDMI Down-scaler will allow you to get the best possible resolution on all displays

HDMI Down-scaler will allow you to get the best possible resolution on all displays

Considering the different types and price ranges of HDMI splitters, try assessing your needs before shopping. Make sure you don’t leave out any displays or other devices you may need to hook up to the splitter. Also, try to project your future needs to avoid unnecessary expenses.

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