On the back of every TV, there are different ports for various types of cables. Each of these is labeled so users know which cables go where. Every TV today is built with HDMI ports as the current audio/video standard. For the most part, these ports are simply labeled “HDMI”. But if you take a closer look, you may notice one labeled as “HDMI ARC”. This is a special type of HDMI port that comes with a few extra features when connecting a soundbar, receiver, or other audio system to a TV.
What is HDMI ARC?
ARC stands for “Audio Return Channel”. While this is not a new technology (it was introduced in 2009), many consumers are unaware it is an option even if they have all the cables and electronics needed to use it. Utilizing HDMI ARC allows users to only use an HDMI cable for their audio connection instead of an HDMI cable plus a separate audio cable.
Without ARC, an HDMI cable would need to go from the source (a DVD player, video game console, etc.) to a sound system (soundbar, receiver, etc.) and then from the sound system to the TV. But this signal is one-way and stops at the TV, only passing through the sound system, so a
Posted: August 06, 2019Categories: Connector
All cables (with the exception of fiber cables) are made using metal. Looking at any cable, users can see metal in the connectors on the end. Some connectors are entirely made of metal while others are mostly plastic and contain small metal pins. Regardless of how much metal is used in making a cable, and regardless of what exactly that cable is used for, these materials are all used for the same purpose: to conduct electricity. Any user who has handled various cables over the years, as most people have, has probably noticed that different metals can be used from one cable to the next.
Why are Certain Metals used in Cables?
So why are different metals used? Is there a metal that is better than the rest? There are many different factors that go into selecting what metals are used in making a cable. The first of which is conductivity. The list shows the commonly used metals in cable manufacturing, from most to least conductive (rated assuming the metals are pure).
XLR and DMX cables have a bit of overlap and it can be difficult to keep the two separate. The short answer is that XLR is used for audio while DMX is used for lighting. Both cables use the same kind of connectors and look the same on the outside, there are differences on the inside. There is a little bit of cross-functionality, but XLR and DMX should not be interchanged unless users find themselves in a desperate situation.
Are DMX and XLR Connectors the Same?
Whereas DMX refers to something specific, “XLR” is more of a catch-all term. It can refer to an XLR cable, XLR connector, or even audio cables in general. Oftentimes, microphone cables are referred to as XLR even if they may feature another kind of audio connection as well. DMX cables do use XLR connectors, but their specialized use has given them their own name as well. Users unfamiliar with all the different XLR options may need to clarify exactly what “XLR” means when they hear the term used.
XLR cables are used with professional audio equipment, such as microphones, mixers, amplifiers, and soundboards. While there are a few different varieties of XLR connectors out there, the most common is the 3-pin version. Each pin is used for positive, negative, and a ground, respectively. If more pins are needed for additional signals, XLR connectors with more than 3 pins may be used instead.
Every type of cable has a maximum distance. These distance limits can vary greatly from one type of cable to the next. Along with determining whether a cable will work, distance limits will also determine how well a cable works. Knowing the fundamentals behind cable distance limits is the first step in selecting the best cable for your needs.
Cables will always have some sort of “maximum signal” rating, depending on the type of the cable. For ethernet cables, it will be the maximum upload/download speed. For HDMI, it will be the maximum resolution of the video. And so on and so forth for other cables. Any type of “maximum” rating should be taken with a grain of salt.
Those ratings are the best possible rating the cable is capable of under theoretical, perfect conditions. For example, modern HDMI cables are all rated for 4k. But if the HDMI cable is running through a coupler, users will almost certainly not get 4k. Each time a signal passes through a connection, even just connecting a cable to something like a TV or computer, the signal quality degrades a little. Using devices like extenders and couplers will make the signal weaker; for example, coupling a 10’ cable to a 5’ cable will result in a weaker signal than just using a single 15’ cable.
Another key factor for signal quality is the distance of the cable. The further a signal has to travel, the more it will degrade by the time it gets from Point A to Point B. Going back to our HDMI example, a 15’ cord will give a clearer image than a 50’ cable. It is possible to get around this issue using an extender/boo
3.5mm jacks, also called headphone jacks, are the most common type of audio cable. There are different variations of this jack, such as the smaller 2.5mm and the larger ¼”, but they are all functionally similar. 3.5mm cables are commonly available as off-the-shelf items, but sometimes a repair it easier than a replacement. Other times, users need a custom size not available as a standard cable.
This guide will show users how to assemble 3.5mm themselves, either as a repair or brand-new installation. Since 2.5mm and ¼” jacks are the same shape as 3.5mm, they use the same installation process and the below steps can be used as a general guideline for them as well.
Before getting started, it is important to note there are different types of 3.5mm connections. These three types are TS, TRS, and TRRS. TS connections are used for mono audio or independent microphones and have one ring around the metal end of the connector. TRS connections are used for stereo audio and have two rings. TRRS connections are used for stereo plus a microphone and have three rings.
TS (left), TRS (middle), and TRRS (right) are all industry standards.
Audio and video cables go hand-in-hand, often being paired together. Some cables can even transmit audio and video on just one line. Over time a lot of new audio and video cables have been introduced, so the cable you need will often depend on the age of the equipment you are using. Most TVs, computers, and other devices can use multiple types of audio and video connections, so it is good to be able to identify them and know your options.
Audio-only cables include:
- Optical Toslink
Video-only cables include:
Audio/video cables include:
3.5mm, also called ⅛” cables, is one of the most common audio cables. They are sometimes called “headphone jacks”, being the type of connection used for headphones. These ports are frequently found on cell phones, computers, and televisions.
There are a few different versions of 3.5mm: TS, TRS, and TRRS. TS cables will have one ring, dividing the metal sections into two conductors and are most often used for mono connections like microphones. TRS has two rings to give it three conductors, allowing them to be used for stereo connections such as speakers. TRRS has three rings for four conductors to support stereo aud