Top Differences Between Optical and HDMI Cables
The defining element of your devices where you require a connection is the type of cable that you use. Whether it is a 4K home theater system or a new gaming setup, a wrong cable can ruin the performance. Having said that, the major choices when it comes to selecting high-performance cables are HDMI and Optical Cables.

To help you choose the perfect cable for your setup, we bring you an exhaustive comparison of HDMI and Optical cables.

Overview of Optical and HDMI cables

Both HDMI and Optical cables can transmit digital audio signals. However, HDMI cables are used to transmit high-resolution 4K audio like Dolby TrueHD, DTH-HD Master. They can also transmit high-resolution videos without compressing them. They are made of copper and are less resistant to interference from outside.

On the contrary, optical cables are best suited for traditional (old) AV receivers. These cables have protective layers that shield both the signals as well as the cable's outer surface from interference.

Optical and HDMI Cables: The Build Up

HDMI cables are made up of traditional wiring equipment i.e., copper. Since copper carries signals in the form of electricity, the rate of transmission is usually slow. On the contrary, Optical cables allow light bursts to carry signals.

They leverage photons for the purpose, which results in the speed of transmission being slightly less than the speed of light. Optical cables have glass as their main material instead of copper. These glass fibers are bundled together at the time of installation to increase the carrying capacity.

Quality Over Long Distances

While moving signals over long distances, the quality gets compromised in the case of HDMI cables. Most HDMI cables work best in short distances i.e. up to 10 meters. Once you stretch the cable beyond that, you will greatly impact your signal quality. However, that is not the case with Optical fiber cables. These cables can be used effectively for longer distances to deliver better performance.

Keeping in mind the need to transfer high-quality ultra HD resolution data between ends along with non-degradation of signals over longer distances, fiber optic HDMI cables are now used. These cables come with an increased bandwidth capacity that allows you to carry high-resolution HD data in the best quality.

Audio Transmission

HDMI cables are known for supporting 7.1 channel sound for lossless theater-quality audio. The cable should be your first choice if you want to enjoy content in Blu-Ray format. On the other hand, Optical cables allow for surround sound up to 5.1 channels. They cannot transfer high-quality audio signals like that of HDMI cables.

Another beneficial aspect of audio transmission in HDMI cables is the ability to support audio return channels. Take the case of HDMI 1.4 cable, for instance. In addition to the normal path, the cable allows for sound to move from your TV tuner to your receiver, thereby synchronizing the audio and video by reducing processing delays automatically.

Video Transmission

Using an HDMI cable can help you transmit both audio and video signals in a single cable. This, of course, without compromising on quality. Instead, if you go for an optical fiber cable, you would have to arrange separate cables for carrying audio and videos. Because optical cables are more expensive than HDMI cables, the cost of two might significantly burn a hole in your pocket.

Also, managing separate cables may be messy enough to impact your audiovisual experience significantly. Therefore, it is advisable to work out your details and then proceed with the purchasing of cables.

Fiber Optic HDMI Cable for Better Experience

With new and upgraded home theaters, soundbars, and gaming consoles, you need high-performance cables more than ever. The new cutting edge fiber optic HDMI cables allow us to make the most out of new technology by addressing the shortcomings of traditional HDMI cables. Let's have a closer look at what these cables have in the offering.

Greater Bandwidths Over Longer Distances:

Modern-day technology has now embraced bandwidth requirements of 4K to 8K. Old school copper HDMI cables create a waveform that is demodulated at the receiving end. Thereafter, the patterns present in the wave are converted into digital and analog signals. However, copper has a limited carrying capacity, which means that ultra HD 4K or 8K data cannot be transmitted efficiently through them.

This is where fiber optic HDMI cables step in. Different variants of these cables, like version 1.4 and 2.1, provide different bandwidths, which range from 18 GBPS to 48 GBPS.

Unlike normal HDMI cables, these cables can transfer data over a greater distance. They can work effectively for distances of more than 20 meters.

Speed Benefits:

Fiber optic HDMI cables use light to transmit signals. They utilize photons for this purpose. As a result, the speed of transmission is almost equal to that of light.

On the contrary, normal HDMI cables electrically transmit signals. They leverage electrons, which makes the speed of transmission as slow as 1% of light. This can cause great problems while performing complex tasks such as running 4K gaming or 8K displays.


Fiber optic HDMI cables are incredibly flexible and thin. They can handle pressure greater than their normal HDMI cables. However, it is advisable to use them with care and not bend them more than a limit. This may cause the delicate glass fibers to present inside to break.

The cost incurred on Fiber optic HDMI cables surpasses others. It's because of the intermix of characteristics - of both normal HDMI and Optical Fiber cables - that they offer. If we talk about a long term proposition, then fiber optic cables are definitely worth an investment. Instead of purchasing extenders for increasing the area of coverage, you can simply leverage these cables.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know the distinction between optical cables and HDMI cables, the next question is, which one should you use? The answer simply depends on the purpose. If you have to enjoy sublime HD experience, go for HDMI cables without skipping a beat. However, if your setup does not support the HDMI cables, simply go for optical fiber cables.

Now let's suppose you want to connect your personal computer, which is placed upstairs with your television, which is a little far to enjoy 4K gaming. It's best to go for a fiber optic HDMI cable.

It is important to note that connection cables are the soul of your system. Therefore, you must estimate your requirements clearly and then proceed with the right buy.

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