AV systems use embedded optical modules to provide switching, extend transmission distance, increase bandwidth, or provide EMI immunity to video signals. They consume the most space, but offer additional ports and functionality. AV systems require the installation of either multimode fiber (distances up to 1000 meters) or single-mode fiber (longer distances). Companies like Cleerline (link) have created specialized fiber that is designed for AV installations. Key features are greater pull strength, improved bend radius, safety, and easier field termination.
Optical adapters convert an electrical HDMI signal to a pure optical signal on the transmit side, and then back to HDMI on the receive side. Unlike optical cables, they use standard fiber that can be preinstalled or cut to length and terminated in the field. Inneos Real4K™ optical adapters use a technology called CWDM to bounce different wavelengths of light onto a single fiber, thus enabling 18Gbps on a single fiber that can be transported up to 1000 meters. No other product today has this capability.
Active optical cables have electronics in the transmit and receive ends that convert electrical signals to light and back again. Most optical cables include multiple optical fibers for high-speed data and a few copper cables for low-speed data. They typically can’t be cut, which makes it difficult to deploy them through walls or in large-scale installations. Optical cables can vary widely in quality and performance, so it’s best to confirm with an organization like DPL Labs that your cable supports the 18Gbps uncompressed bandwidth required by real 4K applications.
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Modern fiber is lightweight, flexible, and as safe and easy to install as category cable. Learn about key considerations for commercial and residential installations—and discover how the latest fiber optic technologies can help you meet your project objectives.