Edition 6 of “This May Be a Dumb Question, but…” – Connections

This Blog Series is written by Exertis Almo's Business Development Managers: 
Ashley Nichols, CTS, DSCE, and John Borns, CTS, DSCE.
Welcome back to another thrilling edition of “This may be a dumb question, but…”. Cables must be in the zeitgeist because we’ve received a bunch of questions around cables lately. Maybe it’s because of Pat Booth’s recent Behind the Panel blog post, or maybe his blog is just a symptom of the industry’s thirst for cabling knowledge. Either way, we’re going to attempt to assuage that desire for cable information by hitting on all the hot topics. Instead of our normal format in which we tackle two equally important questions, we’re going to put together a “dumb questions” guided tour to AV cables and why, when, where, and how to use them.

Now, before we get too into the weeds with ALL of the types of cable connectors in the world, I think it’s important to address that we’re only here to talk about AV cables today. We ain’t talkin’ power cords, ain’t talking data cables.

AV cables have been around for a long time, but they have changed quite a bit in recent years. For most of the history of the AV industry, it was necessary to run your video signal and audio signals on completely different cables. The old Red, White and Yellow RCA5 cables were at one time a groundbreaking evolution because they ran those signals in a more streamlined fashion. You probably still have some of these lying around in a drawer somewhere, and if you do, I can assure you that you almost certainly will never need to use them again. Let it go, it’s ok. It’s FINE. In fact, as recently as when we both passed our CTS tests (humble brag), 6 years ago, there was still a great deal of attention paid to the differences between composite 5.1, component 5.2, and VGA 4 video signals. This was all very necessary and important when the primary video signals we were using were analog signals, but with advances in technology, most of the video signals we deal with today are all digital signals. Thankfully, some very clever people figured out better ways to do things and we now have some simpler digital cables that we primarily deal with today.

DVI-D cable

DVI-D Cable

DVI (Digital Video Interface)1

DVI was the AV industry’s first main adopter of digital video technology. It came out as the digital replacement to the VGA4 cable, which carried analog signals and had many limitations.

VGA cable

VGA Cable

In fact, if you look at it, you can see the similarities. Both had the locking screws that professionals wanted. Similar to VGA, it only carried video signals, meaning you needed another cable to run audio. At the time, it could offer superior resolutions 3840 × 2400 @ 30 Hz, which was its main upside. However, because display manufacturers were slow to adopt this standard, much of its time with us was defined by trying to convert and adapt it to other analog systems that were still around. At one point, there was a lot of confusion around DVI-A, DVI-I, and DVI-D – it became too much for people to really embrace. Have you ever started a new office job and been given two monitors to set up, and the IT guy hands you this wild looking cable that has a bunch of little pins in a configuration you’ve never seen? You may have been looking at a DVI cable. This was many people’s experiences with DVI – not really knowing what it was or how it was different. I’ll admit, I had never heard of this connector type prior to my tenure at Legrand almost 10 years ago. It was certainly superior to ye ole’ VGA cable in terms of video quality, but it would soon be completely outmatched by HDMI or DisplayPort. Here’s why…

HDMI cable
HDMI Cable

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)2

Though released in 2002, HDMI didn’t start showing its (inter)face on HDTV’s until around 2004. By 2009, it had largely taken over sales of the previous digital interface, DVI, and was created to be backwards compatible with DVI. HDMI caught on in the consumer world first, offering the ability to run both audio and video on a single connector. HDMI soon became the preferred connector on Blu-ray players and videos games, driving the need for more adoption from display manufacturers. HDMI also offered some new features like HDCP (which is content protection that prevents digital signals from being pirated) and CEC (which allows for you to turn on your PlayStation 5 and it will turn on your TV automatically), to name a few. Fast forward to today, and we are on HDMI iteration 2.1, which allows HDMI to carry up to an 8K signal at 60Hz, which is the best there is at the moment, even if we typically don’t see other devices or content right now that would require this. This is all well and good for the home consumer, but it doesn’t offer some features that the Pro AV world looks for, and that’s where DisplayPort comes in.


DisplayPort, which was created back in 2006, really shouldn’t be considered a competitor to HDMI. Think more Messi vs. Lebron; Both are great in their own space and could complement each other in a system while maintaining their status. DisplayPort was specifically designed to replace DVI and VGA in computer environments, which is why you often see DisplayPort on computers and computer monitors, and not HDTV’s in your home. DisplayPort’s key differences are that the connectors have a locking mechanism (similar to the old VGA and DVI cables). Additionally, DisplayPort has a cool feature that allows you to daisy chain between displays, which is very handy in video wall applications. Arguments on the superiority of DisplayPort vs. HDMI may have stemmed from back in 2009 when DisplayPort was already able to support 8k at 60Hz with DSC, or Display Stream Compression, which is nearly a decade before HDMI could do that.

displayport cable
DisplayPort Cable
*note: while the connector looks VERY similar to an HDMI connector, you will not that only one corner has the ‘notch’ while the other corner is a 90 degree angle2, indicating it is a DisplayPort cable*

As it stands now, HDMI is preferred for AV applications when traditional TVs and displays are involved, and DisplayPort is still the main preference for PC and gaming applications. There are many details and nuance we are overlooking, but this is the 40,000 foot view of the two.

Vocab Test Time!

Are these the most detailed definitions? No – we are not a dictionary, nor the AVIXA CTS Prep book. Will someone message us after still telling us how much we missed? Possibly. Will these get you a basic working knowledge of these terms and why they matter? 😄 We hope so.

  1. DVI – stands for “Digital Video Interface”. First on the scene in the digital video world. Mainly only still used in niche applications but helped paved the way for HDMI and DisplayPort. DVI had to walk so that they could run. The world just wasn’t ready for him.
  2. HDMI – stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface.” The de-facto standard for audio/video today. Many features that appeal to consumers. You have a ton of these in your house, you can probably get rid of a few, but they’re not hurting you.
  3. DisplayPort – stands for “DisplayPort.” Another popular digital connection. Primarily used in the PC based applications, featuring some specific professional features that HDMI lacks.
  4. VGA – stands for “Video Graphics Array,” previous video signal standard on projectors and monitors. The industry has tried to retire analog tech like this for over a decade.
  5. RCA – stands for “Radio Corporation of America” and was the company that designed the connectors that were used to transport composite and component signals.
    • 5.1 – Composite Signal: red/yellow/white connectors you used to connect your Nintendo to the tube TV
    • 5.2 – Component Signal: red/blue/green connectors that supported high definition, and you used to connect the first Xbox to your TV
    • 5.3 – Compartmentalize: How I deal with my personal issues. Let’s not explore that too deeply.

Thanks for Reading and Asking Your Questions!

Do you have more ‘dumb’ questions? Share your questions here and we will get you an answer.

Did you find this blog post helpful? Connect with us and #TeamExertisAlmo over on LinkedIn.

Ashley Nichols, Dir BizDev

Ashley Nichols | CTS, DSCE

Director of Business Development

Supported Manufacturers: Sony

John Borns, BDM

John Borns | CTS, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Legrand AV (NE, SE, MW) – Chief, C2G, Da-Lite, Luxul, Middle Atlantic, Vaddio, Wiremold

Behind the Panel: Cables, Cables, Everywhere!!

We are going to start today with a trip down memory lane… standard hdmi cableYou have just picked out a gorgeous new HD Television at one of the “Big Box” stores. You are super excited, because “Real Housewives of Buffalo” is premiering season 4 later that day, and you cannot imagine how fantastic it will look in your living room. Then the sales associate that helped you pick that display out asks you if you need a high-end HDMI cable to go with that display. He goes on to tell you that it will “enhance the viewing experience” and “provide better quality audio” for you. Do you spend the $75 for that cable? Or is the $10 one available on that XYZ website going to do the trick? Now, for you and your latest reality series, it may not make much of a difference, but when you are in the world of Pro AV, it can be all the difference in the world.

When it comes to setting up an audio or video system, choosing the right cables is crucial. While it may be tempting to opt for cheaper imports or consumer cables, investing in professional audio and video cables can make all the difference in terms of performance, durability, and reliability. Let’s look at the benefits of using professional audio video cables instead of cheaper online options.

Primarily, professional audio and video cables are designed by manufacturers to deliver superior performance. These cables are engineered with high-quality materials and features that ensure optimal signal transfer, reducing the risk of signal loss or distortion. broadcast videoThis translates into clear, high-quality audio and video output, which is essential for professional applications such as recording studios, live performances, and broadcasting. Whether you are setting up a live event like a concert, installing a conference room solution with high end UC equipment, or setting up a classroom or auditorium in the education space, investing in the higher quality product will help ensure the best performance. In comparison, cheaper cables may not be designed to the same high standards as professional cables. These cables may have lower quality materials and construction, which can result in signal loss, noise, or interference. This can lead to poor audio and video quality, which is unacceptable in professional settings. If performance is key, then you absolutely need Pro-quality cables here.
Something else to consider. Is that less expensive cable rated to do the job that you need? Wait, there are ratings for cables??? Why yes, yes there are. Cables have different ratings, which have to do with whether they can be used in-wall, riser applications, or plenum applications. These are different ratings based on shielding layers and fire resistance to help fires from spreading. If you use non-plenum cable in the plenum ceiling, inspectors will not give you an occupancy or building permit, and you may be subject to fines. Our partners at C2G have this nice guide about different ratings.

Another benefit of using professional audio and video cables is their durability. Professional cables are built to withstand the rigors of frequent use and transport, with features such as reinforced connectors, strain relief, and shielding. This makes them more resistant to wear and tear, and less likely to break or fail during use. In contrast, cheaper imports or consumer cables may not be built to the same standards of durability. These cables may have weaker connectors, thinner insulation, or less shielding, which can make them more susceptible to damage or failure. cable durabilityThis can result in frequent replacements and downtime, which can be costly and disruptive. Think of the time and money spent having technicians deployed just to replace cables, because they were cheaper at the outset. Those savings up front are costing you more down the road. What a huge waste! You absolutely cannot have an inferior connection break in the middle of a live performance or important video conference, which could have catastrophic effects on your business. Did you know that C2G offers a Limited lifetime warranty on all cable assemblies? They do, and that is just one of the many reasons we are excited to have them as a partner.

Finally, professional audio and video cables offer greater reliability. Professional cables are tested and certified to meet industry standards for performance and safety, ensuring that they will work consistently and safely under various conditions. This is critical in professional settings where failure or malfunction can have grave consequences. Cheaper cables may not offer the same level of reliability or safety. These cables may not be put through the same quality control measures and may not meet industry standards for performance or safety. This can result in unpredictable performance, safety hazards, or even damage to equipment. C2G Performance Series cablesLuckily, C2G has that covered as well. Take a look at their latest and greatest: the Performance Series, 100% tested at the production line to make sure it meets standards, highest standard rating required for in-wall installation, and many other key features.

I get it, we are talking about cables here, and I know it is not the forefront in technology, or the flashiest thing you will see at Infocomm – but without quality cabling throughout your AV install, all that equipment cannot run to its highest potential. Investing in professional audio and video cables is a wise choice for anyone who wants to achieve optimal performance, durability, and reliability from their audio and video systems. While less expensive or consumer cables may seem like an attractive option, they simply cannot match those results from professional cables. If you want pro results, you must use pro products. That is it for me, until next time we go Behind the Panel!!

Patrick Booth, BDM
About the Author

Patrick Booth | CTS, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Legrand AV (SW, W, NW) – Chief, C2G, Da-Lite, Luxul, Middle Atlantic, Vaddio, Wiremold

3 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right LED Sign

Toddy Todd Pic

There are many factors that go into choosing the correct LED sign, but a few important attributes are commonly ignored. Below are three commonly overlooked factors that should be considered when deciding on a sign manufacturer.

1) Operating Cost

Capital expenditure, or initial investment cost, is typically the first and the most influential factor that most decision makers consider. What many overlook or only give a passing consideration is the ongoing expense of the sign. The larger the sign, the more important this factor becomes over the life of the sign. Knowing that you’re installing an energy efficient sign can save you tens of thousands in operating expenses down the road.

2) Ease of Use / Management

Signs that require proprietary software, or require the purchase of third-party software can add frustration for the end user, a large learning curve, as well as push up the total cost of the project. ADTI offers the flexibility of using their included content management system, SkyShow, or any signage solution that can utilize their standard HDMI input on the SkyPanel system.

3) Ease of Installation

This is a factor that is commonly skipped over, and almost never is considered by the end user. Since it ultimately affects the bottom line, as well as the timeline of the project, I think it’s an attribute that deserves consideration. If the installation requires special structural changes because of the weight, fabrication to enclose the sign for weatherproofing, or modification to allow for extra depth, the money you saved on the lower cost hardware shrinks considerably, or is completely wiped out.


The difficulty of measuring the increase in quality in comparison to the increase in cost, can cause endless hours of agonizing research, and can freeze the final decision. Many are drawn in by the low cost LED panels they’ve seen coming out of China, and end user’s tend to lean towards the frugal choice for the initial capital expenditure and ignore the ongoing operating expense of running an LED sign; which can be an expensive mistake. With ADTI, you don’t have to make that compromise. The combination of affordable initial cost, American made quality, IP67 weatherproofing, and incredibly low power consumption, makes for a visually stunning, “no compromise” solution.







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