What Are The Differences Between HDMI Splitters and HDMI Switches?

What Are The Differences Between HDMI Splitters and HDMI Switches?

Last Updated on June 28, 2021 by Editor Futurescope

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) gives you a quality sound and viewing system. This is possible through the simultaneous transmission of digital video and audio from a single source (signal). The source can be a TV cable box or computer to Projector, TV, or a computer monitor.

So, what is the difference between HDMI Splitter and HDMI switch? An HDMI splitter connects to one signal and splits it into many HDMI cables, the HDMI switch takes signals from many sources and sends them to your TV through one cable.

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HDMI technology enhances the exchange of crucial data in between your systems in an easy and accessible manner. If you are looking forward to setting up specific or multiple HDMI components and displays, you will require some HDMI splitter and switch devices. Let’s see what these two are, their differences, and their uses.

HDMI Splitter

To duplicate the HDMI’s single signal, you require an electronic device known as an HDMI splitter. The splitter helps you take the signal from a single source, say a computer, and take it out to multiple displays. The device has a single input on one end and numerous outputs on the other. It works by connecting to one signal source (input) and outputting it to several displays. 

HDMI Switch

With an HDMI switch, you can take multiple sources like media streamers and choose between them. You will then send one cable to your computer monitor or TV. In other words, you can connect multiple HDMI signals into a single display port. The HDMI switch has numerous inputs and one output, with multiple signals connecting to one display.

Though it has multiple signals, they will not appear on display simultaneously. The purpose of this device is to allow you to switch between signals and display them consecutively. Each signal will, therefore, have its own time to appear on display. 

 Is An HDMI Splitter The Same As An HDMI Switch?

When you want an HDMI set up, do not confuse a splitter and a switch. Often, people mistake these two as performing the same functions and therefore think they are the same. An HDMI splitter is not similar to a switch. 

As we have noted, each has its function on an HDMI setup. The HDMI splitter allows you to tap signals from a single source and displays them on a number on many TVs or Monitors. An HDMI switch does the opposite. It taps signals from different sources and displays them on one screen. Let’s see the difference depending on the capabilities.

Difference Between HDMI Switches And HDMI Splitters

We can split the two devices differences into two categories;

  • Functions 
  • Label difference

Functions of HDMI Switches Vs HDMI Splitters

As the name suggests, the main idea behind an HDMI splitter is to split signals. The device has a single output and multiple outputs. This means it receives signals from one source but relays multiple displays like TVs and computer monitors.

The HDMI switch, contrastingly, receives signals from many sources and relays that to one display like a TV or a computer monitor. To grasp the HDMI switch, don’t forget that it enables you to switch between the input devices. 

HDMI Input Vs Output Labels

An HDMI splitter has a 1:3 label. The label means one input signal source versus three outputs (displays)

The HDMI switch has a 3:1 label. This label is an indication of three input signal sources versus one output (display).  

Each one of these works independently, depending on your device resolution. For example, if your source supports 1080p resolution, your display must be compatible with the same or a lower resolution. Choose a device that is compatible with your display and source.

What Is An HDMI Splitter Used For?

An HDMI splitter is a simple but powerful and reliable gadget. With a single signal, people can enjoy games, sports, and other programs in multiple locations. For instance, in a restaurant, schools, or public transport systems like planes and trains, sharing of HDMI is possible. You can multiple screens using an HDMI splitter.

HDMI splitters are also helpful in big concerts, seminars, churches, and conferences where all the audience cannot get a hold of what’s happening on stage or in different rooms. This includes the live video camcorders. With booster signals, it is easy to enhance the audio and video quality on other monitors.

What Is An HDMI Switch Used For?

With an HDMI switch, you can switch between a source device at a time. For example, if you have Blu-ray players, Stream boxes, and DVRs, you will have the capability of using several signals and relaying them each at a time on a single monitor.

Without the switch, you will have to plug in and switch your source manually. If you use a drift TV, you can send all the signals using an HDMI easily. In other words, the device will do an excellent job of connecting your devices (several) to a single HDMI input.

How to Use an HDMI Splitter

Summarily, an HDMI splitter will allow you to set up multiple high-definition displays. With the device, you will run a single program on several TVs and at different locations. That is helpful if you run a restaurant where you want the audience to view the same program. If you have gone ahead and acquired the gadget or plan to buy one, we will guide you on using it. Let’s see the simple steps of using the HDMI splitter;

Step 1:

To begin, switch off your TV and any other HDMI components you will use in the setup. 

Step 2:

At the side or back of your TV, locate the HDMI port. The port is a specified connector for transmitting digital data through an HDMI system. The next step is to plugin your splitter device into the port. This connects you to the TV, which is your destination device.

Step 3:

Connect the HDMI device into an open HDMI splitter port for each destination device. You do this by plugging two HDMI cables into the splitter. Go ahead and plug the other ends of the two cables into accessible HDMI inputs ports on the destination device, i.e. TV. 

Note that there are several HDMI ports, but you will only use one or two ports. Let’s illustrate this step further; suppose you want to display a video feed from a VLC Media player on two monitors, you have to plug the splitter into the player. 

Step 4

Turn on the TV, your destination device, and the HDMI splitter (source device). To switch between the sources, press the remote control button or the button on the HDMI splitter box. You can scroll through your desired inputs to select one. The display will show the changes as you alternate between your sources.

How to Use an HDMI Switch

With an HDMI switcher, you will connect multiple high-definition displays with ease. If you have devices like Xbox 360, DVD player, or Playstation 3, you can hook up your TV using an HDMI switch and switch in between your preferred device. The switch eradicates the disgusting hanging cables you see in some places. You can get HDMI switchers with up to eight inputs. Here is how to use the switch;

Step 1:

Plug off your power cables, TV, and any other HDMI components that you will use in this exercise. Place the switch in a convenient position next to your TV and the power source.

Step 2:

Connect the switch cables from the source device, e.g. DVD player, to the HDML switch inputs. Spot the pre-labelled buttons on each port and match them with your devices. You will see words like CD, DVD, Game Console, etc. Match them correctly to avoid errors on display.

Step 3:

Go ahead and plug the HDMI cable that runs from the switcher to the TV or receiver input.   

Step 4:

Switch on the HDMI input device and scroll through the available options on the channel connected to the switch. Go on and push the switch button in front of the device cable.  

Step 5:

This step involves you making sure visuals and audio are clear. If you notice that they are not working correctly, check whether your connections are correct. Also, loose connections and pressing the wrong buttons can make your display outcome undesirable or show errors.

How does an HDMI splitter work?

This reasonably simple device works by taking a single incoming HDMI signal and distributing them to multiple HDMI outputs simultaneously. To elaborate further, let’s see how a splitter works.

An HDMI splitter is made up of a cable with 19 wire pairs. These wires end their terminals on the HDMI plug, which has the same number of pins. The wire pairs transmit divergent data electronically through digital signals. Transmission digital data includes specific device commands found on remote controls, visual and audio data. 

With the help of an HDMI, each one of these wires duplicates and gives you two or more sets of 19 pairs of wires. In turn, the duplicates feed numerous HDMI jacks. That’s how you end up with the same images on different displays from a single plug. 

Also, at this point, you have passive or active HDMI splitters. The passive HDMI splitter works less effectively as they lose signal strength during the splitting process. These splitters do not go beyond two outputs and are relevant for a single display. 

The active HDMI splitter allows you to distribute your source HDMI signal without any signal loss. With an active HDMI splitter, you will split the signals with equal strength on multiple displays ( up to eight outputs). 

The goodness with active HDMI splitters can compensate for power loss during the signal distribution process. They do so by adding power to the HDMI signals. This tells you if you have multiple resolutions, go for active HDMI splitters. You will buy those if you are working out with one or two outputs for the passive HDMI splitter.

How do HDMI switches work? 

If you have multiple HDMI sources, you require its switch. The HDMI switch will allow you to shift in between the multiple sources using a single display port. That implies you can direct two or more HDMI sources to one channel. Whether you need the switch depends on how many sources you have and the number of input devices to connect. 

That’s the HDMI switcher sole function. Let’s now get to know how it functions. We saw earlier that an HDMI unit has a cable made of 19 wire pairs. All these wires terminate to a plug with 19 pins. The purpose of the pins is to communicate or relay information in the form of sound, pictures, and the device controls that you see on the remote control. HDMI switches get signals from the 19 wire through the corresponding pins onto the output signal.

If the system is not well coordinated or controlled, it can mix two overlapping signals. The results are signal overloads and consequent interference on the output. With an HDMI switch in place, the system will sift signals from one input source each at a time. This procedure sounds like a mechanical process, but the electromagnetic switch uses the remote control to perform the relative function.

HDMI Splitters Vs HDMI Switches

We have delved into the differences between the two devices. Each one does have its unique functions in your HDMI setup. Before making a comparison, you need to be aware that you cannot use an HDMI splitter in the place of an HDMI switch. You can have the two devices for different purposes. 

The HDMI switch will take multiple inputs and switch them to a single output. You will require that if you have additional data sources, say a game console or a player. The switch will allow you to run each of these simultaneously without manually plugging in and on the sources.

 A splitter takes for you a single input and slits it into the outputs. If you have a conference where you are doing a live video camcorder, not everyone will see you in front. To allow everyone an equal chance, you can place several screens and relay the proceedings. Thanks to the HDMI splitter.

Winding Up: So, should I Use HDMI Splitters or HDMI Switches?

HDMI splitters and switches are different devices always confused by users. As we have learned, the two devices function differently, and we use them in different scenarios.

You cannot choose one over the other. If you have a compatible resolution (display), both devices will work for you splendidly. The splitter will allow you to relay information to different displays from a single source, while the switch will let you display various sources on one display at a time.

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