Prepare for HDMI 2.1: Metra Home Theater Answers Dealer Questions

Metra Home Theater and Cleerline Technology answered dealers questions about HDMI 2.1 on a recent CE Pro webinar. Here’s a little post-webinar Q&A with Metra’s Brent McCall.


CE Pro’s most recent webinar, Answering Your Questions about HDMI 2.1, couldn’t have been timed any better.

Back in January, HDMI Licensing announced the new HDMI 2.1 specification. The group’s new spec supports higher video resolutions, including 8K at 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz, as well as dynamic HDR that ensures every frame is shown at its ideal values. 

New 48G cables facilitate bandwidth capabilities up to 48Gbps to support 8K video with HDR and eARC supports object-based surround sound and an automatic format detect feature. The spec also offers a Game Mode VRR (variable refresh rate) that enables 3D graphic processors to display an image the second it is rendered for improved fluidity and increased detail during game play.

Before HDMI 2.1 hits the market later this year, HDMI and cable manufacturers are working to provide the market with educational materials and compliant products.

The recent CE Pro webinar is just one way HDMI is working to provide as much information as possible in advance of the format’s rollout. The webinar features input from both Metra Home Theater and Cleerline Technology.

Brent McCall, product manager, Metra Home Theater, says with the market migrating to higher speed cables, electronics professionals can expect a transitional period where existing HDMI ports and 18Gbps cables will be sufficient to complete installations.

Here's a little post-webinar Q&A with Metra's Brent McCall. If you'd like to watch a recording of the webinar at anytime, click here.

Brent McCall, Metra Home Theater

Will new cables be required for v2 or will all our old cables still work?

At this point we [Metra Home Theater] believe that the HDMI terminal will not change in the near future. That being the case, shorter high-speed cables should continue to work.

When will we see the birth of cables that can handle 48 gigs? 

While we can’t speak for other manufacturers, we had already been working on extended lengths for expanded bandwidth cables when HDMI 2.1 was announced … fortunately it appears that we will be able to transition to the new standard quickly.

How will the industry handle the distance limitation imposed by this data rate 48Gbps or even the current 18Gbps standard?

In reference to the current 18Gbps, that problem has been solved. Passive cables up to eight meters can now support the full 18Gbps data rate. Active cables and fiber systems can meet any of the distance requirements.

Going forward with the new 48Gbps standard, we think the distances supported by copper — passive or active — will be reduced, but they should still meet the needs of most installations. For those longer, fiber will be the answer.

How often can you reuse a HDMI six foot or 12-foot jumper when the cable comes back from the field? The cables are from disconnects from our customers that return the cables to the Cable Stores. Most of them look good and some are dusty. Some are gold plated and others are flash tin-plated.

During our rigorous testing, cables go through the plug/unplug cycle hundreds of times, so with a quality cable, it should not be a problem.

While the difference between gold and tin is often debated, we feel that the performance variances between to two are negligible, however the gold does provide a better long-term solution in corrosion protection.

What is the maximum cable length?

At this point we do not know the max distance for full 48Gbps. Without knowing the whole spec and transmission method, which has not been released yet, we can’t theorize about length.

Once this is available, we will work with DPL labs to provide a very accurate product performance analysis to determine maximum cable length. It’s important to note however, technology and max cable length for this new spec may vary by manufacturer.

How much HD do we really need when the sources are limited in broadcast television? Is all of the research based on the peripheral components? 

To some degree there is a bit of marketing to sell displays, however the quick acceptance of 4K and HDR, prior to actual 4K/HDR content being available, shows that people still desire a better picture (even if content is lacking at hardware introduction).

Overall, the hardware will always lead before broadcast, so the content will follow once the technology has been introduced and adopted into the marketplace, as we saw with the introduction of 4K TVs. Our best advice is to prepare for the future.

Listen to the entire HDMI 2.1 webinar here.

About the Author

Robert Archer
Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; both schools are located in Haverhill, Mass.




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