HDMI Cable Problems

Written by david lipscomb Google
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HDMI Cable Problems
HDMI problems solved. (digital image by Dianne Burridge from Fotolia.com)

HDMI is a bidirectional connection, meaning that proper operation requires communication between the sending component (Blu-ray player for example) and display. Without this connection, the picture and/or sound will not be present, or have undesired artefacts. Common problems are improper wire gauge, sloppy terminations inside the connector and excessive length. Also, switching devices can occasionally interfere with signal transmission, which is solved by removing the offending piece.


"Sparklies" appear onscreen randomly as white sporadic dots. Most often, this is caused by an HDMI cable that lacks proper bandwidth. Ensure that the cable meets the most current spec (identified as HDMI 1.3, 1.4, etc). It is possible that too much information is trying to transverse a cable that lacks the ability to fully carry it. Switch cables to a known piece that meets the current spec.

No Picture

First, ensure that both the sending component and display are turned on and the cable is connected. Turn off the sending component, while leaving the display on. Often, this resets the connection between the two devices, restoring the picture. If not, turn off both devices. Turn on the display first, then the sending component. If this also fails, turn off both components and disconnect one end of the HDMI cable. Reconnect and turn on the sending component and display. If no picture is present, swap the cable with a model meeting the current spec.

No Sound

Access the surround receiver/processor's manual, and enter the set-up menu. Enter the digital input assignment screen. Ensure that the HDMI inputs follow what is seen on the back panel of the receiver/processor. Follow troubleshooting steps from Section 2 if all connections appear proper but no sound is present.


Quite possibly the most frustrating symptom of HDMI cables that are too long and have insufficient gauge are dropouts. The solution for this is -- prior to cable installation -- to ensure that the cable meets the current spec. In addition, do not use a cable longer than 75 feet without an HDMI repeater. These devices "boost" the connection, connecting two HDMI cables as a powered joiner. Generally, droputs do not occur with runs under 20 feet. If this is happens, follow the cumulative troubleshooting steps from Sections 1 and 2.

Cable Unseats

Longer HDMI runs usually mean thicker, stiffer cables. The HDMI connection in many installations places stress on connectors on components. To alleviate this without purchasing a thinner cable that may be insufficient to accommodate the long run, take a simple plastic zip tie and connect the HDMI cable to a solid structure, such as an equipment rack or adjacent, secure cable. Doing so relieves strain on the HDMI connector, reducing or eliminating intermittent operation or signal failure.

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