Need Sky or Video around the house?
The video distribution world is changing...
We pride ourselves on creating a robust infrastructure for your entertainment needs. One of the ways we leverage this infrastructure is by 'reticulating' or 'backfeeding' Audio and Video signals to different Televisions in different rooms.
It's a method of video distribution used quite commonly in large commercial building, offices, and schools for sending things like CCTV feeds or even custom internal TV stations.
One of the most common ways we use it in real homes is to take a Sky feed and convert it to Standard Definition so that it can be sent over a normal aerial cable and tuned in like any other analog TV station. This allows any TV in the home that has an analog tuner to watch whatever channel the Sky decoder is currently tuned to
"It can be sent over normal aerial cable and tuned in like any other analog TV station"
This method can also be used to send other sources (such as a DVD player) to different rooms as well.
Recently, however, we have encountered a new set of challenges. The first is Digital Protection that is built into digital AV signals (like HDMI). This specifically prohibits converting the digital signal to an analog one. The second, and more challenging, is that since the Analog Switch-off, many new TV's only have digital tuners built in. This means that they cannot tune in analog TV stations at all!
"Many new TV's only have digital tuners built in"
The back panel of a recent model Samsung TV (Digital Tuner only!)
How can we get around this?
There are a couple of ways around this:
- Use a Digital Modulator
- Use an HDMI Extender (Balun)
- Use an 'end to end' modulation system
- HDMI Matrix Style Distribution System
The first one that occurs is to use a digital modulator. This is one that would convert your A/V signal to a DVB-T (like Terrestrial FreeView) or DVB-S (like Satellite FreeView), so that it could be tuned in on these new TV's.
The hardware is available, because as previously mentioned it is often used in commercial environments. The issue becomes the cost.
Where an analog modulator can be had for $50 - $100, the digital equivalent runs $800 -$1,200! This makes the proposition of sending a video feed around the house much more restrictive.
A digital modulator for HDMI signals
"Where an analog modulator can be had for $50 - $100, the digital equivalent runs $800 -$1,200"
A second option is to use an HDMI extender. There are two major stumbling blocks with this, and the first is that it requires a dedicated cable ran *from* the video source to the destination - it's 'point to point'.
Secondly, as it's point to point, the signal can't be easily distributed to more than one location. One positive spin on this solution is that it keeps the full quality of the HDMI signal. Our go to recommendation for HDMI baluns is the Blustream HEX-70
There is another way...
The third solution is a blend of the first two. The chosen video signal is modulated, but instead of trying to create a DVB-T or DVB-S signal, it's modulated to an analog station, then demodulated (converted back) at the other end of the cable.
This uses a box at the sending end, and a second box at the receiving end, but the benefit over the extender option is that you can have as many receivers as you would like; you simply add another box to the other end.
The third option is about double the price of the old analog modulators (as you effectively have two of the units), but no where near the cost of a digital modulator.
The downside is that you are still only getting a Standard Definition signal. Often this is robust enough for a secondary TV.
This solution will not work with newer sky decoders which only have HDMI outputs.
Triax end to end modulation system
Of course, if you require a higher resolution you can step up to a proper HD distribution system, but for many people this is overkill.
As always, the real skill comes in balancing the budget and requirements to ensure a good outcome without costing an arm and a leg.