Using SDI to Extend HDMI

March 31, 2017

Now that we've gone over how unreliable HDMI can be, especially over longer distances, we'll go over some of the recommended ways you can convert and/or extend HDMI easily and reliably using SDI.

I've taken the most popular and most requested configurations and provided complete wiring diagrams and item lists for each. Before we get into those specifics though, let's go over the standard list of items you'll need.

Items Needed

HDMI Cables

The most important thing to remember for all of these setups is to convert to/from HDMI as quickly as possible. The point is to use the least amount of parallel signal as possible. HDMI and Cat 5/6's parallel signals rapidly degrade over distance, so keeping cables to lengths of 6.6' (2 meters) or less is critical to making sure your system is solid.

When buying HDMI cables, be sure to get cables that support the latest HDMI standard and cables that are High-Speed (or "Category 2"). As of the latest update to this page, HDMI 2.0 is the current standard, with HDMI 2.1 coming soon. Even if you aren't using the maximum resolutions or features of the latest standard, buying a cable that supports it ensures you have a certified cable and that it will comply with HDMI standards.

Another downside to HDMI is the overwhelming number of non-compliant/non-certified cables available. Be sure to buy trusted brand name cables to be positive that the cable meets standards. Some trusted brands include BlueRigger, Pearstone, Amazon Basics, Aurum, Mediabridge, Cable Matters, and Belkin.

In most situations, you will need HDMI cables for every input and output in your system. This includes cameras, computers, video/media players, TVs, projectors, etc.

Some converters will come with HDMI cables. Immediately throw them away or store them as backup cables. I have seen way too many HDMI cables that come packaged with equipment not work. Do yourself a favor and purchase a trusted cable, the small extra cost is worth it.

Converters

There are literally hundreds of options available when it comes to HDMI/SDI converters. The competition is crazy and there's a race to the bottom for pricing. But HDMI/SDI converters all pretty much do the same thing, right? Well, yes and no. On paper they do the same things, but in reality the cheaper converters use cheaper parts (go figure), which means poorer build quality and signal conversions that don't always meet standards. Keep in mind, as in most cases with tech gear, you still get what you pay for.

As a general rule of thumb, in systems where HDMI is being converted to and from SDI, it is best to get a solid and reliable converter for at least the input end of the system. This means that if you have to save money and get cheaper (read: usually less reliable) converters, then it is best to do so for the receiving end of the SDI run, which are the SDI to HDMI converters at monitors and/or projectors. This is because SDI relies on strict video standards, and as long as your first conversion to SDI is up to spec then it is not as important at the receiving end what converter is used.

Another general rule that I recommend is to have at least one backup converter if you use converters that are less than $200 each. The biggest thing you pay for in the more expensive converters is reliability and build quality.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The cheapest HDMI/SDI converters I recommend are the Blackmagic Design Micro Converters ($85 USD). Even then, understand that they are the budget brand and are more prone to reliability issues when compared to more expensive options. Therefore, have proper expectations when purchasing and using them.

I recommend staying away from these brands due to personal experiences with poor reliability or compatibility issues: Monoprice, OREI, Excelvan, Lenkeng, Portta, AVUE, TNP, M.Way... Basically any converter under $85.

In addition to the recommended converters listed in each setup, there is a list of the most popular and approved HDMI/SDI converters at the bottom of this page.

Cabling & Connectors

Proper cable is very important to make sure your signal gets from point A to point B with as little signal loss and interference as possible. While SDI can technically run over all kinds of copper (even over cheap RCA cables if you're really desperate, albeit fairly short cables), the type and quality of cable you use is important.

The most common cable used for longer SDI runs is RG-6 coaxial cable that is made for precision serial digital video. There is one brand and type of cable I recommend for the majority of SDI runs: Belden 1694A. It is an industry standard RG-6 coax that has a solid copper center conductor, has a broad bandwidth, and has a tight impedance tolerance that is capable of carrying 1080p60 (3G-SDI) signals reliably up to 255' (78 meters).

If you wish to make your own SDI cables with Belden 1694A, and you already have the proper tools, you can purchase bulk cable and connectors from Markertek. A 1000' spool of 1694A will run you less than $0.47 per foot. For BNC connectors, I recommend using Kings 2065, Gigatronix BN15, or Belden BHD1 connectors. Make sure you buy the proper size to fit your cable and also make sure they are rated for 75 ohms.

If you do not know how to make BNC cables or are in a rush, there are great pre-made cable options available. Blue Jeans Cable makes standard and custom length SDI cables using Belden 1694A. You can even get their Belden 1694A cables in lengths of 25', 50', 100', and 150' through their Amazon Store. Another trusted brand is Canare, and you can purchase their pre-made SDI cables from various online retailers.

For situations where you need to run cable in tight conduit or need to make sharp bends, Belden makes a flexible version of 1694A called 1694F (1080p60 up to 188' or 57 meters). If that is still too large or not flexible enough, Belden's 1855A works great for the tighter spots and inside racks. Because it is a thinner gauge it will not run signals as far (1080p60 up to 149' or 45 meters) as 1694A, so be sure to plan your cable runs accordingly.

There are many other brands of RG-6 coax that will also run various forms of SDI well. Canare, West Penn, Gepco, and Clark Wire are a few other respected brands. Belden 1694A is what I recommend because it is an industry standard and I know it will work for almost every situation. It's also the brand you see most in broadcast studios, on TV trucks, and through most broadcast rental companies.

If you want to save money by purchasing cheaper RG-6, or already have RG-6/RG-59 coax cables run in your building, I suggest running some tests to make sure that cable will work well for your needs. One thing you can do is run the highest resolution possible for the longest distance you can foresee using and leave it running for a day or two. This will make sure the signal can stay solid and hold a sync. If you don't have any SDI equipment to do the test, you can rent a camera and monitor for a day or two to run your test. I suggest using a camera with SDI output (preferably 3G-SDI or higher), like the Sony PXW-X70, and a monitor that will accept the same form of SDI (3G-SDI or higher). You can also do a Google search for any text or markings found on existing cables to find out information. Most manufacturers print model numbers directly on the cable jacket.

If you need plenum cable, Belden 1695A is the plenum version of 1694A.

If you want to future-proof your SDI runs by installing cable that is capable of carrying 12G-SDI, Belden 4794R is the cable you'll need, along with Belden's Brilliance BNC connectors.

If you want standard coax with longer distances, Belden's 7731A is RG-11 coax capable of carrying 1080p60 (3G-SDI) signals up to 390' (119 meters).

Resolutions

An important thing to note about SDI is that it's a broadcast standard. This is great, because it's a strict standard that guarantees stability and compatibility between products and signals. That's also what gives it such a huge advantage over HDMI. However, one important thing to note with SDI is that it can only transmit and receive a few types of standard video resolutions and formats.

HDMI, being an adaptation from DVI (a computer standard), can handle many different resolutions like 800x600, 1024x768, 1366x768, and so on. These computer standard resolutions are not compatible with SDI equipment, so be aware of that when planning your system. The only time this really becomes an issue is when someone has 16:10 aspect ratio projection screens, which require resolutions like 1280x800 or 1920x1200. While there are ways to still use SDI, the workarounds can be a hassle.

Thankfully, almost all TVs and projectors available today can accept standard broadcast resolutions and formats. So, as long as you have standard 4:3 or 16:9 screens, SDI resolutions will work well for you.

Another thing to consider is the resolution you wish to use and the bandwidth required to do so. SDI comes in various forms which are generally rated up to a certain bandwidth, so pay attention to the maximum bandwidth or type of SDI for every piece of your system. For more information on the different resolutions and formats for broadcast, the first section of this post explains them in more detail. Here is a simple list with resolutions for each form of SDI and its limitations:

  • SD-SDI (SMPTE259M)
    • Resolutions of 720x480 or 720x576 (PAL countries only)
      • Interlaced frame rates only
    • Maximum bitrate of 270 Mbit/s (360 Mbit/s for 960x480i)
  • ED-SDI (SMPTE344M)
    • Resolutions of 720x480 or 720x576 (PAL countries only)
      • Progressive frame rates accepted
    • Maximum bitrate of 540 Mbit/s
  • HD-SDI (SMPTE292M)
    • Resolutions of 1280x720 and 1920x1080
      • 1080i60, 1080p30, or 1080p24
    • Maximum bitrate of 1.485 Gbit/s and 1.485/1.001 Gbit/s
  • 3G-SDI (SMPTE424M)
    • Resolution of 1920x1080
      • 1080p60 and below accepted
    • Maximum bitrate of 2.970 Gbit/s, and 2.970/1.001 Gbit/s
  • 6G-SDI (SMPTE ST-2081)
    • Resolutions of 4096x2160 (DCI 4K) and 3840x2160 (UHD)
      • Formats of 2160p30 or less
    • Maximum bitrate of 6 Gbit/s
  • 12G-SDI (SMPTE ST-2082)
    • Resolutions of 4096x2160 (DCI 4K) and 3840x2160 (UHD)
      • Formats of 2160p60 accepted
    • Maximum bitrate of 12 Gbit/s

Now, let's get to the good stuff!

The Setups

Below are the recommended setups for common presentation situations that I see most. These are all assuming that a single computer is being used for presentation purposes and being sent to one or multiple monitors/projectors.

While all of these configurations are for computers, you can easily adapt them for other things like video players/recorders or cameras.

Every package includes standard SDI cables for a 100' run. Obviously, if you need to run your signal a shorter distance or a longer distance you will need to get the proper length of cable. All of these packages should be able to handle 1080p60 video signals up to 255' over Belden 1694A.

Disclaimer: The links on this page may be to my affiliates. Buying products through these affiliate links is no extra cost to you. I simply get a small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy. Please help support this site so I can continue posting valuable information like this. I also do not get paid by any manufacturers to review or sell their products, so all of my recommendations are my own advice and experience. Thank you!

Computer to a Single Monitor or Projector

Good

Click on image for high resolution version

This is a low budget setup that works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to a single monitor or projector.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Blackmagic Design HDMI to SDI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (Monitor or Projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Better

Click on image for high resolution version

I probably install this configuration more than any other. Simply having a Decimator MD-HX at the input end of the signal chain makes it much more reliable and solid. It's well worth the extra money.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (Monitor or Projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Best

Click on image for high resolution version

Install this system and it may outlive you AND the zombie apocalypse. This will also cause even the most stoic or grumpy engineers to shed a single tear or give you a hug.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (Monitor or Projector)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Computer to Multiple Monitors or Projectors (Looped Method)

Good

Click on image for high resolution version

This is a low budget setup that works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to an indefinite amount of monitors or projectors. The biggest limitation with this method is if one converter goes bad, then every following signal in the chain goes down until the bad converter is replaced or bypassed. This works well for situations where every converter is easily accessible, allowing you access to quickly change out or bypass converters.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Blackmagic Design HDMI to SDI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every output)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Better

Click on image for high resolution version

This configuration works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to an indefinite amount of monitors or projectors. The biggest limitation with this method is if one converter goes bad, then every following signal in the chain goes down until the bad converter is replaced or bypassed. This works well for situations where every converter is easily accessible, allowing you access to quickly change out or bypass converters.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Best

Click on image for high resolution version

This configuration is easily the most versatile and reliable. It works great for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to an indefinite amount of monitors or projectors. The only limitation with this method is if one converter goes bad (which Decimators rarely do), then every following signal in the chain goes down until the bad converter is replaced or bypassed. This works well for situations where every converter is easily accessible, allowing you access to quickly change out or bypass converters.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Computer to Multiple Monitors or Projectors (Home Run Method)

Good (Maximum of 2 Monitors or Projectors)

Click on image for high resolution version

This is a low budget setup that works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to two monitors or projectors. The biggest limitation with this method is if the HDMI to SDI converter goes bad, then every signal in the chain will go down until the bad converter is replaced.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Blackmagic Design HDMI to SDI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Better (Maximum of 4 Monitors or Projectors)

Click on image for high resolution version

This configuration works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to a maximum of 4 monitors or projectors. The biggest limitation with this method is if the HDMI to SDI converter goes bad (which Decimators rarely do), then every signal in the chain will go down until the bad converter is replaced.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • 4 Total SDI Outputs
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Best (Maximum of 4 Monitors or Projectors)

Click on image for high resolution version

This configuration is the crème de la crème! It works well for most situations where you need to extend a computer's output to a maximum of 4 monitors or projectors. The biggest limitation with this method is if the HDMI to SDI converter goes bad (which Decimators rarely do), then every signal in the chain will go down until the bad converter is replaced.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • 4 Total SDI Outputs
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every input and output)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Computer to Distribution Amplifier

This setup works with any of the configurations above by simply adding a distribution amplifier between the HDMI to SDI converter and the SDI cable(s) going to each monitor or projector.

Click on image for high resolution version

List of Approved SDI Distribution Amplifiers

  • 1x4 SDI Distribution Amplifiers
    • AJA HD5DA HD/SD-SDI Distribution Amplifier (Amazon / B&H)
      • HD-SDI (1080i60 or 1080p30) max input/output
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Can also be used as a 1x4 SDI distribution amplifier
    • Marshall Electronics VDA-104-3GS Reclocking Distribution Amplifier (B&H)
      • 3G-SDI (1080p60 or less)
  • 1x6 SDI Distribution Amplifiers
    • AJA 3GDA 3G-SDI Distribution Amplifier (Amazon / B&H)
      • 3G-SDI (1080p60 or less)
    • Marshall Electronics VDA-106-3GS Reclocking Distribution Amplifier (B&H)
      • 3G-SDI (1080p60 or less)
  • 1x8 SDI Distribution Amplifiers
    • Blackmagic Design Mini Converter SDI Distribution Amplifier (Amazon / B&H)
      • 3G-SDI (1080p60 or less)
    • Blackmagic Teranex Mini 12G-SDI Distribution Amplifier (Amazon / B&H)
      • 12G-SDI (2160p60 or less)

Computer Into Broadcast Switcher or Router

Good

This is a low budget setup that works well for many situations where you need to convert a computer's output to SDI to go into broadcast switchers or routers. However, there are instances where not all resolutions will work, especially 1080i. For 720p and most 1080p setups this will work fine, but I highly recommend testing this before you need it and plan on moving up to the next step if it doesn't work for you.

NOTE: If you are having problems with any Apple computer on external displays or into HDMI to SDI converters, try this before looking for other options:

  • 1) Go to System Preferences
  • 2) Go to Displays
  • 3) Make sure your secondary display shows up under the Arrangement tab
  • 4) Hit the Gather Windows button to bring your secondary display's settings window to the desktop
  • 5) Hold down the Option key and click on the Scaled button under the Display tab
  • 6) Try every option in that list for the resolution you want
    • Sometimes, the 1080p option will work for 1080i systems. Not always, but still worth a try before looking for alternatives.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Blackmagic Design HDMI to SDI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (Computer to Switcher or Router)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Better (HDMI Scaler)

This configuration will work for almost every computer with HDMI output. The Decimator MD-HX includes a scaler that can convert most HDMI inputs to broadcast standards up to 1080p60 or 1080p59.94.

Items Needed

  • HDMI to SDI (Computer)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (Computer to Switcher or Router)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Best (VGA or HDMI Scaler)

This configuration will work for almost every computer with HDMI or VGA outputs. The Datavideo DAC-70 includes a scaler that can convert most HDMI and VGA inputs to broadcast standards up to 1080p60 or 1080p59.94.

Items Needed

  • Computer (HDMI or VGA) to SDI
    • Datavideo DAC-70 SDI/HDMI/VGA to SDI/HDMI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (Computer to Switcher or Router)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
Purchase This Package on Amazon

Computer and Multi-Screen Processor

This is a unique setup, but is very popular with churches and live events that want to be able to do a seamless doublewide or triplewide screen configuration to monitors or projectors. This can be done on 3 physically separate screens and also on edge blended projection, as long as the projectors or presentation software have edge blending capabilities.

For a long time, the only option for doing seamless presentations across multiple screens was to use the Matrox DualHead2Go or TripleHead2Go. They were fairly inexpensive and could do resolutions up to 4096 pixels wide, allowing you to have 3X 720p HD screens seamlessly side by side (3840x720). They worked well for analog VGA setups or HDMI/DVI setups that didn't require long cable runs. However, if you needed to send their HDMI/DVI outputs further than 30' or get them into a broadcast switcher using SDI, then they quickly became a burden and almost always required expensive scaler converters (or scan converters) to work reliably.

Now, there is a much better option. The Datapath X4 is a 1x4 multi screen processor that works in a similar way to the DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go, allowing you to take one output from a computer and split it to 4 seamless outputs. The advantages to using the Datapath are its versatility and its adherence to proper signal standards. Using a Datapath X4 makes it much easier to adapt the outputs to formats needed, whether you are sending HDMI/DVI over long distances or trying to send the outputs into a broadcast switcher or router. For most cases where you need to convert to SDI, a simple HDMI to SDI converter for each of the Datapath's outputs will work perfectly.

Good

This setup will work well for most situations where you need to extend the Datapath X4's outputs or send them into an SDI switcher or router, assuming the Datapath X4's output resolution/format matches that of your SDI system and you do not need interlaced frame rates. For cases where you are sending the Datapath into a switcher or router, simply remove the SDI to HDMI converters and their HDMI cables.

Items Needed

  • Computer to Datapath X4 (Cable Options)
    • BlueRigger HDMI to DVI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
    • BlueRigger DVI to DVI-D Dual Link Cable (6') (Amazon)
  • Multi Screen Processor
    • Datapath X4 (B&H)
  • Multi Screen Processor to HDMI to SDI Converters (One for Each Converter)
    • BlueRigger DVI to HDMI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
  • Each Multi Screen Output HDMI to SDI Converters
    • Blackmagic Design HDMI to SDI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (For Each Monitor or Projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One For Every Monitor or Projector)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)

Better

This setup will work well for almost every situation where you need to extend the Datapath X4's outputs or send them into an SDI switcher or router, including interlaced frame rates. For cases where you are sending the Datapath into a switcher or router, simply remove the SDI to HDMI converters and their HDMI cables.

Items Needed

  • Computer to Datapath X4 (Cable Options)
    • BlueRigger HDMI to DVI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
    • BlueRigger DVI to DVI-D Dual Link Cable (6') (Amazon)
  • Multi Screen Processor
    • Datapath X4 (B&H)
  • DVI to HDMI Cables (One for each Datapath output)
    • BlueRigger DVI to HDMI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
  • HDMI to SDI Converter (One for each Datapath output)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blackmagic Design SDI to HDMI Micro Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)

Best

This setup will work well for almost every situation where you need to extend the Datapath X4's outputs or send them into an SDI switcher or router, including interlaced frame rates. For cases where you are sending the Datapath into a switcher or router, simply remove the SDI to HDMI converters and their HDMI cables.

Items Needed

  • Computer to Datapath X4 (Cable Options)
    • BlueRigger HDMI to DVI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
    • BlueRigger DVI to DVI-D Dual Link Cable (6') (Amazon)
  • Multi Screen Processor
    • Datapath X4 (B&H)
  • DVI to HDMI Cables (One for each Datapath output)
    • BlueRigger DVI to HDMI Cable (6.6'/1m) (Amazon)
  • HDMI to SDI Converter (One for each Datapath output)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Blue Jeans Cable (or Belden 1694A) 100' SDI Cable (Amazon / B&H)
  • SDI to HDMI (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Decimator MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
  • 6' HDMI Cable (One for every monitor or projector)
    • Pearstone HDMI High-Speed Cable (Amazon / B&H)

What About Distances Further Than SDI's Specs?

For distances further than SDI cabling specifies (For Belden 1694A it is 255'/78m at 1080p60, and for Belden 7731A it is 390'/119m at 1080p60), I recommend converting to optical fiber instead of coax. However, SDI can run further distances over coax cable by simply "reclocking" the signal. To do this, you can use most of the recommended converters at the bottom of the page (with SDI loop outputs), or an SDI distribution amplifier, in between two long cable runs to reclock the signal, allowing it to run nearly double the specified distance. In theory, you could reclock an SDI signal indefinitely every 70m-100m and run it for miles, but that is not recommended.

There are great options available for running HDMI to SDI and then sending the SDI signal over fiber. For those situations, I recommend hiring an AV professional or AV integrator to get you the proper fiber components.

What About HDCP?

HDCP, or the lack of HDCP in SDI components, is probably the most common argument against using SDI. However, there's also a lot of misconceptions surrounding it and a lot of misuse. The biggest issue with this argument is it's usually a "what if" or a very small percentage use case, like one or two small events per year. I don't know many presentation systems that play copyright protected content often enough to merit this argument.

Bottom line: don't design your system around a what if.

If you need a system that can play HDCP protected content, like Blu-Rays or DVDs, AND you have proper licensing or written permission from the copyright holders, there are ways to get that content to SDI. Here are a couple of ways:

  • Analog to SDI Conversion
    • This is the easiest and most recommended way. Analog signals like component or composite video don't carry HDCP signals, so you can easily convert most analog players to SDI with a standard analog to SDI converter. If you keep your analog cables shorter than 6.6' or 2 meters, then you will see no loss in video quality. Keep in mind though, you will need a converter with a built-in scaler if your player's resolution/format is different than your system's resolution/format.
  • HDMI Splitter
      Search the web for it, there are tons of posts about this. HDMI -> HDMI splitter -> HDMI to SDI converter

If HDCP is a deal breaker, then your only option is to stick with HDMI throughout the signal chain. At that point, I suggest using high quality HDBaseT equipment from trusted manufacturers like Crestron, AJA, Extron, or Just Add Power.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one on television. Any information provided here is not legal advice. I do not condone any forms of breaking copyright law or circumventing copyright protection. Please be educated on your copyright laws and consult a qualified and licensed professional for your specific situation and needs.

Approved Converters

HDMI to SDI Converters (No Scaling)

  • Blackmagic Design
    • Micro Converter HDMI to SDI (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
    • Mini Converter HDMI to SDI 4K (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4K DCI p24 (4096x2160 at 24fps) or 2160p30
    • Heavy Duty Converter HDMI to SDI 4K (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4K DCI p24 (4096x2160 at 24fps) or 2160p30
    • Battery Converter HDMI to SDI (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
  • AJA
    • HA5 HDMI to SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080i60/1080p30
    • HA5-Plus HDMI to SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
    • HA5-4K HDMI to SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4Kp60 (4096x2160 and 3840x2160)
  • Atomos
    • Connect H2S HDMI to SDI Converter with Optional Battery (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080i60/1080p30
    • Connect-AC H2S HDMI to SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080i60/1080p30
  • Lynx Technik
    • yellowbrik HDMI to SDI Converter with Frame Synchronizer (B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
      • Includes Reference Input to Re-Time HDMI Inputs
      • Fiber SFP Cage for Fiber Tx Module
  • Roland
    • VC-1-HS HDMI to SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
      • Includes Audio Embedding/De-embedding

HDMI to SDI Converters (Scaling)

  • Blackmagic Design
    • Teranex Mini HDMI to SDI (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 2160p60 or 4K DCI p30
    • Teranex AV (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 2160p60
      • Advanced conversions of aspect ratio, colorspace, format, and even real time noise reduction
    • AJA
      • FS2 Dual Channel Frame Synchronizer and Converter (B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Dual channels of full conversion
    • Decimator
      • MD-HX HDMI and SDI Cross Converter (Amazon / B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Cross convert between HDMI or SDI
    • Datavideo
      • DAC-70 HDMI/VGA/SDI to HDMI/SDI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Cross convert between HDMI or SDI
        • Convert VGA to HDMI or SDI
    • Grass Valley
      • ADVC G1 HDMI/DVI/Analog to HDMI/SDI Converter (B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Convert HDMI, DVI, or Analog to SDI
    • Roland
      • VC-1-SC Up/Down/Cross Scan Converter (Amazon / B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Convert HDMI, DVI, or Analog to HDMI or SDI
    • TV One
      • C2-2655 Universal Scaler PLUS (B&H)
        • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
        • Cross convert between a variety of analog and digital standards

SDI to HDMI Converters (No Scaling)

  • Blackmagic Design
    • Micro Converter SDI to HDMI (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
    • Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4K DCI p24 (4096x2160 at 24fps) or 2160p30
    • Heavy Duty Converter SDI to HDMI 4K (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4K DCI p24 (4096x2160 at 24fps) or 2160p30
    • Battery Converter SDI to HDMI (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
  • AJA
    • Hi5 SDI to HDMI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080i60/1080p30
    • Hi5-Plus SDI to HDMI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
    • Hi5-3G SDI to HDMI Converter (B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60
      • Audio Output Included
    • Hi5-4K SDI to HDMI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4Kp60* (4096x2160 and 3840x2160)
      • *4096x2160 or 3840x2160 at 60p only outputs HFR 4:2:0
    • Hi5-4K-Plus SDI to HDMI Converter (B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 4Kp60 (4096x2160 and 3840x2160)
  • Roland
    • VC-1-SH SDI to HDMI Converter (Amazon / B&H)
      • Resolutions/Framerates up to 1080p60