Over the next several months we’ll be rolling out a series of articles related to my apartment renovation in Manhattan. Today we offer first-look at one of the components we’ll be reviewing: the FIBBR Ultra Pro Fiber Optic HDMI cable. In today’s preview, we will be describing the cable and talking about installation. Once the project is complete we’ll return with a full review.
Working on an apartment renovation brings multiple constraints that might not exist with new builds. We are forced to work within the constraints of existing conditions and structural features that impact all aspects of construction, including but not limited to A/V wiring. Our project in a pre-war building in Manhattan is no exception. On the upside, I was ecstatic to have the ability to have equipment in a dedicated closet – but the downside is that getting video from the equipment closet to the flat panel we are installing was not straightforward and required a circuitous path. Additionally, a few tight turns and narrow openings along the required path means that a large copper HDMI cable was impossible.
The technicians from Value Electronics who are helping with the AV installation, ran ample ethernet cable from the equipment room to the living room – so that we’ll be able to use HDBaseT HDMI/ethernet baluns – but I was eager to evaluate other options – enter the FIBBR fiber optic HDMI cable. Using fiber optic technology means large distances are achievable. In this case, we used a cable that was 50M long.
FIBBR is a relatively new company who offers multiple fiber optic based cabling. The Ultra Pro is their highest end cable, capable of the full HDMI 2.0 bandwidth of 18.0Gb/sec which supports 4:4:4 4K video at 60Hz. The cable is active, but uses power from the HDMI source and doesn’t need any external power source.
The greatest advantage of fiber optic cable is its thinness and pliability. I was prepared for this but had never held one of these cables in my hand until unboxing the FIBBR Ultra Pro Cable. The fiber cable itself is incredibly thin and light; the difference between a copper cable is quite remarkable. The Ultra Pro is directional – with one side designated monitor and the other source. The actual HDMI connectors are a bit longer than standard HDMI plugs – which makes sense as these need to hold the equipment that converts HDMI signal to light for transit over the fiber optic cable. The connectors felt sturdy – but I did worry about running these through various holes during the installation.
Installation of the cable in our renovation was challenging. As described earlier, renovation installs provide unique challenges. As we had to run the cabling up through wall channels and framing, we had to unravel the cable to snake it through various channels. Unfortunately, the FIBBR UltraPro had a high tendency to twist once unwound. We spent quite a bit of time fighting tangles in the cable once we ran it through the first channel. This wasn’t insurmountable but did add to the time we spent running the cable. In a new installation situation we doubt this would be as much of a problem – but here it proved frustrating.
As our project is still very much underway, all we were able to do was verify the cable was functional after the drama of stringing it – which it did. A small light on the source side indicates the cable is getting a signal – and on the other end, we see a light indicating that the signal is passing uninterrupted. Plugging into a small monitor showed that a test video signal was, in fact, traveling around the apartment, 50 meters, over fiber optic and arriving unharmed at the site where we’ll eventually install a monitor. During this test, we only were able to use 1080p SD content.
Once our project is complete we’ll come back with a full review of the cable – including of 4K HDR content – but so far we are quite impressed!