A couple months back we went through a series of articles detailing different types of cable and their uses. We’re are back! Today we are going to talk about Category cables.
Category cables, also known as network cables or just “Cat” cables, consist of four twisted pairs of copper wire which have a RJ-45 end. Over the years they have increased the amount of data that can be passed over the cables. Which is why you will see Cat 5, Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a cables. With each iteration of the cable they increased the amount of bandwidth you can send.
Now you may be wondering “Why would an audio/video company care about network cable?”
Many new protocols for sending audio and video are using cat cable to send that signal. An example of that is HDBaseT which we talked about in a previous article (Click here to Read it!!) There are also many different audio protocols that commonly use cat cable to send signal. Many digital consoles use a cat cable as a digital snake to pass audio from the stage box to the console. Cat cables are also used by many monitor systems to pass signal out to an in-ear system personal mixing station. The other big audio-over-network protocol is Dante. Dante is an uncompressed, multi-channel digital media networking technology, with near-zero latency. There are over 1,600 Dante-enabled products are available, enabling you to mix devices from multiple manufacturers.
But back to the actual Cat cable. A common error that people make with Cat cables is that, if it fits, it will work! Because all Cat cables use the same RJ-45 ends that can be easy to assume, but that is not the case! Not only will different cables not pass the same amount of bandwidth, but some protocols, like HDBaseT, pass power over the Cat cable as well. If you plug that cable into just any jack you could seriously damage a piece of equipment. Always verify that the cable you are using for a particular piece of gear is the correct specification for that equipment!
We’ve already done several articles on cabling, but it’s important to understand the difference between them. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning, but we aren’t done yet! So, stay tuned to read more about Cat cables and so much more!