Can a bad HDMI cable cause pixelation or pixilation? Yes. If your HDMI cable is bad you’ll at best see artifacting and skipping from the signal of your digital video or at worst not get any signal to your HDTV at all. A faulty HDMI cable doesn’t only cause video problems but also audio issues that interrupt your video-gaming and movie-watching experience when push comes to shove. Usually, the quick-fix solution to a bad HDMI cable is to replace it since they come in cheap enough. However, you need to make sure that it’s the cable that’s causing you grief.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know in order to diagnose and address your bad HDMI cable or connection. Thanks to this guide, you should be able to assess and address everything in record time.
Common HDMI Cable Problems
Cables for HDMI connections often cause several different connections and display issues that you need to be aware of, chief among them pixilation. It mainly degrades the digital signal, leading to them ending up looking like blocks or sparkles. The picture of whatever you’re watching also tends to become frozen for good measure. This is different from analog signals that instead have lines or snow appearing when the picture is compromised from the data being retrieved from the magnetic tape of a VHS cassette. To wit:
- The Symptoms of a Bad Signal: When your HDMI is incapable of processing a signal correctly, then you’ll end up with a display with no signal and picture, a fuzzy picture, a picture with all the wrong colors, an intermittent picture that disappears and reappears, poor screen resolution, artifacts, and even no sound since the sound signal travels on the same cable as the video signal. The thing with this is that these symptoms can appear because of other problems present in the game console, DVD or Blu-Ray disc, the television itself, or the cleanliness of the video ports or receivers.
- Choppiness, Poor Audio, and Pixilation: If the cable has connection issues or crimping, this leads to problems leading to choppy pixels, poor audio, and pixilation. Moreover, HDMI cables are used to transfer an HD signal from a cable receiver or media source to your HDTV, projector, or monitor. If your HDMI cable is out of commission partially or wholly, it takes away the high-speed capabilities of the cable little by little. If it’s just a little crimping or connector dirtiness, you might suffer from slight artifacting. However, the more the damage, the more the signal suffers until you’re left with a cable that doesn’t work.
- What to Check Out Specifically: Prior to testing the cables, you should check a few things first. This will allow you to narrow down the cause of the problems and figure out if the cable is the one causing the problems in the first place. If your cable has bent or is looped into tight coils, you might be able to solve your signal issue by simply unraveling the cable and allowing it to be straightened out. Alternately, if you have any spare cables on hand, you can use them to check if it’s a cable issue that’s causing your poor picture quality. Having spare cables you know are still good is an effective way to begin your troubleshooting.
- Bent Pins on the Components: If the cable isn’t the issue then you need to look at the back of the components for any bent pins and whatnot. The ports you’re supposed to connect with the HDMI cable ends might have contact issues that require technician repair, which can range from damage to corrosion. Check out the connector hood on the HDMI cable’s twin ends. If the hood is too large, it can serve as a restrictive piece of plastic that prevents the cable connector from connecting to the port all the way through, thus necessitating hood removal.
- Poor Quality Cables: Your HDMI cable can either go bad after a length of time of usage or it could be bad from the get-go due to factory defects or shipping or storage damage to the store. Regardless, like the residential-grade RG-6 or RG-59 coaxial cables you use for your cable TV needs, your HDMI connectors needed to link up to a cable/satellite box or a DVD/BD player can also suffer from issues with attenuation and damage. It could suffer from crimping, elemental exposure, or fraying for good measure. This damages the signal and can turn a 1080p video into 720p one or kill of the signal altogether.
- Buying HDMI Cables 101: You should get cables that have been individually tested when you set out to shop for the right HDMI cables. Many big-box store cables have individual testing and work just fine universally on your TV sets and projectors unless there’s something wrong with their ports. You should also be aware of the different types of cables available because high-speed and ultra-high-speed cables are required on HDMI 2.0 and above ports in order to be able to play 4K Blu-Rays or videogames at their fullest capacity. If you’ve received faulty equipment, look into their money-back guarantee or warranty.
- Precautions and Warnings: There are times where a defective cable can work in one system but not another due to factors like impedance matching—i.e., a cable has the same matching impedance that another system tolerates, such that it can still run with 1080p or 720p fine while a more sensitive setup makes the artifacting or pixilation look a lot more obvious. If you lack a similar setup, you can simply use a new HDMI cable in the existing setup to see if that fixes everything. The original cables should also be examined for damage, crimping, and whatnot.
- How to Test the Cable: If you believe the cable is what’s wrong with your HDTV picture leading to pixilation and audiovisual issues, you need to test your theory first. To test the cable, you need to have another audiovisual setup similar to the one in question. You should also have another spare cable you know is working. Swap HDMI cables from one setup to another to see if they work. This will narrow down which is on the fritz, the setup or the cable. If the system starts working with new cables, then you know the original cable is what’s faulty. Otherwise, it might be the port or the systems themselves.
- Things to Remember When Testing: When testing a cable, you should first turn off the device like your cable box or your DVD/BD player. Afterward, unplug the cable and physically check the connection. The pins might be bent or broken. The port might have bits of pins inside them. Wiggle the connection on the back or side of your media player and HDTV. Ensure that the connection is solid and isn’t barred from fully connecting due to placement angle or the hood on the connector. There are times when your TV has a loose HDMI connection on one of its ports, so you’ll have to duct-tape the HDMI cable securely on it or invest in some money to get the port replaced by a certified repairman.
- Switching from HDMI1 to HDMI2: There are TVs that don’t automatically detect which port is being used or allow you to use both ports at the same time, so you have to shift from HDMI1 to HDMI2 or AV1 to AV2 using your remote control’s “video” button. The loss of connection might be because you’ve switched to the wrong port! You can also move your cable connector from one port to another instead of switching from port to port using your remote. However, that doesn’t explain pixilation on your display. In such instances, you might have to look into the condition of your media player’s port instead.
- A Bad DVD or BD Output Connection: The pixilation might be because the disc for the DVD or BD player is all scratched up. It could also be a hardware issue. The port or output of your DVD or BD might be giving you grief instead. It’s harder to experiment on the media player since they usually only have one port or HDMI output. First, check if your player is working but using another output, such as the one for component or A/V. If you’re getting a picture, then it might be the player’s HDMI port that’s going bad. Component cables on DVD players are enough to allow 1080i HD but Bu-Ray players exclusively rely on HDMI outputs to work.
Because of the fact that every HDMI receiver or port, video game console, or television set is different, you may have a cable that’s too large for the component to receive due to its overly large hood. You might need to, therefore, maneuver the cable correctly in order to secure the connection.
Otherwise, while a faulty cable shouldn’t cause damage to the individual parts of your HDMI display or media source, it can render a system unwatchable or inoperable. You could end up having to troubleshoot the components of your system for hours or days in order to find out what’s wrong. However, as a rule of thumb, if you have issues with compression artifacts, pixilation, and so forth, it’s usually the HDMI cable. If you’re having trouble with your HDMI audiovisual systems connected through HDMI cables, you should first consider the possibility that you have a faulty cable.