High Definition or High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a 21st A/V connection format used to connect HD media sources to HD displays. It’s used to link your Blu-Ray or DVD player, your Nintendo Switch or Wii-U, your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, or your cable or satellite box to your High-Definition Television (HDTV), HDMI Computer Monitor, or HDMI projector. There are some types of HDMI connectors and formats that allow smartphones, camcorders, and tablets to link up to your HDMI display as well. Some HDMI devices even carry Ethernet connections as well.
With that said, let’s talk about male versus female HDMI connectors. Long story short, every HDMI cable connects the male plug (the one that protrudes) to a female input or output (the port or hole you’re supposed to insert the male plug into, like in the case of an electric wall socket.
HDMI History and The HDMI Connector
Unlike other video connections, HDMI works in two directions and combines video and audio into one cable. You don’t need to link three-pronged cables with different colors to the right colored ports as in the case of RCA or component video cables. This two-way format allows compatible HDTVs to send signals back to the output or source media device as well. The typical HDMI cable has a plug that’s usually of the male variety but it can change depending on what it’s interfacing with and some such, so it’s possible for the cable connector to instead be female if it’s interfacing with a male port.
- Learn More About HDMI History: The High-Definition Multimedia Interface is a modern format of the 2000s made to replace the analog Standard-Definition or SD home TV formats of yesteryear all the way to the 1990s. It was originally developed to improve the overall viewing experience of users as well as functionality and convenience of hooking up devices together that’s not as annoying to do as hooking you up your old-timey VCR to your old-timey Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) TV. It also helps that it carries HD signals for the clearest video and the most high-fidelity sound possible.
- Before HDMI: Before HDMI, people were mostly using component video cables or the Digital Video Interface (DVI) format for all their HD needs, which incidentally included the Nintendo Wii despite the PS2 having HDMI hookups instead. DVI is a video-only connector so you need separate cables for audio and it’s better suited for PCs and computer monitors. Component video is what you’d get from 2000-era plasma TVs but requires you to route up five separate cables—3 for video and 2 for audio—to a TV, which is a definite hassle. The DisplayPort (DP) standard came much later than DVI and HDMI.
- Displaced DV and Component Video for HD Applications: Due to the nature of HDMI’s collaborative development, it eventually became the de facto standard for HDTV media or A/V connections that displaced DVI and component video and kept DP in second place. HDMI combined the 5 separate cables of component video or twin cables of audio and video into one cable. After time passed, much research and testing was done in order to launch HDMI into a commercially available A/V cable standard back in 2002.
- The Ubiquitous HDMI Standard: HDMI component sales rose exponentially over the following 3-5 years. At present, in 2020, it has turned into the current standard for home and office audio-visual transfer along with USB. It even has a wireless counterpart and offers both HD (720p to 1080p) and Ultra HD (4K to 8K) options. It faithfully fulfilled the vision of its developers to offer high-quality HD A/V signals that’s carried reliably on one sturdy cable and one connector instead of using 3 to 5 prongs of cable ends linked to multiple color-coded ports. It isn’t limited to video either.
What Is an HDMI Connector and What Are Its Genders?
So what’s an HDMI connector anyway? The HDMI connector is the end of the cable you use to hook up to the input and output ports of a given appliance to link them to other appliances using the other end. These connectors function much like any other cable-based plug that uses the socket system to do linkups, from USB to RCA and even component video, but much simpler. HDMI is notably similar to USB, but Type A and B HDMI is typically larger. The smaller Type C to E HDMI are much rarer to come by.
- What Are The Genders of HDMI Connectors? A gender binary exists with HDMI connectors. Typically though, like with its USB counterpart, HDMI connectors are male a la the electric plug (it’s protruding and used to insert into the port) and the ports are of the female variety (they’re recessed or holes that the plug is supposed to insert itself into). With that said, HDMI connectors are gendered depending on the side of the interface they’re supposed to support. If the interface is instead of the male type with the port having a male protruding port, the HDMI cable connector can instead be of the female variety in order complete their connection.
- Facts about Female and Male HDMI Connectors: The male HDMI connector, as typical of what’s normal with cable plugs and sockets, should be slightly smaller to allow it to connect with the female port complete with a protruding pin area that allows it to insert itself solidly into corresponding female pinholes. Meanwhile, the female connector will tend to have a recessed end and slightly larger to accommodate male-ended ports with a protruding end and pins. If the port is male, it’s possible that it’s still recessed but this time around, the pin protrusions are located instead of the hole that the female connector is supposed to interface with.
- Type A to Type E HDMI: Additionally, there are multiple types and sizes of connectors that also have male and female versions available in worldwide. Type A is the standard type of cable end used for all home video consumer products from cable or satellite boxes to DVD or BD players as well as game consoles. Type B used to be a faster dual-link version of Type A cables used for DVD-I video but it’s currently an obsolete standard. Type C is the rarer Mini HDMI standard for camcorders and tablets. Type D is the Micro HDMI standard used for certain smartphones and handheld devices Type E is the automotive standard that uses a female port that connects to the car’s cigarette lighter port.
- HDMI Male Connectors Are Usually Cable Ends: The majority of HDMI cables have male HDMI cable ends for their connectors. Like in the case of USB cables and USB ports, the most common arrangement between HDMI cables and ports involve cables with two male ends that are plugged into two female sockets simultaneously, allowing for a direct, wired connection between the source and display appliances like a BD player connected to your HDTV, your PC connected to your PC monitor, or a game console connected to your projector. The cables have the male plugs and the devices have the female plugs with certain exceptions outlined below.
- HDMI Female Connectors Are Usually Ports: HDMI female connectors are typically built into the signal source device and the receiving display. They’re the sockets intended for male-end cables to connect to more often than not, but there are exceptions. Certain cables have female ends for devices that have male ports instead or ports with pins in them so that the cable end can interface with them using pinholes or a recessed head. There are also the extension cables that have one female end to interface with the male end of standard cables and a male end to interface with the typically female connector ports of the devices themselves.
- Female Port Deformation from Male Connectors: Female ports with their pinholes and whatnot are typically recessed into the body of monitors, computers, projectors, game consoles, and HDTVs. Therefore, more often than not, they’re more susceptible to deformation because of the excessive strain imposed to them by getting plugged into by male connectors repeatedly. They’re always on the receiving end of the plug so they bear the brunt of the force when plugged into, particularly from heavy-handed users. Therefore, there are more standalone replacement parts sold for female HDMI connector ports than male-ended cables.
When All Is Said and Done
The male HDMI connector links up to the female port. However, there are also female connectors that link up to male HDMI ports or ports that protrude instead of being recessed. Learn more about these different connector types and more through the article above. All HDMI device ports, whether they’re inputs on HDTVs or outputs on media source devices, are made as female so that the cable can go either way instead of just one way.
Also, both ends of the standard Type-A HDMI cable have male tips that fit into female ports. This isn’t always the case and you might require female tips depending on what your cable is interfacing with. Extension cables, for example, are ambigender or hermaphrodite ends such that it has both male and female ends. This enables you to connect to a Type A cable on one end while the other end connects to the media source or display.
- Aaron Parson, “What Is the Difference Between Male and Female HDMI Connectors?“, Techwalla.com, Retrieved April 16, 2020
- “Everything You Need To Know About HDMI Connectors“, Plus-Online.com, Retrieved April 16, 2020