HDMI – you’ve likely heard the term thrown around in reference to your AV Receiver and your home theater set-up in general. But, what does it really mean or do? What do the numbers at the end mean? We’ll take a deeper dive. 

First Of All, What Is HDMI? 

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a means of transmitting digital data between a source and a TV, laptop, or desktop computer. Essentially, HDMI takes the place of analog transmission, as that has gone the way of eight-tracks and mini-disc players. In order to have HDMI transmission, you need an HDMI-certified cable to make the connection between the source and the output. Sounds pretty simple right? 

Well, not exactly. 

What Is an HDMI Cable?

All HDMI cables may look the same, but that only goes as deep as the rubber encasing. 

You need a cable that is compatible with whatever HDMI certification your products, starting with your AV Receiver, hold. 

According to HDMI.org, “There are several HDMI® cable types plus a special cable certification designation to choose from; each designed to meet a particular performance standard.

To help consumers and to clarify cable types further, all HDMI® cable products are required to be labeled with Cable Name Logos provided by HDMI Licensing Administrator, Inc. Look for these logos when choosing the HDMI cable that is best for your needs.” 

The HDMI website has a comprehensive breakdown of how to choose the right cables for your home theater setup. Cable options range from standard to ultra-high-speed, depending on the use case. Yes, there are HDMI cables for automotive use as well. 

What’s the Deal With the Certification Numbers?

As we’ve already established, tech is always evolving. Case in point, look at Bluetooth or the iPhone. I can’t actually tell you which version of iPhone is the latest (13? 12? X?). In any case, the numbers mean exactly what you think – newer and improved, even if it’s just slight nuances to the end-consumer.

HDMI.org recommends checking the box, other packaging, the spec sheet, manual, or their websites to see if an item is compatible. You can also check here to see if the manufacturer is certified for 2.1. 

“We are all dependent on manufacturers and resellers correctly stating which features their devices support,” HDMI.org spokesperson Douglas Wright tells The Verge.

HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1 – What’s the Difference?

Admittedly, this is where it gets a bit confusing. Flatpanelshd.com reported in December of 2021, “The HDMI organization now lets manufacturers advertise HDMI 2.1 compatibility even if no HDMI 2.1 features are supported.”

HDMI.org explains, “HDMI® Specification 2.1 is the most recent update and supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates including 8K60 and 4K120, and resolutions up to 10K. Dynamic HDR formats are also supported, and bandwidth capability is increased up to 48Gbps.”

This graphic from Flat Panel HD.com gives a bit more color as to what 2.1 truly means:

HDMI 2.1 features support

HDMI 2.1 Certification Offers the Following Advantages Over 2.0: 

  • Higher video resolutions for immersive viewing and crisp, fast-action detail
  • Dynamic HDR ensures every moment of a video looks stunning
  • The ultra high-speed HDMI Cable supports the 48G bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1a
  • HDMI Cable Power enables active HDMI Cables to be powered directly from the HDMI Connector
  • Enhanced gaming features, including Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) ensure an added level of smooth and seamless motion and transitions for gaming, movies and video. Own your opponents before they know you’re coming
  • Quick Media Switching (QMS) for movies and video eliminates the delay when a device changes from one HDMI frame rate to another

Our best advice is to double-check the product website of your items to see if the above criteria are listed. 

What this all boils down to is you must check your AV Receiver and TV to ensure they’re both HDMI 2.1 compatible. Most new TVs on the market are 2.1 compatible as well. 

Luckily, the following 2021 Pioneer and ELITE AV receivers are compatible with the latest HDMI upgrades for a top-notch home theater experience:

Pioneer/ELITE:
VSX-LX105
VSX-LX305
VSX-LX505
VSX-935

The upside to this new HDMI certification is that you can have peace of mind knowing your Pioneer/ELITE receiver will deliver a best-in-class sound and visual experience.