Color Drift with UTP Category Cables

Category cables are often used with video baluns/extenders in order to extend the reach of a video signal to a video display such as a TV or projector. Cat5e UTP is commonly used because it is inexpensive and easier to handle because it is lightweight. When using video baluns/extenders with Cat5e UTP over long distances you may encounter a phenomenon called "color drift".

Color Drift is identified by colored shadows occasionally seen around objects while watching a HD video signal. It happens with UTP cables because the individual twisted pairs are twisted at different rates to reduce crosstalk between the pairs. As such, over longer distances the video signals for individual colors often travel over different physical distances before they reach the remote display/receiver. When certain colors arrive in time behind other colors, you may get a colored shadow shown around objects on the viewing screen.

This issue is typically encountered on longer distance cable runs when watching higher definitions signals on HD displays.

Solutions for Color Drift

SCP recommends the use of Cat6 or HNCPROPLUS+™ UTP cables for longer distance runs with video baluns/extenders. These cables have more headroom and are more effective for HD transmission signals over distance. Other alternatives include:

  • Shortening the distance run of the Category cable;
  • Use a lower screen resolution; or
  • Install a video skew compensator to correct any skew issues. A video skew compensator removes the color drift by delaying all color signals to arrive together at the same time.