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Splitters, Couplers & Adapters: How Do I Know Which One I Need?

If you're setting up a home theatre system from scratch, connecting new devices to legacy hardware, or simply trying to streamline and optimize your network, the right splitter, coupler, or adapter can mean the difference between signal received and signal lost.

Wondering how to know whether you need a splitter, coupler, or adapter? Not sure what you're looking for? Read on to learn more.


Splitters all essentially perform the same function: Taking a single input and distributing it to several outputs. Coaxial splitters, for instance, let you take a single coaxial input (such as from your cable box, satellite, or antenna) and share it to several televisions. Likewise, HDMI splitters let you deliver a single HDMI signal to multiple displays simultaneously. This is often more cost-effective than purchasing an additional HDMI device, such as a gaming console.

There are all kinds of splitters available -- from coaxial to HDMI to RCA to Ethernet -- but the most common are those used to split cable TV and internet signals. If you're looking to retain optimal connection quality, the best coaxial cable splitters for internet and TV use gold-plated connectors.  


Couplers are small double-ended connectors that let you link two cables or cords together, extending the overall length. This is especially helpful if the cable or cord you'd like to extend is difficult to remove and replace with a longer one, such as if you've set up an intricate home theatre system with surround sound cables running to your rear speakers under your living room carpet. Or if you have a wall-mounted HDTV and the HDMI cable is neatly organized in cable management channels.

Opting for a coaxial cable coupler or HDMI coupler is also often a far more cost-effective solution to purchasing a longer coaxial cable or HDMI cable, both of which get considerably more expensive the longer they are.


In one sense, adapters make the impossible, possible. Only have a DVI-D output on your laptop but want to use your HDTV as a secondary display? With a DVI-D to HDMI adapter you can do just that -- no need to upgrade your laptop. Or maybe you need to connect a cable with a male end to a cable with a female end. No problem, you just need a male-to-female adapter.

With the right adapters in place, you can usually find a way to connect your existing devices using your existing cables. You might need to get a little bit creative, but this means you don't have to continually upgrade your hardware when an output on one device, for instance, doesn't directly match the input on another device.