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What’s the Difference Between 50 Ohm and 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable?

Latest company news about What’s the Difference Between 50 Ohm and 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable?

First, let’s look at 50 Ohm Coaxial Cables. Experimentation in the early 20th century determined that the best POWER HANDLING capability could be achieved by using 30 Ohm Coaxial Cable, whereas the lowest signal ATTENUATION (LOSS) could be achieved by using 77 Ohm Coaxial Cable. However, there are few dielectric materials suitable for use in a coaxial cable to support 30 Ohm impedance. Thus, 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable was selected as the ideal compromise; offering high power handling AND low attenuation characteristics.


With 50 Ohm Coaxial Cables being the best compromise solution, practically any application that demands high power handling capacity, i.e. 100 watts or more, will use 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable. A good rule of thumb is that any device that functions as a transmitter or transceiver tends to use 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable. This includes devices such as CB/Ham Radios, Broadcast Radio/TV Transmitters, Wi-Fi and Cellular Phone Repeaters and 2-Way Radios.


RG-58 Coaxial Cable is perhaps our most popular “gold standard” 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable product, because it provides acceptable performance for most applications at a very low price. Our next most popular is RG-174 Coaxial Cable. RG174 is great because it is so thin, i.e. 1/8th of an inch, allowing it to be used in real tight spaces such as feeding a GPS navigation antenna into a vehicle. For customers that want the absolute highest power handling capacity (1000 watts or greater), RG-213 Coaxial Cable is the way to go. RG213 is our thickest coaxial cable at nearly half an inch.

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However, not every case warrants high power handling, so 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable is not appropriate for every application. When the objective is to ensure that the signal gets through the cable in the most efficient way possible, losing very little signal strength in the process, 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable is the way to go. A good rule of thumb is that if the device being connected via coaxial cable is a receiver of some kind, 75 Ohm Coax is ideal. This includes devices such as Satellite and Cable TV Receiver Boxes, High Definition Televisions, AM/FM Radio Receivers and Police Scanners.


Another interesting application for 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable isCoaxial Digital Audio. This is the orange or black colored RCA jack commonly seen on HDTV’s, BluRay Disc Players and other Home Theater Gear. It is sometimes labeled as S/PDIF Out. It transfers the 5.1 Channel Dolby Digital Surround Sound signal to the home theater system for decoding and playback into the various speakers. Digital signals generally look like a square wave instead of the typical sine wave seen with analog signals like AC power or analog radio/TV.


The so-called “enemy” of a square wave digital signal is capacitance (remember this one?). This is because increased capacitance tends to “store” the peaks of the square waves, skewing the shape of the square to look more like a straight line. When this happens, the receiver has trouble reconstructing the signal after it has traveled down the coax. Technically 93 Ohm Coaxial Cable has the lowest capacitance of any type, but 93 Ohm Coax is rare and expensive. Thus, 75 Ohm Coax is the closest fit, offering not only low signal attenuation (loss), but also relatively low capacitance.


This combination of low attenuation and capacitance effectively make 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable the cable of choice for practically all types of digital audio, digital video and data signals. This is why every cable TV company uses 75 Ohm coax for distributing its digital video channels as well as its broadband internet data signals. Direct broadcast satellite dishes and over-the-air HDTV antennas also require 75 Ohm Coaxial Cable to ensure that all of the digital channels transfer down the cable with the lowest loss and distortion possible.


We do offer the typical RG-6 Coaxial Cable with Type F Connectors used for cable and satellite TV applications, and RG59 Coaxial Cables with BNC Connectors for other analog and digital video applications. We sell a lot of these cables to radio and television broadcasters and production companies to interlink their equipment. Older analog TV cameras and monitors in the studio will use RG-59 Coaxial Cables and newer digital TV cameras and monitors will use RG-59 as well for a high-quality digital video signal type known as the Serial Digital Interface (SDI).

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Finally, one last crucial point in regards to coaxial cables. The Impedance of the various devices being connected as well as the Coaxial Cable itself must match. So if you are, for instance, connecting a 75 Ohm video camera connection to a studio monitor, the coaxial cable must also be 75 Ohm AND the connectors on the coaxial cable (i.e. BNC connectors) must be 75 Ohm in Impedance. Every single time you have a mismatch in impedance, say between a 50 Ohm Coaxial Cable and a 75 Ohm Coaxial Connector (i.e. BNC), a standing wave develops.


A standing wave is a signal reflection that is essentially wasted. Every time a 50 and 75 Ohm Impedance mismatch occurs, about 5% of the signal is lost. These losses add up and can eventually degrade the signal to the point that it is unrecoverable or distorted. Some coaxial cable manufacturers will cut corners in this regard. The BNC connector, pictured above, was invented by our parent company, Amphenol, before World War 2. It is extremely popular, but most people don’t realize that they come in two versions: 50 Ohm and 75 Ohm. All of our coaxial cables at Cables on Demand always have the proper impedance matched connectors to line up with the coaxial cable being used.


One can view our entire selection of Coaxial Cable products at Cables on Demand by visiting our website ( I hope this blog post helped clarify any questions you may have regarding coaxial cable impedance and types. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at:, Mob.: +86 13616872763

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