HD Encoder Review: Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM

It’s been a while since I wrote about how to build your own digital cable (aka QAM) headend.

Shortly after I wrote that article, Blonder Tongue released a new HD encoder product that’s become our QAM modulation product of choice: the Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM.

Inputs/Outputs: The Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM, like the Adtec HDMI-2-QAM, takes two HD inputs and modulates them both to a single QAM output. The inputs can be passed in via

  • HDMI (unencrypted) or
  • Component HD (ie YPbPr) + Analog Audio or Digital Audio

Closed-Captioning Support: In addition to the above inputs, the Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM has analog inputs for closed-captioning which it converts and inserts into the final QAM output.

Pricing: The street price for this HD encoder comes in around $6,000 (link: SolidSignal), making it a $3,000 / channel solution. Not bad, considering that about 2 years ago, the least expensive solution for building your own QAM headend was about $10,000 / channel!

Stability: Unlike our experiences with it’s Adtec competitor (the Adtec HDMI-2-QAM) the Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM is really stable and reliable. It doesn’t lock-up and runs for long periods of time uninterrupted.

Bottom line: The Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM is the QAM modulation / HD encoder that we recommend over all the others. It’s robust and stable. It’s can be purchased at about $3,000 / channel. And it supports passing closed captioning in the QAM output (which our previous recommendation, the Contemporary Research QMOD-HD, does not support). So if you’re trying to build your own digital cable headend, the Blonder Tongue HDE-2H-QAM is the way to go!