The Truth vs Hype about Expensive HDMI Cables

Discussion in 'A/V Interconnects, Cables & Power Conditioning' started by admin, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    One of the most common questions we are asked at Audioholics is, "Do pricey HDMI cables make a difference"? We've answered this in a number of highly technical articles, but this time around we wanted to answer it in more practical terms. What makes one cable different than another? What are some examples of good HDMI cables on the market? And how can I tell if a cable isn't working properly? Click through for the answers all these questions.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "The Truth vs Hype about Expensive HDMI Cables" here. Read the article.
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  2. Adam Audioholic Jedi

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    I watched the video this morning - nicely done! The backdrop was making me a bit woozy, though. :D
    Adam,
  3. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

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    That's actually good feedback. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about the green screen, as opposed to a plain black or white. If I go with a moving background next time, I'll try to find something a little more subdued.
  4. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    I think an Audioholics splash screen with our Logo would be cool.
    gene,
  5. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

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    Not a problem. You send me the video or image, and I can make it happen.

  6. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

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    Yes. While it didn't affect me, the moving background is very distracting:eek:
  7. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

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    We hear you, and fear not. There is a new background being crafted.
  8. Fowl Audioholic

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    As was mentioned before, the background dazzled my eyes a bit, but the information provided was excellent. Also, i loved the background music, very soothing as I digested the information provided.
    Fowl,
  9. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

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    I can't say enough about how great it is that Kevin MacLeod at incompetech | Custom Production Music and also Graph Paper puts his vast music library out royalty-free w/ attribution. If you ever have a paying gig, he does sell non-attribution licenses for a very reasonable price.
  10. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

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    It is nice to see a simple, straight answer to the question.
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  11. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

    Marshall_Guthrie
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    Fortunately, it's a (mostly) easy question. Other questions in this hobby are not so easy...
  12. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

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    It is still nice to see. Many people muck up even the easy questions, and so the hobby is filled with BS.

    As you say, there are enough questions that are not easy, that there is no need for added complications.
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  13. wiyosaya Audioholic

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    Personally, when in the price range that is typical for Audio Quest products, I highly agree with the recommendations here. However, after the experience I had with a 3-meter run of dual-link DVI cable failing because the conductors were too small, I opted for better quality HDMI cables when I bought my new receiver that has HDMI switching and processing. I paid $60 each for 1-meter cables when I knew I could spend far less on HDMI cables of the same length. I spent more, yes, and perhaps the flames will fly at me because I spent so much on HDMI cables, however, I know I have cables that are future proof to at least 4K.

    In my opinion, super inexpensive cables are a crap-shoot for cable quality. One may get performance that they are happy with, but it is just as easy to get performance that is not good, or connectors that are flimsy or some other quality defect when purchasing in the super inexpensive price range. While this article gives the impression that one might get great HDMI cables for an exceedingly low cost which is true, as I see it, just as easily one might get something that simply is not that good or that will have to be replaced when 4K or other future resolutions appear on the market. From my experience searching the super inexpensive price range for cables, it is difficult or impossible to get any meaningful specs on the cable. My personal preference is to spend a little more without going to Audio Quest level prices.

    In addition, I do not really trust an engineer that has a monetary interest in the products that they sell. Any schmoe EE can design a cable, put it on the market, and tell you that it is the best thing since cat 3; however, they have an interest in telling everyone that because if anyone believes them, they have sold a product which puts money in their pocket whether or not their product is really as good as they say. Bose and Audio Quest both follow this same marketing schema; lots of people believe them because people think that the cost of their products somehow means that they are the best and because those people that do purchase believe their marketing. Marketing is marketing no matter how much the product costs, and all marketing is aimed at getting someone to buy a product whether the product is a quality product or not. An EE from a company that makes cables has an inherent interest in marketing their products. Such an EE would almost certainly tell anyone and everyone their products are great even if they knew that was not the case. I am disappointed that an independent EE was not consulted for this article.
  14. Marshall_Guthrie Audioholics Videographer Extraordinaire

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    I think Gene would qualify as an Independent EE, and he signed off on the content (as well as published it).

  15. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    To clear up a few points here:

    • As far as I know, Audioquest doesn't have any staff EE's working at their company. At least I've never found one during my trade show visits or past dealings with article interviews. Most of their cable is contracted from Belden but with nicer cosmetics and sometimes batteries wrapped around them :confused:
    • I peer reviewed Marshall's script before he made the video and feel his information was accurate and free of marketing fluff.
    gene,
  16. Rich Davis Enthusiast

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    Here's one review of SOME HDMI cables, obviously it's only a small sampling. But they did rate the Monster cable the highest of this group and rated Blue Jeans and Monoprice amongst the lowest. Hmmmmmm......

    I also look for things like

    1. shielding, how much they have will help reject noise since it does leach into data signals.
    2. UL Listing is important for those that plan on running them in wall.
    3. What length they are rated at. If you buy a cheap cable, it most likely isn't meant to run at long cable lengths and adhere to the current HDMI standards.
    4. Does it exceed current bandwidth specs? What happens if another HDMI spec comes out and you just installed cables that can only handle the current spec and then you upgrade equipment for the new spec and the cable you just installed doesn't work? Ooops. If I was wiring a house, I would put in Cat 7, even if I didn't need it, I may later down the road.
    5. I buy cables and think in terms of them being a part of the system just like any component. I typically have more money spent on my audio system than I do for my video system, but in general, I spend about 20% of my total system price on cables. No, I don't spend $1000 on a 1 meter HDMI cable. However, if I spent $10K or more on a BluRay player and had a $200K reference projection system, then I'm sure spending whatever the most expensive cables were would not be an issue, but I might audition them before paying for them, just to see if there is a difference.

    But here's my beef regarding people that put little importance on cables. First they have to realize is that the big dollar cable mfg have expensive test equipment most of us don't have, know about or can afford. they are also performing a variety of tests while they are designing the cable (hopefully), and the have various people auditioning them with various equipment. I'm sure if I owned an expensive 4K projection system, etc., it's very possible that the differences in HDMI cables will become more apparent, same thing with a good audio system. That's the unfortunate part of being an audio or video phile is the better your equipment gets, the better able you can tell the difference in cables and other tweaks. But as a rule, I wouldn't buy some off brand or no name crap for $3. If I'm going to install a good home theater system and drop $10K or more, than spending $100 or $150 for a 1 meter HDMI cable might actually be a good investment. But I wouldn't spend much more than that unless I was buying a $10k or more on a BluRay Player, and gobs of money on a video projection/high end 4K TV. But for most practical purposes, I see nothing wrong with spending $60 on a Monster Cable HDMI cable since they come with a Lifetime warranty, they've been around a long time, they are well constructed and they do get high ratings for a general purpose HDMI cable. But to generalize and say that there is no difference in HDMI cables, regardless of price? That's being completely ignorant, stupid, and just plain dumb.

    As far as which companies I would be looking at, I personally like MIT Cables and Transparent Cables as my first two choices for audio/video cables. I've had the best luck with both of them.
  17. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    Well, that is at least good for a laugh. You might as well be talking about Bose.

    Anybody that discredits BJC is very suspect from the start.
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  18. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

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    You are being too generous in your remarks. Buying Bose is a sign of genius relative to spending big money on cable. Really cheap cables work fine, and there is proof of it, but actual proof does not matter to most idiots who spend a lot on cables.
  19. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    This is NOT True. Most exotic cable manufactures have NO measurement gear to measure cable performance. Most of them don't even believe measurements matter. They love to promote engineering principles that their cables are allegedly designed to offer superior performance but then deny the scientific proven principles and measurements that would support such claims. Most of these companies have No technical chops at all. They are repackaging Belden or equivalent cable with fancy jacketing and BS marketing.

    Spending $100 on a 1 meter HDMI cable is done solely for cosmetics or brand appeal as it offers NO performance advantage over a well engineered $10-15 cable.

    I provided some coverage of Transparent Cable here:
    Debunking the Myth of Speaker Cable Resonance | Audioholics
    gene,
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  20. ahblaza Audioholic General

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    Anybody have any comments on the Monoprice ultra thin high performance Redmere HDMI cables. I've used nothing but BJC for every cable in my setup be it video or audio, I just noticed the Redmere series are half the price of the BJCs and I need at least three to four new 15' HDMI cables soon and was considering the Monoprice HDMIs. Thanks guys.
    Cheers Jeff

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