…and speaking of ‘worth noting’…

Check out this blog post about HDMI cables and the fantastic ripoffs involving them.

There’s nothing new about the ‘magic bean’ theory in audio. As an audio geek (but not a pathetic one), I’ve bought heavy-gauge, cheap hookup wire for years for speaker cable use. They sound great and work just as well as the $100/foot cables in any blind test. But at least there were measurable differences (perhaps not to your ear, but certainly to scientific instruments) between the cheap wire and some of the expensive cables.

Not so with HDMI cables. Their job is to move digital data. If they succeed, you hear sounds and see audio; if they fail, you hear and see nothing. There are no shades of gray.

Ever since I went to HDMI cables to connect components, I’ve bought the cheapest decent-quality cables I can find. They typically cost less than $10 and work exactly the same as the $120 cable Circuit City tried to sell me when I bought an HDTV there almost three years ago. But there’s still a whole industry of “high quality” HDMI cable manufacturers out there who promise you falsely that their cables make for better audio and video than cheap cables. But that’s not how things work in digital audio.

Randy

2 Comments

  1. Not exactly. Due to the error correction built in to digital transmission schemes, we perceive it as a binary result – it either works or it doesn’t. But at the margins, that error correction does exact a cost. You can get digital artifacts in the picture or sound.

    Probably 90% of the problems are in the connections, not the wire itself.

    I have heard the difference in analog cables exactly once in my life – in a system that cost more than a new Vette, in a room that cost that much to build. I can totally explain why in valid enginering terms, so I understand spending 20K on cables in that situation. But for us normal folks – focus on getting quality connectors and skip all the other BS. If its certified to HDMI 1.3, it will work just fine no matter how cheap it is…

  2. I can honestly say I’ve never seen/heard digital artifacts through HDMI cables, but my experience is limited to my own setup. Of course, that setup also has short runs of HDMI cable — no component is more than about three feet from another — and I could see a higher-quality HDMI cable coming in particularly handy if you’re putting down a long run — say, 20 feet or more, which might happen with some home theater setups.

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