On cheap cables.

I took this photo as way of expressing one of my pet hates:
A cheap HDMI cable, with the receipt showing the price.
In this bold age of digital everything, we can save some money on cables. Consider that HDMI (like S/PDIF) is a digital interface, and as such it will either work, or it will not. In the home we tend to use short cables to connect our gadgets together, so we don’t usually need to worry about signal degradation associated with long cable runs.
So why is it we’re spending so much money on “premium” cables? For a 2 metre cable it’s a complete waste. There’s no difference in the quality of the signal and content as it is transmitted. This is particularly true of HDMI where there are lots of checksums to detect ‘tampering’ because of Hollywood’s paranoia about piracy.
There are certain manufacturers* which claim their uber-HDMI cable will give you “more realistic colours, less blurring on movements, and a more 3-dimensional image.” Sorry, this is utter false-hood. The signal integrity checking within the HDMI handshake will ensure the exact same image is transmitted. If your display device makes it look poor, then an expensive cable won’t fix it.

* They are likely to resort to litigation rather than science to defend their claims, but there are lots of them about.

I’ve even read reviews in “Which?” magazine claiming that some S/PDIF cables sound different to others. Honestly, will you take a step back and think about what you’re saying?

It may matter if your various A/V components are long distances away from each other, over and above (say) five metres. Or if you know your home-cinema room has a problem with radio frequency interference, it might help. The only other situation where it does matter is where analogue signals are concerned, even then you have a sliding scale of diminishing returns on the performance versus the money spent.


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