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  1. #1
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    Please read! There is a definite difference in HDMI cables.

    Let me start off by saying this is a recent experience I had and you are welcome to believe me or not but you are a fool if you don't at least try for yourself. It's crazy to spend the money for High Definition equipment and then use cheap cables that will never allow you to realize the equipment's potential.

    I know you can find many articles on the internet that tell you these $10.00 HDMI cables are as good as any of these high dollar ones. Some of the articles, by respected persons. Why they would write a complete false statement is beyond me. I was a victim of letting this effect my judgment. When I first got a BR player I bought some Belkin $40.00 HDMI cables that were 1.3 compliant. I thought, "hey, at least they aren't the $10.00, they should be fine". Of course, I got a picture. Of course, the picture was still better than DVD. However, read on.

    I recently bought an AV8003 preamp processor which replaced my Primare 31.7. I used the same HDMI cables. Before I was just using them for video, now I went HDMI video and audio from sources to preamp to TV. The AV8003 sounded good enough in the store for me to order one and take a chance on replacing my 31.7 and modernizing. I used multi-channel analog with the Primare as it wasn't HDMI. Well if you've seen my thread on the Marantz AV8003 you will see that I was less than impressed after swapping out the preamps. My experience was not the same as others who bought the AV8003, so I got to thinking what could be wrong. I was fairly sure everything was set up correctly. The only difference was how I was connecting the components to each other. Saturday I went in and borrowed some Tributaries Series 7 HDMI cables. In case you didn't read my thread my issue with the AV8003 is the sound didn't disappear from the speakers, it was rather localized and compressed sounding. If one has no reference, you may not even have noticed this. Even handicapped the AV8003 sounded better than a receiver and through a good amp, some might be satisfied, if no reference. Don't be satisfied, try better cables. I had serious buyers remorse. The AV8003 at the time wasn't even close to my 31.7. After inserting the Series 7 between my BR player and preamp the sound opened up tremendously, soundtrack music was beyond the speakers again, birds and ambient effects seemed to come from no where, as they should, things sounded more natural, clashes of swords again sounded like steel on steel As I was viewing a BR disc for sound I noticed the picture was better too. That was a shock because I was still using Belkin between the TV and preamp. Wow, when I put the Series 7 in the Belkins place from pre to TV the picture was stunning. I'm saying the picture improved significantly, it was like there was more depth and images in the background were visible, a large gain in black level, dark scenes had more detail, bright outdoor scenes had more color so you could make out detail better and the overall picture was sharper and vivid. I'm not selling the Series 7, I will testify that they are excellent but I picked them because I didn't want to pay the price for Transparent and I thought the Series 7 should be good enough at $150.00 for a 1 meter to show if the cables were my problem. I will buy the 1 meter and a 3 meter and happily hand over the money. I can not express to you the relief and excitement I feel over my system now. What I'm hoping to sell, just enough to get you to try, is the idea that there is a difference in performance of HDMI cables between cheap, average and high quality.

    Some of the cheap ones won't even work, you may notice with average cable flecs in your picture like little fire flies, what you should notice with a high quality cable is a brilliant picture displaying HD as it should and if you have the gear, equally stunning audio. The difference between the Belkin and Series 7 in audio performance was larger than mp3 and CD. So don't let anyone tell you digital is digital. I'm not an engineer so I can't tell why this difference exists but I have found through experience that there is a difference and I just wanted to share my story in hope you would listen so you can reap the benefit I did with your own system.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Here you can see real results of a Tektronix DSA8200 Digital Serial Analyzer test of HDMI cables... no question in my mind that not all HDMI cables are created equal

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/feature/t...lly-268788.php

    And if you're interested, here are parts 1 and 3 as well:

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/field-not...ble-266616.php
    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/top/the-t...iii-282725.php

    cheers,
    elapsed
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  3. #3
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    The article shows differences but sort of goes against what I was saying. They claim a cheap HDMI from Monoprice will carry 1080p. It may pass it but there's a difference in what you get out of it. They do at least show how the signal can degrade. My runs were short as well which according to the article shouldn't make much difference. I'm assuming too it's the cable. I know what happened when I upgraded but I guess it could also be something as simple as the more expensive cable having a better plug for a better connection.

  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Non-EEs might check this out

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Let me start off by saying this is a recent experience I had and you are welcome to believe me or not but you are a fool if you don't at least try for yourself. It's crazy to spend the money for High Definition equipment and then use cheap cables that will never allow you to realize the equipment's potential.

    ...
    Bluejeans Cable has an extensive write-up on HDMI at their website. I intend it read it all, (haven't done so yet). I find you get no-bullsh!t info from Bluejeans.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I have an 8' HDMI from BJC and it gives a great picture and sound. Its the middle priced cable. BJC recommends their heavy gauge HDMI for runs longer than 15'. I talked to them personally before I bought my cable for what ever that is worth.
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  6. #6
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    I read the Bluejeans article on HDMI cables and it convinced me that the HDMI standard is hokey at best and driven by greed at worst. The built-in HDCP scheme bears out my position on this, as well as these two statements:
    Quote Originally Posted by BJC
    HDMI, as we've pointed out elsewhere, is a format which was designed primarily to serve the interests of the content-provider industries, not to serve the interests of the consumer. The result is a mess, and in particular, the signal is quite hard to route and switch, cable assemblies are unnecessarily complicated, and distance runs are chancy.
    Buyer beware.

  7. #7
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Yep, so true

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich-n-Texas
    I read the Bluejeans article on HDMI cables and it convinced me that the HDMI standard is hokey at best and driven by greed at worst. The built-in HDCP scheme bears out my position on this, as well as these two statements:

    Buyer beware.
    HDCP is a mass-market, consumer-centric standard that (a) panders to Joe Sixpack's unwillingness or inability to understand more than one cable, and (b) makes it easier to enforce DRM.

  8. #8
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    But what to do, do we keep component and stay at 1080i at best, for go upsampling, do without HD audio? To kill HDMI I would be in but I'd be by myself, well, me and the others that just don't care. HDMI is probably one of the biggest rips and cluster bangs the CE companies ever forced on the public but it just goes on a long list with the others already forgotten about. To stop HDMI consumers would have had to shun it a couple years ago before it took hold.

  9. #9
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    I'm going to guess at either the connectors, bandwidth, or LCR reactance in the Belkins.
    I've had similar results using coaxial digital cables in audio applications even though it's just "1's and 0's", and people here no me for being a staunch objectivist in most matters. Who knows, maybe Belkin is doing something to jazz up the HDMI cable that's having negative effects in your system? The designer of the Tributarires or Belkin cables should be able to answer why their cables perform the way they do. If they can't, that's a red flag IMO.

    I'm a big fan of quality cables, and quality IMO isn't necessarily the most expensive. Case in point the overpriced, 3ft RCA cable Monster sold me that was shorted with its paired counterpart. Grrr
    As for HDMI, I'm all for it if it's done properly. I would gladly trade several cables for a single run, and pay more for that run just to keep things neat! Don't blame the cable, blame the idiots who released 11 different standards for its application...

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Plausible explanations

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I'm going to guess at either the connectors, bandwidth, or LCR reactance in the Belkins.
    I've had similar results using coaxial digital cables in audio applications even though it's just "1's and 0's", and people here no me for being a staunch objectivist in most matters
    ...
    The BJC site offers plausible explanation as to why digital cables can sound or look different. It boils down to being reliably about to transmit a signal that can convey the discrete 1s and 0s. After all the signal itself is analog. 1 versus 0 info is conveyed as square wave signals; as the physical bandwidth of the cable is challenged, the square wave begin to look more and more like sine waves and at some point the receiver will begin to fail to distinguish the 1s from 0s.

    The quality of the wire is a big factor as reasonably argued by BJC. I'd guess that the quality of the connectors and their attachment to the wires are also a big factor. No doubt these factors apply to non-HDMI cables too.

    Jitter is an issue I didn't see discuss at BJC, (correct me if I overlooked it). There as been a lot of talk about this aspect as it pertains to CD sound quality. I would suppose jitter is an issue for video and hi rez audio too. Who will tell us how big a factor jitter is in the HDMI instance?

  11. #11
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    Kex, as usual you make a good point. In theory HDMI isn't bad but the HDMI LLC is a different story. I don't know what I'd do to them if I could, either give them a thorough kicking in the rear or send them to jail. It's ridiculous when the HDMI LLC are the same companies for the most part as Blu-ray Asso. and the very companies that make the equipment. There is no reason for it to be all over the board like this.

    Before I go off on a HDMI rant let's get back on track. Here's some interesting comments from the owner of Tributaries who used to work for McIntosh.

    http://www.hometoys.com/htinews/dec0...es/perfito.htm

  12. #12
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Interesting comments from the folks at Tributaries.
    I think BJC pretty much echoes their opinion, and expands on it. Yeah, I don't put much stock in cheap, flimsy HDMI cables. But good ones don't have to cost an arm and a leg.

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    I'm not sure what a BJC costs but the 1 meter Series 7 was $150.00. Seeing that a Monster cost that back when HDMI was first out and what an improvement I gained, the price doesn't seem so bad. Then when you consider that I could have bought a decent HT receiver for the price I paid for a 1 and a 3 meter you wonder what's the deal.

  14. #14
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    I dunno, $150 for a cable that could conceivably replace 7 other a/v cables ain't so bad. I've seen them run much, much more expensive.

    I've also seen systems that use them at about 1/10th that price without issue so that tells me that not all cables are built or priced equally.

  15. #15
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Interesting comments from the folks at Tributaries.
    I think BJC pretty much echoes their opinion, and expands on it. Yeah, I don't put much stock in cheap, flimsy HDMI cables. But good ones don't have to cost an arm and a leg.
    You are definately right about this. I use Monoprice cables that cost exactly 12 bucks for a six foot run. They are rated for HDMI 1.3a for shorter runs These cables have been tested by several testing labs that measure by testing equipment, and by the eye. This cable passed 720p and 1080p without any loss measured whether by eye, or by the equipment. In my dedicated hometheater, I use a more expensive(but far less than $150) Monoprice cable that is rated and tested for 1.3a and for runs longer than 15ft, and they also passed the equipment and visual test.

    The only way you are going to see a degradation of the signal in HDMI cables is when the cable is attempting to pass more data than it can handle, is poorly made(even expensive cables can be poorly made), or the length is too long for the rating of the cable(trying to pass 1.3a signals through a long cable rated for 1.2a signals). That is the only way. And you are certainly NOT going to see any visual or auditory improvements by just buying more expensive cable. HDMI just does not work that way.
    Sir Terrence

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  16. #16
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I dunno, $150 for a cable that could conceivably replace 7 other a/v cables ain't so bad. I've seen them run much, much more expensive.
    How about $12 or $24 cables that can do that as well?

    I've also seen systems that use them at about 1/10th that price without issue so that tells me that not all cables are built or priced equally.
    Just like with speaker cables and interconnects, HDMI cables are one of the biggest ripoffs in the hometheater market. Thank God for Monoprice.com
    Sir Terrence

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  17. #17
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Here you can see real results of a Tektronix DSA8200 Digital Serial Analyzer test of HDMI cables... no question in my mind that not all HDMI cables are created equal

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/feature/t...lly-268788.php

    And if you're interested, here are parts 1 and 3 as well:

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/field-not...ble-266616.php
    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/top/the-t...iii-282725.php

    cheers,
    elapsed
    I am so glad you posted this. Thanks E!
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  18. #18
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    Feanor, the BJC article was very good.

    http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articles/hdmi-cables.htm

  19. #19
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Here you can see real results of a Tektronix DSA8200 Digital Serial Analyzer test of HDMI cables... no question in my mind that not all HDMI cables are created equal

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/feature/t...lly-268788.php

    And if you're interested, here are parts 1 and 3 as well:

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/field-not...ble-266616.php
    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/top/the-t...iii-282725.php

    cheers,
    elapsed
    I liked this line. " The only people who should buy Monster cable are people who light cigars with Benjamins. Fortunately for Monster, there are plenty of those people. They're not even suckers, they are just rich as hell"

    Thanks for the links.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  20. #20
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    I would like to wholeheartedly support this thread that Mr Peabody has initiated, based on my recent experience which I would like to relay.

    I went to my AV supplier last Saturday to settle on some ceiling speakers that I had installed in my bedroom. We got chatting around the content of Mr Peabody's thread and that it appeared that some have experienced benefit from higher spec'ed HDMI cables. He personally had not had too much feedback around this but he offered to lend me a higher spec'ed HDMI cable to try out. I wasn't overly excited about it as I was already using an AudioQuest HDMI-X cable with only a short one meter run so I thought that improvement, if any, was probably going to be too esoteric to notice. Also I was more than happy with the current performace of my AV system.

    I was taken aback when plugged in the new cable as I immediately noticed a substantial improvement in sound. I spent quite a while switching back and forward to make sure that this wasn’t psychological. What was most exciting is that this improvement wasn’t just of a technical nature, it was one which truly impacted on the emotional enjoyment of the music/sound. The improvement was apparent across the frequency spectrum, with additional detail throughout, weightier bass, more realism to the sound and an additional “polish” to the high-end which was incredible.

    Based on this experience I have asked my AV supplier to order the AudioQuest HDMI-3 which is the highest spec’ed cable in the range. He’ll let me try it out first. Possibly I may not find any improvement going higher that the HDMI-1. When the cable comes thru I redo my comparisons with all three and reverify that I have consistent findings based on what I have reported above.

    While the AudioQuest cable mentioned above is quite expensive (HDMI-X $95, HDMI-1 $175, HDMI-3 $275) I would expect that there are other brands that can provide top quality HDMI cables at lower prices. I have however only had the opportunity to A/B different cables within the AudioQuest range. Also my tests have been on PCM from a Blu-ray player doing internal decoding, I have not been able to test with bitstream being decoded by my preprocessor and it is so possible that the sound improvement may be less aparent in this instance.

    Just one point on HDMI cables, I do believe that they generally offer good value for money across the range considering that the single cable supports both video and high bandwith multichannel audio.

    If anyone is looking to optimize performace from their AV systems I would highly recommend loaning a higher spec'ed HDMI cable and judging for yourself if you hear/see a benefit with your particulal system. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that lower cost cables won't perform very well.) As Mr Peabody has mentioned, it would be absolutely foolish not to try this for yourself, and to only go by theory posted on the Internet. There is a fair chance that you may be stunned at how much better your A/V system is actually able to perform.

    Incidentally I did get lambasted at another forum for airing these views which was dissapointing to me. Please keep an open and rational mind. Thanks Mr Peabody for opening my mind to this possibility, as I would have probably never otherwise seen this benefit.

    Regards,
    Edan

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edan
    Incidentally I did get lambasted at another forum for airing these views which was dissapointing to me. Please keep an open and rational mind.
    Regards,
    Edan
    I have a feeling I know who that "other site" is, and that it's the same one I was banned from after pointing out grammatical and spelling errors in a nasty email one of the site mods sent to me. Oh well, that's water under the bridge at this point....

    Insofar as your observations on HDMI cables, I strongly concur with you. I purchased the TOTL Monster HDMI cables that Circuit City was selling about a year ago, for $130 each. I noticed a significant improvement in sound, as well as in picture detail and the vividness of the colors.

    Cables just about always make a difference, but, hooboy!! - is this ever a contested issue!

  22. #22
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    Thanks Eden for posting your results. I have to commend you for doing so knowing the attitude of the subject from some on this board.

  23. #23
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that the average consumer purchases a $500 Home Theater in a Box system and a 40" LCD from a tier-3 manufacturer that is poorly calibrated out of the box. These systems won't benefit from high-priced cabling, it would make far more sense for them to use this budget towards a stronger speaker system and receiver. Also it's questionable if they would see/hear any difference on systems in this price category.

    But many on this forum own $5,000+ home theater systems, in which case there's no question in my mind that they may benefit from upgrading their HDMI cables, especially on longer cable runs.

    cheers,
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  24. #24
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    I subscribe to the same laws of diminishing returns on cables as with other equipment and with a good Cabernet. There's a sweet spot in there somewhere for each person's budget.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    I subscribe to the same laws of diminishing returns on cables as with other equipment and with a good Cabernet. There's a sweet spot in there somewhere for each person's budget.
    I agree. My recent demo of the AudioQuest HDMI-3 demonstrated a small (yet very sweet) increase in SQ compared to the HDMI-1 (which is almost half it's price). I would rate the HDMI-1 as most bang for buck. (Unless you're wanting to melt down the cable for it's silver content.)

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