Need A HDMI Cable? Tempted To Spend Heavily? Don't.

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If you're thinking of buying a new TV, games console etc in time for Christmas (insert alternative holiday name if required), you'll also probably be needing a HDMI cable to hook it up to your TV or monitor.  But look online, or indeed in any shop, for such a cable and the variety of prices are bewildering.  As I write this, Amazon.com will sell me a basic 2 metre cable for $5.99.  Or I can choose a "better" cable for anything up to $1494.75.  What surprises me most about the $1400 cable is that Amazon "only" has 3 left in stock.  

Do people actually buy these things?  Are they worth the money?  Is the picture quality any better?  Has anyone actually done some comparative tests?

Actually, someone has actually done some tests.  And no, the expensive cables don't perform noticeably better than the bargain-priced ones.  

You can read the details of the tests, and see all the pretty graphs, at http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=984661

Or you can just take my word for it, and stick with bargain cables.  After all, HDMI is a digital standard.  Either the bits of data get through, or they don't.  And regardless of how much you spend on a cable, they'll all get through.  And a bit or byte which travels through a braided cable with gold-plated connectors will look just the same, by the end of its 2-metre journey, as one which travelled down a bargain cable with plastic coating.

And that's about it.  Just for once, there's no freeware to point you at, and nothing to download.  But maybe I can still save you some cash.

 

 

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Comments

Come on, guys, you're supposed to be technically savvy. Stop falling for the hucksters and their hype.

Garth, lamp wire is made of copper. What higher grade materials are you talking about? Silver? That is the only metal with lower resistance than copper, about 5% lower.

Fred64, yes, of course, you need heavier gauge cables over long distances. Say miles or kilometers; not for the kinds of homes most of us live in.

For the audiophile, here is what is recommended for 8 ohm impedance speakers: 18 AWG for distance up to 10 feet; 16 AWG for distance up to 20 feet; 14 AWG for distance up to 35 feet. Halve these distances if you have 4 ohm speakers. These are for finicky audiophiles; for mere mortals, you can double these distances and never tell/hear the difference.

18 AWG is the cheapest lamp cord you can buy.

Same goes for those heavy audio cables some dolts buy to connect their receivers/amplifiers to their speakers. Just ask yourself what must be the diameter of the connector inside the receiver leading up to the audio out jack, and then ask how a thicker cable beyond that would help.

Kind of like connecting a two inch garden hose to a faucet on a half inch pipe. You can't get any more water that way.

Just use decent lamp wire.

Sorry, when it comes to analog cables, quality can make a difference, especially speaker cables. Unless you have powered speakers, the resistance in the cable will affect the current and voltage increasingly over distance. Even when delivering analog to powered devices cable resistance and quality can make differences.

Digital of course is another matter, although even there, too many drops or too much distance can cause signal loss (translates to retry and pixilating). Even your digital cable service can suffer from attenuation issues.

For short runs, 2-3 meters I agree the cheaper cables work just fine for analog or digital.

Kumar you are comparing apples with oranges. A high end hi-fi cable is constructed from higher grade materials than lampwire. This translates to less resistance and better insulation, which then results in a stronger, better isolated current being relayed from amplifier to speaker. You know about physics right? Anyhoo,HDMI cables:D pound shop every time for me. the only difference I can see between expensive HDMI cables and the ones I pay one English pound for is build quality re durability.

Rob - I've been asking myself this question for several years. Thanks for a definitive and substantive report!

In Australia, Aldi sells cheap HDMI cables a few times a year, something like AUD $6.00 for a 2 meter cable.

I always keep a spare even if I don't currently need one.

Edit: You may need a high speed HDMI 1.4 version if you have a 3D TV or a 4K TV. I notice my $6.00 cheapie has gold plating, braided cover and high speed spec. :)

I noticed the same thing here,at our Dollarstore(which is now a $1-2-3$ tops store) that the HDMI was copper,etc.,looked no different and had all the same specs,as a brand name HDMI,at a much higher cost-works great!
Had bought a $3 pair of earphones,there,by Bosch which gives one a sublime experience...whether listening to music or a video on pc.
These days it does not always mean Expensive is better!Some companies actually care about the 'little guy'!

Monoprice is my one stop shop for everything cable related. Buy and extra to make the shipping worth it.

Thanks Rob for answering a question I've been wondering about for a long time.

5$ at Five Below in NJ. Works perfectly! OHYEAH!

Wish I read this before spending £14.95 on 1m cable. Saw same size cable for £2 but for some unknown reason got the £14.95 thinking it must be better. But wont fall for it again so thanks for tip

Nice one please do a few more on this topic.

Once again, we see that more money may not be guarantee of better quality.

That is very common and we can point many other examples. By extension, we can also say that newer things may not be better than older things. Softwares and OSs included here.

Very good, rob... thank you! :-)

Generally, if you spend more money it will buy you a better quality cable but in most applications (such as hooking up devices in a room at your home) the additional spending on better quality will not make any difference to the HDMI signal getting through. 1. You seem to be confusing two different issues: signal transfer and cable quality. The electrical characteristics of the cable just need to be good enough to ensure the HDMI signal transfers. Once the signal reaches the transfer threshold then it does not make any difference whether the cable is capable of transferring it in more demanding circumstances such as over longer distances or in environments with more electrical interference. 2. While the HDMI cable supports the truism that more expensive is not necessarily better, it does not support extension to the truism that new is not necessarily better than old. 3. It is wrong to generalize the example of HDMI cable quality and cost and apply it to other areas of technology such as "software and OSs". The underlying characteristics are too different.

Remah,

thanks for your post. But I think you didn't understand my point of view and what I meant.

The comment was fuzzy. I'd rather attempt to clarify it than allow other users to be confused or mislead.

The comment was succinct and personal. To preserve and keep the focus on the most important thing here: the post from rob.schifreen.

My opinion and your opinion here are secondary. And probably many users were not confused or mistaken after reading what I wrote, like you were.

You are correct there! I'm new here but had no problem or confusion upon reading your comment.Fuzzy,it was not...succint..yes!
I quite agree that new is not always better,these days.Also,high end technology stores are not always being upfront...money is the business of today!

noneleft, just today I returned here I just now I am reading your post... thank you! :-)