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HDMI Cables?
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Jun 15, 2011, 01:05 PM
 
Maybe this isn't quite the right sub-forum to pose this, and even so, this question has probably been asked since time immemorial, but what HDMI cables does everyone use? I know stuff like Monster (and almost everything else Best Buy and other retailers attempt to peddle) is insanely overpriced, but I think quality--to an extent, of course--must make some kind of difference? To this end, I stumbled across ECore. They offer different lines of cables (varying in length and component quality) for different usage scenarios--a definite plus, one would think, over one-size-fits-all cables like AmazonBasics or Monoprice.

Before I take the plunge and buy one for my MacBook Pro (using a miniDP-HDMI adapter), I'd be interested to hear what you guys think/recommend. Thanks much!

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Jun 15, 2011, 01:44 PM
 
Cables are cables. I get mine from monoprice and haven't had a problem anywhere, but I also have a minimum distance to cover.

This is a good article to review: The Truth About Monster Cable - Grand Finale (Part III)
     
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Jun 15, 2011, 02:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by -Q- View Post
Digital cables are cables.
Fixed.

HDMI is digital, however, so yeah, you can just go Monoprice. You don't get higher quality zeros and ones with the more expensive cables. Digital either works, or it doesn't.

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Jun 15, 2011, 03:32 PM
 
Monoprice is decent quality. Occasionally I get cables that are identical to Monster or Belkin, except it doesn't have the Monster or Belkin logo on it.
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Jun 15, 2011, 04:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Fixed.

HDMI is digital, however, so yeah, you can just go Monoprice. You don't get higher quality zeros and ones with the more expensive cables. Digital either works, or it doesn't.
Are you sure this is true for video, or are you just applying your "common sense"?

Because it's definitely not true for audio.
     
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Jun 15, 2011, 04:31 PM
 
Digital means that it either works, or it doesn't. High quality cabling can make a difference in special cases like very long cables, but for the common case of 1.5m cable between the TV and DVD/Bluray/HTPC, there is zero difference. The same thing goes for digital audio. The effect on analog audio after amplification is only to limit the effect you can get out. The effect on analog audio that is yet to be amplified can be huge.
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Jun 15, 2011, 04:48 PM
 
I don't know, P. I've seen those $2,000 cables. They have the little arrows on them so the 1s and 0s don't get confused about which way to go. I'm sure that makes a huge difference!
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Jun 15, 2011, 05:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Digital means that it either works, or it doesn't. High quality cabling can make a difference in special cases like very long cables, but for the common case of 1.5m cable between the TV and DVD/Bluray/HTPC, there is zero difference. The same thing goes for digital audio.
That is patently false, and again, and again, and again, and again.

Inferior or too short cables can and will cause jitter, which ****s up the receiving end's clock signal and results in audible signal degradation.

This is not hocus-pocus, but having been over this too many times and getting invariably lumped in with the hi-fi snake-oil (80% bullshit still leaves 20% truth, you know), I'm gonna cut here.
     
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Jun 15, 2011, 07:18 PM
 
In my experience, most HDMI cables are fine at 6 feet, and yes Monoprice Copartner Chinese cables 28 AWG are fine to 6 feet for 1080p60. Probably 10 feet too, if you don't use port savers, but I've run into problems at 10 feet. Also, with thicker 26 AWG cables I've had significant problems at 15 feet. At 15 feet I stick with 24 AWG Copartner or even better, higher end 23.5 AWG Belden (which are better constructed and which are NOT Belkin). For my 25 foot runs I've been using Monoprice's uber thick 22 AWG cables. So, my Monoprice summary:

28 AWG: 1-6 feet
24 AWG: 3-15 feet
22 AWG: 15-25 feet

The benefit of going with thicker gauge cable at shorter lengths is it allows more cushion so you can use port savers.

So why not use 22 AWG for everything? Cuz they're really stiff. It presents a problem for cable routing sometimes.

And it's not really true that "it works or it doesn't" for HDMI. With marginal cables you sometimes can get sparklies. You still get a picture, and everything is visible, but there are sometimes individual or small cluster pixel dropouts. I've seen this with certain equipment using decent but marginal cables for length at 1080p60. With 720p and 1080i there was no such problem, but as soon as I tried 1080p60, I'd get the sparklies. Swap in a thicker cable, and the sparkles went away. Of course, there are other more severe problems like flashing video and white lines, and yes, no picture at all. I've seen all of the above. For the last though - no picture at all - it's often just that the cable is busted (eg. connector problem), or it doesn't mate well with the port, not necessarily a quality vs. length issue.
( Last edited by Eug; Jun 15, 2011 at 07:43 PM. )
     
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Jun 16, 2011, 02:31 PM
 
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Jun 16, 2011, 04:10 PM
 
I hate HDMI.
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Jun 16, 2011, 04:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chito View Post
I've used these cables (or similar ones) Amazon.com: HDMI Cable 2M (6 Feet): Electronics for years. They work fine and you can't beat the price $2.46 for 6 feet. Digital signals don't degrade over a distance of 6 feet if the cable doesn't have any defects or breaks.
No drop-outs, jitters, or anything. Just perfectly clear HD at all resolutions, interlaced or progressive.

Monster sells products that are over-engineered and totally unnecessary and people who buy them are the same ones who download that PC software advertised on TV that purports to eliminate viruses and malware and make your PC faster.

The old saying that there's a sucker born every minute has never been more relevant since the Internet came into general use.
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Jun 16, 2011, 04:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by msuper69 View Post
Monster sells products that are over-engineered and totally unnecessary
If it were only that, it weren't a problem.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with over-engineering stuff - at the very least, it improves longevity.

No, the problem with Monster is that they're, in general, NOT over-engineered, just massively overpriced. Coupled with their strong-arm tactics to kill competition (people who actually over-engineer or just build good stuff), they're a scourge that needs to be eradicated.

In contrast, Bose is mediocre hardware, but their business is psychoacoustic trickery, so there's some actual value there.
     
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Jun 16, 2011, 05:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
...
There is absolutely nothing wrong with over-engineering stuff - at the very least, it improves longevity.

No, the problem with Monster is that they're, in general, NOT over-engineered, just massively overpriced. Coupled with their strong-arm tactics to kill competition (people who actually over-engineer or just build good stuff), they're a scourge that needs to be eradicated.

...
Yeah I agree that there's nothing wrong with over-engineering. However, these cables are going to be sitting there static for most of the years I will use them and it's doubtful that they will deteriorate over time in a home environment.
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Jun 16, 2011, 05:20 PM
 
I don't buy Monster products, but I'd rather buy Monster than Bose (if I could get either at a decent price). Bose makes products that make things sound all screwy. Monster makes reasonable products but massively overprices them. (ie. If a cheap noname cable is $10, and a decent 3rd party cable is $25, Monster will make something worth $25-40 and sell it for $250.)

Originally Posted by Chito View Post
Wow, that's a pretty massive case of the sparklies.



BTW, some of those cables have active signal correction, so I'm not sure it's really an apple's vs. oranges test compared to standard passive cables. Yet even with signal correction, some still failed. He also passes the Straight Wire brand cable even though it doesn't work in certain situations. Odd. For me, that'd be a fail.
( Last edited by Eug; Jun 16, 2011 at 05:33 PM. )
     
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Jun 16, 2011, 05:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chito View Post
Whoa...pretty insane!

Everyone else: Thanks for your (spirited) input. Still debating between ECore and Monoprice...the similar pricing doesn't really help haha.
     
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Jun 16, 2011, 11:24 PM
 
There will never be a cable as good as this Denon Ethernet Cable! (Hint: For maximum pleasure, you must read the reviews.)
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 12:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Wow, that's a pretty massive case of the sparklies.

That's the thing, though, the cable used in this picture simply didn't work. Digital either works or it doesn't, and when it doesn't (as in the picture above), it's pretty obvious, and you can just return the defective cable for a replacement.

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Jun 17, 2011, 01:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
That's the thing, though, the cable used in this picture simply didn't work. Digital either works or it doesn't, and when it doesn't (as in the picture above), it's pretty obvious, and you can just return the defective cable for a replacement.
Actually, it DOES work. It's just got a lot of digital noise (you know, the stuff people always claim cannot happen with digital cables - just as above).

In digital, as in analog, there are varying degrees of failure. If the cable works basically fine, but there's a rare sparkle, does that count as "broken"? Because it is, and we all know that digital cables all either just work or just don't, right?
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 02:30 AM
 
What you've got there is partial data loss. By definition, it didn't work. Think about what kind of situation that would be if you were transferring an ordinary computer file with another kind of digital cable such as, say, USB.

It's worth noting that in order to get the picture above, they used cables that were over 50 feet long. Probably coiled the hell out of them, too. I'd be surprised if you saw that with any frequency in your normal six-foot cables.

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Jun 17, 2011, 02:43 AM
 
For digital, Works=all the data arrived safely and Doesn't Work is anything less than that. The picture above is a case of Doesn't Work, because all the data isn't there. That HDMI doesn't have anyway to detect that is something else entirely.
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Jun 17, 2011, 02:54 AM
 
That's just semantics. "works" is context-sensitive, which is why the HDMI protocol doesn't check for signal integrity - it's not crucial, as it's for monitoring, and not for data transfer.

Same with audio playback from a CD, or via optical.

Errors on playback don't matter until you notice them. (If, for example, the TV just used interpolation to fix the sparkles as a matter of course, the way a CD player does, the signal would be degraded, but very few people would notice. And the people who claimed to see a difference between digital cables would be made fun of as "videophiles" and snake-oil enthusiasts. )

Anyway, my point was that cable quality DOES affect playback quality in the digital realm, and that this holds true for video also has been amply demonstrated, so thanks.

     
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Jun 17, 2011, 10:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
That's just semantics. "works" is context-sensitive, which is why the HDMI protocol doesn't check for signal integrity - it's not crucial, as it's for monitoring, and not for data transfer.
No it's not — that's the whole point! A digital signal is just a stream of 1s and 0s — if all the 1s and 0s got where they were supposed to, then it worked, and most crucially, once you get that bare minimum, it is physically impossible for there to be any improvement or benefit beyond that point. And for normal, 6 foot cables, just about any cable is going to be able to get the 1s and 0s there on time, making the expensive cables of typical length nothing but a waste of money, plain and simple.

Gizmodo did a series of tests on this a few years ago — they sent data over a bunch of different HDMI cables and looked at the result with a signal analyzer. The only way they were able to get the Monoprice 6-foot cables to fail to deliver the signal properly was to send 1440p 12-bit 120Hz video that was specced ridiculously higher than anything that exists in the real world, although they did have data loss problems with the 50-foot cables — just like in the picture above. You can see the results here and here.

And the people who claimed to see a difference between digital cables would be made fun of as "videophiles" and snake-oil enthusiasts. )
Unless it was one of those 35 or 50 foot cables, this is most likely precisely what they were.

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Jun 17, 2011, 11:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
No it's not — that's the whole point! A digital signal is just a stream of 1s and 0s — if all the 1s and 0s got where they were supposed to, then it worked, and most crucially, once you get that bare minimum, it is physically impossible for there to be any improvement or benefit beyond that point. And for normal, 6 foot cables, just about any cable is going to be able to get the 1s and 0s there on time, making the expensive cables of typical length nothing but a waste of money, plain and simple.
I fail to see your point, just as you are completely oblivious to mine:

If Mom just wants to watch her daily soaps, then a cable that shows the odd spreckle IS WORKING.

In the same way that an analog cable with some fuzziness or contrast loss IS WORKING.

You don't have a signal FAILURE because enough is getting through to be fit to purpose.


Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Unless it was one of those 35 or 50 foot cables, this is most likely precisely what they were.
Who? Where? Nobody claimed you could see a difference - apart from the spreckles.

Or are you talking about the people who can hear the difference between digital AUDIO cables in playback?
     
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Jun 17, 2011, 11:10 AM
 
Read it again, and try again.

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Jun 17, 2011, 08:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
What you've got there is partial data loss. By definition, it didn't work. Think about what kind of situation that would be if you were transferring an ordinary computer file with another kind of digital cable such as, say, USB.

It's worth noting that in order to get the picture above, they used cables that were over 50 feet long. Probably coiled the hell out of them, too. I'd be surprised if you saw that with any frequency in your normal six-foot cables.
It's quite common to see a much milder form of this with 15 ft cables, and I have also seen it with even just 10 ft cables. Some people might not even notice the mildest forms of this, because the sparkles might be rare. Replacing the cable with another of the same model sometimes won't necessarily correct the problem as the cable isn't necessarily actually defective. It is just incapable of carrying the higher bandwidth reliably when used with certain hardware combinations. This was noticed quite often when people made the switch from 1080i to1080p60.

Here is a more common example of HDMI sparkling, and one that some people may not even notice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wInUaRqpmag

If they had spent a little more on the cabling in the first place then this may not have been an issue. Also, while I have not personally seen the issue at 6 ft, I know others have. I'm not surprised since a lot of eBay HDMI 6' cables are actually inexpensive 30 AWG cables. They'd probably work fine in most 1080i setups, but become really marginal at 1080p60, esp. with borderline hardware.

Therefore I would say that most of the so-called experts out there saying any old cable should do really are doing people a disservice. Yes, the cheapest cables are often fine, but they are also often not fine in many setups. Buying the lowest end cables available is just asking for headaches.

Unfortunately, better built thicker gauge cables are often 2-3X the price. Or in the case of Monster 8X the price, but at least the Monster cables usually are somewhat decently built. That's why I shop at Monoprice. Their decently built cables are relatively inexpensive. I can buy 24AWG Copartner cables for less than what Best Buy sells inferiorly built cables for.

For in wall applications I recommend spending significantly more, since the runs are usually much longer - 15-35 feet or more, and once they're installed they may be much, much harder to replace. I see too many people listening to those any-cable-will-do articles and then installing low end 25 ft cables. They test with their 720p sports channel or 1080i Discovery HD channel and it looks beautiful, and then six months months later they plug in a Mac mini for 1080p60 to find they get rare sparkles. If they had spent say $30 more on the cable up front, maybe they wouldn't have to rip down the drywall now to replace it.

In fact I was conversing with some custom installers, and they will not only install the best reasonably priced cables they can find but also several CAT6 lines in parallel. Why? Because they know that even good cables may have issues at long lengths with real world video content, and the CAT6 can be used as a backup. 2 x CAT6 can be used to replace HDMI. Unfortunately, the electronics required to use CAT6 pairs for this purpose is not fully compatible with all HDMI devices, so it's still always better to have a good quality real (passive) HDMI cable there.

BTW, it's interesting to note that Blue Jeans Cable's best quality Series 1 cable (which is Belden cable) is only Category 2 certified to 25 feet. Blue Jeans is a relatively inexpensive supplier of these Belden cables, yet these cables still cost $87 at 25 feet.
( Last edited by Eug; Jun 18, 2011 at 10:03 AM. )
     
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Jun 20, 2011, 06:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
It's quite common to see a much milder form of this with 15 ft cables, and I have also seen it with even just 10 ft cables. Some people might not even notice the mildest forms of this, because the sparkles might be rare. Replacing the cable with another of the same model sometimes won't necessarily correct the problem as the cable isn't necessarily actually defective. It is just incapable of carrying the higher bandwidth reliably when used with certain hardware combinations. This was noticed quite often when people made the switch from 1080i to1080p60.

Here is a more common example of HDMI sparkling, and one that some people may not even notice.

YouTube - ‪40z4100 sparkles 2‬‏

If they had spent a little more on the cabling in the first place then this may not have been an issue. Also, while I have not personally seen the issue at 6 ft, I know others have. I'm not surprised since a lot of eBay HDMI 6' cables are actually inexpensive 30 AWG cables. They'd probably work fine in most 1080i setups, but become really marginal at 1080p60, esp. with borderline hardware.

Therefore I would say that most of the so-called experts out there saying any old cable should do really are doing people a disservice. Yes, the cheapest cables are often fine, but they are also often not fine in many setups. Buying the lowest end cables available is just asking for headaches.

Unfortunately, better built thicker gauge cables are often 2-3X the price. Or in the case of Monster 8X the price, but at least the Monster cables usually are somewhat decently built. That's why I shop at Monoprice. Their decently built cables are relatively inexpensive. I can buy 24AWG Copartner cables for less than what Best Buy sells inferiorly built cables for.

For in wall applications I recommend spending significantly more, since the runs are usually much longer - 15-35 feet or more, and once they're installed they may be much, much harder to replace. I see too many people listening to those any-cable-will-do articles and then installing low end 25 ft cables. They test with their 720p sports channel or 1080i Discovery HD channel and it looks beautiful, and then six months months later they plug in a Mac mini for 1080p60 to find they get rare sparkles. If they had spent say $30 more on the cable up front, maybe they wouldn't have to rip down the drywall now to replace it.

In fact I was conversing with some custom installers, and they will not only install the best reasonably priced cables they can find but also several CAT6 lines in parallel. Why? Because they know that even good cables may have issues at long lengths with real world video content, and the CAT6 can be used as a backup. 2 x CAT6 can be used to replace HDMI. Unfortunately, the electronics required to use CAT6 pairs for this purpose is not fully compatible with all HDMI devices, so it's still always better to have a good quality real (passive) HDMI cable there.

BTW, it's interesting to note that Blue Jeans Cable's best quality Series 1 cable (which is Belden cable) is only Category 2 certified to 25 feet. Blue Jeans is a relatively inexpensive supplier of these Belden cables, yet these cables still cost $87 at 25 feet.
And yet my el-cheapo HDMI cables work just fine with all HD resolutions.
Sorry, but I don't believe there is a need for the average homeowner to spend gobs of money on fancy HDMI cables. The proof is right in front of me every day. Perfectly clear and sharp pictures - no sparkling or any other kind of problems.
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Jun 20, 2011, 08:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by msuper69 View Post
And yet my el-cheapo HDMI cables work just fine with all HD resolutions.
Sorry, but I don't believe there is a need for the average homeowner to spend gobs of money on fancy HDMI cables. The proof is right in front of me every day. Perfectly clear and sharp pictures - no sparkling or any other kind of problems.
^^^ Emphasis mine.

Not sure what you're on about. The 6' to 10' foot long cables I buy cost about $10 each. For 15 feet I'll bump that budget up to $15-20.

ie. All the standard cables that I recommend for regular use at usual lengths should be under $20, and they're often under $10. How much did you pay for yours?

However, for 25 feet and permanent in-wall installation, it may be worth spending $25 - $90.

---

P.S. This kind of reminds me of DVD-R media. People used to say that in their setup, the el cheapo DVD-R worked fine. Buy a cheap disc, and match it with a good burner and the burns were perfect. I on the other hand used to spend twice as much... $1 instead of $0.50 per disc back in the day, because while the 50 cent discs worked, they didn't work under all conditions. Send that disc to your friend to use in his house, and it didn't work 100% of the time with all of his computers. Usually it did work just fine, but occasionally you'd find some DVD-ROM reader that didn't like it. Spending the extra 50 cents on the disc meant fewer compatibility issues.

Same goes for video cables. For 6' cables it probably doesn't matter the vast majority of the time. For 10' cables it only matters once in a while, but even if it doesn't work, it's not a huge deal, because you can just replace the cable. For a 25 foot cable that's behind a wall, it IS a big deal if it doesn't work right. Spending an extra $20 or whatever up front could have saved you a big lot of headache.
( Last edited by Eug; Jun 20, 2011 at 08:33 PM. )
     
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Jun 20, 2011, 09:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Not sure what you're on about. The 6' to 10' foot long cables I buy cost about $10 each. For 15 feet I'll bump that budget up to $15-20.

ie. All the standard cables that I recommend for regular use at usual lengths should be under $20, and they're often under $10. How much did you pay for yours?

However, for 25 feet and permanent in-wall installation, it may be worth spending $25 - $90.
That's pretty much what I've been saying. For longer cables, especially ones that you're putting inside the wall, then it's not a bad idea to spend a little more, as some of the cheaper longer cables have been shown to have problems. But for the standard 6 foot cables, the kind Mom uses to connect her TV to her cable box so she can watch her soaps, the cheap Monoprice cables work just as well as any others, and a few posts back I provided a link to lab tests confirming that with a signal analyzer.

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