I found this site whilst looking for a reliable source of AV equipment reviews. Having read the HDMI cable review I'm going to keep looking. It's really very simple - random errors on a digital stream do not produce subtle variations in picture quality.
It does matter what cable you run digital signals through! If you buy a bog standard HDMI cable then make sure the run is as short as possible i.e. less than 0.5 metres, if you have a run that is longer you must invest in a better quality cable. Believe me, I have a three metre run from XBOX 360 Elite to my plasma, with cheaper cables you just don't get the colour or clarity that you obtain with a more expensive cable. This could be due to cheaper cables inability to send a decent signal.
I really don't know why, I've been a computer nerd for 20+ years and I know that digital signals should not deteriorate to effect colour or clarity of image, if the signal is poor it should create blocking effects etc as data is screwed, but for some reason the colours are noticably different - even my partner noticed... Now my games run in glorious full colour, the whites are perfect, the blacks are inky, no ghosting at all!!
The other thing I would highly recommend is to invest in some decent Russ Andrews power blocks and silencers. Every new thing you add to clean up the electricity also adds to your viewing and listening pleasure.
"When the ‘Trading Standards’ team get on his case..."
Which I seriously doubt. If you read his web site carefully you will observe that he is claiming little and promising nothing.
Some serious thought over the last 24 hours about how to ABX (speaker) cables has shown that it may not be too easy to come up with a method that wholly satisfies the need to eliminate other variables, hence it is possible to argue that the presence of those other variables is corrupting whatever results you obtain and thereby rendering them inadmissible.
I have no idea what is contained within his £450 mains conditioner, but it is not an offence (in this country) to sell a £450 product which contains components valued at under a fiver. It is in a lovely case though, which I'll wager costs more than the components within ;-)
Trading Standards only concerns itself with claims that not not met; I very much doubt that you will find any way of hooking a snake oil vendor who is intelligent in what he does [not] claim. And that's before you even begin to consider the many people on this very board who constantly claim (and would presumably stand up in court to say) that his products DO make a difference!
I think we need a discussion on the whole history, ethics and aims of the so-called hi-fi biz.
While I have no accolades to boast of - I am a technology expert (degree qualified) and I have a theory as to why the quality of HDMI cables could produce varying results on a digital signal although I freely admit I have no backing engineering knowledge of the HDMI interface to support what I am about to suggest - so please feel free to poke holes IF you have definitive knowledge to support your opinions - no cowboys please.
Modern Digital communication is founded on two principles...
1. the succesful transfer of a series of 'packets' which contain tiny segments of data combined together to form a data 'stream' of defined or undefined length. ('defined' simply means there's a known termination point)
2. the reliable effective rate at which these packets can be transmitted over a number of 'layers' that begin with the hardware and end with software.
I feel this is signifigant in all applications of digital communication because while the protocols, software, hardware, power, appearance, etc.. may differ - all applications use both of these priniciples regardless of what they are or the specifications that they abide to.
CONTINUED ON THE NEXT POST IN THIS THREAD (1500 character limits stink
>>This means that when two HDMI devices negotiate a connection, they are programmed to determine what 'speed' they can communicate at. While the version number of HDMI is not necessarily a speed rating upon itself, it does indicate a minimum capacity of bandwidth that must be achieved in order to be compliant; this is why technologies like DeepColour and loseless sound such as Dolby TrueHD require 1.3 or better because of the intense impact they have on bandwidth.
When the connection is made, both devices will decide what level of connection is possible by running a diagnostic on the connection itself. If 1.3 can be achieved, then 1.3 will be established and you will benefit from higher-bandwidth technologies - however, if the diagnostic demonstrates that the connection can only support 1.0 for instance - then a 1.0 connection is established and DeepColour and any other 1.3 technologies are immediately ruled out for transmission forcing a more basic 'stream' to be sent.
In fact - this doesn't even have to happen when the connection is first made. The diagnostic is likely executed many times during transmission as the devices are constantly monitoring the stream to check for interference or reductions in effective transmission speed meaning that even a connection that was originally established at 1.3 could drop to 1.0 minutes later if the connection became less stable.
Moving beyond HDMI versions, we would also expect manufacturers to make the bottom-rung version (1.0) as robust as possible meaning that even within a 1.0 signal, it's conceivable that there would be variability within the effective transmission rate and that both devices would attempt to negotiate the best rate that they could using the equipment, signal quality and ultimately - the HDMI cable that was provided to them. HDMI 1.0 by specification supports up to 165 megapixels per second meaning that 1.0 by definition is a variable signal specification.
While the utilization of this is partly dependant on the compression of a particular video source, there's no reason to think that the rate couldn't also be affected by interference, device quality or quality of the signal itself....and if the signal itself is weak, what's the first thing you check??? Bingo.
Digital technology is years beyond black-and-white thinking in that all things are 'On' or 'Off' - such thinking creates instability and ultimately renders technology useless. What has made digital communication possible and robust is the ability to analyse its environment and negotiate its effective transmission rate.
The better the rate, the more you can send - end of story. And since we're talking about video, the more you can send = the better quality of video you will see.
So why could the picture 'look' worse on a poor signal? Maybe some of the pixels are dropped. Maybe the video compression is increased. Maybe the colour palette is reduced. Maybe 2 frames/sec are dropped. Who knows?
-> There are any number of ways (and combinations) to ensure that your video can 'fit' through the signal its given - the trick is to ensure that it has the best signal that can be given. A quality cable would certainly play a role. You need only look to the Internet and streaming video technology to understand the foundations for reliable transmission of digital video. The only difference is that we are now talking about the quality of the HDMI cable connecting two devices together rather than the quality of your copper telephone wire or coaxial service receiving Internet data.
Myth - data loss in an HDMI stream will 'reduce the contrast' or 'colour saturation of an image
Fact - HDMI content from DVD or HD is *encrypted* by HDCP - this means a single unrecoverable error would destroy and entire section of data and result complete picture loss for that encryption stream block.
Myth - Correction of errors introduces 'loss'
Digital error correction schemes are designed to transmit redundant bits of information in the datastream that all 100% recovery of the orignal data. Only error error correction *fails* is any form of 'interpolation' used. Interpolation is not error correction.
Some good points about noise/error correction that sound sensible, however consider the analogy of USB and Firewire cables for computers. They are 100% digital and despite the critical nature of data integrity I don't see £100 or even £1000 firewire cables being sold. I wonder why not ?!
In my experience the quality of the connector has been the most important aspect of a cable. Is it a good snug fit and does it make proper link up with the contacts in the boxes at either end. The HDMI spec has a bad reputation for having poor mechanical connect....it can loosen or be pulled out easily in many configurations. Individual pins also have a relatively small contact area that is susceptible to bad contact unless the connector is well seated. When this happens though you lose the signal altogether, reds, don't become yellow.
An HDMI cable, because it is digital is immune to virtually all interference and while there is always crosstalk it is totally ignored by the digital circuits. This is why we have gone digital!
My advice is buy a cable that physically connects well at both ends in your gear and you don't need to spend anything like £50 to achieve that. In fact I don't believe there is too much correlation between fit and price. Unless you are trying to show off don't be seduced by the pretty, expensive (!) bit in the middle.
I may be a novice at this, but as I understand HDMI it is passing a stream of pixels each of 24 bits, of uncompressed video and sound. These pixels should be viewed as arithmetic values, not as black and white digits. Any errors in transmission will affect only individual pxels, and any such defects will anyway be merged with adjacent pixels by the arithmetic processing due to scaling etc in the TV. followed by merging over time in the eye/brain.
I would expect there to be a subjective loss in quality with a noisy cable, not a complete drop out. It may well be worth using a short good quality cable.
My wife insisted that buying an upgraded cable would be a total waste of money, so I only spent $9 for one from Monoprice. She was amazed at the difference. I did my Ph.D in the History of Science and am constantly amazed at lack of knowledge of the nature of science. Science is a set of abstractions from the real world, not the real world. The fact that a signal is digital does not mean that it is perfect or that it cannot be altered by any interface it incounters. Some years ago HIFI News recieved 2 copies of the same CD from a large Japanese pressing company ; one of them was conventional and the other used a slightly different material that they were attempting to market. They sounded so different that they could not believe that they were the same. They had to download them into a computer and compair them to discover that they were, in fact , exactly the same. If you really think that all CDs and all CD players sound exactly alike you havent listened to many. I myself am under the delusion that they do , just as musicians will tell you that violins are different, they are obviously all mistaken.
I have to say, I've read a load of forums like this now on a number of AV websites and I'm still completely confused as to why arguments like this go on!
My take is this - if you're not sure, borrow a "high-end" cable from a friend or a decent hi-fi shop (or if you can't borrow, find somewhere that will let you return it with a no quibbles money back guarantee).
Take it home, and play your existing source (DVD, upscaled, Blu-Ray, whatever) with your existing free HDMI cable. Pay good attention to the colours etc. and what you think the quality is like.
Now, unplug your free cable and plug in your new "high-end" cable and play the same source. Does the picture look better to you?
Repeat the above steps a few times. If the answer is consistently yes, then keep the cable and enjoy your better quality picture - don't worry about whether it's in your mind or not - who cares, you see the difference. If the answer is consistently no, take the cable back, get your money back and feel satisfied you haven't wasted any money.
I couldn't give two hoots whether someone can explain to me how, scientifically in theory, the two cables can not be producing a better image - if I think I see a better image, I'm happier and the purchase is worthwhile.
It's like natural rememdies vs medical rememdies - if someone takes a natural remedy and feels better, who cares if it shouldn't work scientifically (and before I get ripped apart for this, I'm talking non dangerous remedies like hayfever or headaches, not supposed cancer cures and the like).
If you must insist there's no difference in theory and therefore, it can't make any difference and therefore don't even want to try then fine, don't buy the cable.
I was interested in this thread because my brother-in-law and I were wondering about this exact subject a few weeks back.
In the end he brought a slightly more expensive cable, mostly because it was better made than the one supplied with his (Denon) DVD player.The original cable was causing black-outs.
On cables in general....A long while ago I upgraded some old NAD kit to an Arcam Delta setup and the retailer (Sevenoaks) let me borrow 5 or 6 different coax digital cables for a week.
My wife and I just sat and listened for many hours, going up the price scale until we could no longer hear any significant difference. Now, my wife is a sceptic about this kind of thing and would much rather have kept the basic lead, but we ended up with a £75 (I think) interconnect.
I know in the realms of anlogue signals there's more scope for a cable to do something, but as some people have said here "Just look and listen". But do keep your mind open !
To those who just blindly cry "foul", that's just as bad as selling "snake oil".
Try it out. If it works for you, great, if it doesn't, that's also great.
Im almost loathe to post on here due to reading some of the remarks, but having had this 'battle' before I wanted to say about my own personal experience.
Im an avid 'hifi' fan and tried all sorts of cables with varying success
The conclusion I came to a LONG time ago is for hifi equipment to work properly it must first be fed with a decent mains supply. So I use a Russ Andrews mains conditioner and custom made silver plated braided mains cables.If its not fed with a decent CLEAN mains supply you wont see a difference in cables.
I currently own a pioneer 42" plasma and have both a pioneer upscaling dvd player and a PS3. Amazingly, the PS3 outperforms the pioneer dvd player on upscaled playback (Considering the dvd player was a grand to buy when they first came out im shocked)
I have tried a 50 quid QED hdmi, a 85 (ish) chord silver and a wireworld (forgets the price but I managed to get for a BIG knock off on ebay anyways)
I BURN all cables in for a minimum of a month no matter what I test and even burned in cables I test for a good month or more whilst the equipment settles to it.
Now I have no scientific or technical reasons why 1 would be any different to another except that I look for hifi reviews before attempting most buys and the constructions of the cables are obviously different (different grades of copper or silver, contacts, shielding, braided etc)
Anyways, my point.......
(And dont bother shouting me down as im simply saying what I myself have tested with my own eyes over long periods)
The qed is a fine cable and the detail etc onscreen is awesome on my pioneer. However, it wasnt as detailed as either of the other 2 and the wireworld most definitely produces a better picture overall. I have used varying discs to see what the differences are and they are ~
Sharper picture, more 3 dimensional looking and more than anything..more detailed. You can pick out details with the wireworld that you simply cannot with the qed. Now its obvious that cables ADD nothing to a digital signal so my only thoughts are that there ARE in fact errors produced somewhere.
The cable lengths are nothing, QED 1 meter, Chord 1.5 and wireworld 2 meter.
Now please ~ dont attack me with tech specs or anything like that. if you dont believe me then thats fine, I dont need to prove myself to anybody. But if anyones interested in my results feel free to ask questions (Without being nasty or taking the p*ss)
I use basic mains filtering/conditioning and mains cable & do notice a difference with music and picture.
Do we 'have a go' at people who wear silk (or exotic) underwear (remember they are probably the only people that know they're wearing it!). Same with Cables in that they are hidden, so unless someone mentions which cable they use then why debate it? If they do proudly boast as to their cable choice I think 'anorak' and make a swift exit left (without comment), as was raised with the philosophy that unless you can say something nice then you should keep your mouth shut )
I can buy a cheap HDMI from Lidl that only allows 1080i and I'll use it on my Sky+ HD box which can only output at 1080i. The same cable attached to either my blue ray player or PS3 will also only output at 1080i and better cable at 1080p so I use a better cable.
The only downside of supposed 'better' quality cable is the stress it places on the female product ends due to its weight and rigidity. I've had one television that I has had its HDMI connection ruined by these cables. It was a Sony that had only been plugged/unplugged maybe 6 time and was considered beyond economic repair (
I will happily use the most expensive cable I can afford but would ensure that
a) The install was permenant as possible (e.g. wife had no immediate plans of moving around furniture)
b) That it meant that we could all still eat and pay the mortgage that month.
In the meantime if someone knows if there are any practical HDMI stress relief products I'd appreciate if you shared )
I strongly support Rik H . HDMI could shows difference.
since I am using 3 units 1080P LCD TV's, with ST Box for TV receription using standard HDMI provided with the purchase of ST boxes, we have 2 BD players, one is Pioneer PD_51FD and one is Pansonic BMP-BD30, so I went for 2 better HDMI.
I have then purchased one "MFL" HDMI 1.5M long for USD 100 approx., then 1 x "Furutech HDMI-a Ver 1.3 (cost approx USD350.-)2.0M long; the difference in picture quality is so abovious that when viewed with Blue ray disc the skin texture, colors,background detailness ( concert BD discs ) just between the 3 grades of HDMI's I am using. My wife entirely not enthsiatic about Hi-fi claimed she must have the better cable even for the TV in the bedroom as the picture is so different. I am about to buy one more HDMI with wireworld siver starlight for the Pioneer 51_FD at the sitting room with my other Hi-fi gears; down-grading the MFL's to TV Box use only. So I have been wondering why so many posts / comments claiming that $10 HDMI and $500 HDMI sh be the same, did they really compare with relaible source and end equipments ???