In this "HDMI Cables - A Closer Look” page, we thought it good to look at some of thesimple, but important aspects you as a consumer need to consider when buying a HDMI cable. Why? Because (1) they are not all the same and (2) we are seeing a lot of issues/problems with bargain priced and no-name brand HDMI cables.
What Does It All Mean
The High Speed Challenge
HDMI Tech Tips
In several of our HDMI “A Closer Look” pages, we thought it good to look at some of the important aspects you as a consumer need to consider when buying a HDMI cable. Why? Because (1) they are not all the same and (2) we are seeing a lot of issues/problems with bargain priced and no-name brand HDMI cables.
And honestly, we’re for good value and not against lower prices, but as always the no-name brands try and convey the idea that they are either as good or even the same as the well-known brands who have dedicated design and research facilities. The facts are these Importers are just entrepreneurs who have sourced cheap product out of China. None of their products are presented to International Magazines for thorough analysis, but will usually present feedback from unqualified sources like customers as a reason to buy. That maybe OK on service, but is totally unacceptable as proof of a product that has to meet strict design criteria!
Some of these cables are offered on-line at just $16 for a 1M length. Common logic has to indicate that in addition to the factory cost of the item, there are (1) importation costs and; (2) a margin for the seller. You do the math on what the original factory cost must be and it’s a bit scary, don’t you think?
I once bought some ‘stainless steel’ screws labelled as suitable for outdoor use. Within 2-years they started showing signs of rust. Even worse, when I went to remove them, the heads broke off! I then learn’t that I should have bought ‘marine standard’ screws which although look the same, are made to a completely different and higher specification. It is the same with cables. Even basic HDMI is a very complicated cable to produce and maintain all the necessary specifications. Why?
What Does It All Mean?
Although a HDMI product seems to tick all the right boxes as far as specifications are concerned, reality is that not all HDMI cables are "passing" the full signal to the connected device. In other words, the viewer is not seeing all the picture that they have paid for! It maybe that 1080p (progressive) is outputted from the Blu-ray or Home Theatre Receiver, but when it gets to the HDTV or Projector, it is at best 1080i (interlaced) but could be even a lower resolution. Put simply, this latter interlaced signal is basically half the picture - 540 + 540 frames and not the 1,080 that most think they are getting.
The question is therefore, "How would you feel if you found out that you have bought, or as part of a "package-deal," been given a HDMI cable that was not doing what you thought you were getting?" Yes, those crystal-clear HDTV images that you demanded are in fact being scaled down to a lower standard or resolution.
Who is at fault? Well you probably reckon it's the retailer and his decision to put profit ahead of performance. We would agree which is why Audio Trends has always demanded more than good value on all the products it chooses to recommend, but also demands products that actually do what they profess to do or even more. For this reason alone, we choose to sell recognised brands that have a good track record. AudioQuest and WireWorld are the main two brands we sell, but there are a couple of others that make the cut for one reason or another.
A generation has passed since audio enthusiasts first discovered that cables could change the sound of their stereo systems, but clear explanations of those changes and of why one cable may produce better sound quality than another are not easily found. The fact is that the best cable of all, would be no cable at all! A direct physical connection between components would be the best, but with technology always improving it is impractical.
As you will now discover, those same principals apply to the latest High Definition video signals and of course HDMI cables are no different to earlier technologies. They may look the same, connect the same, but definitely perform differently. So, let's have a closer look.
The High Speed Challenge
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) can deliver crystal clear digital video and audio through a single cable. However, the ultimate image quality of HDMI connections is often clouded by the data losses caused by inadequate cable performance. The extreme 10.2Gbps speed of the latest HDMI version 1.4 make the choice of cables even more critical than in the past.
More Than Zero's & Ones
Many consumers are under the impression that digital signals are digital signals and that their is no difference between an original CD or DVD and a copied version. When this view is challenged, by people like us, the result is often skepticism. If you have felt or feel this way right now, then the following will help clarify matters.
There is a fundamental difference between the transfer of computer data and HDMI signals. Computers are able to transfer digital data without loss, because the data moves in the robust form of blocks, which do not depend on specific timing between the sending and receiving devices. However, digital video and audio signals are continuous streams of data, which are quite fragile, since the digital processor must remain perfectly locked onto the timing of the signal to avoid data losses.
The limitations of digital signal processors and cables create timing errors known as jitter, which remove portions of the audio signal and replace them with noise and distortion. Cables tend to round off the square waveforms of the signal, making them less clear to the processor, thus increasing jitter. This rounding effect varies greatly among cables and truly superior HDMI cables can make great improvements in imaging and sound quality.
WireWorld HDMI cables utilise unique designs specifically developed to minimise jitter by providing sharper, cleaner leading edges on the digital waveform. At each price level, they provide the lowest jitter available, producing distinct improvements in clarity, image focus, smoothness and dynamic contrast.
The other thing that you as a consumer need to remember is that today's technology is guaranteed to be updated! What we think is high-tech today, will be consigned to the history books in the future. By buying a top-quality HDMI cable that goes beyond todays standard, then you'll not only be assured of many more years of service, but you'll have the confidence that you are getting all the picture!
Why Choose WireWorld?
One of the deciding factors for Audio Trends to recommend WireWorld was their unique approach of evaluating cables by comparing them to a direct connection. This extra work has enabled them to develop cables that clearly preserve more of the beautiful harmonic textures and dynamic expression that make live music so enjoyable. Although originally applied to interconnect (RCA) cables, this philosophy applies equally to HDMI cables and is why WireWorld must be on your shortlist.