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  1. #1

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    Default Is there a difference in HDMI cables?

    Over the weekend i decided to do a little test of my own b/c i was tired of the back and forth about whether or not high priced HDMI's are worth it over cheap 10 dollar versions. I used sum Wally world HDMI $10, and a Audiophiles cinnamon HDMI, which isn't really anything super special, $70. I tried my cheaper quality Samsung 60hz LCD TV and my bigger 240hz Samsung LCD with both cables for about 5 min. each, watching Planet Earth on bluray with fast moving to very slow moving scenes.

    Let me say this first...THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. I had a friend watch with me just to make sure my eyes didn't deceive me. We started out with the Wally World one and ya it was a good picture don't get me wrong. But after looking at it hooked up with the Audiphiles HDMI we both immediately looked at eachother and said holy S*#t. The picture was so much crisper, cleaner, and more vivid, it seemed. We hooked up the cheap one again and it was like night and day to me. Everything seemed flat and dull. I am sold that it DOES matter which HDMI you have. If you don't believe me that's cool but try it for yourself and really study the details of the picture not just looking at the image as a whole.
    SAMSUNG LCD--52", 240hz
    Panamax 5300PM--Power Conditioner
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    RTIa3--Front High Channels
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    Sony--3-way Tower Speakers (20yrs old)
    DSW pro 500--Subwoofer
    PIONEER 1021-K--7.1 Reciever
    My Own Custom Audioquest 14/4--Speaker Cables
    Audioquest--Cinnamon HDMI Cables
    Sony--PS3

    eventually i will own the RTIa9's but for now im using20 year old sony 3way towers.

    STILL NEED:
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    Emotiva XPA-3 Amplifier

  2. #2

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    I think it's phenominal you took the time and spent the money to see for yourself that HDMI cables make a difference. Some out there say that "it's just a digital signal and it either gets there or it doesn't". You have seen for yourself that this statement is not true. I applaude you for doing it. Enjoy your improved picture and audio.
    Taken from a recent Audioholics reply regarding "Club Polk" and Polk speakers:

    "I'm yet to hear a Polk speaker that merits more than a sentence and 60 seconds discussion."

    "Green leaves reveal the heart spoken Khatru"- Jon Anderson

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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by headrott View Post
    I think it's phenominal you took the time and spent the money to see for yourself that HDMI cables make a difference. Some out there say that "it's just a digital signal and it either gets there or it doesn't". You have seen for yourself that this statement is not true. I applaude you for doing it. Enjoy your improved picture and audio.
    Exactly, if more did this we could eliminate half the B.S. posts around here.

    Kudos to the OP.

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys i try. It's a passion that's for sure. Nothing better than sum kick arse sound with a high quality picture!! Just figured i would put my 2 cents out there about this topic.
    SAMSUNG LCD--52", 240hz
    Panamax 5300PM--Power Conditioner
    CSIa6--Center Channel
    RTIa3--Front High Channels
    FXIa6-- Rear Channels
    Sony--3-way Tower Speakers (20yrs old)
    DSW pro 500--Subwoofer
    PIONEER 1021-K--7.1 Reciever
    My Own Custom Audioquest 14/4--Speaker Cables
    Audioquest--Cinnamon HDMI Cables
    Sony--PS3

    eventually i will own the RTIa9's but for now im using20 year old sony 3way towers.

    STILL NEED:
    Pioneer Elite 7.1 Receiver with pre-outs
    Emotiva XPA-3 Amplifier

  5. #5

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    Good your you, dude! I'm wondering what the difference is in audio since I'm using HDMI out of my BDP. Was thinking about going a litter higher end when I go with a new power cord also.
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  6. #6

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    If you do a search , I did a HDMI shootout years ago and was surprised to find some differences. It's a matter of getting it right or doing some things wrong. Using cheaper conductors and not being consistent. Stranded vs solid conductors , using steel instead of copper. If you cut open one of the cheaper HDMI cables , you will see how poorly they are constructed and the lower quality materials used. But once you get everything correct , your done , don't keep chasing higher and higher end cables as little to no gain will be found.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    That's Great that you did a A/B comparison with 2 cables.
    But that particular comparison has been done countless times, cheapie vs average..
    Here's a better test for you, try your $70 cable and go buy a $200 one and compare those 2, you will be literally blown away with the results..
    If $200 is to much don't worry you can always return it..
    Happy comparing..

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhayman View Post
    That's Great that you did a A/B comparison with 2 cables.
    But that particular comparison has been done countless times, cheapie vs average..
    Here's a better test for you, try your $70 cable and go buy a $200 one and compare those 2, you will be literally blown away with the results..
    If $200 is to much don't worry you can always return it..
    Happy comparing..
    care to expand a little on your results ....Or are you just trying to start something in another thread?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by headrott View Post
    I think it's phenominal you took the time and spent the money to see for yourself that HDMI cables make a difference. Some out there say that "it's just a digital signal and it either gets there or it doesn't". You have seen for yourself that this statement is not true. I applaude you for doing it. Enjoy your improved picture and audio.
    This ^^^^ I was surprised myself, as I was pretty much in the digital cables don't matter camp as well. I bought more expensive cables simply because at the time, I was moving gear around a lot, and the cheap cables kept coming apart on me. But when I hook up the first good cable, I did the whole "waitadadgumminutehere!" thing. Double checked, and sure enough, the picture, as well as the sound, was noticeably improved with the upgraded cables.
    Are you part of the dirty digital peasants or a member of the great Analog Master Race?

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  10. #10

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    Here are 55 technical articles about testing, differences & problems with HDMI cables and their CAT5 substitutes.

    http://www.cepro.com/search/results/...a37a43ff802f9/

  11. #11

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    What jhayman is saying is that like all things audio you hit diminishing returns.

    After mantis thread perked my interest I decided to do my own test. I demo'd Audioquests Cinnamon, Chocolate, Carbon and Vodka cords back to back to back in a high end store with their PJ.

    I noticed subtle changes between all the cords but not enough FOR ME to justify doing more than cinnamons due to the cost of all the cables I would need. Even if I had the cash I can't see stepping up past carbon after the result I saw.
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  12. #12

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    Nope I don't want to plant things in his head on what he should look for, or a placebo effect.
    Just his results, I mean come on he compared basically the stuff you get in the box to an aftermarket cable if course there will be a difference, just from the quality and connector stand point alone.
    I would like him to do 2 aftermarket quality cables and report back his findings..
    He will love the results..

    Quote Originally Posted by pitdogg2 View Post
    care to expand a little on your results ....Or are you just trying to start something in another thread?

  13. #13

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    Yes pretty much, but also I read an article I believe it was Audioholics trying to get an answer from Audioquest about their cables and from what I remember was Audioquest saying there is no difference from their Cinnamon on up in the video portion of their HDMI cables the differences are in the audio portion of the cable..hence the higher $$
    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    What jhayman is saying is that like all things audio you hit diminishing returns.

    After mantis thread perked my interest I decided to do my own test. I demo'd Audioquests Cinnamon, Chocolate, Carbon and Vodka cords back to back to back in a high end store with their PJ.

    I noticed subtle changes between all the cords but not enough FOR ME to justify doing more than cinnamons due to the cost of all the cables I would need. Even if I had the cash I can't see stepping up past carbon after the result I saw.

  14. #14

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    I would like it if someone would do actual objective testing - with test patterns at the very least, though some sort of electrical/signal test would be more ideal. Something a little more scientific. Because I would think that if you pull up a 1080p resolution test and are fully resolving down to a single pixel, what improvement could there possibly be on the cable side? I think that's what people mean when they say the signal either gets there or it doesn't.

    On the audio side, again, I wonder what objective differences could cause a perceived improvement. If you're bitstreaming, then those codecs tend to have their own inherent error correction... so would the difference then be that better signal = less error correction = less artifacts? Or is the audio side of this limited to PCM, where there's no interface-based error correction?

    Not that I'm doubting the OP at all. Anyone who buys cables at Wal-Mart is setting themselves up for disappointment. But I wonder what the objective difference would be between something like Monoprice's HDMI cables (which I'm using for my whole system, including a 30 foot run to a projector which somehow remains unscathed even without a repeater) and the Audioquest cables mentioned here.
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  15. #15

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    Eight common problems in HDMI systems!
    (from somewhere in my above link)

    1] No Audio
    2] No Picture
    3] Intermittent Flashing
    4] Pixel Errors or 'Sparkles'
    5] HDMI Blinking
    6] Flashing Video for 2 Seconds
    7] Pink Tint TV
    8] Audio Dropout

    The big one is probably 4] Pixel Errors or 'Sparkles'

    Because this involves:
    Excessive dielectric loss
    Excessive skew
    Poor quality HDTV (poor equalization)
    Pre-HDMI 1.3 source without pre-emphasis

  16. #16

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    As for testing, there is an association/laboratory that does testing all the time.

    DPL Labs
    http://www.dpllabs.com/

  17. #17

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    There is a diff with hdmi I agree but there is either crap or good. I recently bought a bunch of cables and one is a super expensive hdmi cable, well there is no diff from the super expensive and just plain old expensive but its better than the crap

  18. #18

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    So basically, don't buy cheap cables from Wal-Mart.

    I'm still confused as to how the cable could influence picture quality as far as the data goes. Normally, if you're going to have an issue, you'll get obvious pixel errors when the signal can't be error-corrected (but that still doesn't show up as a loss of resolution or change in quality). Barring that, how could one cable produce a "better" picture when the data is a series of 1s and 0s? I would think that if you're running into data loss, the end result would be much akin to blocking seen in MPEG encoding, which would be fairly obvious. It isn't like analog cables, where there are obvious improvements in clarity as the reconstruction at the display is having to do less work - we're talking an electric waveform that represents binary, complete with error checking as part of the interface.

    Same for what quadzilla said about audio being improved. HOW? If you're bitstreaming, that's impossible because you're decoding an error-corrected digital signal at the end of the chain. If you're sending PCM, I could see it... but only in the case of jitter, since PCM doesn't have the built-in error-correction that bitstreams have when decoded (though I believe they're still jitter-corrected through the timing chip of the HDMI interface - could be wrong on that though).

    Again, not disagreeing with either the OP or quadzilla... Just wondering what mechanism in this system could create a change in quality/color/resolution if you aren't seeing the typical issues associated with loss of signal (such as the sparklies or pink tint).
    Equipment list:
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    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
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  19. #19

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    Y'know... the more I think about this, the more it seems impossible. HDMI is designed such that if the signal is compromised, it simply blanks the video stream or mutes the audio stream. If you aren't seeing sparklies that denote borderline data loss or having audio dropouts, it is impossible for the cable to have any effect on the quality of the end result BY DESIGN. That's not a matter of belief... It's a matter of FACT, and it seems that this idea that the cable could affect quality is a holdover from analog more than anything.

    But as with all things home theater, I guess if you perceive a difference, then it's worth the money to you... so no argument here.
    Equipment list:
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    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
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    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
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    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  20. #20

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    Well cheaper cables is going to give you digital noise on screen and sparkles with artifacts. Thats what I have experienced, as far as audio quality being improved greatly or more color accuracy then thats a bunch of bull**** people tell themselfs for commenting on how slick the emperors new look

    If you look above I said bullshyit but it seems we have some form of auto correct for potential bad words. Watch this one now Emo***
    Last edited by polkfarmboy; 03-12-2013 at 04:01 PM.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Well cheaper cables is going to give you digital noise on screen and sparkles with artifacts. Thats what I have experienced, as far as audio quality being improved greatly or more color accuracy then thats a bunch of bull**** people tell themselfs for commenting on how slick the emperors new look
    Well, I wasn't gonna go that far... but with how HDMI works, claims of "crisper, cleaner and more vivid" are technically impossible. For there to be that kind of a difference, interference of some nature would have to be able to change 1s and 0s... which simply can't happen. You can have a rounding off of the waveform from a cheapo cable... but that doesn't affect picture quality, because the endpoint data is still the same. And if it ISN'T the same (i.e. fails the error correction checksum), then it simply doesn't get displayed AT ALL. There can't be a change in resolution or color because these are digital values, dependent upon the display's reconstruction. In other words, a color value of Red 240 will either be Red 240 or nothing... so a cable can't possibly affect how "vivid" the end result is. The signal strength isn't what assigns the brightness of the color. By the same token, it can't change the black/white levels or sharpness at all.

    But again, if people perceive a difference, then it's worth the money to them. Who am I to argue? (And no, I will not take your Emo-bait, sir! Heh...)
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  22. #22

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    From another forum regarding HDMI cable quality...

    And I am sold that fools will continue to be parted with their money.

    What you are describing is impossible, unless you were using a different input source with different display settings on your TV (and weren't technically astute enough to realize that display settings on a TV are usually per-input).

    Over HDMI the data transmission will be perfect, and if you degrade the cable so that the signal doesn't come through (i.e. it starts losing data), it will simply stop working. There is hardly any middle ground here - not like analog signals.

    Your testimony of how you saw a significant difference in video quality won't be convincing to anyone who actually knows how this technology works.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by hosedagain View Post
    Your testimony of how you saw a significant difference in video quality won't be convincing to anyone who actually knows how this technology works.
    But he tried it, have you?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  24. #24

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    Guys ,
    HDMI cables have a job to do. They have to do it right. If they don't , you get issues which I have experienced them all. I have seen every single HDMI issue known to mankind. I have ran average cables long lengths only to have to replace them with higher quality cables to get a stable video and audio feed.

    Recently I did a very nice job with a guy who purchased most of his gear himself , installed most of it himself and made a few mistakes along the way. One of those mistakes was purchasing HDMI cables from Monoprice. I have seen more Monoprice cable failures in the field more so then any other brand even the free ones from cable companies which honestly most of them work. I had 1 or 2 that didn't work out of the wrapper. Anyway The Monoprice cables failed , then worked when wiggles. They had some loose connectors on the ends and they where brand new. I find this to be totally unexecpable , I don't care if they are free or they paid me to use them . I would not use any cables that have a high failure rate.

    Now going back to this HDMI debate , I'm gonna bottom line all this now. Every single piece of gear one owns that outputs or inputs HDMI , needs to receive the entire signal unaltered. Known Issues with HDMI is very high jitter compared to other digital transfers. Go figure the newest is the worse , great right? I think anyone who wants to talk about HDMI needs to go learn some facts about the technology , issues , common problems with cables themselves etc.
    If one experiences differences for the better with HDMI , then something was wrong with the last cables used. I'll talk briefly about construction. Some of these HDMI cables use stranded conductors , this is an issues in itself over longer runs. Very short runs not so much but personally I wouldn't leave any part of my replay system to chance. Other better quality cables use solid core conductors. This is electrically a better way to transfer signal of any kind. Stranded for some reason or another is cheaper to mass produce and many companies will use it. I don't see why it's a cost effective technic as your making up the same gauge conductor weather it's solid or stranded. If Solid is better electrically , why not use it and keep QC low.
    Termination and quality of materials are important in any cable HDMI or any other. use cheaper materials and give up some quality of connection.
    I personally use all Audioquest cables for a few reasons. 1 I have never had a single HDMI cable or any other pre made cable ever fail. This already speaks volumes to me. As a professional I have used just about everything under the sun and have seen countless bad cables. When this occurs , I chalk it up to bad QC as there are many cable companies I have worked with which had 0 failure rate and that very short list also includes everyones favorite company Monstercable. Like them or not , they build quality cables which in my time I have not had a single one of them fail or not perform there duties in there respected task at hand.

    So with Audioquest cables since that seems to be the company thats being tested quite a bit here , what was said about the line in the cinnamon being the be all end all for video is true. This is the first level cable in the line that has silver content. Silver as we all know is a very expensive conductor but is the best overall conductor of electrical current of any kind. Not everyone uses it as copper in it's various states is a excellent cost effective material to send signal over silver. In the Audioquest line , they ad more silver as you go up , then the top of the line cables use the DBS system to keep the dielectric in place but it's extremely expensive and to me not worth it. If I had super deep pockets and could afford the top of the line HDMI cables in solid silver and DBS I would own them. But on my budget the Cinnamon work extremely well and I feel confident in the quality they bring to my system.
    Now when I compared the Cinnamon to other cables I had , I didn't really see much difference in video. Actually I don't remember seeing any. I did however hear a clearer sound out of my audio system. If you go back and read my review you can get the details. When that occurred I was convinced in using higher quality HDMI cables in my system. Technically what I experienced should not have happened despite what I learned about Audioquest and there ever pursue of sonic perfection. I know marketing gets involved in many of these higher end cables and honestly I fully believe without being able to get it out of all the horses mouths I know , but I have talked to many un named engineers who design our products that once you get the job done ,there is NOTHING more you can do to get anything better. Nothing will sound better or perform better then the original signal , nothing . The goal is to preserve the signal and have the ability to send it between to devices un altered.

    The science behind this goal is far and deep as it's a pretty difficult thing to do correctly or perfectly. There is always lose somewhere on something. If you look how computers talk to each other , they have error corrections , they will send packets many times over to get all the information needed to construct a file. it's just built right in. Unfortunately for us , most of our content is provided "LIVE" so little can be done to correct lose. What these cables companies try to do is do as little harm to the signal as possible as they have to pave the highway for those signals to travel on. If there is little to no potholes , then the signal should arrive correctly.
    Whats frustrating about all of this is the wildly different approach to getting this job done. Some add harm right in by design and try to fool us into believing it's magic and the best thing to do for your musical transfer and all that other crap we get told. I call Bull**it when I see it. I also have been told by engineers that it's total BS.
    So for all who took the time to read my rant , walk away with this. Find some nice quality cables you trust to put in the hard work and painfully designed system you own. Ask yourself if you are doing the right thing. Are you willing to spend a few extra bucks to assure proper signal transfer. I'm willing to spend a few extra bucks to assure my system will perform when I turn it on. I also took the time to learn everything I can to make the proper decisions and use the right quality cables in my system. Don't buy higher end cables because they look cool , your wasting your money and could be benefitting your system spending that extra cash on something else. Remember the goal , sonic perfection , video perfection for some of you , this is the goal not how cool your cables look.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    Mantis...the silver in that cable is only 1.25%. I may try that cable and see if it gives a better picture on my Kuro. Thanks.

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    When I needed HDMI cables I did it right the first time. I bought MIT's.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    Wireworld is a great brand for hdmi but a little pricey, I am happy with the construction as its the highest quality I have had. I think next up is to get into the power cords they offer and I will keep the rest of the ic's and speaker cables MIT

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    1.25% Silver or 99.9% OFC are far better conductors than steel. Most cheap cables are steel conductors.
    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
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    Okay, the question remains... how does having a stronger signal give you better audio or video quality? This isn't analog, where the more unadulterated signal is obviously better. As long as the signal is still stable enough to represent the 1 and 0 voltage ranges, you get the same result at the end. And if it ISN'T stable enough, you get NOTHING because the error check for that packet of data fails. If it's borderline and can't accurately read the state change of the waveform due to degradation of the signal, you get missing pixel information (sparkles, caused with intersymbol interference is borderline in the signal), complete blanking, or audio dropouts. This is fact.

    What you CAN'T get is a degradation of quality, like you would see in analog video. It doesn't affect sharpness, because the individual pixel states are either there or they're not (and if they're not, SPARKLIES, not a loss of clarity). You don't get a difference in color, because the color data for the pixels is either there or it's not. It can't be "more vibrant" with a better signal because it either gets that color data or it doesn't... and the display can only either show the color or not. The limits of that color are controlled only by the ranges set in the display's controls - NOT by signal strength like you would see with analog reconstruction. You also don't have to worry about jitter as far as the video side goes because 1) the data for video is redundant across two leads of the HDMI cable - phase reversed, reversed at the display side, then compared to the other lead to rule out noise issues (a la balanced audio ICs); and 2) jitter as far as the video feed goes would only affect arrival time/syncing, which again can not alter the quality of video at all - only create a delay on the display side if it's trying to correct to an extreme... but by that point, you're more likely to get a complete blanking of the video data.

    On the audio side, let's all agree that there can be no difference in quality with bitstreaming of lossless codecs, since error correction is built into the codecs and your AVR will either decode it or not be able to decode it. Jitter would not affect this, and there could be no improvement in quality due to a cable having a stronger signal. Any change in the digital data caused by signal loss would result in a burst of noise, which is why if an error check for an audio data packet fails, the system is designed to mute it altogether. That's why borderline cables have audio dropouts - the error check fails and the system mutes for those packets until it can recover rather than blasting you with white noise.

    The only thing that could be affected audio-wise would be PCM, since it doesn't have error correction for its packets of data at a codec level - just at the HDMI interface level (i.e. jitter correlation between the data feed and the clock feed). Even in that case, however, it would take an extreme loss of signal to become audible, to the point that you're far more likely to just get dropouts instead.

    So my question to the people who are seeing/hearing a quality difference due to HDMI cables is: In what way? It is 100% impossible for signal degradation/intersymbol interference to cause differences in sharpness, color, etc. like you are used to seeing with analog video. It is also 100% impossible for lossless audio codecs with their built-in error correction to improve or degrade in quality due to signal degradation/intersymbol interference in the feed.

    I'm not denying that you should go with a better-constructed cable, especially as far as the connectors go. I'm just saying that if you're seeing a sharper picture or hearing better audio with a particular cable, it HAS TO BE in your mind... because this isn't analog video going through reconstruction based on signal strength at the endpoint, nor is it analog audio. It is bit-for-bit on both the source and sink side.

    See:
    http://www.hdmi.org/CEDIA2011/9-Atlo...leshooting.pdf
    http://www.hdmi.org/devcon/presentat...nt_English.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersymbol_interference
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit...tial_signaling

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    Do you think all fiber optic cable is the same as well?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

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