Which HDMI Cable Should I Buy?

Are all HDMI Cables the Same?

This is a question that manufacturers of expensive HDMI cables don’t want you to ask. Not because they don’t know the answer, but rather, because you might decide not to buy their cable. There is a tremendous amount of hype around HDMI cables so much in fact, that the nuts and bolts of what it actually does becomes lost in the Shoppingsales pitch. Because most of us don’t really understand the process of audio and visual signal transmission, it’s easy to create very technically sounding explanations that look impressive on paper. Suddenly, an excellent HDMI cable is on the market and if we want our HD devices to work properly, we must have it.

Why all HDMI cables are the same” will take you to a good explanation about how HDMI cables work and why regardless of cost, they all do the same job. The expensive cables do not work any better than the less expensive HDMI cables when it comes to relaying data. The author of the article, Geoffrey Morrison outlines precisely why this is so, in language which is easy to understand. It’s worth a read if you are interested in saving money, as well as making an informed buying decision.

There’s Big Money in Cables

Never have truer words been spoken. It’s a bit like Amazon losing money on selling Kindle Readers because they know they will recoup the loss and then some, by selling the content for the Kindle. Like shaving razors which are no use without razor blades, so too are HDMI devices without cables. With more and more HDMI devices coming to the marketplace, the demand for cables is only growing. So many reputable and disreputable companies market the advantages of their cables, perhaps without really understanding that the workings of an HDMI cable are the same. It will relay audio and visual data – or it won’t.

Geoffrey Morrison says, “In order for one HDMI cable to have “better picture quality” than another, it would imply that the final result between the source and display could somehow be different. It’s not possible. It’s either everything that was sent, or full of very visible errors (sparkles). The image cannot have more noise, or less resolution, worse color, or any other picture quality difference. The pixels can’t change. They can either be there or not.”

Audio

When audio is transmitted over a HDMI cable, there is more error correction occurring than in the video signal. However, error correction is built into Dolby’s codecs. The data going to the DAC of your receiver is the same as what’s on the disc,  bit-for-bit. Expensive or cheap, the cable has no relevance when it comes to the signal transmission of DTS or Dolby.  Cable manufacturers often claim their cables are “Made for 240 Hz” however, this is not true. The conversion to 120 or 240 Hz is done inside the TV and the cable has nothing to do with that. (Information courtesy of Geoffrey Morrison).

Conclusion

The only real criterion to apply when choosing an HDMI cable is if it will actually work. Cheap or expensive, gold plated or not. You can of course apply your own aesthetic preferences to a particular cable, but that won’t affect its ability to do the job. Are all HDMI cables the same? The following links will take you on a journey of discovery into the world of HDMI cables and how they work, which might also help you to choose the right HDMI cable for your needs.

HDMI.org/learningcenter
howstuffworks.com/hdmi
wikipedia.org/HDMI
wikipedia.org/Transition_Minimized_Differential_Signaling 

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