Which HDMI cable should I buy? Which brand is the best? Are all HDMI cables are same? Is a more expensive cable always better? We often see these questions and it is time to put it to the test. HDGuru has compared a number of HDMI cables – both very expensive cables and very cheap cables without brand – and assessed the quality.
The results of the study are very interesting as not everyone will believe the result and will have his or her own opinion. Yet we are also convinced of the result, as we have also tested dozens of cables and have seen (or not seen …) the differences ourselves. After the break, a short report of the test with the interesting conclusion, especially for the trained bargain seekers among us!
To introduce the test a few facts; Only cables longer than 15 meters have been used as the differences are more noticeable over long distances. Also, almost all short cables, even the most horribly manufactured ones, will work. For the test, 2 plasma TVs, an LCD TV and two projectors were used and eight Blu-ray sources (both players and receiver and both 2D and 3D) were connected.
All HDMI cables are the same
As mentioned, the result of the test is interesting because the conclusion is that all HDMI cables are indeed the same. A cable works or it doesn’t work; that’s the only thing. When a cable transmits a signal, it is also of good quality. There is no duller picture or more noise. This is the case with analog cables, but not with HDMI (a digital cable).
Since HDMI is a digital signal, when not enough data is received by the TV, you may get white sparks, part of the image, a white screen or the screen with “no signal”. These all appeared in the test, but they were written as “not working”. So if your cable shows any of these elements, it won’t work and you’ll see that soon enough. The sparks are the trickiest since the rest of the picture appears fine, but they stand out enough to show that the signal is not optimal. In all these cases, the cable is just not good enough and you better bring it back to the store.
In short, it is not possible for one cable to give a better picture than the other. The cable works and displays 100 percent of the signal, or the cable does not work and you get nothing, sparks, snow, or flickering images. So when a salesperson says “this gives you a much better picture” he is lying or he has no idea what he is talking about.
There are cable manufacturers who have indicated that their cables – often for more than 200 euros – provide perfect image quality, without loss of signal or any form of noise. So they are not happy with what we are saying here. That the video quality can be better with a more expensive cable is nonsense. When you see a difference, it is often because you are looking for it. It’s a bit trickier on the audio side. DTS or Dolby signals are passed on without difference as they are encoded and sent, but if your audio is sent via PCM it is theoretically possible that you will hear a difference. This is due to the amount of jitter over HDMI, which can vary depending on the production quality. Advice is therefore to use the receiver as a decoder and you will not notice anything.
Buy the cheapest possible cable
Yet there is a catch; Cables don’t have to work with all equipment. Communication can sometimes go wrong due to weak transmitters or receivers, different bandwidth signals, etc. If a cable now works, it may be that this cable no longer works when you replace your Blu-ray player. More expensive cables do work with more equipment. On the other hand; when a cheap cable no longer works with a new player, buying another cheap cable is still cheaper than spending 300 euros for an expensive cable. And the above argument also often only applies to cables longer than 5 meters. Do you use short cabling; then you are just fine with cheap cables 99 percent of the time.