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Ar or Monster?


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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Gabriel.H

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Posted May 09 2005 - 10:27 AM

First off I'd like to say hi to all, I'm new to the forum, and I am glad to be part of a group that shares my enthusiasm for all things audio/video. Here's my question:

If my only two choices are Acoustic Research's Master Series or Monster's THX Ultra 1000 series of cables, which will give me better performance?

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   John Garcia

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Posted May 09 2005 - 10:40 AM

I've tried most of Monster's "normal" and THX stuff. The THX stuff is not bad, but not really worth the price.

The AR Pro2 stuff is pretty good already, so I'm sure the Master stuff would work well too.

Check out www.ac4l.com for deals on some of AR's stuff.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted May 09 2005 - 02:40 PM

Hi Gabriel. Welcome to HTF! Posted Image

Are you looking at video cables for a Progressive/HD source to a HDTV or for standard video or other things?

The AR Pro2 cables are my favorite budget cable. For smaller displays or standard-video systems, they are very good.

For high-def video, the smart money is a custom cable from a custom shop. These tend to be cheaper than Monster, and have the technical specs that prove they can handle the higher frequencies.

My 2 rules tend to be:
  • Spend no more than 10% of the electronics cost for the connecting cables.
  • If the cables only say "component", they are NOT designed for HD frequencies
Let us know the specifics and (hopefully) we can guide you to the best bang for your buck.

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Gabriel.H

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Posted May 09 2005 - 09:51 PM

Thanks John and Bob for your replies. To be more specific as Bob asked...I am asking which of the two cables are of better performance. Money is not an issue, and those are the only two brands of high-performance cables available where I live. And I'm not looking for any specific type of cable as I will be buying both for audio and video sources. Performance is the main issue here. And also, anyone who has tried both AR's Master Series cables and Monster's THX 1000 Ultra Cables would be a big help as those are the two highest-end series of cables available at my local electronics stores. Thanks again for the help folks!

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted May 10 2005 - 03:28 AM

With regards to video applications, you need a 75 ohm cable which I'm sure both are. In terms of 'performance', there'll be less attenuation with a thicker gauge. However, at the distances you're going to be using, a few meters, the difference between something that's RG6 as opposed to RG59 is going to be but a small fraction of a dB. In a way it's like you asking which parking space do you need to in order to park your car? Well, if one space is 25 feet long and the other is 27 feet long, but your car is only 15 feet long, then is there really a right answer here? Unless you can determine what the effective gauge for both cables are or are in possession of information like attenuation at some number of feet, then you won't know whether it's a 25, 27, or maybe a 23 foot parking spot, right? I do believe though that both cables vastly exceed the requirements of pushing a DVD signal, even at 1080, to your TV.

With regards to audio applications, like running connections between a preamp to an amp or analog out of your SACD player, the gauge of the cable is essentially irrelevant. So is the impedance. That's because you're going from a low output impedance source to a high impedance destination. In those situations, the determining factor for the linearity of the signal is capacitance. The good news is that with nominal lengths, the capacitance doesn't make much of a difference since you'll be flat way beyond 20K and I do mean way beyond.

Often you'll find that the main difference in many cables is not so much the performance, which exceeds the requirements, but the appearance both visually and to the touch. As to what you want to pay for this and how you value it, well that's for you to decide. Just don't go around thinking that suddenly buying cable B from Joe's Cable Skunkworks is going to start giving you an airier sound with more bite or a video that suddenly becomes 3-dimensional. IOW, don't blow smoke up your own ass to justify a purchase.

Good luck contacting the companies and getting the requisite info.

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Gabriel.H

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Posted May 10 2005 - 11:42 AM

Thanks very much Chu. That clarifies alot for me. I had never taken into consideration anything besides performance when thinking about cables. I didn't know attenuance and capacitance were determining factors. But it is true however that the fancier cables are more expensive only for the fact that they look nice. I am leaning towards Acoustic Reasearch since Monster's cables are more expensive only for the fact that they are THX certified.

#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted May 11 2005 - 03:37 AM

Well, those are the basics Gabriel. Let me expand just a bit. Maybe it'll clarify matters more or maybe it'll muddy them.
With video cables, which as was noted are 75 ohms, other differences also exist. First, let me refer you to the following image which identifies the various parts of the cable.

Posted Image

I believe the image is an effort to endorse the construction of some particular Monster product compared to some unknown generic. Let's move beyond this.

The center conductor of a video cable can be stranded or solid. For very, very long lengths, where impedance variations need to be minimized for critical work, and our systems, no matter how much we love them or think they're the end-all are by no means critical, solid wire is the way to go. Solid wire though does bring a price and that price is one of reduced flexibility which can be an important criteria for us who need to maneuver around things and have close quarters. The improved flexibility means less force is placed upon connectors which is not such a bad idea.

The center conductor can also be made of a variety of materials. For our purposes, the center conductor can be made of copper, silver plated copper, or silver. There is no inherent advantage to the all silver conductors and you basically get bragging rights. For the silver plated copper, I've spoken to several vendors of such bulk wire and they state the main reason for silver plating is to protect the copper. There is also the 'possibility' that with silver coating the cable will have a longer usable lifetime. I offer this opinion, wrapped in the word 'possible', because often the RCA's at the end are attached using crimping. Done well, crimping is akin to a cold weld. Nonetheless, in a metal to metal interface, one can have a phenonemon called tarnishing which occurs. The products that occur during tarnishing, often incorrectly called oxidation, happen to be more conductive with silver than with copper.

Now there's a price to be paid for having silver plating and it's not trivial. My own thinking on this is if my cable goes south on me, I just go out and buy another cable. I don't look for them to last a lifetime.

Also, in the diagram, you'll find that cable is shielded. This shielding can be double (braid over foil), triple (foil/braid/foil) or quad (braid/foil/braid/foil). Depending upon the %braiding and other parameters, there can be increased resistance to RFI. Now unless you happen to live in an area that's got a noisy, poorly grounded, poorly aimed transmitter or you've got a leaky microwave, you'll generally not see any difference among the various types. IOW, if the RFI field is of nominal strength, then you don't need more protection.