Age old question: Component cable quality

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by AngeloNA, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. AngeloNA

    AngeloNA Agent

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    I'm looking at buying some component cables to connect my DVD player to my HDTV. Is it worth paying ~$60 for Monster2 cables or is the cheaper Monster1 good enough. I've read about Monster products being overpriced, so is a brand such as Acoustic Research cables just as good for less than half the price?
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    You need to understand that standard video is a 1940's spec. (Find something else electronic in your home still based on 1940's technology).

    Here are some max frequencies for you to think about:

    Standard Video: 4 Mhz
    Progressive Video: 13 Mhz
    HD Video: 35 Mhz

    So Monster makes Video 1/2/3/...ZX300 cables. Which ones do you think they built for the different video types?

    (Bit of a trick question. Monster does NOT release the technical information about their different cables so we cannot tell. This alone makes me not want to recommend them.)

    Which cables in the Monster line or AR line say "HD Compatible?" If they dont - dont buy it for your HDTV.

    The smart money is the custom cable sites. For $40-$80 they will build a cable that rivals the Monster ZX300 cables that sell for $220. They have the performance information to prove they are HD compatible.

    If you were dealing with a Standard Definition television, 40" or less, then I would recommend AR Pro2 or the Monster 1 or 2 series. But you are not. You have 2001 technology - buy cables designed for the HD video specification.

    Look at the top of this and the Tweeks and Connections fourm for some sites that have a good reputation. You are looking for Canare or Belden coax and Canare RCA plugs.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Or consider something like svideo.com and check out their component cables made with Mogami wire...75 ohms, shielded, and all that. Should run you about 1/2 of what you're talking about. If you're lengths are nominal, even that is overkill and if you want less expensive, those exist too.
     
  4. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Yes!!
     
  5. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I use Acoustic Research Pro Series II components for my HD receiver and they certainly do trick. They do say HDTV compatible right on the cable. I think I paid around $30 for a 12ft cable from accessories4less. For my DVD player, I use the inexpensive GE cable from Target. I compared both the AR and GE cables and couldn't see a visible difference with the DVD player. I have not tried the GE cable w/HDTV.
     
  6. AngeloNA

    AngeloNA Agent

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    I hate purchasing cables and speaker wire, because there's so much misinformation and garbage out there. In my opinion, it's the WORST part of building a home theater.

    Well, I believe the Monster 2 package has an HDTV label while the Monster 1 package does not, but is this just a bunch of marketing malarky?

    I took a look at some of the custom cable websites, and the prices at bluejeanscable.com seem reasonable. However, I'm inherently suspicious of good deals, especially on the web, so has anyone had experience with this company? Are these cables really better than the ones that I could buy at an electronics store?
     
  7. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    I utilize the Radio Shack cables starting at 20 bucks with the gold connectors for my connections and have had great results with them. I think I paid around $35.00 for my component cables and just spent 21 bucks for a digital coax cable going from my digital cable box to my digital coax2 input on my Sherwood receiver. Works like a charm. I bought a digital coax cable from Wal-Mart that was around $15 for the connection from the DVD/VHS player in my bedroom to the Sherwood receiver also in my bedroom. It too had gold connectors and works very well. Monsters are excellent cables, but I think that like some other brand names, you pay alot for the name.
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    1) never bought anything from them but those that have, and they're many, have the most positive things to say about them.
    2) if you're the sort of person who would simply prefer a cable that exceeds the requirements needed by hundreds of times, then BJ Cable seems to be a good place to go. In order to determine if an electronics store has a roughly equivalent cable, you'd need to find out the cable makeup. That will take time. If your time is a precious commodity, I'd say just buy from Blue Jeans. To their credit, they take a high road in cables and don't spout a lot of nonsense. You won't find ridiculous theories or preposterous claims. You'll find an honest product that's sold at a fairly reasonable price. There, I've said something nice about a cable company. Don't get used to it!

    You'll also find a variety of other places on the web that use other brands. Canare, Gepco, CommScope, etc. One can get obsessed looking at specs here and trying to make a decision between all these brands and trying to come up with a definition of what's best. At that point you've entered the 'bullsh*t zone'. This is the place that we all visit especially at a bar when looking or talking sports. Where seemingly meaningful discussions are held about which was the best right fielder in baseball and you turn to your expert and say He was, while I turn to my expert and say no That Guy was. In the end none of us know, we drink our beers, head home, then meet again and continue the discussion again. BTW, the greatest basketball player I know of wore #21. So there!
     
  9. AngeloNA

    AngeloNA Agent

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    I've found that after a few days of obsessing over these things, I usually get frustrated with the many options and make a decision. I'll skip the few days part: blue jeans it is!
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    BlueJeans, CatCables and BetterCables all have many happy customers here.

    Think about this: What cables are used in the production studios?

    The professional studios tend to NOT go out and lay out $220 for a component video cable. Instead, they have tech guys who buy a spool (300 feet, 500 ft) of bulk, high-def coax and custom build every cable.

    Some of these tech guys started building cables for friends and thanks to the internet - created a small business.

    Unlike Monster, AR, Radio Shack and many others, these sites use coax that have spec-sheets to prove they are HD Video compatible.

    While I agree that you should have some healthy suspicions about internet 'deals', cables from these sites simply bypass a lot of the sales, marketing and retail over-head that are built into the price of store-bought cables.

    When you get a quote/order, mention you heard about the cable site from HomeTheaterForum. The cable sites know we 'talk' about our experiences and they do a good job for our members.

    Example: someone from HTF bought a custom cable to hook up his new Plasma TV. It did not work. The member posted a message here about the problem. The next day he got a phone-call from the owner of the custom cable site who had read about the problem. They diagnosed the problem over the phone. (Turns out to be pilot-error - he connected into the wrong set of jacks on his Plasma TV).

    You wont get that kind of service from most retail stores.
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Another way to look at the 'good deals' is to ask the question why are some cables just so darned expensive.
     
  12. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    The Monster cables aren't worth it. One could argue that anything "more" than a shielded 75 Ohm video cable is overkill.

    In other words, the 75 Ohm cables sold at Radio Shack do the trick.
     
  13. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Yes, the stuff at Radio Shack meets the minimum impedence-matching requirement. But there is more to it than just 75 ohms.

    It's kind of like saying you can drive 55 mph on any road covered with asphalt because its all asphalt - right?. Nope. The roads are built with different speeds in mind just like coaxial cables are built with different frequencies/uses in mind.

    If the package says "Component Video" - it only has to handle Standard Video frequencies. Not progressive, Not HD. Although it will APPEAR to work, the cable will not do well with the higher frequency demands. This is visible on larger displays.
     
  14. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Right. I'll amend my statment to say "the 75 Ohm cables sold at RS do the trick, for many users." And that includes progressive output on displays of average size.

    But, even on larger displays, there is often not a substantial "real world" difference in the image, for some users.
     
  15. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    I don't care for Radio Shack component cables because 1) their connectors are not very good (there's a reason their connectors are often described as "the grip of death") and 2) they use RG59 instead of RG6. I don't care for Monster cables because 1) they are overpriced and 2) they have quality control problems.

    Bob's suggestion - "Canare or Belden coax and Canare RCA plugs" is a very good one. And there's a good reason that "BlueJeans, CatCables and BetterCables all have many happy customers here."
     
  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well yes Chris it may be RG59, but so what? At a couple of meters you'd tax the abilities of sensitive instruments to measure an attenuation difference.
     
  17. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    I have to atest that every Radio Shack cable I have ever bought has served me well and I have had NO problems whatsoever. I have not experienced the so called "grip of death" on any of the RS cables either. All 3 sets of component cables I have bought from them are excellent IMHO. The one set of Monster cables I have bought broke at the solder joint connecting the wire to the connector and haven't bought any since. That was a couple of years ago. I just don't understand why all the bias against Radio Shack cables.
     
  18. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I used to recommend Radio Shack/AR Pro cables for what I called a 'basic' system:

    - Display size less than about 40"
    - Cable runs less than 12 feet
    - Standard video sources (VCR, CATV, Sat)

    When the display sizes got larger or it is a HDTV - the system moves into the 'sensitive' catagory.

    Since Angelo is specific about Progressive Scan to his HDTV - for that one connection I would suggest a HD-rated cable from one of the custom sites.

    The Dilbert in me does believe in using the right tool/part for the job. It's like when my SO told me she used to change her bicycle tires by using table-spoons to pry off the tire from the rim. Sure - it works, but there are inexpensive tools designed for just this job. [​IMG]
     
  19. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    it may be RG59, but so what? At a couple of meters you'd tax the abilities of sensitive instruments to measure an attenuation difference.

    Granted, the difference in attenuation is probably insignificant for short length cables. However, my component cable is approximately 15 feet long and I can see the difference between a Radio Shack cable and Canare component cable. Perhaps the difference I'm seeing is attributable to other factors (e.g., better connectors, better shielding, etc.). Of course, I might not see any difference with a different monitor, as Bob has suggested.
     
  20. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Bob's parameters are very reasonable.

    I have a 60-inch display, and a run of cable of approximately 6 feet, and have found no difference between RS 75 Ohm shielded cables and a "boutique" brand of component cables. This is a direct DVD to display connection, not being switched via the receiver. I have also not experienced the "grip of death."

    Well, actually, I have, but that's another story... [​IMG]

    With respect to things like interconnects, speaker wires, power cords, etc., although there may be difference in specification between products, and hence a theoretical advantage to one product over another, this does not necessarily translate to a difference in real-world performance across the board or for all users. As always, you're mileage will vary.

    Now I'm going to rub my Shakti Stone for good luck! Talk about a great way to improve the performance of your rig...
     

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