Are cables worth the price?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Leemhuis, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. Ryan Leemhuis

    Ryan Leemhuis Second Unit

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    How much of a difference do the higher end cables make? Will I notice a difference between monster 3 component cables or gold plated cables I can pick up at Radio Shack, or the same situation with fiber optic cables? Is it worth the extra $40? I am also looking at audio cables. I have heard many of you suggest going to Home Depot to get thicker gauge cable. Is this the best option? Lastly, is a better subwoofer cable worth the investment?

    WHEW That was a lot of questions :b
     
  2. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    The general rule of thumb I have seen mentioned here is that you should spend about 10% as much on your cables as you did the components you're connecting them with.

    As components get more and more expensive, their quality goes up, and so to does their susceptibility to problems that cheaper cables let into the system. Or, put another way, a cheaper system may not be good enough to exhibit the problems that the cheaper cables are letting in or causing.

    I believe many people here will recommend against Monster, for being overpriced. Many will suggest the AR line you can find at Best Buy or Radio Shack or RS's own brand. These are good decent cables for a lower-end (relatively) system. For a midrange system, perhaps the AR Pro line. For a better system, yes, you should expect to be paying $50 or more per cable.

    The Home Depot 12 guage speaker cable is generally regarded as quite acceptable around here, I believe.

    As far as fiber optic cables go, I assume you're talking about Toslink optical digital cables. Toslink may be fancier, but coaxial is generally regarded as better. Theoretically, they should both be the same, as they're transferring digital information which should be the same either way. But Toslink connectors are susceptible to getting dirty and dirt impeded their ability to transmit light, which can affect the cable's ability to transmit data accurately. If you have a choice, go coaxial digital.
     
  3. PeterKuhlman

    PeterKuhlman Extra

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    Personally, I have some Tributaries and some Analysis Plus cables. This is a hot topic with little agreement. I think that it is worth spending a little to get reliable end connections and quality termination of the various shield wraps which is hard to do. There are many good cable manufacturers but I would recommend the AR Master series as high quality for a reasonable price (relative of course). There are so many companies making cables in the $30-100 range that you end up picking what you can find easiest. If you purchase via the net, you have many more and better choices than you will in most stores.

    Some will recommend RhinoCables, BetterCables, Tributaries, AR Pro or Master, RutledgeAudioDesign, etc. I don't think there is any real wrong answer but I prefer to stay away from RadioShack for the interconnects as I have had problems with the connectors having bad solder joints or crimps. Just my 1 1/2 cents worth.
    Pete in Louisiana
     
  4. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    This has been a topic for hot debate over the years. Most people agree that results will vary. I, personally, had an experience where an expensive speaker cable made a difference.

    I paid $200 for a pair of Nordost Super-Flatline cables for my front speakers. I could detect a tremondous improvement in sound, right away. More importantly, my wife heard a major improvement, as well.
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I believe it has to do with how "sensitive" your system is and how big is your display.
    For Example: You likely wont see a difference between AR/Radio Shack component cables and the $230 Monster Zx300 cables on a 19" tube display.
    But running progressive or HD video to a projector with an 80" display - you are much more likely to see a difference.
    Justin mentioned the 10% rule which is great to keep the cables in perspective with the display & electronics.
    HOW EXPENSIVE:
    There are 2 problems with the price of cables:
    - Lots of marketing hype to convince you to spend $$$
    - Lots of extra expense to put cables into stores
    For less (sometimes a lot less) than the Monster cables, you can find small web sites that can sell you custom cables. This is the same stuff that the production studios use to master your DVD's. Professional grade cables for less than retail.
    Some web sites you should look at and price shop are:
    www.bettercables.com (uses a silver-coated coax. People with 100" displays swear by them)
    www.catcables.com
    www.wickedcables.com
    www.bluejeanscable.com
    www.heartlandcables.com
    www.rhinocables.com
    www.ebay.com (search for "Canare" to find Cable Solutions)
    Most of these places use Canare RCA plugs and good Canare or Belden coax. (these are the brands sold in 300/500/1000 ft spools to the industry). Better/Cat cables are the exception, but they use a different coax.
    Stop by the "Tweeks, Connections, .." fourm for lots of posts & peoples experience dealing with these companies. Since they are small shops, their reputation is very important. This means they are very helpful & responsive.
    Note: the average price for a good component cable from these guys is about $90. For many systems this is way below the 10% rule.
    Good luck and let us know what you decide.
     
  6. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    If you go optical, make sure you get the cable with the gold connectors. They won't tarnish and will conduct away any nasty stray electricity that would otherwise corrupt the optical signal, making your bass boomy, your mids muddled and your treble trouble. Watch out!

    Austin
     
  7. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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  8. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Directly from AR Master Optical Cable:

    "Corrosion-free 24k gold-plated collar surrounds and protects a polished convex lens for error-free digital signal transfer."
     
  9. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    Well think about it for a second. An optical cable transfers light. Light enters one end of the cable through a lens, travels through glass fibers, and exits out the lens at the other end. The lenses needs to be unblocked so that light can enter and exit. Nothing should be covering the lenses, not even "24k gold-plated" metal. Look at the way the AR quote is worded. It's the "polished convex lens" that contributes to the "error-free digital signal transer"; the 24k gold-plated collar isn't directly related to that. The gold collar only protects the lens. It's the lens that needs to be kept clean, and it wouldn't matter if the protective collar was corroded or not. It has nothing to do with the transmission of data. ...Unless I completely misunderstand the purpose of an optical cable, that is.
     
  10. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Justin,

    If you don't get the optical cable with the gold corrosion-free connectors, there's no way you're going to meet the 10% rule. With a 49TXi + 47Ai at approx. $3,500, you would need a $350 optical cable to connect the two. With the Denon 5803 + 9000 at approx. $6,000 you're talking a $600 Toslink. I just don't see how it can be done without going with the gold connectors. Possibly substituting glass for plastic fiber would help - also would get rid of the jitter produced by 2 meters of cheap fiber according to Audioquest. Now if you're thinking of using multiple sets of RCA interconnects to connect these components and ICBMs or whatever, then I see your point. But the new digital iLink connection when widely adopted will, I fear, require a new "rule" - possibly a .05% rule?

    Austin
     
  11. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    I don't really know; I didn't come up with the 10% rule, I'm just repeating what other people have said. There probably is a point where the equipment keeps getting more expensive after you've already found the most expensive cables.
     
  12. Ryan Leemhuis

    Ryan Leemhuis Second Unit

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    So which is actually better coaxial or optical? Anybody have anything to say about a better subwoofer cable?
     
  13. Stacey

    Stacey Stunt Coordinator

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    Along the lines of Optical cable...if the end got dirty is there a "recommended" way to clean it? A camera lens cloth perhaps? Or just a clean, lint free cloth?
     
  14. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    I have found that coax can be used to "tweak" the sound a little more. There is an audible difference between cables. Toslink is good too, just dont spend any more $ than it takes to get a cable with a decent build (i.e. AR etc) I have tried to hear a difference with the optical cables and cant.

    Coax is reagrded as more "high end" if that means anything.

    Austin, I hope you were joking.

    -rob
     
  15. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Neil Joseph
  16. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Wow, quite a good cable thread going on here. Bob McE hit you with both barrels up above, if you pay attention to only one reply here, do yourself a favor and make it his.
    For my 2c, I just upgraded the component cables on my DVD player. I was actually temporarily using audio RCA cables to make the connection as I didn't have a long enough component cable, and switched it to a custom-built canare cable like Bob suggested above. Big difference on the 46" HDTV: colors richer, more detail, smoother picture. I would say that moving from regular DVD to progressive scan DVD was a bigger improvement than going from bad cabled prog. scan to good cabled prog. scan, but there is definitely a difference. It was worth the $50.
    I would go with a $50-100 cable to test it out on your system, you can get a real nice one built for that price. After that, I think you get into the law of depreciating returns for money vs. quality gained. Besides, you can always resell your cable to another member here if you don't like it and make back 75% of your investment [​IMG]
     

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