Best Component < $100 (1m)?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Lehner, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    I'm leaning AQ YIQ-1 or BetterCables Silver Serpent, but in searching this forum for some answers, I'm seeing lots of talk about these "boutique" cables (Rhino, Wicked, etc.). Opinions?

    Thanks,
    CDL
     
  2. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    Could it be because that is Mark Rich's standard answer for cables? Just a question, not an answer.

    Lex
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Chris.
    First, places like BetterCables, Rhino, Catcables, BlueJeansCables, etc., are not usually called "botique". They are called "Custom".
    A botique cable is usually some very thick cable with fancy webbing/tubing on the outside and sells for $$$ per foot. They wont tell you who really makes the coax, and they wont really show you more than vague test-results about the cables frequency response. They DO give you a lot of techno-babble to make you feel stupid.
    These "custom" web sites are basically off-shoots of the professional broadcast industry. Techs who learn how simple it is to buy good quality Belden/Canare coax and wire connectors start side-jobs and sell over the internet. Because they dont have the over-head of packaging/training/advertising like Monster, the cables are very good quality and a fairly low price.
    BetterCables goes another setp. They found a coax cable that is silver-coated. This is instrumentation-grade coax designed for scientific use. Silver has much better electrical properities over copper, but does not have the flexability. Coating a copper wire with silver gives you a good blend of electrical and physical properties. Then they found a good RCA plug that mates with the coax to create a 75 ohm cable (which is what all video cables must be).
    But I digress. [​IMG]
    So the Silver Serpent cables are still considered "custom". When the price gets near $800 for a 1 meter cable - thats what we call Botique. (And I wont tell you what we call the people who buy them.) [​IMG]
     
  4. Mark Rich

    Mark Rich Second Unit

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    Doug W,

    Yes, that is my standard answer when it comes to video cables.
    Affordable, durable, hi-performance, broadcast/production quality/standards without the hype.
     
  5. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to clarify Bob, actually CAT uses and has used silver coated 75 ohm coax for 1.5 years for digital and video cables, so it too falls into the latter category.
    Thanks for the clarification Mark. [​IMG]
    Lex
     
  6. Mark Rich

    Mark Rich Second Unit

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    Doug W,

    Good to hear that there are others out there selling silver plated video/digital cables. Competition is always a good thing for consumers.
     
  7. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    OK, I got:
    - 1 OT question about another board member
    - 1 correction to my use of the word "boutique" (by the way, I'm not sure I, or all enthusiasts, would agree with your assessment of the word. To me, expensive does not necessarily translate into boutique; esoteric, high-end, what have you. To me, boutique would be a small, specialized maker that caters to a particular clientele, no matter what the price. I wasn't sure how these makers, like Rhino or CAT, which are new to me, were perceived in the Audio community, so I put boutique in the quotations. BTW, I believe it is correctly spelled boutique [​IMG] )
    - 1 reply to above question for another member
    - 1 clarification of the materials for a cable maker
    - and 1 praise of said above cable maker
    For those of you scoring at home, that is ZERO opinions on cables. C'mon guys, I know someone must have something to say about a good component cable under 100 clams.
    CDL
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Well, you did get some recomendations.
    But to be blunt:
    The BetterCables SilverSerpent cable would be my first choice, followed by the CatCables offerings. Some of our members have projector systems with 100" screens and have found the BetterCables Serpents to be better than much more expensive wires.
    The next step down in price (not saying a step down in quality), would be a cable built with Canare coax and Canare plugs. These are the ones I usually recommend.
    Mark Rich has used the same Canare plugs but found he liked the cables built with the higher-end Belden coax. Some of the web sites offer these so you should not turn up your nose at them. (Belden is one of the biggest cable makers in the world with over 3,000 different types.)
    While Audio Quest cables sell to the audiophile and videophile communities, I have never heard that they perform better than what the custom web sites offer.
    If you have not searched, all of these web sites seem to have decent offerings:
    www.bettercables.com
    www.catcables.com
    www.wickedcables.com
    www.rhinocables.com
    www.bluejeanscables.com
    www.heartlandcables.com
    www.ebay.com (search for "Canare" to find Cable Solutions)
    (Is this more of the type of response you want?)
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    those silver coated cables are nothing more than microwave cables but its a bit doubtful you'd be running that kind of power now [​IMG]
     
  10. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Well, I'm usually not one to gamble; I'm a big believer in "you get what you pay for" and there are no shortcuts. If the $50 thing, that nobody has ever heard of, was really as good as the $100 thing...how come no one has heard about the $50 thing. However, I have no problem believing most of these commercial cables are overpriced and that in fact, these guys, with even just a rudimentary knowledge of cabling, can produce cables equal or superior for half (or less) the price.

    So now the question becomes which "custom" cable to try. It seems like Belden 1694a cable is the way to go, as opposed to makers that offer Canare cable. I'm sure the silver-plated cable CAT and BetterCables offers is worth the extra dough, but I'm not looking to drop $170 or $120 (2m) right now; not when these other custom makers are around $40-80. So, once again, any opinions now about Wicked, Rhino, et all? I will do a search, but feel free to chime in with your opinions.

    Thanks,
    CDL
     
  11. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    You obviously dont work or have never worked with an electronic technician or somone who has production studio experience. And you have only been a member of HTF since October so you seem to be quite new to this hobby. With respect, you are the one that has not been/only recently started listening. [​IMG]
    If you believe you 'get what you pay for', grab your calculator and calculate the raw materials cost for your cable.
    Canare V3-5CFB coax: $1.18 per foot
    Canare RCAP-C5F RCA plugs: $2.89 ea (you need 6)
    These prices are all from www.markertek.com.
    So a 12 ft cable has a raw material cost of: $31.50
    The Monster Z300CV-4M (the only Monster cable that seems to be rated for HD/Progressive signals as far as I can tell) sells for $230 (from www.goodguys.com)
    Let see: you spend $32 for materials, but sell it for $230 - that makes $198 profit. Or 6 times the material cost.
    Do you still believe you 'get what you pay for'? Do you see why these cable companies DONT want you to learn about the custom sites? Do you see why these custom sites exist? It's all about the huge profit in cables.
    BELDEN VS CANARE: At this level, the difference is small. I would be happy to have either in my rack. This is a Coke vs Pepsi or Petes vs Starbucks type of comparison.
    Personally, I'd go with the Canare simply because everyone is using the Canare plugs, why not buy the coax designed to mate with it?
     
  12. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Bob, I think you missed my point. I said, I believe you get what you pay for, but not in the case of this cable discussion; that I am inclined to believe that cables are over-priced, or that we pay for a lot of overhead and marketing in the price of the cable. Cables are different from equipment, to which I still believe, for the most part, you get what you pay for; a watt is not a watt and no one is going to spin their $100 Technics against a VPI TNT.
    As for my being new to this forum, and therefore new to the hobby, well yes and no. I am indeed new to the forum, and yes, it's true...I don't tend to hang with electrical engineer types. You make it sound like that does not qualify me to post or participate in this forum. I'm more of an audio guy, where the cable debate rules and you'd be hard-pressed to convince some guys of your theories. I have to be honest with you: I'm not thin-skinned, but I'm really surprised at your attitude towards a new poster. I'm trying to share my .02, learn what I don't know, maybe share what I do or feel I do and you're basically saying "no, no, no...you're wrong and it must be because you're new and don't know anything about electrical engineering". Even though, as I explained above, I was actually agreeing with your point in regards to cables. And this from an admin; maybe I would be best served at The Spot.
    And as for my being the "only" one not in the know, I'm afraid you've fallen victim to your own little microcosm. If you think brand familiarity with Wicked or Rhino among the general population, or even the standard HT population, comes anywhere close to Monster, you're sadly mistaken. You're speaking within the gearhead (and I say that in the best possible way, since I am one[​IMG] ) community, which is a VERY small percentage. And don't mistake what I'm saying: 1) I agree that these cables are probably just as good and at a fraction of the price, 2) that I will probably buy a set of said cables, but that 3) I don't think we'll be seeing them at BB, CC, Tweeter or even any high-end dealers in the near future or ever. Or that Monster is losing any sleep over their competition.
    I think you have a "holier than thou" attitude over the fact that you may be in the know about something, simply before anyone else or another group. In other words, what if I happen to come across XYZ cable company, and they're making silver-plated cables at half the price of say BC or CAT. Is it then my place to say "what Bob, are you stupid? You don't know about XYZ??" If this is representative of the spirit of HTF, like I said earlier, maybe I'll find the Spot more to my liking.
    CDL
     
  13. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Chris, you are a contridiction wrapped in a conundrum.

    Are you really interested in the topic, but resistant to the information? You claim you deserve the slack given to newbies, but announce youre an audio person from Home Theater Spot. You are quick to complain, actually counting slights and then take offense.

    Do I need to break out the supply of "Troll Be Gone"?
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's not unknown for prices to be set higher because people perceive a higher price is associated with quality. The following little story was written by Richard Pierce to whom I extend my thanks for the enjoyable read it gave me.
     
  15. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Bob:
    Believe it or not, I'm not interested in a flame war or continuing this thread much longer. I simply don't agree with your logic. You contend that because I don't know about XYZ cable, I am ignorant or new to the hobby. My take is very few people outside of these forums, or video engineering, probably know about these cables. I would venture to say that you could have a guy working a high-end A/V shop all his life, who maybe never bothered to step inside an A/V forum, who would know about tons of cables you've never heard of, but never have heard of Rhino, Wicked, etc. He would have one point of view, based on his experiences, and you would have yours; neither of you is less or more the expert.
    I took offense to your inference that I was either new or ignorant...or both. I explained to you I was more of an audio guy (btw, not "an audio guy from the Spot), and as such am certainly not unaware of cable debate. I am newer to Video, but wouldn't consider myself a newbie . What I am new to, as you pointed out, is the boards.
    So I'm in the market for component cables and post about which ones might be best for sub-$100. I include BC btw. When I hear about these "custom" makers, I express some skepticism. I generally believe you get what you pay for, but when it comes to cables, I too believe there is a lot of BS and maybe these custom cables are the way to go. Again, this is the first I've heard of them. You seem to find that incredulous. Tell me, where other than these boards, can I find talk of Rhino, Wicked, et al? At the BB? Tweeter? Many hi-end stores? Has one ever been reviewed? Stereophile? TAS?
    As for this debate I've sparked about "you get what you pay for"...again, I'm not really interested in fighting this to death. I'm just always struck funny by enthusiasts of one group, who seem to lose their basics of economics when it comes to products of their hobby. Bob challenges me to do the math on cable-making. Are you trying to tell me there's a mark-up on cables Bob? Heavens no! How much do you think it costs to make that car you're driving? What you paid for it? Or the computer that you're posting from?
    If these custom makers had thousands of employees to pay for, and advertising and overhead, their cables would be $100, not $50 and they might get crushed by bigger competitors. Then you'd dog...let's say Wicked was the next Monster...Wicked and praise new-small-cable-maker-du jour.
    I see Monster has a THX-certified cable for $50 (8 ft.). Last I checked, THX was pretty picky about what they put their names on. If it's good enough for GL, it's good enough for me. I'm going to try it AND one of these custom cables; do an A/B. The loser will go on my HD cable box.
    I mean, what happens in a year if my cable goes awry Bob; will these custom cable companies be there to replace it? Will they even be there? What do you think warranties and returns costs a company like Monster a year? Hard as it may be to believe, I'm no cheerleader for Monster. I don't own one single pair on my audio gear (AQ and KK...I suppose they're garbage too). I just think they're an easy target because they're big. Like geeks saying MS sucks. I tell ya what: you go out and write an OS that runs 90% of the PCs in the world and THEN you can tell me how MS sucks, ok Larry Ellison Jr.
    I'll wrap up with one last thing, because while I'll certainly read the replies to this post (I never shy from a good debate), I'm hoping not to post about this topic again. This "you get what you pay for thing". Again, in general, I find that the "better" something is, the more it will tend to cost. I say "better", because that is VERY subjective in the A/V world and I say in general, because obviously there are exceptions; glorious exceptions. We call them BARGAINS. I don't mean a $3,000 turntable necessarily sounds better than the $2000 turntable, but it's usually a pretty safe bet it sounds better than a $100 turntable.
    Shew, and all that before my first cup of coffee [​IMG]
    CDL
     
  16. Mark Rich

    Mark Rich Second Unit

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    I think Monster gets a lot of bad attention because they are large, successful and spend a lot on marketing.
    If you wanted to be honest you could start putting BC in that category too. They are the paid sponsors on all these forums and just about every web site that relates to HT. Wonder why you pay so much for their cables? The moderators are very quick to recommend them (they are paid advertisers after all)yet cut off anyone who criticize them in any way. On one forum (which shall remain nameless)a buyer who had received two defective orders was rudely cut off by the moderators for questioning BC's current quality control standards. It does bring into question the motive behind the advise/recommendations you read on these forums, especially from moderators/owners. Hopefully this will spark a debate and not get me banned.
     
  17. Shion_ca

    Shion_ca Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Chris,

    To be helpful and on topic I have the following to say. I've heard the belden 892... jobs that Rhino sells, they do fine. I own a pair of audioquest corals that I payed much less than half price for just to see what the hype was, they do fine. I have a pair of the accoustic research Master series cable, they're fine. In retrospect I'd have taken the future shop Accoustic Research Master series cabeling because of it's good shielding in high rf areas. make your own belden solution and don't sheild if you don't need the shielding and can run your power cables AWAY from your interconnect. At full price I would have been upset about the audioquest coral, I'll stick with the AR stuff.

    As for all the anti boutique stuff, I would find it very hard to believe that if you sit down with a pair of Harmonic Tech Pro Silway's in a system with upper end harmonic or cardass cableing and good components, you will be hard pressed not to hear a difference between an audio quest coral and a matching cable. Take a friend, don't talk about the differences if any, just write them down, copare notes, QED.
     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Sorry to hear about the 'thou shalt not criticize' scenario Mark. Much as all have criticized Monster or Bose or whomever, there's a slew of people that would love that criticism as they're counting their dollars. Realistically though, I have no idea why Better Cables charges the prices they do other than they perhaps have, as you pointed out Mark, a rather substantial overhead. There's not much to a silver coated copper cable and anyone who does a google search on 75 ohm microwave cables will see there's quite a few places marketing the stuff. Besides, at the frequencies we're dealing with, a trivial amount of signal winds up on the silver anyways.
     
  19. PatrickLG

    PatrickLG Agent

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  20. RussKon

    RussKon Stunt Coordinator

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    "danger will robinson"

    this is one of those discussions that could go one for years...everyone has their opinion....ok ...here's mine...

    copper is copper....as long as the connection is solid and you are not living next to a power plant....copper is copper....

    by the way...have you heard that monster cable is now selling a dryer power cord for $90?......honest....the ironic thing is that i work at the distributor that sold monster cable the parts for this cable...a total of $5.00 in parts....

    copper is copper....everything else is marketing
     

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