Component cables- do they "fail"?

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by MarkJH, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. MarkJH

    MarkJH Extra

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    I have a Samsung SIR-T150 HD decoder that has been working great for 2 years- until last weekend. I noticed that the picture was losing color intermittently. One minute the picture was good, then it shifts to almost black and white (still color, but looked like someone turned brightness to 5%), then color comes back momentarily etc. After it had been on for awhile (like 2 hours) color stayed good. This behavior has been reproducable each night this week.

    I called Samsung, and the tech support guy thought my component cables might have failed. He told me to try using an RCA connector, and switch the output to 480i. If the color is messed up, then he would suspect the tuner. If color is working fine, then first suspect the cables. If a different component cable works fine, then we would have the answer. If not, then either the TV or tuner terminals. If I try a different set of inputs on the monitor, and it works, then it would definitely be the terminals on the tuner.

    Well, I got home and turned on my tuner, and colors were fine (of course, when I want it to be a problem it doesn't happen), and stayed good for a while. After about an hour (during "King of Queens") the color flaked. I jumped up and started messing with the cables plugged into the tuner, and the wife says- "Hey, it's not just fine, it's better than ever now!" I unplugged, and re-inserted, each cable and twisted them around a bit. When I sat down, I had to agree with her. On the weekend I had figured colors muted, and had bumped Brightness up a little. It now looked artificially overdone.

    Of course the problems I had been experiencing never came back after that.

    Now, I'm not one to dismiss a nice, cheap simple solution, is it possible my cables failed internally and just by moving them they are now working? Or was it just the contacts were perhaps slightly corroded or dirty and by removing and reinserting they were refreshed? Can a cable decide to suddenly "fail" one day? The cables are Acoustic Research, and since plugging them in 2 years ago have not been touched.

    Thanks for any insights.
    Mark
     
  2. JamesGL

    JamesGL Stunt Coordinator

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    This thread looks familiar, like dejavu.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Sounds like they failed. All kinds of reasons...mechanical failure, solder that's flaky, a crimp that's become oxidized, maybe you or someone yanked on the cable at some point. Head on over to target and get yourself a set of component cables for $20.
     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Solder joints can crack and create intermittent open connections that clear up if the cables are jiggled.

    But - oxidization layers can build up between the connectors and the jacks. This is often solved by simply un-plugging and re-connecting the plugs.

    Every year or so I suggest you do a "HT Cleaning". This consists of:

    - Disconnecting all speaker wires, trimming off the end to expose fresh copper and stripping/re-attaching

    - Disconnecting all interconnects, and re-connecting. A soft tooth-brush can even be used to dust/scrub the jacks if you wish.

    - Un-Plug/Plug in all power cords. (Now might be a good time to try bundling the power cords together to one side of your rack and neatening them up with velcro straps/split-loom tubing, etc.)

    - Disconnecting/re-connecting all breaks in your CATV/SAT coax. Examine the copper wire in the middle. If it is a dull-brown, cut the ends off and install a new F connector with fresh copper sticking out. NOTE: Use pliers to tighten all F connectors about 1/4 turn past finger-tight. The number one cause of poor CATV picture quality is - loose F connectors.

    - Dust the electronics

    - Check the alignment of the speakers with a laser pen. Adjust them if necessary and grab the SPL meter to do a calibration.

    I normally do this in the spring, but if you have not touched your system in 2 years, now might be a good time for you to a cleaning.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. MarkJH

    MarkJH Extra

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    Dunno what James is talking about, did a search on cables before I posted, nothing was relevant. I did however, post this question on hometheaterspot.com. Was that the dejavu event?

    Bob- would it help to put a little di-electric grease on the terminals? That's what I do to prevent corrosion on the electrics of my off-road Pathfinder. I hope I won't be driving my HD system through mud and snow, but who can say for sure?

    Mark
     
  6. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    No - the dielectric grease is not recommended. It's just a simple oxidization layer that builds up over a year or so on the metal surfaces. Just un-plugging/re-plugging all the interconnects once per year works fine. It also solves the loose-connector problem that just seems to happen over time (or when you fiddle around behind your rack).

    The question we all want answered: after you un-plugged and re-plugged all the cables - is the color stable or does it flake/change?

    Note: You should check the connections on BOTH ends of the component cable.
     
  7. MarkJH

    MarkJH Extra

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    Sorry I didn't clarify this before.

    The picture quality from HD has been wonderful ever since. No more momentary color loss, no issues whatsoever.

    I guess I should call American Express and cancel my Buyer Protection claim.

    Mark
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    So it was a loose connection. Good to know.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Or send the new player to Bob for being helpful...that's my vote!
     
  10. i had this problem also with a set of brand new out of the box set of AR component video cables. installed on a brand new sony dvd player. i returned the cables and payed the extra for monster cable. problem solved. i think the AR cables look great but i question their build quality.
     
  11. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Well it sounds like Mark solved his own problems by playing with the connections.

    I have never had a bad Monster or AR cable out of the package. Others have reported that the barrel of an RCA plug was loose on a high-end Monster cable one time.

    Every manufacturer has occasional quality-control issues. Cables are very labor-intensive and humans do get distracted sometimes. Even our favorite custom-cable sites give out bad cables on occasion. All of these places stand behind their product. Monster/AR by having a retail store you can return things to, the web sites by over-nighting a replacement if needed.

    The build-quality of all of these cables is usually very, very good. The video performance - is different, but it takes a high-end system before the difference becomes visible.

    And none of the cable manufacturers can be blamed for loose connectors. The friction-fit RCA plug is not a very good connector. Professional gear all use BNC connectors which are ugly, but work much better than RCA plugs from both a video-image standpoint and no-loose-connector problems.
     

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