What's the deal with monster cables?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by TreyP, Feb 4, 2002.

  1. TreyP

    TreyP Stunt Coordinator

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    Why are they so expensive? Are they really worth it?
     
  2. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    Primarily they are so expensive because Monster has branded their name well. There are those who say that generic cables of the same density are just as good. I have a mix of Monster and generic - and I'm happy with both.
     
  3. David_L_Lowe

    David_L_Lowe Auditioning

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    Trey, they are expensive because of the brand name.Acoustic Research makes cables that are comparable in quality but cost about half the price.You can picke them up at any Best Buy. I have a mix of Monster cable and AR cables, and i can't tell the difference.
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    simple question...not so simple answer! [​IMG]
    if you think monster are expensive, take a look at some nordost or mit or kimber or any other hi-end brand. i've heard of some 1m pair costing hundreds of dollars!
    anyway, this is a completely subjective answer. the only thing you can do is buy the monster, buy some less expensive brand (rat-shack, acoustic research) and see for yourself.
    i did a (very unscientific) blind test using the cheap cables that come with the gear, rat-shack and monster. i heard a difference between the cheap stuff and rat-shack but couldn't discern between rat-shack and monster.
    that doesn't really mean anything to anyone but me. maybe the monster's are better but i just can't hear a difference.
    i guess all i'm saying is you'll have to decide for yourself whether the more expensive cable is worth it. if you hear a difference, then the answer is obvious...
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Monster is decent quality and has the advantage of being in many stores. This means you can run out right now and "impulse buy".

    But they have an agressive sales push & salesperson incentive programs which can push the edge of ethical boundries in convincing you that your new equipment "deserves" good cables.

    So they are over-priced. Not really a crime. (I saw an add for a 1 meter cable for $800, and $40/foot speaker wire with special windings to temporial align the electrons. - this IS a crime)

    (Know what I really like about Monster? They have sets of L/R/Video cables that I use for VCR and CATV box's - these things really reduce the cable-clutter behind my rack.)

    My advice is to go with AR or Radio Shack brands for modest systems. This consists of:

    - Display less than 40"

    - Ordinary/interlaced video

    - Short runs .. 10 feet or less

    When you start running larger display sizes, HDTV signals, long runs, Progressive Scan..., then you should get better cables IMHO.

    The best values are the sites that take the coax & connectors used by the broadcast industry (the people who master & mass-produce the signal) and make them custom to fit your system.

    Sites like BetterCables, WickedCables, CatCables, all have a good reputation around here.

    Or you can go to the "Interconnects and Wires" fourm and learn how to buy the tools and build your own.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Gui A

    Gui A Supporting Actor

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    The formula I read about once was that the wires should be about 10% of your total budget. So if you spend $2000 on a receiver and spakers, spend no more than $200 on wires. I ended up spending about $150. (in CDN$). So the formula was right.

    It's like a car... If you have a high end car, you're not going put cheap 87 octane in it. you're going to get the good stuff.

    And the monster cables are different. You know something's up when the box says the cables are unidirectinal, and work better one way over the other.
     
  7. Tim Kline

    Tim Kline Stunt Coordinator

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    I have all monster cable, for everything.. honestly, I didn't notice any difference between these cables and the generic ones I was using before. Maybe my system just isn't high-end enough? who knows.. But honestly, I just like Monster Cable cuz it just seems kinda cooler.. guess I'm a victim of marketing-brainwashing [​IMG]
    When the time comes that I need a new cable for something, I'll just get what I need, no matter what brand it is. Monster just seems to be the most readily available when I happen to need a cable though [​IMG]
     
  8. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    I have yet to hear a sonic improvement from a cable on any system that I've owned.

    These are the only circumstances where I believe premium cables are worth it. And none of these come close to the esoteric super-high-end cables pitched in the 2-channel stereo world...

    - A good durable, shielded S-video or component-video cable is necessary for video applications, especially if you have a cable run longer than a meter or two. Video cables can pick up interference from power cords or other electronics if they are not adequately shielded, and this results in visible interference in your picture.

    - Speaker wires should be 16 gauge or larger (lower gauge numbers). Ideally, go with 12-gauge wire. Whether that's simple 'zip cord,' Radio Shack Gold, Monster, or anyone else's hasn't mattered to me. The reason for this: Bass signals cannot be transmitted adequately across narrow wires (like 20-22 gauge).

    - Interconnects should have gold-plated contacts (to resist corrosion/oxidization) and durable connectors (to avoid falling apart and needing replacement).

    - If you can use balanced interconnects for audio (in separates setups with separate pre/power amps, as well as some connections of analog audio sources to preamp/receiver), do so. You can get a lower noise floor. Other effects on 'sound quality' are nonexistent to my ears...
     
  9. Joe Tilley

    Joe Tilley Supporting Actor

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    Guia, the reason the monster cables are directional is for grounding,the outter copper braiding will go to the sorce componet and ground at it to displace ground hum & and rfi.
     
  10. Jacques C

    Jacques C Stunt Coordinator

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    Just remember that stores make 20% back or so on electronics and 60% or so on cables. ;-)

    Video cables are required to handle higher bandwidth, so if you spend money, get a good video cable.

    For speaker cable, go to Home Depot and get the 12 gauge braided wire. In the price range you are talking about you will never see a difference. I use HD wire with my DIY speakers - sounds great.

    Take the $200 you save and get yourself something nice, like the entire Monty Python set. You'll be happier that way. LOL

    Jacques
     
  11. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Oy vey!
     
  12. Scott Page

    Scott Page Stunt Coordinator

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    I too wasn't sure that expensive interconnect cables would make a difference. I purchased some Kimber PB&J cables for $78 a pair. I heard a diffinet improvement in my system over cheap cables.
    Regarding Monster component video cables. I compared their top of the line with bettercables.com cables. Better's were, well "Better". [​IMG]. But if you aren't a decerning listener or decearning watcher, you might not appreciate or even notice the subtlty of the improvements with better cables.
    Please forgive spelling errors.
     
  13. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

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    One thing about Monster Cable is that very few of the packages sold at retail are labeled as to the gauge, and typically the price for a given length of Monster is 2 or 4 numbers smaller in gauge than the competition.

    As for the comments above about Monster being over-priced and about A-B comparisons, I think these are just the opinions of the people who posted them, and don't necessarily apply to anyone else.

    (By analogy, I could ask various people to compare a top single-malt Scotch and a cheap blend, and they would not be able to say which is better. But, to me and to anyone who knows Scotch, the difference is obvious. I could say the same about wristwatches, skis, or motorcycles, about which non-experts would be clueless.)
     
  14. Jason Wolters

    Jason Wolters Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Scott Page

    Scott Page Stunt Coordinator

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    "Sonic improvement" can't be measured with a SPL meter anymore than you can use an SPL meter to decide which CD player, DVD player, or speakers sound better. To suggest it can is rather an odd notion (no offense intended).
    I agree that many, maybe most, of the claims of very expensive cable are pure marketing hype. But I did notice a significant improvement in dynamic range when going from the cheap supplied interconnect cables to Kimber PB&J cables at $78 per pair. They recieved fantastic reviews and compare favorably with interconnects costing 5 times as much. Of course I don't use those expensive interconnects anymore as I go digital from HDTV reciever and DVD player to the reciever. But I'm just pointing out that wire can make a sonic change (good or bad) to an analog signal (but not a digital signal).
    Note, interconnects are NOT speaker connects. This thread seems to be talking about many different types of cables.
    As to Component cables, Bettercables.com cables are better than Monster component cables IMHO, after doing a side by side comparision. Note: we are talking video-only here folks, no SPL meter needed [​IMG]. I'm sure my wife wouldn't see the difference, but I did, and the cost was comparable. That being said, I use relatively cheap monster 14-4 guage wire for speaker hookup as I can't stomach paying hundreds of dollers for exotic cable.
     
  16. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Jason: I like your attitude about doing in-home experiements. [​IMG]
    But to say that a wire is a simple conductor, ignores Capacitence, Inductance, Reactive-Capacitance, and other AC & signal-transmission issues.
    When you buy a botique speaker wire, you are getting stuff designed to minimize these issues. (And these are all separate from the 16/14/12 ga issues).
    You must also have equipment (and source material) sensistive enough that a different speaker wire makes a difference.
    A nice set of Martin-Logan or Magnapan panel speakers backed up by 200 wpc power amps and a Teluarc-mastered CD qualifies as "sensitive".
    My DefTech 2000tl's run directly from my receiver with a copy of The Matrix DVD- does not.
    These are VERY different systems running VERY different quality source material.
    IMHO: this is why we have such a mix of "this cable made no difference" and "this cable made a difference" opinions.
     
  17. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    Hi,

    re formulas, De Beers ( the diamond monopoly) has a formula: 3 months salary for an engagement ring. Awhile back, few folks in Japan used diamond engagement rings. After De Beers ads, now 70% do. IOW, I'm a little suspicious of formulas. Think of the flower/card industry, and their impact on holidays and spending.

    As for cables, spend what you want. But if you have cable TV, check out that 50-100+ feet coming into your house. How much per foot do you think that is?

    Thick is good, for sure, esp for long runs. Find cheap and thick, and you'll be happy. And if you are so high end that expensive cables are or seem worth it, why not?

    Just avoid super thin, super cheap, if you are starting out or are just in the medium range. IMHO.

    From what I can gather, for most people, the biggest bang for the buck comes from spending more on speakers (and/or TV). Can cables compete with that? At what point?

    Dan.
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I have used Monster cables of many kinds in my systems. They are made well, which is why I buy them. I won't use the cables that come with components. Too flimsy. I have bought Radio Shack Gold Series RCA cables, but they connectors are often too tight, and the dimpled connectors can really dig into your skin when you are dealing with a tight connector. Awful. Again, the Monster cables are made well, though I occasionally encounter a tight connector.

    Recently, I replaced Monster Interlink 400mkII RCA interconnects on a Sony SCD-777ES and Sony SCD-C555ES (stereo analog outputs only) with Audioquest Diamondback cables. I noticed a subtle improvement in going to the Diamondback. The difference wasn't night and day, but there was enough of an improvement to make the change worthwhile.

    The thing that gets me about Monster cable is how often I go into a high-end audio store that either carries Monster cables exclusively or features Monster cables. If you live in the New Jersey/New York City/Connecticut area, check out a Harvey Electronics store. They carry Krell, McIntosh, Marantz, Sony ES, Pioneer Elite, Adcom, Sonus Faber, Energy, Vienna Acoustics, Cal Audio Labs, NAD, and many other quality brands. The only cables they sell are Monster. Tweeter isn't nearly as high-end, but they carry quality products like the Denon AVR-5800, B&K AVR 307, SACD players, etc., and they only carry Monster cables. As a national chain, I guess I shouldn't expect anything more.
     
  19. Howard Halligan

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    Most stores that sell Monster cables have a return policy. Use regular cables that come with the components or Radio Shack cables (also returnable) if you need extra. Buy Monster or other premium cables with a credit card and compare them with the basic cables. Have someone conduct a blind test - one on one channel one on the other and set receiver to mono and switch back and forth between channels. Do you hear a difference that justifies the extra cost? Can you tell one from the other with out looking? If not return them for credit.
     
  20. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Cables are always subjective. One person can't hear any difference, another swears it's obvious. I've used Monster Cables since the beginning of my HT world, mostly because of availability. Since I've used only Monster, I can't give a comparison to "lesser" brands. The one difference I did make was upgrading my subwoofer cable when I rearranged my theater. The difference was fairly evident. The bass was richer, more intense and tighter. No other settings were changed except the cable, so that was how I attributed the difference. So, my belief is that "better" (read: more expensive) can-can, not will-make a difference.
    Bruce
     

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