HDMI Cable Differences and the influence of cable length
Are high-end HDMI cables better than standard no-name brands?
I decided to try this out for myself, since the opinions differ on this matter. I purchased 3 highend HDMI cables and 1 no-name brand to see what differences there are.
Most people say it is nonsense but from my experience with digital audiocables, I figured that surely for digital video this might also be the case. I have no vested interest in proclaiming anything and I don’t want the expensive cables to be better. After all: why would you want to spend more money if it isn’t neccesary? This test will show as objectivelt as I can whether or not expensive cables are worth the investment.
The following is condensed info on this matter. For the complete review and more background information, read the HDMI-cables-review (Dutch language).
So do HDMI cables make a difference?
To put it bluntly: Yes. They do make a difference. I know that technically there shouldn’t be a difference and I don’t exactly know why there should be. But there is a difference and it’s not all that difficult to see.
From what I know about the HDMI format there is something that at least should give sceptics something to think about. The data that runs over the cable is not to be confused with data that runs over internet connections. In the case of internetdata there are systems built in that check for errors and can correct them. If needed, the data could even simply be sent again. In the case of videosignals over HDMI this is not possible, simply because it would result i massive delays. HDMI therefore is a continuous datastream, miuch like is the case with CD. With CD people also tend to think that a one is a one and a zero is a zero. And while that’s certainly true, what’s also true is that timing is much more important. WHEN is the one a one and WHEN the zero a zero.
But I digress. The test was done with 3 expensive highend brand cables of 7 meters, a cheap no name brand cable of 10 meters and a cheap but short 3 meter Vivanco HDMI cable. In short: the results differ greatly depending on length. If you wish to read the entire review, please click here
Condensed results of the tests
Long cables over 7m
You can notice differences in the following areas: black level, contrast, colors and depth (as opposed to flat). But these differences are in the realm of what you can mostly also achieve by tinkering with the settings on your TV. What’s important to note is that the cheap 10 meter no-name cable was just as sharp, noise-free and contrasty as the most expensive Oehlbach cable I have. It just had a different presentation colorwise and appeared less natural to me. But whether that’s worth the outlay? That’s a very personal matter.
Short cables of 1-3 meters
According to lots of people HDMI cables don’t matter as long as they’re short. I wouldn’t be too sure of that but my tests are not extensive enough to make a bold claim about that. I had a cheap Vivanco HDMI cable of 3 meters for comparison to all other cables. What I can say is that the cheap Vivanco cable absolutely beat the other expensive cables and that’s probably just because it’s shorter. The Vivanco 3 meter cable was simply the most lively, most constrasty, most sharply detailed cable of all.
Videophiles for sure should go with the better cables, as they do allow for the last nth of fine tuning. Most other people will probably be content with whatever cable is available. Especialy if it concerns short cables. Cables of 7 meters and longer do make more difference. It’s still not day and night but it’s probably worth it for more discerning people.