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Author Topic: Monster Cables- The World should know!  (Read 26630 times)
Cuffy
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« on: March 21, 2008, 12:04:52 PM »

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=1073&tag=nl.e539

Do I need monster HDMI cables?
No, HDMI monster cables are simply a monster rip-off.  If a cable is HDMI certified, it will by definition offer you a perfect digital signal.  Despite the fact that the electrical signals traversing an HDMI cable degrade as a cable gets longer, it will still offer perfect digital transmission so long as the signal loss or distortion is within a certain tolerance.  Analog cables might benefit from extra thickness and insulation because there’s not much you can do to fix analog signal loss or distortion other than to amplify and maybe filter the signal a little to mitigate the bad side effects.  But when it comes to digital technology, the signal is either all there or it isn’t.  There is zero measurable difference in the digital signal quality between the $6 HDMI cable and the $60 monster HDMI cable.

Caveat Emptor!
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TucknDar
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2008, 12:30:48 PM »

Luckily my monster cables were bought well before anyone had thought of HDMI tongue
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Edvard
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2008, 12:56:34 PM »

This is a constant topic among audiophiles...
Does type of cables really make a difference?
You are absolutely correct, Cuffy. With digital, the signal is there or it isn't. Period. Noise due to improper shielding or connections may cause artifacting, but a decent cable (not bottom-of-the-barrel) is more than adequate for most purposes.

On the analog side, I have seen wild arguments for gold-plated connectors, solid-core cabling, crystalline copper (?) and everything in-between, but the bottom line comes down to two things (especially for instrument cables that get moved around, stepped on, twisted, pulled, etc.), shielding and robustness of the connection.
Braided shielding is less vulnerable than wrapped, and connectors with strain relief boots tend to "hang on" longer.
For something that is going to hang behind your home stereo for months at a time, it's not so critical.

...And don't use coax for speaker cables...
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Curt
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2008, 08:05:19 AM »

... There is zero measurable difference in the digital signal quality between the $6 HDMI cable and the $60 monster HDMI cable...


Without knowing your preferences in general I would guess that you are the kind of type that also claims there can be no spiritual world because it cannot be measured? I really don't care if you can measure the difference in digital audio cables or not. The difference is there, but you probably have something blocking your ears...  tongue

Piece!  embarassed

For thirty years I was a hifiholic. I already have had this 'debate' too often.  Cool
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f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2008, 09:07:38 AM »

Curt, with digital signals, either it's going to work or it's not going to work. And it should be trivial to test, since you can do an exact bit-by-bit comparison at the destination, which is 100% objective and doesn't rely on something as fragile and subjective as the human ears. Iirc, the HDMI protocol even has checksum built-in, so corrupted signals can be detected. There is no arguing this.

With analog signals, it's a bit of a different story, because you can't do the same kind of bit-by-bit comparison, and then people get all emotional about their investment and obviously want to justify spending a zillion dollars on gold wired cables. All you really need, though, is cabling with the right level of resistance and enough shielding. If you live in a normal withtout a lot of EMI, buying super-expensive audio cables is just plain silly. I daresay that normal power-chord cables would do the job just fine smiley
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2008, 11:23:33 AM »

One *could* say that they more expensive digital cables sound better because one paid more and is listening more closely...

Ok - Devil's advocate session is over...
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 11:32:43 AM »

 

.. There is no arguing this ...
- guess what?!

Quote
This is a constant topic among audiophiles...

Your contra-arguments have been used ever since the CD was first launched, and still they improve the digital media. How can they keep improving something that is "perfect"? Because it is not perfect, I would say.

...
 I really don't care if you can measure the difference in digital audio cables or not. The difference is there

- but you may keep your attitude on this, and I will keep mine.


... For thirty years I was a hifiholic. I already have had this 'debate' too often. 

Other than this, I am glad sound quality has improved even more.

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Hirudin
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2008, 01:09:54 PM »

The way I understand it goes something like this...

Higher quality cables help do 2 things:
- reduce internal and external interference, and
- transmit the signal without loss

In the analog world the topic of "are those expensive cables worth it?" is certainly debatable. Personally I do not have the ears to tell the difference so I get the mid-range stuff (not the cheapest that anyone could ever get away with, but not $20 a foot either).

BUT when it comes to digital it's a whole new ball game. Your HDMI source, lets say a BluRay player, is more or less pumping out "1s" and "0s", or more accurately "Ons" and "Offs". So long as the device on the other end of the cable can tell whether it's been delivered a "1" or a "0" is all that matters. I don't know how much influence interference can have on the signal, but with digital it would have to be enough to turn the 0s and 1s into "0.5s" (a bit where the receiver cannot tell if it's "on" or "off").

I'm reminded of this image from SpinRite, an excellent data recovery tool.


The progression of different digital media (CDs, DVDs, HD stuff, etc.) is a different topic altogether. For HDMI cables the only question is: do the 1s and 0s make it to the other end or not? With digital, this is easily tested scientifically.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 01:14:29 PM by Hirudin » Logged
f0dder
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2008, 01:27:23 PM »

Hirudin: please don't bring spinrite into this, it's snake-oil smiley, and mr. Gibson only has buzzwords and "it's super secret advanced tech!" to say, nothing quantitative.

Curt: as for improving digital media, there's a couple of factors. For CD players alone, there's a few... one thing is that audio CDs don't have synchronization tracks, which means you can't 100% accurately re-position (or even position) the laser. There's also the quality of the error-correction circuitry (and sadly, with copy-protected CDs, that circuitry IS necessary, even if your CDs aren't scratched...), if you don't have your CD player hooked to your amp with a digital connection the D/AC quality has quite something to say as well, and you might even have interpolation/up-sampling involved, too.

If you use a digital connection between your player and your amp, some of those points-of-degradation are eliminated, but not all of them.

High-definition formats are, afaik, stored on data discs with proper sync info. I haven't looked into the audio/video container formats used on those media, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's checksum info included. This eliminates some of the error points you have with CDs.

Then, you add in HDMI connection instead of a lossy analog connection, and you either have bit-perfect transfer or you have nothing. Cable quality has something to say wrt. how long cables you can have, but it's not like paying 3x for a 1m cable will yield any difference in quality. Either it works at full quality, or it doesn't.

For analog transport, it's a somewhat different matter, but I'm with Renegade here. Self-suggestion and product buy-in are the "quality" factors here, as long as you go for a certain minimum quality.
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2008, 01:39:57 PM »

Your contra-arguments have been used ever since the CD was first launched, and still they improve the digital media. How can they keep improving something that is "perfect"? Because it is not perfect, I would say.
Curt, you're misapplying the data. The CD itself is a perfect representation of the data stored on it. There's no improvement with DVD, Blu-Ray, FLAC, or MP3 regardless of bitrate. So long as the media isn't damaged, it's objectively a perfect representation.

On the other hand, we must question what it is a perfect representation of. We've found that its input data contains imperfections that are more perceivable than expected, so we have invented ways of improving the data -- higher sampling rates, greater resolution, etc. Similarly, there may be room for improving the quality of the electronics that turn the CD-stored digital data into audio (the DAC, amplification, speakers, etc.).

Any indictment of the CD's signal quality must look to the quality of what its given and how its output is rendered. Yet the CD itself is unquestionably perfect (given undamaged media). Indeed, any of the subsequent improvements that I mentioned -- sample rate and resolution -- can be encoded onto CD media as data, and recovered with perfection.

It's the same thing with digital cabling. The input signal might be questionable, and after the signal has traversed the cable, the output systems can be questioned. But as f0dder and Edvard have said, the perfection of a cable carrying a digital signal within its specifications (distance, input voltage, etc) can be easily verified.

That's the beauty of digital. There's no fine gradations of quality. It does its job or it doesn't, and you can immediately tell which.

If this weren't true, then Monster would have to be supplying all sorts of fancy wires inside your computer as well, and those little copper traces on the PC boards wouldn't work. But no: as long as the wire carries something reasonably close to 3.3V or 5V or whatever technology you're using, it is interpreted as if it is exactly that voltage; any slight variations are inherently erased. If the incoming signal is 3.5V or 3.1V, it doesn't matter; the behavior of the system is absolutely identical to how it would have been at 3.3V. Were this not true, modern computers could not function.

Edit: f0dder's comment about laser positioning is correct, but not necessarily relevant. Using ExactAudioCopy I can ensure that I'm getting the precise recorded data. So it is possible to retrieve the exact input data from the CD. More generally, the CD can also carry data, and if this weren't repeatably, precisely, retrievable, then it would be useless as a mechanism for storing software and other files. Yet it does work well for that usage.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 01:46:12 PM by CWuestefeld » Logged



f0dder
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2008, 02:31:48 PM »

Quote
Were this not true, modern computers could not function.
Indeed not - use any motherboard monitor and check how "stable" voltages are being reported...

Quote
Using ExactAudioCopy I can ensure that I'm getting the precise recorded data.
Yes and no smiley - you need to add AccurateRip to the mix to be sure you get the correct data. And for some of the protected audio CDs, you're entirely at the mercy of the drive's error correction capability, and for instance a plextor and a LiteOn drive probably wouldn't give the same AccurateRip result. I think you need some preeeeetty high-end standalone CD players to achieve this kind of correctness, not to mention that for the protected discs, EAC can go below 1x speed, meaning you wouldn't be able to playback realtime.

Anyway, I probably have to take back the statement about checksumming for HDMI, as I couldn't find a reference to it any place (I was sure I had seen it somewhere, though). But then again, HDMI is only the transport, which can carry multiple formats, meaning that a format could carry checksumming. Checksumming would have limited use anyway, since the stuff is realtime you can't really re-transmit on error, but at least you could detect that "this cable isn't good enough".

Oh, and sure, if you want 100Hz 1080p content at 30m distance, you need better cable quality than a 1m cable from your BluRay player that's right beneath your TV. You don't need gold wires for the latter smiley
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Armando
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2008, 03:36:53 PM »

It's the same thing with digital cabling. The input signal might be questionable, and after the signal has traversed the cable, the output systems can be questioned. But as f0dder and Edvard have said, the perfection of a cable carrying a digital signal within its specifications (distance, input voltage, etc) can be easily verified.

With analog signals, it's a bit of a different story, because you can't do the same kind of bit-by-bit comparison, and then people get all emotional about their investment and obviously want to justify spending a zillion dollars on gold wired cables. All you really need, though, is cabling with the right level of resistance and enough shielding. If you live in a normal withtout a lot of EMI, buying super-expensive audio cables is just plain silly. I daresay that normal power-chord cables would do the job just fine smiley

Exactly. And a tiny bit of research will show that this applies to analog also. Debate seems to be well over since the 1990s...

Since others have explained it very clearly over and over Please let me quote from an article, The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio, from The Audio Critic, issue no. 26, Fall 2000. (but there are countless other references)

Quote
The Cable Lie

Logically this is not the lie to start with because cables are accessories, not primary audio components. But it is the hugest, dirtiest, most cynical, most intelligence-insulting and, above all, most fraudulently profitable lie in audio, and therefore must go to the head of the list. The lie is that high-priced speaker cables and interconnects sound better than the standard, run-of-the-mill (say, Radio Shack) ones.  [...]

The simple truth is that resistance, inductance, and capacitance (R, L, and C) are the only cable parameters that affect performance in the range below radio frequencies. The signal has no idea whether it is being transmitted through cheap or expensive RLC. Yes, you have to pay a little more than rock bottom for decent plugs, shielding, insulation, etc., to avoid reliability problems, and you have to pay attention to resistance in longer connections. In basic electrical performance, however, a nice pair of straightened-out wire coat hangers with the ends scraped is not a whit inferior to a $2000 gee-whiz miracle cable. Nor is 16-gauge lamp cord at 18¢ a foot. Ultrahigh-priced cables are the biggest scam in consumer electronics, and the cowardly surrender of nearly all audio publications to the pressures of the cable marketers is truly depressing to behold. (For an in-depth examination of fact and fiction in speaker cables and audio interconnects, see Issues No. 16 and No. 17.)

If spinrite is snake oil, then high-priced speaker cables and interconnects would be something like... homeopathic snake oil?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 03:39:49 PM by Armando » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2008, 04:02:54 PM »

Yes and no smiley - you need to add AccurateRip to the mix to be sure you get the correct data.
The latest version of EAC has AccurateRip built in. Update your beta  Wink

And what you said about copy-protected CDs is true. But it doesn't apply to this discussion because they're intentionally non-standard, broken discs. Not to mention the fact that I will not buy one.
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Armando
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2008, 04:07:16 PM »

BTW :

One *could* say that they more expensive digital cables sound better because one paid more and is listening more closely...

Ok - Devil's advocate session is over...

Love it.  smiley
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2008, 06:28:01 PM »

I really wish my English was a hundred times better. You guys are ruining my mood this evening. I gave you a hint: I have been a hifiholic for thirty years, not merely an audiofile; I have studied this subject. First In First Out (FIFO) is *NOT* to be taken literally! FIFO is First In ALMOST First Out - the teqnique brings distortion, and distortion is not "perfect". I gladly admit that FIFO was a major step forward, in bringing the distortion down - today the distortion via FIFO is close to be measured in less than a nano second - but to talk about digital perfectness is not trustworthy; even a nano second is too late = distortion.
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2008, 06:59:21 PM »

Curt... I don't want to ruin your evening  tongue. But one does not even have to go into technical details to understand the flaws in the argumentation. The fact is that even in double blind experiments (one of the most famous reported in the well known article by Ian G Masters & David L Clark : Do All Amplifiers Sound Alike in Stereo Review), "connoisseurs" who pretend that there are perceptible differences between -- for example -- reasonably "cheap" amps/cables and expensive ones can't in fact tell the difference (in a controlled environment)! The validity of the physics and electronic principles are one thing (and you have the right to believe that they're not reliable...), but these experiments involve human beings : if the so called expert that claims to be able to differentiate the great from the bad actually can't, the "theory" is... in big trouble (it's falsified on both sides : "humanly" and "technically", if I may say so). Prove me wrong, I'll be glad to learn something new.

PS : it's my french-english against dutch-english
« Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 07:01:38 PM by Armando » Logged

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Glenn Gould
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2008, 09:31:34 PM »

FWIW: The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio (PDF). It's a very good read for anyone. Informative and entertaining.

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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2008, 04:50:15 AM »

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2008, 05:36:56 AM »

One of the things i love about the people on this forum is they take the time to do some research and find useful information, and then share their results.
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Armando
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2008, 09:34:01 AM »


Yes that's a great page.

And to please mouser,  Wink here's another link : Do All Amplifiers Sound Alike (Stereo Review Magazine)

A great article IMO.
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2008, 10:05:46 AM »

First In First Out (FIFO) is *NOT* to be taken literally! FIFO is First In ALMOST First Out - the teqnique brings distortion, and distortion is not "perfect". ...
No disrespect intended, Curt -- we've had many constructive conversations in the past. But your argument here is nothing but FUD, typical of audiophiles.

From the perspective of pure physics, I think I can understand what you're getting at with your timing objections. However, it can't possibly be relevant to this question. If there's any difference in timing, it's due to differences in the speed with which the signals are propagated electrically through the cable. But for the length of cable that we're talking about, it's quite impossible for the impurities to add up sufficiently to make even a nanosecond of difference.

And even if there were a difference, digital systems generally include a clock; while I must admit that I don't know specifically, since what is being transmitted is digital values of discrete entities (e.g., each pixel in turn). Just as the binary digital signals quantize to yield a 1 or 0 from actual values that are just "1-ish" or "0-ish", so too can clocking quantize the actual arrival time of a signal: a little early or a little late, so long as it's there when the clock ticks, everything is OK.

But none of this matters. We've shown ample evidence that there is no difference. We've shown theoretical evidence of why there can be no difference (within specs). Most importantly, it's been pointed out that due to its digital nature, these claimed problems are readily testable.

Given all this, it's clear to me that the burden of proof lies with Monster and the audiophiles. If there's any problem with off-the-shelf cables, conduct a test and show the result.
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2008, 12:16:22 PM »

Hehe, if this was Hydrogenaudio, Curt would have been issued a TOS#8 warning long ago Grin. So I say we should rename the page: "DonationAudiophile.com: For true audio connoisseurs!", and buy Cody some headphones cheesy

Given all this, it's clear to me that the burden of proof lies with Monster and the audiophiles. If there's any problem with off-the-shelf cables, conduct a test and show the result.

This is true, the best way to find out if what you affirm is to conduct a blind-listening test, it shouldn't be very difficult, although of course, you'll need some person assembling the cables and all that.
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f0dder
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2008, 12:29:25 PM »

Why do a subjective blind-listening test when you can do an object bit-correctness test?
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« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2008, 12:34:55 PM »

Er, because it's easier for everyone and provides definitive answers, as audiophiles tend to base their ideas on audio quality on what they "hear" (and they spend and read and... well, you get the point), setting aside any possible technical explanation.
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Cuffy
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« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2008, 12:46:36 PM »

This is all very interesting!
And to think all because I said "Caveat Emptor"..........

Boy, I'll never say that again!  Grin
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