If you have recently bought a new piece of home entertainment equipment then no doubt the salesperson also tried to sell you an expensive HDMI cable to go along with your new purchase. But why pay over the odds for a ‘high quality’ HDMI cable when you could get a bog standard cable for a fraction of the cost? This article aims to look at whether the more expensive HDMI cables actually offer any advantages, or whether they are just another way to squeeze a bit of extra money out of you.
HDMI is a relatively new digital format that is fast becoming the standard connection for all new AV equipment. No longer do you need to have a tangled mass of different cables, with HDMI there’s just one simple cable and you are up and running. So seeing as HDMI is a digital format, then surely there is no advantage in buying an expensive cable; surely all cables deliver the same quality and the only thing you are paying extra for is a brand name?
Well unfortunately it’s not that simple, as not all HDMI cables are created equal! Even though the format is still relatively young, there have already been some major updates since the initial introduction – in fact even these revisions have a number of minor updates in themselves – which just adds to the confusion. Naturally, the cables that meet the latest HDMI Cable in Australia specifications are more costly than older cables that meet the older specifications, so it’s not just a matter of picking a cable based on price. You also need to check which specification your equipment requires for optimal performance, as you will find that using a cable with a lower specification may be detrimental to the quality of the sound and video. In some cases your equipment may not even function with older cables, so be sure to check the manual to see which HDMI version you need.
Something else you need to bear in mind is that the HDMI signal can place a high demand on the cable itself, so cheaper cables may not deliver the same quality as more expensive cables. This is especially true for longer lengths of cable: the longer the cable, the easier it is for the signal to become distorted. Therefore if you require a long run of cable you should ensure that the cable was manufactured to a high standard using quality components. Cheaper brands tend to use lower quality cabling which is more susceptible to interference, thus delivering a lower quality signal.
Something else to consider is that while the HDMI platform does have some error correction abilities, this does not totally eliminate errors. When a compatible device receives an error, it tries to estimate what the signal should have been, but if the signal was not transmitted properly in the first place then the error correction can do little about this. HDMI signals are certainly less susceptible to errors, but they can still happen, so therefore a higher quality cable would help to ensure that the chances of this happening were reduced.