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Expensive Cables, Worth the cost or not?

Question: I was in a local electronics store and I needed some cables for my entertainment center.  These guys tried real hard to sell me a few £75.00 HDMI cables.  I won’t mention the brand or store, but are these very expensive cables worth the extra money?

Answer:  The short answer is, no, you can buy one for around £5.  The long answer is still no, but with a lot of explanation.  If you don’t want the head-spinning details of why just accept the short answer, but if you’re curious read on, you’ve been warned.  I’ll try to keep the head-spinning details to a minimum.  By the way, if you’re unsure if any brand name is worth its salt, just Google it and see what comes up.

There are two types of connections, analog and digital.  The older equipment that’s not high-definition uses analog signals while the newer high-definition equipment uses the digital signals.  Digital is ones and zeros, it’s either on or off, working or not.  Analog signals are a bit trickier as you can have a poor analog signal or a better quality one.  That’s why sometimes you see fuzz on equipment like VCR’s, etc.

Like I said digital signals are either on or off, there is no middle ground here.  High-definition cables such as HDMI either work or don’t.  Pick you up a cheap $20 HDMI cable and if it works at all you’re good to go.  If someone recommends a gas injected, zero-g, upside-down, xyz cable for £75, either they sell them or they don’t know what they’re talking about (and quite possibly both).

Analog is a bit trickier, though.  Since the signal does have a middle ground between off and on, quality does matter.  However, most people that into the technology have high-definition digital and the previous statements hold true.  I will say the quality difference between a £1 analog cable, such as component RCA jacks or audio connectors, and a £275 gold-plated, titanium-enriched, ultra-whatever cable is definitely not worth it.  You’ll pay more than 20 times the price for about 1.5 times the quality (if that much).

If you’ve got the money to burn, go for it.  You may see a difference if you compare them side-to-side, but most likely you won’t.  I say for the price of one of those ultra-priced cables you can convert that old analog DVD player to a digital DVD player and then get a cheap £5 HDMI cable.

Heck, if the quality matters that much to you, get a 1080p HD wide-screen television, a Blu-Ray DVD player, HD television service, and 5.1 or 7.1 digital surround-sound.  You’ll never walk out of the house again!

Posted on February 23rd 2013