Fancy cables a waste of money?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by bobones, Jan 15, 2002.

  1. bobones

    bobones
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    I've recently purchased a 210E and a Yamaha E800 processor, which sit about 3 metres apart in my living room. Being a bit of a skin-flint, I bulked at the cost of of 3metres of optical or coax for the digital audio signal, and decided to try out a cheap phono wire (not 75ohm) that cost £3.99 from maplins. I wasn't entirely suprised to discover that it seems to work perfectly, as being digital, I would expect any signal flaws to be obvious - silence, noise, clicks etc, but it's perfect.

    In a similar vein, the thin .75metre s-video cable that came with my computer's video card provides an excellent picture when connecting my tv and dvd (I don't have RGB or component inputs) and I can't see how picture quality could be improved with different cables. Even maplins cheapest

    I also purchased a 1.2metre 75ohm video phono cable for £2.99 which I use to connect the digital out of my cd player to the Yamaha, and again it sounds perfect. (How can digital cables sound different anyway?). An even cheaper phono would probably suffice just as well, as I am lead to believe the 75ohm rating doesn't come into play until the cable length is much longer and it begins to act as a transmission line.

    So, am I insane to think fancy cables (esp digital ones) are a waste of money?
     
  2. Lowrider

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    If you also think that buying fancy equipment is a waist of money, then you are not insane... :devil:
     
  3. graham.myers

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    In fact, why don't you sell your DVD player and buy my VHS machine.


    Only joking :)

    If you're happy with the cables your using then why change.

    However.

    I was happy with my s-video cable (not Ixos or anything like that) and didn't really expect an improvement. I comapred it to composite and did see a difference.

    I spent the time one saturday morning and jury-rigged a component cable up. this consisted of cheap and cheerfull collection of stereo cables and yellow phono leads from various PC graphics cards. I used barrel connectors and joined them all up. Real Heath Robinson!! Blue Peter would have been proud.

    I plugged it in and WOW. It was noticable. Even with cheapy junk

    The point of this little story? If you don't see what you're missing (or hearing) how do you know it won't get any better?

    just my 4 euros worth
     
  4. Duncan Harvey

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    yeah but your point is by using a different output you get better results. You'd have to be blind not to see the step up from composite to S to component.

    The original poster was making the point that spending cash on an expensive lead might not make much of a difference when compared to using the bog standard leads thrown in with kit.

    I must admit I've never really noticed a difference, especially for component video between expensive leads and cheap ones. So that was £30 down the drain.

    As for digital cables - I couldnt hear any difference between an expensive lead and a cheaper one - system is Pioneer 737 DVD and Denon 3802 watching on a Tosh 56WHOB
     
  5. graham.myers

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    I think the same principle applies though. If you don't demo the better cables how do you know they aren't worth it.

    Richer Sounds will "lend" you a box of cables for a returnable deposit to see if you notice the difference.

    they obviously wouldn't do this if the net result was everybody stayed with the original cables.
     
  6. General Skanky

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    There were two big threads a while back about this topic.
    Definatley search them out. One invovled Stuart Robinson and his opinons and another was optical vrs. coax. Lots and lots to read, you may get an answer amongst that lot.
    Have fun reading it.

    My opinion has changed about 5 times in 12 months. I don't think you can answer it with a 'this is best' answer. It really is open to your own opinion.

    Whatever you decide, there will definately be an arguement against! Good luck.:)
     
  7. Guest

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    I recently bought my new dvd player ( an onkyo dvs-939 with the 989 amp to follow next month!) and decided it was time to upgrade my digital lead.

    I had previously a cheapish ixos optical lead (the purple one), and decided in a moment of madness to upgrade to Nordost Moonglo Coaxial lead.

    The difference between the 2 leads is immense to say the least.

    The co-ax is much more open sounding, there more bass, just more of everything.

    Roll on the tx-ds989.

    In my humble opinion cables most definitely make a difference

    Regards, David
     
  8. gavan

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    Hmmmm, you've done a double-blind listening test then, and can identify the digital interconnect by sound alone - even when you don't know which one is being used?


    Gav
     
  9. Guest

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    Yes, both myself and my mate who I work with both listened blind (he didn't know which lead I was using and vice versa) and there was a substantial difference, more detail, deeper bass etc.

    But there again, the digital lead cost £180 and the optical lead was £20, so I think you would expect there to be a difference, especially on a £2,000 DVD player.

    With spending that amount of money on a DVD player, any other lead would have been a compromise - the rest of my system is cabled with Nordost.
     
  10. bobones

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    I could believe you hear a difference between optical and coax digital cables as it is widely reported that coax sounds superior in almost all circumstances. However, can you really tell the difference between two coax cables? It'd be interesting to see if you cound sonically differentiate between your £180 lead and a £2.99 75ohm video phono bought from Maplins.

    Assuming the digital signal arrives uncorrupted and is buffered before decoding (removes so called jitter effects), I can't see how the cable can make a difference sonically.
     
  11. Lowrider

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    The difference is to be heard, not seen... Sorry for another sarcasm, but I am sure there are lots of other differences you cannot explain, just try it, if you want to, or leave it alone...

    If they sell the expensive cables, there must be some difference, I would say...
     
  12. Jase

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    Personally, I wouldnt go too mad spending a fortune.

    I´ve noticed a difference between a cheap coaxial and my Chord Prodac more detail, bass etc. Ive also tried using my Chord Chameleon 2 analog interconnects as a digital cable and they work really well (for cd playback) appears to give more detail than the Prodac!

    Overall I prefer the sound of coaxial to optical but I wouldnt spend any more than I have already.

    Its up to you though!
     
  13. Lowrider

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    This thread reminds me of the fable where a fox tries to reach some grapes in a branch too high, as he cannot, he says they are not ripe, not worth it... :devil:
     
  14. Xevian

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    It really depends on the kit your using not just the cables...

    I've got an Arcam DV27 DVD player and 42" Plasma display and I use the progressive scan out's on the DVD. I use a £200 Precious Metals component lead and I tested it against 3 cheapo composite video leads and the difference was quite noticeable, The picture was sharper and a lot crisper.

    So I did another test with the S-Video leads I use to connect my Cable box to the plasma, again a noticeable difference between an OEM cable the £85 quid PM's one.

    However the same test with the S-Video lead's on my old 32" JVC TV, and you couldn't really tell the difference between the 2 cables!

    All this verified by my friends and family...
     
  15. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    I have upgraded my network cable from cheap Cat5 to expensive cable with gold plated connectors. Wow, I have noticed when transfering pictures and sound files from the server they look and sound so much better. Pictures have much more depth with the colours leaping out at you. WAV files have much more base with clearer treble. What a difference over the cheap network cable, well worth the £250.00 :blush:

    Of course the above is ludicrous and doesn't happen, I must be imaging it. But that is what we are saying when we compare one digital connection cable with another!

    I can send a WAV file around the world via the Internet, along all sorts of bad connections, through electrically noisy computers and so on. Yet it always arrives exactly the same bit for bit and sounds identical to the original, we can all accept that. So why then can a £250 digital cable be an improvement over the one included in the box when travelling about a metre in distance. Wise up!

    Analogue, well that's a different matter.

    Regards

    Philip
     
  16. Xevian

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    It is possible to upgrade Cat5 Cable (Cat5e for example), You can increase you transfer speeds with better lead (and hardware of course) (10mb-->100Mb-->1000Mb networks).. it's nothing to do with the data getting transferred but at what quality it is transferred.

    You can loose the odd 1 and 0 here and there due to RF interference and not notice a difference because of error correction on computer, but in the world of digital audio there isn't really decent EC and that odd one bit could be interpreted wrong thus producing a glitch in the audio, dunno about different type of 'Optical' lead's mind but I suppose to a smaller degree the same can apply , but with coaxial you can improve to a degree with better leads, again it's down to the kit and how well/badly it processes it once it gets it!
     
  17. Nic Rhodes

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    Here we go yet again, someone who doean't understand digital making sweeping and inaccurate comments. I thought we were past that.:(

    At the very least use the search engine and search for JITTER, it is not the only reason different digital solution sound different but it would be a good start for those in need of education.
     
  18. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    You can see the point I am making!

    Granted audio may not have the level of error correction as other forms of data, however how many bits are we talking about, there will always be the odd one that gets flipped.

    How does this error manifest itself, a pop or a click if it is audible at all. These errors do not dull the base or reduce the treble. Yet reviews and marketing of expensive digital cables for audio often quote phrases like "Clearer base, sharper treble", or "When we listened with the new cables her voice was clearer, had presence and better sound staging", all completely subjective and designed to sell.

    In most cases the Hi-Fi shop will actually make more money on selling you the accessories than the actual audio component!

    Common sense should prevail over marketing.

    Regards

    Philip
     
  19. Xevian

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    Jitter.. That's the word I was looking for! Ok, So it's doesn't 'loose' a bit, but I was trying to keep it simple, I suppose that was bit misleading, I apologise if that was directed at me Nic..

    http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid7_gci213534,00.html

    I'd have to agree with PhilipL on that though, I'm not really sure how a better cable could change the shape of the audio. Maybe the quality. But deffinatly a better CD player :)
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

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    Philip

    I think you are missing the point some what. There are big differences in digital audio (compare a £100 CD with a £10k CD). This includes digital cables. The fact that most 'snake oil' manufacturers don't even try to market a 75 ohm cable with 75 ohm connectors should ring alarm bells. If you use in appropriate devices to connect up digital devices, is it any wonder there are major differences. Hell most people use RCA which are NOT a 75 ohm connector!

    Once you have sorted the basic engineering out then differences get smaller but to date most manufacturers (the vast majority) don't evn do this.
     
  21. BadAss

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    Coax=Digital...Optical=Digital...Difference between the two=YES. Dont ask me why but I know its true and everyone else knows its true. So I can only conclude there will be a difference in different Coax or Optical cables but its down to each individuals perception/buget to find out for himself. But if you can afford a £2000 DVD player who in there right mind is going to use a £10 cable?
     
  22. bobones

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    I'm with Philip on this one but I suppose my background in computer networking and software makes me highly sceptical of digital snake-oil.

    Jitter (time based error) is often quoted as the reason for differences in digital sound. However, the datastream is buffered and reclocked when it arrives at the DAC so any timing or jitter errors apparent in the cable are completely removed/replaced (jitter is by definition removed by storing the data eg on a hard drive or in a memory buffer).

    Only in the case where a digital cable is so inadequate that uncorrectable errors appear in the data stream, would there be audible differences; and these would manifest themselves as pops, clicks and dropouts rather than tonal changes to the music.

    I can buy a 1.4m 75ohm phono video cable for 60p that can adequately carry (ie without massive error) an audio digital signal. And even then, the 75ohm rating is completely irrelevant on cables so short. Can anyone attempt an explanation of how this cable can sound tonally inferior (or even just different) to a £180 custom cable of similar length, given that jitter characteristics are completely changed by the decoding process?

    Next, you'll be telling me that different brands of cdr can sound different ...
     
  23. stranger

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    better cables cant make a silk purse from a sows ear but it can make it sound to the best of its potantial.
     
  24. Nic Rhodes

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    If people bought your 1.4m 75ohm phono video cable for 60p then they would be well down the right path. I and many other have championed the correct engineered cable for the job. 75 Ohm is cheap and is an stunning performer (on video and digital), now we just need to deal with those non 75 ohm connectors that cause all those nasty reflections.

    Your £180 custom cable custom cable could be completely the wrong sort of cable (and hence the difference in sound), on the otherhand it might actually be another 75 ohm cable, perhaps with 2 or 3 x shielding, better quality insulation and terminated with the correct 75 ohm plug (hopefully the receiver has as well). If this is the case it may be better than the cheap 75 ohm coax (which is by the way very useful in my house). This is why there is a difference.

    Properly engineered cables are a must, unfortunately many (most) cables aren't and hence the big debate on cables. As the market stands currently they do sound differently, now if you want to spend £180 on an incorrectly engineered cable........:(
     

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