HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap

lee martin

Novice Member
Ok, a bit of a report this.... sorry! But I've been frustrated by the lack of science and preaching on the topic of HDMI cables.


Most views on HDMI leads is to buy expensive leads for your home entertainment system, I disagree with this after testing various cables 2 metres in length on a standard living room set-up, I noted that the differential in image quality offered by the cables is either unnoticable or non-existant. I conclude from this symptom that the limited electromagnetic conditions and the minimal length required for HDMI cabling in our homes causes the majority of us no reason to purchase expensive HDMI cabling.


To prove to myself that I wasn't just adopting a cynical attitude towards professional gadgeteers telling us that cabling is far more important that we might think for digital signals, I took the opportunity of playing two Blu-ray versions of The Dark Night on two separate PS3's plugged into two HDMI inputs on the same HDTV (Samsung LE40A756). I was able to do this by chance really; I took my PS3 to my brother's house for christmas where we had duplicates of the key components.

There was one difference in the twin set-up: the HDMI cable. My brother got talked into paying £70 for the cable, the salesman iterating time and again that its silly to spend £800 on a TV but not get a high quality cable (but he could not explain the science as to why the expensive cable should perform better in a living room scenario). I actually brought two cables with me: a £4.99 cable purchased online and a £9.99 cable bought at gamestation. All 3 cables were 2 metres.

We played the movies simultaneously with exactly the same picture settings for both HDMI channels on the TV and with both PS3s set-up identically.

After testing the £9.99 cable against the £70 cable, I repeated for the £4.99 cable against the £70 cable.

Test results were observational in form. My two brothers and our girlfriends were witness to this geek-ridden event. We compared the cables by switching HDMI channels on the TV with an obsessive desire to spot any differences. Comparisons and up-close inspections were made of freeze-framed images, slow motion playback, playback in film and TV native frame-rates, picture extremities (image reproduction in low/high contrast and in low/high brightness etc.) and we also fiddled with the TV and PS3 picture processing software.


Nothing. Everytime we flicked from cheap to expensive cabling the picture was no different (both were fantastic, I couldn't see how the picture could be better). Not one of us in the room could see a single, not a single difference. For what its worth, the sound was no different either (but of course this would need to be tested on a proper surround sound set-up).


Signal degradation (digital data-packet loss) in a HDMI cable of two metres or less does not occur to the extent necessary to warrant high-end materials and their associated cost. Perhaps for a 10 metre a cable the extra shielding and build quality is necessary. But for your standard home set-up? No, definitely not. It's also worth mentioning that the TV used for this test would be considered awesome just 12 months ago, the word is proclaiming the virtues of expensive HDMI cables for longer than this - hence to say that a higher-end TV would spot any differences would be erroneous. Furthermore, with TV's coming down in price, expensive HDMI cables are becoming a larger percentage of cash spent on a decent set-up, so my view is this: please please don't tell people to spend more money than they need to for results they will not get. I felt my brother got conned by a salesman who probably didn't even mean to con him!


Standard Member

HDMI cheap or over priced makes no difference yet they try and sell them all the time because the retailers are money grabbing :censored:'s. I work in a large uk electronics's store and hate been told by my manager to lie to customers and sell the more expensive cables to make more money, This is really just make the store look good on the charts. If i and my colleges don't sell these cables we get moaned at hour after hour, now i just ignore all this myself and sell the required cable and if the customer wishes to spend more i will inform the customer that there is no need to spend more and to spend there hard earned cash on other things.

Now i can only speak for myself and can confirm that on a £99 cable the store will make around £70-90 profit and yes all staff earn commission on every thing howerver the managers are also told to inform staff that the products make little to no profit and to sell the extras to earn more money.

now the commision in store's is often very little usually 1% of the magin of the sales person's total sales and the company will usually find ways to take this away from them too on things like mystery shoppers store performance etc...

but remember this if you do buy high priced cables, product support (also unnecessary unless its a portable item ie laptop, camera etc...), Tv stands, sky. whatever the guy who sells you this equipment will receive praise from his manager and have a good day :thumbsup: and when he has a review or possible promotion this stuff will help him massively in moving up the food chain.

many thanks

lee martin

Novice Member
Thank's Jack,

Nice post, I did have a feeling that it came down to commission when getting palmed off in shops. But that is a good bit of information with the stats etc...
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