Zee's "I got bored and compared HDMI cables" thread.

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by Zee, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Zee

    Zee Member

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    The time has come. I finally got my i1Pro back, my new X-rite hubble, and a Berlingo full of random HDMI cables.

    The short answer, it didn't matter whether I used the 2m hdmi cable included in a Toshiba BD player box, or a $140 5m Wireworld cable, or a 5m Audio Dimensions cable that is being sold for more than $200. The results were close enough that reading errors well and truly cover any discrepancies.

    The long answer...

    Please note, I'm simplifying my descriptions as much as possible, so those of you who do understand this stuff, I'm sorry...

    Equipment used:

    Samsung PS50C7000 Plasma TV

    X-rite i1pro spectrophotometer
    [​IMG]

    X-right Hubble Colorimeter
    [​IMG]
    ...And my Benro tripod and Photo Clam ball head. Finally, I can find a legitimate reason to write off (some) of my camera gear on tax - YEAY ME!

    Quantum Data QD780 signal generator
    [​IMG]

    Bunch of random HDMI cables from varying price ranges
    [​IMG]

    And finally, my laptop loaded with the commercial version of Calman calibration software.

    The idea is pretty simple. If a higher priced cable *really* does make a difference to an image, I should be able to record it. Right? If the image is brighter, or is more colourful, then this should be reflected in my readings. So, I decided to set up my i1 pro, Hubble and QD780. I use a Wireworld 3m "Island" HDMI cable. It's well made, looks OK, and no one is going to accuse me of spending a fortune on calibration equiment, then skimping on the HDMi cable I use for testing.

    The first step in the process is to profile my i1 Pro to my Hubble. The i1pro is is a spectrophotometer, it is fantastic for colours, but it is slow as hell for doing grey scales (the darker end of grey scale readings, in particular, are slooooow). The Hubble, on the other hand, is super quick, good in the dark, but may or may not be quite as accurate with the colour side of things. So, by profiling the i1 to the Hubble, I'm telling the Hubble exactly what colour is what, and I can then proceed knowing that my Hubble is both fast and accurate.

    The next step is to calibrate. The Samsung C7000 is blessed with 10 point white balance adjustment and a fairly useable colour management system (CMS). I have noted that it isn't perfect, blue has a habit of never quite being as adjustable as I would like, but most other colours (green, red, and the secondaries - yellow, magenta and cyan) can be adjusted to within an acceptable DeltaE (or the difference between what a colour is, and what it should be. Generally, a number of 3 or below is accepted as being so close that the human eye won't be able to tell the difference - though that particular chart isn't going to be used in this thread, as I'm just looking to see if a different cable changes anything.

    What you will see in the images below are:

    Gamut CIE - this is a colour chart with the co-ordinates (or where they are *supposed* to be) of the 3 primaries, 3 secondaries and white shown by squares plotted on the colour chart. The little coloured balls represent where that particular colour actually falls on the display.


    RGB balance - This is the Red, Green and Blue values for the grey scale from IRE20 (near black) to IRE 100 (white). In a perfect world, the RGB bars should form a straight line along the 100 as indicated on the left of the chart (white is just red, green and blue in equal parts, same for grey and black though in the case of black, it's a lack of red, green and blue - in equal parts). The reality is, it's impossible to do that on most displays, and takes forever on the displays capable of it. however, we only need to get below DeltaE 3 - and whilst the chart is not shown, all values do fall below this mark - so, as far as we are concerned, this is a near perfect grey scale..

    Below this chart is a list of the co-ordinates (x and y) and luminance (Y) for our chart - but it doesn't really matter for us as the charts will show us what we want to see well enough.


    So, once the calibration is done, the next step it to take a snapshot with the cable I use for the calibration. In this case, the Wireworld Island 3m (rrp about $120). the results are below:

    [​IMG]

    The next step is to go replace the cable and carry out the readings again for each cable. So, here they are:

    The generic cable included with a Toshiba BDX1200Y:
    [​IMG]

    2m HDMI cable purchased from iiBuy for $12
    [​IMG]

    5m Cabac cable (~$20):
    [​IMG]

    5m Audio Dimension cable (rrp ~$200+):
    [​IMG]

    Looking through the charts, we can see there are some very minor variations - all readings still fall under our acceptable limit of DeltaE 3, and our colours fall in the same spots on the charts. There are some minor variations, but nothing that can't be accounted for with possible read errors in the meter itself. The blacks are the hardest parts to read, and that is where the variations take place. I could probably get a more consistent reading overall by increasing my read times, but I had a powerful need to sleep before 2am.

    So, anyway, there are our results. There is no significant difference between our cheapest (and cheapest looking - with non gold plated connector) bundled Toshiba HDMI cable, and the most expensive (and coolest looking - it's freaking purple, with shiny ends and cool looking screws in the connector- check it out!) Audio Dimension 5m HDMI cable.

    Z...
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  2. OPM881

    OPM881 Member

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    You actually bought a $200 HDMI cable?
     
  3. HeXa

    HeXa Member

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    pretty sure a "Berlingo" is not a SI unit of volume :p

    had to google and you made me look at frenchie panel vans.... bastard!
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Zee

    Zee Member

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    No. That is the retail price, I wouldn't be caught dead paying $200+ for a 5m HDMI cable. I also have a Monster HDMI - but it doesn't work...

    Just be glad you don't own one...

    Anyway, I should be able to post all charts tonight.

    Z...
     
  5. RyoSaeba

    RyoSaeba Member

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    That made my day :lol::thumbup:
     
  6. Smoza

    Smoza Member

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    So my $10 Jaycar jobs will perform fine? Good to know, as I've been using them for months! ;) Would be nice to have some actual data on test results, so to back up what most people already know about "premium" hdmi cables.

    Good job!
     
  7. Pugs

    Pugs Member

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    made mine aswell...
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Zee

    Zee Member

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    Updated original post with charts and details.


    Z...
     
  9. Daedalus01

    Daedalus01 Member

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    at short lengths i really doubt it would matter

    are you able to try the test at 10m, 20m and 30m? just compare say a 26awg vs a cheapo 28awg cable?


    great work btw! the best comparison of hdmi cables i have read as its actually objective!
     
  10. aokman

    aokman Member

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    nice writeup, good to see some results with calman :)

    At the end of the day there is no gains from higher end cables except maybe durability and signal strength but being a digital system it has pretty much no bearing on the actual IQ. Analogue signals were a whole different ballgame though :)
     
  11. Darth Teddy Bär

    Darth Teddy Bär Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to do the tests and post, hopefully it will help many to save money.

    I needed a 10m cable and was told by every 'expert' that I would get crap colours and the likes unless I bought a $350-$500 cable... yer what ever.
     
  12. genxor

    genxor Member

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    Awesome post. Good to have something to show to audio/videophiles, not that I really talk to many of them any more. :p
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Zee

    Zee Member

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    I will do some more tests with other cables once I get them. I will do a 10 and 15m HDMI, and also test HDMI over Cat5, I doubt I'll be testing anything over 15m as I don't ever have a need to use a cable of such a length.

    Anyway, I have a standard now, we know that my regular calibrating cable is no better or worse when it comes to image quality, so if I test on another day, with another cable, regardless of the TV settings, we will know how it fairs compared to all the others as well. I'll only need to do a back to back test...

    Love Calman.The Pro/Commercial version is $$$$$$$$$$$$$... But worth it. Looking at getting myself a C6/Display 3 to add to the toolbox...

    Agreed, the higher end cables look nice, and feel well made, one of the reason I used the Wireworld as my calibrating cable, I know that it is well made and will not let me down unless I really hammer it somehow. I have seen lower end cables fail - but for the consumer, this shouldn't matter, as you should be able to get a straight swap for a faulty lead, once it's in your system, it's not likely to get damaged.

    $60-100 is what I would pay for 10m - more for the knowledge of a fair quality cable than anything else. I run cables on building sites, so it's kind of nice to know that a cable is tough enough to take a little mistreatment.

    They will still argue otherwise - never let facts get in the way of your justifications!


    I'm also thinking of doing some TV reviews based on how suitable they are for calibration, seeing as I'm starting to get a few TV's from brands other than Samsung to calibrate now. Did a couple of Panasonic ST panels in the last few days, and also a 55" Sony LED. Needless to sya, I was a tad surprised, and disappointed with the Pana ST panels..
    Z...
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  14. Alfonzo

    Alfonzo Member

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    Very nice write up, thanks for taking the time to put this together. :thumbup:
     
  15. beckyboo

    beckyboo New Member

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    Obviously not the thread for it, but could you elaborate on your concerns about the Panasonic ST panels Zee.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Zee

    Zee Member

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    I'll start up another thread re this tonight (with some charts). The main problem is that they don't have any white balance adjustment - at all. Luckily, the 2 models I played with do have a grey scale that is "pretty good" with adjustments to the basic settings, but still a tad disappointing.

    Z...
     
  17. Fishface

    Fishface Member

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  18. HUMMER

    HUMMER Member

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    if anyone wants to know where some of the money is going for people paying exorbitant prices for monster cables. its going to paying rapper Ludacris.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Zee

    Zee Member

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    If they want to send me one to try out,t hey are welcome to, but I ain't paying! In fact, oddly enough, I did my ISF II course at the Monster HQ, and will happily pick it up personally, as I'll back in a few weeks. It'll save them a lot of hassle!

    Seriously though, this caught my eye...
    HP? Really? The same HP that was going to tackle the iPad with a $500 tablet, then dumped it for $99 before even it's first OS update?

    I'm sure there was an article somewhere about how HP has been screwed within 12 months...

    Z...
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  20. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Next up: HP unveils Monster ludacris line of inkjet printer cartridges.
     

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