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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 01:43 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Premium Cables Are A Ripoff

found this on the Something Awful forums ( , definitely worth reading:


What an amazing revelation! Yes, that's right, you don't get any noticeable gain with Monster Cable or any other "premium" cable for audiophiles or home theater...philes.

Every cable you can buy at any retail store, even including Radio Shack, is a complete ripoff. There's a LOT of money being made on people's assumption that premium cables make a difference - that's why there's so much misinformation about them. (You'll notice that most of the misinformation comes from current or previous employees of stores that sell expensive cables...)

Audio: You ever take a look at what they use in real studios? It's not Monster or any other "premium" brand - it's the no-names, because they know it doesn't matter, and you don't need to spend $80 on cables to hook up a $50 piece of equipment. Can be found for under 2 bucks.

You can also run "coaxial" (not optical) S/PDIF over the same cables - you don't need special "digital audio" cables. Also, there's no quality difference between optical and coaxial S/PDIF - it's the same signal, just different means of transmitting it.

What about speaker cables? Basic lamp cord of at least 18-gauge thickness is fine (thickness determines the maximum power you can pump through it). Buy a 300-foot spool at Home Depot in the same color as your walls for $10 and never buy another speaker cable.

Video: If you REALLY NEED "component video" cables (which are just "good" RCA cables), I guess you can spend $9 online instead of $50 at Best Buy, but I run my Xbox across 25 feet of walls to my HDTV in 1080i with a combination of regular old RCA audio cables and 1/8" headphone extension cables and it looks identical to a direct connection with the 6-foot super-thick "component" cables it came with (I got bored one night and actually tested this).

About gold plating: The only advantage to gold-plating is that the connectors won't corrode. But I have some RCA cables with nickel-plated connectors (the usual alternative to gold) from the 1980s that haven't corroded at all. Unless you're rigging up your stereo underwater in the ocean, I really wouldn't worry about it. I only linked to gold-plated cables above because the difference is like 30 cents, and at that price point, who cares?

USB: Retail stores make almost nothing on printers, so they jack up the price of every accessory to make a decent profit - including the cables. You know those $19.99 or $24.99 Belkin 6-foot cables? Those cost the store about $2. (One of the appalling things I learned while working in retail.) And the $30-40 "Gold" version? Yeah, those cost the store $4. If you buy a printer but it doesn't come with a USB cable, don't pay more than $4. There is no performance or quality loss... this is just crap the marketing managers make the employees spew at you to sell more $40 gold cables for their $30 printers.

The exception: The only exception to the "get the cheapest cable you can find" rule is if you're carrying a very delicate analog signal likely to have major signal loss or be subject to major interference. The only time this is likely to matter to you is with a VGA (computer monitor) cable. In this case, you don't have to go crazy with the Monster version or whatever, you should just get a relatively thick one with ferrites (those little wrap-around cylinder magnet things) near both ends.


There's a whole bunch of tips for all sorts of stuff in this thread, lots of interesting ideas.

Tips and Tricks You’ve Picked Up Along the Way…Part 4! [The Awful Forums]
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 01:57 AM   #2
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just a pointer...some dollar stores sell USB cables for 2$
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 02:35 AM   #3
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PC World (I think) did an article several moths ago about this. No perceptible difference in audio, video and digital video cables. between the Starcraft $15 ones and the Monster $199 ones (or whatever the prices were)
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 02:59 AM   #4
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Just wait until the "Golden Ears" start on this thread. They'll justify their $2k turntables and kimber cables.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:00 AM   #5
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Thumbs up The Audiophile BS Page

Originally Posted by gmark2000
Just wait until the "Golden Ears" start on this thread. They'll justify their $2k turntables and kimber cables.

They can start by perusing this site, The Audiophile BS Page.

Most of the images are long gone, but the text is still appropriate.

Being a musician, I would like to think I have pretty good ears, but I'm sure years of loud music on stage has had some sort of a detrimental effect. However, according to some tone generators and hearing tests, I still have better hearing than most. I guess I should count my blessings.

As far as equipment quality goes, I have found that most studios I've been to just use regular cables. I would tend to defer to their opinion on these matters, as I would believe a decent engineer over some Nakamichi sucker oops, I mean user any day.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:09 AM   #6
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I think there is some truth to premium cables--within reason--at least with regards to the quality of how the product is made, that is. I have a several "generic" cheap-o cables that had started to crackle or fuzz out after a month of usage.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:15 AM   #7
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Don't you need component cables to at least get EDTV with a DVD player (480p) and HDTV (1080i) with your HD TV.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:52 AM   #8
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:53 AM   #9
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 10:11 AM   #10
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I have always viewed quality audio equipment/cables with the law of diminishing returns.

Does a well chosen $1000 stereo package (including better cables) sound better than a $500 package? I think that it does.

Does a well chosen $2000 package sound better than the $1000 package from above? Probably.

Does a well chosen $4000 package sound better than the $2000 package from above? Maybe to some, maybe others would not notice any difference.

And so on.
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