Why am I doing this? My surround sound and watching movies is my hobby and I am continually trying to improve. I am about as far as I can go with everything in my system except, maybe, my HDMI cables. The cable I use is Monoprice's High Speed, Cat. 2, rated 1.4, six foot cable with a cost of $3.04. If there is a weak link in my system, the possibility is that link is the HDMI cable. Plus I have time on my hands and it sounded like fun.
Up front, I want to state that this is not a test backed by science. There was not one meter, scope or any other electronic measuring device in the room except for my eyes. My viewing was all I was concerned about. I didn't care whether the color saturation was one point lower on a meter gauge on one HDMI cable verses another. All I cared about was the best picture quality that is possible while sitting in my home theater watching Blu-ray movies.
Do I have an agenda against high priced or low priced HDMI cables? In away I do. I have used Monoprice cables for years and I like them BUT my real agenda was to get the best picture quality possible. So, my bias would be with the high-end cables in hopes that they will give me something better than what I have been viewing. If an expensive HDMI cable did give me a better picture, I would be happy and purchase that cable. So, yes I do have a bias towards any HDMI cable if it produced a better quality picture. If the cost of that quality cost $3.00 or $1,500.00, I would purchase. I am a strange video fanatic.
Many high-end HDMI cables used to see how my $3.00 Monoprice cable stood up in video quality.
All cables are 6-6 ½ feet long. Plugged into a Marantz BD8002 Blu-ray player and ran directly to one of four HDMI inputs on a Samsung UN55B8000 LED/LCD TV.
The Samsung has four HDMI input connections. I used each TV HDMI input by plugging in four different HDMI cables at once so that all I had to do was change out and pop in one cable at a time into the player for an easy viewing comparison.
I sat 13 feet from my TV, all the shutters were closed, lights off, my wife playing cards at a neighbors while I tested each day. Viewing was in the afternoons so that even if all the shutters were closed that room was not totally dark.
Blu-rays and scene sections:
Knowing: because of a strange jitter/floating from the Blu movie while watching in the past. Scene selections 3, 4, 5, 6.
BARAKA: for sharpness, color and clarity. Watched fifteen minutes into the film from the beginning for each test.
Super Speedway: for speed, trailing, etc. Scene selections 5, 7, 11
After watching the selected Blu and its sections with an HDMI cable, the Blu was backed to its starting point, the HDMI cable switched and the Blu started again while taking notes on the color, clarity and sharpness for each test.
All cables tested looked similar except for Wireworld Ultraviolet 6 and Monoprice.
All the cables were the typical round cable except for Wireworld which was flat. Wireworld says their exclusive flat design provides lower loss and higher precision than the conventional round HDMI.
The Monoprice cable is different in that on each end of the cable, just before the connectors, is a large knob. That knob is called a ferrite core. Monoprice stated that the purpose of the ferrite core is to filter noise and frequency interference.
All cables tested were high speed and supported the highest approved HDMI data rate of the 1.4.
HDMI Cables Tested:
High Speed 28AWG, $3.04
I tested a number of Audioquest's cables because of the silver content that was used from their Cinnamon cable to their Diamond.
THX Ultimate 1000, $150.00
Ultraviolet 6, $150.00
*I have tried to locate Audioquest's $1,500.00 Diamond HDMI cable along with their $700.00 Coffee HDMI for testing but I was unable to find the cables anywhere. Through the Internet, I discovered the Audioquest Corporation was about 75 miles from my home. On Tuesday, July the 10th, I decided to drive to Audioquest to see if I could take a look at the cables or have them tell where one could be purchased.
I walked up the the front door of Audioquest to discover that it was locked. I pushed the red button on the intercom that was posted on the wall and a young woman answered and told me that this was not a retail store and she would not be able to help.
I told her I was trying to locate where I can pickup their Diamond HDMI cable. She asked me to please hold. Within a few minutes, a gentleman unlocked and opened the front door. He introduced himself as Dennis Miller, President of Audioquest. I told Mr. Miller what I wanted and was told the Diamond HDMI cable just had its final approved for sales and won't be on the market for 60 days.
I informed Mr. Miller that I wanted to test the Diamond and Coffee HDMIs for their video quality. Mr. Miller replied that the video section of the cables will not be any different then their Chocolate or Carbon. Where the difference lies between the Diamond and Coffee vs their other cables is in audio. The audio wires that run the length of the Diamond cable are 100% silver and Coffee are 10% silver and that is where the major leap is, in audio not video. Since I am testing HDMI cables for video and not audio, working with the Diamond or Coffee HDMIs would be a waste of time since I have already tested their Chocolate and Carbon HDMI cables.
Mr. Miller than asked me to tour the facility with him which I found extremely interesting. I was amazed watching all the VERY expensive cables and power cords being hand-put-together and what went into each high-end product.
Regarding the jittering/floating in Knowing that I have previously viewed: That phenomena maintained throughout all the cables tested leaving me to believe it was the film versus any HDMI cable.
While sitting on my couch meticulously watching a Blu-ray movie and the chosen scenes for testing, I discerened there was no way I could determine if one cable was better in video quality than another. They all looked virtually the same.
Where I discovered a very slight, minuscule difference was when I froze a frame of a scene. One such frame was section 3 of Knowing. In that scene, 2 actors are in the forefront and behind them were trees with fall colors that filled most of the screen. While frozen, I changed out each HDMI cable at the player and noticed very carefully any changes that might occur such as sharpness, color, etc. Back and fourth changing cables and observing almost every inch on the screen many, many, many times. First standing 15 feet away and then moving to within two feet of the TV trying to detect any difference from the frozen frame. I found it almost impossible to see any between the cables. Even though it was so slight to almost notice, I have to give the nod to the higher-priced cables above Audioquest's Cinnamon's price line. They all seemed a tiny, tiny bit richer in color in comparison to Monoprice and Audioquest's Cinnamon. BUT once again, it was so slight that it took me quite along time to make that observation from a frozen frame.
Another frozen frame tested was three minutes into BARAKA. In that scene the BARAKA logo came up in big bold letters across the TV. I froze the frame and once again back and fourth over and over trying to discern any differences anywhere. Even though so slight to almost be unnoticeable, I have to give the thumbs up to the higher-priced cables.
99.99% of HD watchers that enjoy their movies, television, etc., would not see any differences between a decent HDMI cable, which makes Monoprice's $3.00 HD cable perfect, versus the more expensive cables on my test list. The other .01% are fanatics that think there could be a difference and then spend a lot of money just in case.
This testing is not definitive because I used my system and my eyes. Someone else might find a completely different result using their eyes and system but I would bet my findings are pretty accurate.
Save your money.