Regarding audio: Any difference in using expensive HDMI cables? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 08-30-2012, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Years ago, I tested a few HDMI cables to see whether I could see any difference between a good $4.00 Monoprice cable vs many expensive cables and a $1,500.00 cable. I ended up not being able to see any difference.

BUT my journey left me with another question and that is: Is there any difference in audio by using different HDMI cables? What brought this to my attention was when I meet Mr. Miller while looking for Audioquest's $1,500 Diamond cable to test. Mr. Dennis Miller was the President of Audioquest.

I told Mr. Miller why I was looking for Audioquest's Diamond HDMI cable. Mr. Miller informed me the Diamond HDMI cable just had its final approved for sales and won't be on the market for 60 days and then said the video section of the cable will not be any different then their Chocolate or Carbon HDMI cables which I had already tested. Where the difference lies between the Diamond vs their other cables is in audio.

Mr. Miller continued and said, the audio wires that run the length of the Diamond cable are 100% silver and that is where the major leap is, in audio not video. Since I was testing HDMI cables for video and not audio, working with the Diamond HDMI would have been a waste of time since I have already tested their Chocolate and Carbon HDMI cables.

Now that you have read my story as told to me by Mr. Miller, my question to audio experts is...

Does an expensive 100% silver HDMI cable produce any noticeable difference in audio quality vs a good $5.00 cable if your system has good speakers, good subs and a very good Blu player and there is no need to upgrade in that area? Or is it just another HDMI cable conspiracy?



m

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post #2 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 12:18 AM
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Hi Jim,
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

Mr. Miller continued and said, the audio wires that run the length of the Diamond cable are 100% silver and that is where the major leap is, in audio not video.
I think Mr Miller needs to take another look at the HDMI spec.

There are no "audio wires" in HDMI. Except for the "Audio Reverse Channel" (ARC), the audio flows on the same three pairs of wires that the video flows on, but is transmitted during the video-retrace periods.

Besides that, audio on HDMI is all digital - the only way it sounds different is when it is broken.
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post #3 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

Does an expensive 100% silver HDMI cable produce any noticeable difference in audio quality vs a good $5.00 cable if your system has good speakers, good subs and a very good Blu player and there is no need to upgrade in that area? Or is it just another HDMI cable conspiracy?
m

One word: digital.

HDMI is a digital interface which means that its basic orientation is to either work or not work.

There are some theoretically possible fine points related to jitter, but at this point we have no reliable evidence that anybody has ever actually experienced it.

Most efforts related to jitter in HDMI cable again relate to the thing either working or not working and are not to do with any fine points related to audio sound quality.

I have seen some marginal situations where a HDMI link cut in and out or occasionally, dropped bits and there were blocks of noise on the screen and/or there were drop outs or ticks and pops in the sound.

But, this is all pretty obvious stuff.

There is no way that a HDMI cable can affect the timbre of audio or the color quality of A/V being played over it, for example.

In general the SQ and PQ depend only on the connection being reliable, and the quality of the equipment at each end of the cable.
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post #4 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 04:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

Or is it just another HDMI cable conspiracy?
m

Yep.

 

It's a sucker tax.  Anyone willing to pay for it, is a sucker.  Plain and simple.

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post #5 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the input.

Mr. Miller did take me through the factory and it was very interesting to watch how all the very expensive cables were hand put together

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post #6 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 08:33 AM
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It's all a lie designed to get your money. Don't waste money on snake oil cabling. They all love to throw big words around to obfuscate the facts.
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post #7 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 09:11 AM
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In a just world, Mr. Miller would be making license plates, not cables.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #8 of 32 Old 08-31-2012, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

In a just world, Mr. Miller would be making license plates, not cables.

Which I'm sure he would claim improved gas mileage and 0-60 performance of whatever car his plate was attached to biggrin.gif
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post #9 of 32 Old 09-01-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

Thanks for all the input.
Mr. Miller did take me through the factory and it was very interesting to watch how all the very expensive cables were hand put together

I find glass blowing to be very interesting to watch, but I don't think that hand-blown light bulbs burn brighter or longer. ;-)
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post #10 of 32 Old 09-01-2012, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimShaw View Post

Mr. Miller continued and said, the audio wires that run the length of the Diamond cable are 100% silver and that is where the major leap is, in audio not video.
m

smile.gif

I love this part, .... as we know, one can certainly think that they perceive a difference in audio presentation. However, the much less subjective video components are more readily quantifiable.

Granted, AQ makes some high quality products, and they may be scenarios whereby something they sell may actually out-perform a cable in one's system for whatever reason. That doesn't mean their stuff is the $hit, it merely means your cables were junk. any properly designed and built HDMI cable is fine. Price and performance do not correlate.

One's money and efforts are overwhelmingly much better served being spent on optimizing the acoustics and interaction between the loudspeakers and the room.


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post #11 of 32 Old 09-01-2012, 11:18 AM
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What a hoot! Mr. Miller could have at least used the HDMI jitter rag which does have some technical merit.

"Audio wires versus video wires inside the HDMI cable"?

THE MAN LIED RIGHT TO YOUR FACE!

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post #12 of 32 Old 09-01-2012, 08:03 PM
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The only difference I can tell in hdmi cables is the quality of the connector and how it holds into the receptical. I just switched to a cable that has a locking device on the plug to keep it tight and connected to the back of my processor. Perfect Patch is the cable I'm using.

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post #13 of 32 Old 09-02-2012, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdrums View Post

The only difference I can tell in hdmi cables is the quality of the connector and how it holds into the receptical. I just switched to a cable that has a locking device on the plug to keep it tight and connected to the back of my processor. Perfect Patch is the cable I'm using.

There appear to be a goodly number of locking HDMI cables, which I think is a good thing.

Amazon has SureConnect HDMI cables for pretty reasonable prices.
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post #14 of 32 Old 09-02-2012, 10:04 AM
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Mr. Miller should stick to stand up comedy, he clearly knows nothing about cables.
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post #15 of 32 Old 09-02-2012, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdrums View Post

The only difference I can tell in hdmi cables is the quality of the connector and how it holds into the receptical. I just switched to a cable that has a locking device on the plug to keep it tight and connected to the back of my processor. Perfect Patch is the cable I'm using.

One time, I had a cheap HDMI cable that was slightly affecting video quality. The cable itself was supposedly designed for the correct standard. But the improvement was noticeable when I upgraded to a Blue Jeans Cable HDMI. I suspect it was the connector that was the problem, but that's just a guess.

Oh, and I'm not claiming to have noticed a difference with movies/TV. Rather, there was a clarity difference in text and some graphics when using my HTPC with an LCD TV.

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post #16 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

...there was a clarity difference in text and some graphics when using my HTPC with an LCD TV.
Nonsense. You can get sparkles, streaks of wrong colors, a complete drop out of the picture, but not a difference in clarity.
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post #17 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Oh, and I'm not claiming to have noticed a difference with movies/TV. Rather, there was a clarity difference in text and some graphics when using my HTPC with an LCD TV.

This requires that digital data be changed in-steam by a passive device, in highly sophisticated ways. You are basically claiming that a cheap passive cable applied something like a Gaussian Blur in real time to a HD graphic that was running at 24 FPS or more.

If you really have such a cable, I'm sure that people like Intel and Adobe would want to hear about it! Fools that they are, they think that it takes high performance mulitcore processors running sophisticated software to accomplish such a wonderful thing!

Call them up! I'm sure that they would pay you the big bucks if you actually found such a thing!
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post #18 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

This requires that digital data be changed in-steam by a passive device, in highly sophisticated ways. You are basically claiming that a cheap passive cable applied something like a Gaussian Blur in real time to a HD graphic that was running at 24 FPS or more.

Not only that, but the data is scrambled as NRZ coding. This has nothing to do with copy protection. The scrambling of bits is needed to reduce the DC content which makes clock retrieval difficult. When serial data rates get into the 100 mhz+ range, NRZ scrambling is mandatory. The SATA and PCIe busses used in your PC uses a form of NRZ coding. So based on this, any error, even a single LSB will cause complete loss of that word. Hence the sparkle and if severe enough in time it will cause complete clock loss.

In addition HDMI carries HDCP which is a key exchange protocol that further scrambles the data to make decoding the stream via a wire tap almost impossible. So again even a single LSB error will cause a loss of that digital word.

A further issue with HDMI is that it is really a quasi parallel interface. Rather than one single serial stream like SDI and AES/SPDIF, HDMI uses four pairs, RGB+CLOCK.. In this implementation, skew due to differences in the wire pair lengths is a problem at these frequencies. (Not a problem at all with your speaker cables!). This is what kills long cables on HDMI. Not the capacitance or amplitude loss due to too small a wire gauge which many boutique manufactures claim. Then why not use a single multiplexed stream? The only benefit of a parallel stream is the bandwidth required is cut by three in the case of HDMI.

And unlike packet based transmission like the internet and broadcast MPEG, there is very minimal error correction with realtime digital video transmission.

Bottom line no HDMI cable can make blacker blacks, more saturated colors, better 3D experience, etc. You either have errors or you don't. Errors are sparkles and dropouts. Sure, the same old analog parameters such as capacitance degrade the bit stream just as with any analog signal. The difference is the way in which the information is carried by the signal.

A serial digital signal like SDI, HDMI, AES, SPDIF, SATA PCIe, is basically just plain old FM (Frequency Modulation).

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post #19 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Nonsense. You can get sparkles, streaks of wrong colors, a complete drop out of the picture, but not a difference in clarity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

This requires that digital data be changed in-steam by a passive device, in highly sophisticated ways. You are basically claiming that a cheap passive cable applied something like a Gaussian Blur in real time to a HD graphic that was running at 24 FPS or more.
If you really have such a cable, I'm sure that people like Intel and Adobe would want to hear about it! Fools that they are, they think that it takes high performance mulitcore processors running sophisticated software to accomplish such a wonderful thing!
Call them up! I'm sure that they would pay you the big bucks if you actually found such a thing!

I doubt it was a Gaussian Blur. (lol)

I suspect that whatever the problem was that it was affecting True Type anti aliasing, which is why it text clarity improved. I do visual design document work as part of my job. I can pick out visual flaws more so than most people in graphical displays and high dpi printed documents , much like a sound engineer can in recordings. Once I replaced the HDMI cables, then the text had the kind of clarity I get with my desktop PC LCD. Some very subtle signal loss was going on before, whether it was happening between the TV and the receiver connection, or the receiver and the HTPC. Now, this was also not a direct 1080p signal. 1080p would not quite fit on the screen properly, so I dropped the resolution output slightly. So there would have been upconverting signal processing going on by the receiver or TV back to 1080p (not sure how I had it set up; I have a new TV now), which would slightly "blur" any error that was occurring.

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post #20 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I doubt it was a Gaussian Blur. (lol)
I suspect that whatever the problem was that it was affecting True Type anti aliasing, which is why it text clarity improved. I do visual design document work as part of my job. I can pick out visual flaws more so than most people in graphical displays and high dpi printed documents , much like a sound engineer can in recordings. Once I replaced the HDMI cables, then the text had the kind of clarity I get with my desktop PC LCD. Some very subtle signal loss was going on before, whether it was happening between the TV and the receiver connection, or the receiver and the HTPC. Now, this was also not a direct 1080p signal. 1080p would not quite fit on the screen properly, so I dropped the resolution output slightly. So there would have been upconverting signal processing going on by the receiver or TV back to 1080p (not sure how I had it set up; I have a new TV now), which would slightly "blur" any error that was occurring.

Well something was obviously broke and somehow fixed. Did you power the equipment down when you swapped the cables? Even more important, if you put the 'bad' cable back does the artifact return?

What you describe cannot be caused by a cable carrying a PCM encoded image. Analog cables, like VGA cables, certainly. But not an HDMI or any other digitally encoded signal.

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post #21 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 02:18 PM
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What you describe cannot be caused by a cable carrying a PCM encoded image. Analog cables, like VGA cables, certainly. But not an HDMI or any other digitally encoded signal.
It actually can smile.gif. No, it has nothing to do with jitter. biggrin.gif

If the E-EDID negotiation fails, the source could send a different resolution signal than the native pixel rate of the display. This in return causes he display to resample (scale) the image to match it to its native resolution, causing high frequency content like text to lose its sharp edges. I have a PC which occasionally does this with identical AVR and display in its output chain. Instead of 1080p, it will transmit 1280x768. The resulting image is soft and has incorrect aspect ratio as a result. I have been too lazy to use our Quantum Data anaylzer to see what is causing that. The fact that it is intermittent points to vagaries of this protocol.

I think the odds are against the cable difference alone causing this but OP's observation sure fit the definition of wrong resolution being sent to the display. As you suggested, it would be useful if he can go back to the broken cable and get the display resolution on the PC and see if it is set differently.

I don't think there is a single thing that is designed right in HDMI frown.gif. Its application should have remained as short connection to computer monitors and never extended to consumer video applications.

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post #22 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

It actually can smile.gif. No, it has nothing to do with jitter. biggrin.gif
If the E-EDID negotiation fails, the source could send a different resolution signal than the native pixel rate of the display. This in return causes he display to resample (scale) the image to match it to its native resolution, causing high frequency content like text to lose its sharp edges. I have a PC which occasionally does this with identical AVR and display in its output chain. Instead of 1080p, it will transmit 1280x768. The resulting image is soft and has incorrect aspect ratio as a result. I have been too lazy to use our Quantum Data anaylzer to see what is causing that. The fact that it is intermittent points to vagaries of this protocol.
I think the odds are against the cable difference alone causing this but OP's observation sure fit the definition of wrong resolution being sent to the display. As you suggested, it would be useful if he can go back to the broken cable and get the display resolution on the PC and see if it is set differently.
I don't think there is a single thing that is designed right in HDMI frown.gif. Its application should have remained as short connection to computer monitors and never extended to consumer video applications.

OK, I can agree with that.

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post #23 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

If the E-EDID negotiation fails . . .
I was going to blame EDID as well, but i could not see how EDID would be affected by the cable, unless the wire used by EDID was broken. But then I assumed that the cable would not work at all.

When faced with this type of situation, I prefer to switch the < fill-in-the-blank > back and forth a few times to verify that it isn't something intermittent. If I could reproduce the change every time, then I would feel comfortable blaming the < whatever >.
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I don't think there is a single thing that is designed right in HDMI . . .
They took a short-sighted short-cut by copying DVI-D to use as their starting point, and we are now living with the shortcomings that decision has caused, like cables that are too short.
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post #24 of 32 Old 09-03-2012, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

Well something was obviously broke and somehow fixed. Did you power the equipment down when you swapped the cables? Even more important, if you put the 'bad' cable back does the artifact return?
What you describe cannot be caused by a cable carrying a PCM encoded image. Analog cables, like VGA cables, certainly. But not an HDMI or any other digitally encoded signal.

This was a year ago. New TV, old cable thrown away since.

And I realized I made a mistake and wrote True Type instead of Clear Type. When I first got the TV (it was four years ago), I tried adjusting the Clear Type but it would never get that clarity I expected from working with other high resolution displays. That's why I wondered if there was some kind of minor signal degradation that would affect that. Clear Type uses minor coloring in the antialiasing, even for black text on white (admittedly, I don't really understand it LOL). Could it be related to that?

Maybe it will remain a mystery smile.gif

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post #25 of 32 Old 09-04-2012, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

I was going to blame EDID as well, but i could not see how EDID would be affected by the cable, unless the wire used by EDID was broken. But then I assumed that the cable would not work at all.

I agree with your assumption. However, many impementations EDID are not fool proof. It is not the least bit uncommon for EDID to completely fall apart if you connect and disconnect HDMI equipment while it is turned on. Three words: HDMI video switcher.
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When faced with this type of situation, I prefer to switch the < fill-in-the-blank > back and forth a few times to verify that it isn't something intermittent. If I could reproduce the change every time, then I would feel comfortable blaming the < whatever >.
They took a short-sighted short-cut by copying DVI-D to use as their starting point, and we are now living with the shortcomings that decision has caused, like cables that are too short.

The point being that its possible for equipment failure (either badly flawed implementation or badly-flawed experiment) to make it appear that different HDMI cables produce different picture rendition. You get misleading results by means of doing a poorly-conditioned experiment. If these comparisons involved the video equivalent of audio level matching, then they would no doubt be far more reliable.
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post #26 of 32 Old 09-04-2012, 12:34 PM
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Hi Arny,
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

. . . many implementations EDID are not fool proof. . .
True. And it probably never will be. Every time you attempt to make something fool-proof, it causes nature to create a better fool.
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post #27 of 32 Old 06-14-2013, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Nonsense. You can get sparkles, streaks of wrong colors, a complete drop out of the picture, but not a difference in clarity.

I'm sorry to bump this, but on my HT setup, I have started getting brief streaks of red color lines that flash in and out of the picture using my 25ft HDMI cable from the receiver. The cable is from Monoprice and is over 6 years old. Could these strange color artifacts be a result of a faulty HDMI cable? Happens from both my PC and my PS3.
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post #28 of 32 Old 06-14-2013, 08:18 AM
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I only had trouble with an HDMI cable once. It was the connection between the PS3 and Sony KDL -52XBR4. I rearranged my setup which required longer HDMI cables. ( 10 ft. ) I got sparkles in the picture. No matter how many different cables I tried, I could only 1 to work and it was a 6 footer. ( Had to stretch it ) I posted about this in the HDMI thread and never got a good answer as to why.

(LCD - Sony KDL - XBR4) (Receiver - Sony STR-DA4ES)(Blu Ray - Oppo BDP-83) (PS3)( Dish Hopper DVR With Sling) Speakers (L & R - Paradigm Studio 20) (Center -Paradigm CC-470) (Surrounds & Back Surrounds - Paradigm SA-15R in walls) (Subwoofer 1 - Sunfire HRS-12) (Subwoofer 2 - Paradigm PW-2100)
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post #29 of 32 Old 06-14-2013, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by isamu View Post

I'm sorry to bump this, but on my HT setup, I have started getting brief streaks of red color lines that flash in and out of the picture using my 25ft HDMI cable from the receiver. The cable is from Monoprice and is over 6 years old. Could these strange color artifacts be a result of a faulty HDMI cable? Happens from both my PC and my PS3.
There is a simple test for that: lower the resolution of the source and see if the problem goes away. Go all the way down to 480p if you have to. If the problem goes away, the issue is likely due to lack of bandwidth on the HDMI cable and/or receiver. These problems get magnified as the resolution and hence, data rate goes up. In general brief and transient problems tend to be of this sort although they usually show up as white dashes.

Amir
Founder, Madrona Digital
"Insist on Quality Engineering"

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post #30 of 32 Old 06-14-2013, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

I only had trouble...between the PS3 and Sony KDL -52XBR4.
The first thing to do when you have a problem like this with a PS3 is to make sure Deep Color is set off. Did you do that?
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