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Cheap HDMI cable degrade over time. Is it an urban myth?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I initially did not belive it, but now I too suffered from HDMI cable degrade over time.

I bought a 25ft HDMI cable from ebay. It was not expensive but not bottom dollar either. It appears to be high quality made. Its plug is made of 2 pieces of solid METAL clamped together.

After I spent great effort to put it through wall and ceiling to Benq W1070, it performed beautifully. Not a single problem on 1080p/60hz. Even 3D worked flawlessly.

However, after a few weeks, it started to behave strangely. Sometimes it lost signal but recovered, sometime it takes long time to search, sometimes it shows random red lines or red dots or white flash. Sometimes unplug and replug can fix it, but other times I need to power off the PJ. Sometimes I need to reduce to 1080i or even 720p to get an image.

I tried some shorter cables to connect the same source. Not a problem.

The long cable is getting worse and worse over time. I am really puzzled why HDMI cable can degrade over time? It is installed in wall and never been touched. No water leak. No heat sources near it (except the PJ itself).

And I did an amazon search on 25ft long HDMI cables below $20 range. Even from some well regarded cables which received over 90% of 5 star, if you look for one star comment, there is a significant percentage of complaints of similar degrade over time. What they described is almost exactly same as what I have experienced. So I am not alone. But why? Is there any scientiifc explaination? I have never experienced such degrade from a signal cable, in a fixed installation. It is not a power cable and it does not generate heat.

This also leaves me very little options to cable purchase. Does it mean all cheap cables are bad? I now have little faith on cheap cables. I don't want 24 or 22AWG cables due to the difficulty of going through the wall. Can you recommend a cheap cable that does not degrade at all? Is monoprice redmere cable my only choice? Will it degrade over time? But it only has 30ft which is longer than I need.
Edited by hotjt133 - 7/1/13 at 11:11pm
post #2 of 22
Could be poor construction, soldering points spotty, connector out of spec and not making good contact.

Because we all know that cables actually get BETTER over time!

http://www.bluehorizonideas.com/cgi-bin/products.pl?id=26

rolleyes.gif
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
HDMI plugs are crimpted, not soldered. If it is built poorly it would fail at first try. But it did well initially. And I find it hard to believe that it can degrade after only a few weeks, in a fixed installation, free from any movement or water or heat.

ps, I took out the metal plug and saw a layer of wax like material surrounds the crimp area, presumably acting as a moisture barrier. So it does appear to be a quality build. Still seems like a myth!
post #4 of 22
The majority of HDMI cables are soldered not crimped.

Peel off the translucent plastic (can be a pain to remove) and see how well (or not) the conductors are terminated (as above most likely soldered) to the HDMI connector.

Joe
post #5 of 22
Check out Blue Jeans cable, I've been pretty impressed with their RCA and speaker cables. http://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/hdmi-cables/hdmi-cable.htm
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have their speaker cable. But completely different animal though.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotjt133 View Post

...

This also leaves me very little options to cable purchase. Does it mean all cheap cables are bad? I now have little faith on cheap cables. I don't want 24 or 22AWG cables due to the difficulty of going through the wall. Can you recommend a cheap cable that does not degrade at all? Is monoprice redmere cable my only choice? Will it degrade over time? But it only has 30ft which is longer than I need.

25 feet is your maximum for High Speed HDMI. If you want to try Standard Speed you can go a longer distance but that is only guaranteed for 1080i/720p (but will likely work with some faster speeds). That's why Redmere is an improvement since it uses active elements.

Buying an HDMI cable on eBay is rolling the dice. I've read about many people who buy a high speed cable and end up with a standard speed one instead or completely non-working cables that someone cooked-up in their garage. With Monoprice or Blue Jeans Cable (or numerous other manufacturers) at least you know the cable you get is the one you ordered. I suspect your eBay cable was "on the edge" since you got it and a slight change in something (environment or bitrate or something else), now causes bit errors.
post #8 of 22
If you used conduit to install your cable you might want to pull a Redmere cable thru as Andy suggested. They are directional though so pay attention to the end markings.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

suspect your eBay cable was "on the edge" since you got it and a slight change in something (environment or bitrate or something else), now causes bit errors.
+1
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotjt133 View Post

Even 3D worked flawlessly.
Not suprising. 1080p24 3D from a BD player requires less bandwidth than 1080p60 2D.
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Sometimes I need to reduce to 1080i or even 720p to get an image.
This is indicative of insufficient bandwidth.
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I tried some shorter cables to connect the same source. Not a problem.
Confirmation of insufficient bandwidth.
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The long cable is getting worse and worse over time.
Maybe you are just getting more sensitive to the problem? Could be how the plug mates with the socket. Could be bad termination of wires getting worse from flexing or having too much stress on them.
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I am really puzzled why HDMI cable can degrade over time?
They don't, at least in any kind of reasonable time frame. If there is a problem, it is typically with the termination of the wires at the plug, or the mating of the plug with the socket.
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Does it mean all cheap cables are bad? I now have little faith on cheap cables.
No, monoprice cables are cheap and have a good reputation.
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I don't want 24 or 22AWG cables...
What you want and what you need may be two different stories.
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Is monoprice redmere cable my only choice?
It is one choice. An alternative would be an extender that uses Cat 5e/6 cable. Cat 5e/6 cable is relatively easy to run. The only caveat is that anything short of a HDBaseT solution is a crap shoot. There are also fiber optic cables.
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Will it degrade over time?
Well, because it has active electronics, it is pretty much a given that it will fail someday. Any electronic device that is not hermetically sealed will degrade over time. But it should be a very long time.
Quote:
But it only has 30ft which is longer than I need.
Not a problem. The electronics are matched to the length of the cable. That is the great advantage of Redmere over an add on equalizer.
Edited by Colm - 7/2/13 at 1:03pm
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

...cables that someone cooked-up in their garage.
Any Chinese who has a garage has way too much money to be making cables there.biggrin.gif
post #12 of 22
Looks like you have 2 choices have a new cable out of the wall or replace the one in the wall. I used the 22 gage Monoprices cables because they are heavy duty in application and are high speed to 25 feet. They have a heave EMI casing, CL2 rating on them and an 80 degrees Celsius, thats about 175 degrees temperate tolerance. I only wanted to do the job once, and tested cables first. I could have gotten away shorter cables but then they would have to be pulled out and I wanted to have the cables without any stress on them, letting the cables pretty much maintain the coils that they had coming out of the packages and also used Monoprices HDMI wall plates the also helped eliminate stress. I know they are hard to work with but what makes them tuff is way they last. I look at the Redmere as a ???, they have active components in them and that stuff may fail but then again they were not out at the time I did may installation or I may have used them.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Any Chinese who has a garage has way too much money to be making cables there.biggrin.gif

LOL! biggrin.gif
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Any Chinese who has a garage has way too much money to be making cables there.biggrin.gif

Maybe hut or sweatshop? (I know, no stereotyping)...
post #15 of 22
I was relieved to find the problem was just the cable. Back in January I bought a 6’ HDMI cable from Amazon for $3.60 to connect an Xbox 360 to a 40” Vizio. Worked great for 5 months, then started dropping the signal, intermittently at first once or twice a day for just a second. Over the course of a couple weeks it got to the point where the signal was dropping several times an hour for several seconds. I swapped the cable end to end and that lessened the problem. Replacing it with an $8.00 cable fixed the problem.
After examining the cable, it appeared that the cable itself was fine, but several contacts within the HDMI connectors lost their springiness and were unable to make a solid connection.
post #16 of 22
^^^^ buy from a reputable dealer like Monoprice, MediaBridge, Blue Jeans, etc and you should have no problems at all.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaJohnNV View Post

After examining the cable, it appeared that the cable itself was fine, but several contacts within the HDMI connectors lost their springiness and were unable to make a solid connection.
So, was there any thing putting stress on the plug, like a tight bend just before the plug?
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

So, was there any thing putting stress on the plug, like a tight bend just before the plug?

The way to beat stress, a 5th of Jack or this
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10419&cs_id=1041913&p_id=2891&seq=1&format=2:cool:
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

So, was there any thing putting stress on the plug, like a tight bend just before the plug?
No, nothing within eight inches. The contacts appeared to be more sprung at the sides and tighter in the middle. Obviously a poorly made connector.
post #20 of 22
3 – 4 years ago we were seeing a few cable returns due to something similar – in most cases it turned out to be a problem with the HDMI sockets the cables where being inserted into as the customers had repeat problems with different cables/connector designs!

Joe
post #21 of 22
Why should a HDMI cable degrade over time??
I have a HDMI cable i bought from BB 7 years ago which is still in everyday use and works perfectly.
I also have nearly half a dozen other HDMI cables all bought from MP that are in excess of 4 years old,most of which are in current use,and none have "degraded".
Maybe i'm lucky,but every single HDMI cable i've ever bought is still good,none have ever gone bad.biggrin.gif
Edited by greaser - 7/9/13 at 10:26am
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by greaser View Post

Why should a HDMI cable degrade over time??
I have a HDMI cable i bought from BB 7 years ago which is still in everyday use and works perfectly.
I also have nearly half a dozen other HDMI cables all bought from MP that are in excess of 4 years old,most of which are in current use,and none have "degraded".
Maybe i'm lucky,but every single HDMI cable i've ever bought is still good,none have ever gone bad.biggrin.gif

I think that was the eventual conclusion that it had nothing to do with the cable degrading but maybe the socket connectors instead. Maybe repeated attach/remove cycles (mate/demate in more official sounding terms)??
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