An interesting article appeared in the Independent at the start of the month posing the age old question ‘is it worth splashing out on cables?’
The article explored the ongoing idea that the more you spend on a cable, the better audiovisual quality you’re going to get out of your television or speakers. After much deliberation and opinions from both audio experts and cable manufacturers, the article comes to the grand conclusion that…erm…we’re not sure.
Confusion has long been abound among the general public when it comes to cables, a confusion that’s becoming even more prevalent as more and more people splash out on home theatres. A common presumption among the general public is that the more you spend on a cable, the better quality it is going to provide you.
This is often helped along by clever marketing on the part of cable manufacturers with dazzling language combined with technical jargon to make their product sound absolutely essential. Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the actual differences in performance these cables provide, a lot of consumers claim to notice a marked improvement after installing them. On the other side of the coin, there are the cheap cables you find on eBay for 99p.
Many swear by these cables, claiming they do a perfectly good job for a fraction of the cost. So who is right? The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. The science behind digital cables would suggest the eBay camp is correct; the nature of a digital signal means that, in theory, it’s either ‘there’ or ‘not’. There can be interference in the ‘re-sending’ of data through the cable, but across the distances in the average home, this presents a minor issue.
For analog cables, it’s a little bit different as interference and resistance does play its part. In layman’s terms, the less resistance a signal experiences, the better quality that signal is going to be when it reaches the output device. One of the ways to overcome this is to use bigger wires. This still doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on cables; it just means spending a little bit more time comparing specifications. So what advantages do expensive cables offer, then? A lot of the advantage lies in the build of the cable; expensive cables tend to be built to last, reducing the amount you spend replacing cables. Many cables also boast gold plated connectors, which are less prone to rusting. It’s important to note, however, that both copper and silver are better conductors on the whole.
Buying cables off eBay also means you run the risk of buying counterfeit cables. Although eBay do their best to limit counterfeit listings, there are still plenty that make it through the net and these cables can be extremely dangerous. Check out our previous post on counterfeit cables for more information. Application will also play a big part in how much you spend on a cable.
For home use and across short distances, buying a mid-range cable should suit your needs fine. For more demanding applications, you might need to invest in custom cables. If this is the case, the amount you spend will depend on the design of your cable and the materials used to manufacture it! So how much should you spend on a cable? In all honesty, it depends.
Most people swear that cheap cables are just as good as expensive alternatives, so it might be worth buying cheap and working your way up. If you’re happy with the performance of a cable, that’s really all that matters. For more information on custom cables, get in touch with the team at Custom Designed Cables.