Home » Blog » HDMI » Warning: The Wrong HDMI Cables Will Ruin Your Home Theater Experience
September 7th, 2007
When you look on the packaging of an HDMI cable, you'll see lots of specifications and statements explaining why that particular model is the best HDMI cable for you. Almost every HDMI cable on the market makes the claim that it has 1080p compatability, has a 4.46 Gigabits Per Second transfer or is HDMI 1.3 compatible. These are all hot buzz words in the HDMI world. But we can't judge the quality of HDMI cables on statements and claims alone. Since the data carried by HDMI cables is digital, it can be tested and allows us to truly see how good an HDMI cable is. The easiest and best way to judge the quality of an HDMI cable is to run it through the Eye Pattern Test. Eye Pattern Test for HDMI Cables The Eye Pattern Test uses two pieces of expensive machinery that measure electrical parameters like attenuation, impedance, crosstalk and EM/RF Interference. The Eye Pattern Test Machinery works together by generating a digital signal then reading the data and showing on-screen results of how well the HDMI cable performed. The way to tell if an HDMI cable passes the Eye Pattern Test is to see if the digital wave carried by the cable crosses into a small hexagon shaped eye (or mask) in the middle of the screen. The eye represents how much space separates the 1's and 0's in the digital signal to ensure they don't cross. The more space around the eye the better the signal and a less chance that the 1's and 0's in the signal have of getting mixed together. When there isn't any space in the eye of the signal errors can occur due to the fact that the display (TV) can't determine whether it's reading a 1 or a 0. These errors then become visible in your TV picture in the form of color misrepresentation, digitization of the picture and in extreme cases no picture at all.

Monster HDMI Cable Eye Pattern Test Result The Eye Pattern Test is the scientific proof that Monster HDMI cables are far superior to any HDMI cable on the market. When Monster HDMI cables are put through the Eye Pattern Test, they show a very symmetrical digital signal with ample room around the eye which gives very small room for error. The screen shots in the picture above show the results of a Monster HDMI cable compared to a Generic HDMI cable that can be found in the box of an HD Satellite or Blu-Ray Disc player. Monster also tests their cables at bandwidth speeds that go beyond the 1080p signals of today to ensure that they will work with future technology. Many other manufacturers only test their cables at the 720p/1080i spec that have much slower data rates. This results in some HDMI cables not being able to transfer a 1080p signal.

The Consequences of Going the Cheap Route Not all HDMI cables are created equally although many people will say otherwise. Just because HDMI cables all carry digital signals made up of 1's and 0's doesn't mean they will all produce a high quality picture! Cheaper cables are not as carefully constructed and typically don't have enough shielding to reject outside interference. Poorly constructed ends are another contributor in degrading the digital signal. Signal degradation will show up as streaks across the screen, unsynced audio and video, snow, dropped pixels or even total picture drop. A cheap cable is going to get the signal from point A to point B, but the real question is whether the signal at point B can be recognized. Cables without shielding have a much greater problem with signal interference, especially over long distances. High signal interference will make 1's and 0's indecipherable at the display end.

Differences in the quality of the HDMI cables are not going to be nearly as noticeable when watching a standard DVD (480p). But once you get into higher resolutions (720p/1080i and higher) the signal degradation gets more noticeable even to the untrained consumer's eye.

Length Makes a Difference Another important factor in HDMI signal quality is length. Keep in mind that the same cable that passes the eye pattern test at a 3 foot length might not pass at a 10 foot length. A poorly constructed cable will not be able to hold to the proper impedance rating necessary to run over longer lengths which cause errors in the picture. This occurs when the conductors in the cable are twisted. Monster Cable uses a very tight DoubleHelix construction that allows for a greater bandwidth over longer runs of HDMI. The Eye Pattern Test proves that a cheap, knockoff HDMI cable is not as good as a Monster HDMI cable. Monster HDMI cables are the best investment in the HDMI market today because they give you longevity, extreme durability and unequaled performance. Monster tests their cables under the most rigorous conditions to make sure that their HDMI cables will give you the best possible results regardless of what component they are connected to.

 

Actual Eye Pattern Test with Noel Lee, The Head Monster
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