HDMI Cables — The Real Truth

HDMI Cables — The Real Truth


Most of us have gone into a big-box store and gotten overwhelmed and even exploited by our naive consumer trance.  You might have talked to an employee, but lets be honest, they came up to you because they knew you were looking to buy something nice that will supe up your A/V system.  They started talking to you about HDMI cables and how important they are to deliver you a “superior” picture. Please, please, promise me that you don’t listen to this man or woman, that’s selling you this snake oil. Just hear me out, this is a matter of science.

Let’s discuss what an HDMI cable actually does.  An HDMI cable takes audio and video from a source, and sends it to your TV or A/V Receiver.  This is a digital signal.   HDMI cables have always been a digital signal.  It is the transmission of data through copper.  1’s and 0’s.  It’s either going to work, or it’s not.  It’s not going to degrade or lose quality if the signal drops off.  All that talk about “You need an HDMI cable with gold-plated ends to give you the best conductivity of the signal” is hogwash.  Remember, this is a salesperson telling you this, not an engineer.

Think of it this way; say you’re watching Netflix on your laptop.  Do you think that if you went out and bought an expensive network cable and hardwired it to your laptop that your Netflix audio/video fidelity would improve?  Of course it wouldn’t.  The only thing that could improve your Netflix experience would be increasing your bandwidth speed via your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

You might see artifacts in your TV’s picture, but getting a better HDMI cable won’t cure this!  This is a compression issue which starts at the source of the picture (usually your cable box).

So what we learned here is not to empty your wallet on expensive HDMI cables.  If you are in the checkout line with a $150 6ft HDMI cable in your hands, the red flag should be waving frantically in your head.  Don’t panic! Just walk back to the cables aisle, put it back, and get one for $8 instead.  Now you can fall asleep at night knowing that YOU outsmarted the salesperson in that big box store!


EDIT: 5/2/2017

It should be noted that older HDMI cables can be problematic! If you are using an old HDMI cable with new technology, you might run into problems. When purchasing an HDMI cable, you should make sure that it is 4K rated and has ARC capability to ensure that you are up to date with the latest technologies!