Expensive HDMI cables make no difference - the absolute proof

Comprehensive, proper testing answers the question once and for all

Michael
Passingham
22 Jul 2015

This is the original article that we published, when we first tested HDMI cables. When we did our testing in 2012 we used a paused video for video capture, which some people said was cheating and didn't prove anything. While our new testing proves the same thing, we've left this article up, as it goes into more detail about the science of HDMI.

Whether or not to buy an expensive HDMI cable is one of the most contentious subjects on the internet. On pro the side of buying them are home cinema magazines and audiophile websites, which sing the praises of more expensive cables, heralding how they can do remarkable things, such as boosting flesh tones.

On the other side, you have the sceptics that say HDMI uses digital, so all cables are equal. In fact, James Randi has even extended his $1 million prize for anyone that can prove paranormal activity to include anyone that can prove that expensive HDMI cables make a difference.

We've always been sceptical about the benefits of more expensive cables, but the problem was always proving it in a scientific, repeatable way that removes any argument. Now, we've found the way to do that and can once and for all prove beyond a doubt if expensive cables make any difference.

The only way to answer the question of whether or not expensive cables really make a difference is to test image quality objectively. Subjective testing using a group of people is inherently flawed, as the average person will almost always pick a side when given two options to choose from – even if they are identical. HDMI cables are no exception to this rule.

Sony PlayStation 3

Using identical kit is no guarantee of identical results and subjective testing is inherently flawed

There are other problems, too. Using identical TVs, Blu-ray players and discs still can’t create a level playing field, because of minor differences between the colour casts of each set. Even identical devices have the potential to affect the results of a blind test. When we compared two PlayStation 3 consoles, we noticed a distinct difference in the colour reproduction of a Blu-ray disc - independent of the TV or HDMI cable we used. Unless you colour calibrate each device first, a blind test can’t produce reliable results.

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