CEDIAcrunch: Inside Monster Cable's HDMI cable challenge

Monster Cable setup a mobile test lab at CEDIA this year, challenging any cable manufacturer to a head-to-head battle. Only one attempted to enter, but didn’t see disclaimer that Monster wanted 4m cables or longer in the match up, and that particular maker didn’t have HDMI cables that long.

I know what’s yelled whenever a Monster Cable HDMI story comes up: Monoprice-4-evah playa! I hear ya, but take a look at what the test equipment that Monster Cable employs to prove their cables are the best. It impressed me.

Monster Cable provided an engineer for some hands-on tests. The unit on the left simulates bandwidth, with the number in the top left representing the number of bytes being ran over one of the three HDMI channels. (multiple that number by three for the total cable capability) The monitor on the right provides a real-time image of the HDMI signal. Ideally, a cable should have narrow bars with a large center ‘eye.’ The bigger the bars and the smaller the center eye, means more noise in the digital signal thanks to lower quality manufacturing and parts.

The way the engineer explained it to me is that viewers will not notice the difference in short runs because of the loss can be compensated by the HDTVs processors. Apparently, with longer cables, the extra noise is more noticeable and therefore the need for higher-quality long digital cables arise.

Okay, onto the tests.

The first test was ‘brand-x’ 4m cable. It passed the 2.23GB test which is fine for high-def cable TV.

The cable failed the 4.95GB test though, which according to Monster Cable means viewers will notice digital artifacts from Blu-ray players and PS3s.

The Monster HDMI cable passed the same 4.95GB that the off-brand failed. The lines on the monitor are a lot tighter, representing less digital fluctuations.

The engineer even threw the test thingie up to 14.85GB total throughput, and sure ‘nough, their cable passed the test. Notice that the lines are larger though.

I know this was their test equipment and it could have been rigged, but I have personally noticed digital artifacts on long HDMI runs so the company’s claims do have some weight with me. Monster Cable even said that on short runs, digital loss is cut to a minimum. This hands-on experience didn’t swayed my opinion ’bout the company, but rather open my eyes to the different HDMI options.

So if you can excuse me, I have a kool-aid mustache I need to wash off.