Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I just installed them...

I don't usually post about tech stuff. Not because I'm not interested in it but because I don't think most of the folks who read my blog are (though, at least two of you are).

Anyway, I came across this little article on Engadget and found it kind of funny. For a few months in Calgary I installed HDTV/Home Theatre stuff (thanks Stafford) and not a few cables would have been Monster brand. I know the test outlined in this article isn't perfect (even though it was effectively a double blind, it really should have been a brand vs. brand test), but it would probably pass the MythBusters' standards. Either way, the point is where you make your money (markup is best in cables, not components) and what you and the customer believe/understand. Regardless, make your own conclusions. (You can also read it on Engadget here)

Audiophiles can't tell the difference between Monster Cable and coat hangers

We've always believed that the perceived quality boost that comes from using high-end cables is really just a trick of the mind (read: justifying the ridiculous cost of premium cables to yourself) -- if you've dropped enough cash, you can probably hear anything you want. Still, our belief is one thing -- cold hard proof is another, and it looks like a group of 12 self-professed "audiophiles" recently couldn't tell the difference between Monster 1000 speaker cables and plain old coat hangers. Yeah, coat hangers. The group was A-Bing different cables, and unbeknownst to them, the engineer running the test swapped out a set of cables for coat hangers with soldered-on speaker connections. Not a single one was then able to tell the difference between the Monster Cable and the hangers, and all agreed that the hangers sounded excellent. No wonder Monster has to rig HD displays. Still, we bet people still fall for the hype -- oh hey, if you're looking for the ultimate in sound, we've got half a meter of oxygen-free, triple-wrapped double-insulated Sonically Shielded AmpliSized Egyptian Llama cable here that we'll part ways with for just a couple grand

I have a Monster brand component cable. I paid store cost.


Gregg said...

See, I love this stuff! Now don't feel too bad about the video cables, because they actually DO make a difference for a variety of reasons. It can be fairly measurable, but the only sad thing is that their least expensive cable is as good as the less expensive no-name brands... let's face it, copper is copper (or polymer is polymer if we're talking optical digital).

The only way to get anything better is to have a higher grade copper/polymer being used - which the UBER expensive cables do. These are the $200 to $300 dollar INTERCONNECTS for inputting the audio and video into your TV and receiver. They actually are quite important and do make a big difference, but are WAY over-priced. I admit that freely, I know the mark-up and it's usually at least twice the cost to the seller. So a $100 cable only costs future shop at most $50 typically... HUGE money for sure when sold in quantity.

Audio output for home theatres on the other hand is so silly. The only difference that a higher grade copper would make here, would be in less signal degradation over a length of cable run - BUT! in a home theatre, no cable run tends to be more than 25 feet, and ANY cable can run a signal that length without any significant loss whatsoever. Hence the difference between the coat hanger and the wire. Now if the wire was 100 feet, and the hanger was 100 feet, then you would actually notice a big difference - mainly in volume, but also in clarity. Substitute the coat hanger though with your average 16 gauge speaker wire, and you won't notice a single difference in audio ever in a home environment.

I have to explain this to average church customers everyday, as the myth is quite strong, and many people are ready to insist on monster quality wiring when it's completely unnecessary. Obviously, I could play on their demands and shell them for all that extra money, but I'm not that kind of guy and we're not that kind of company.

Funny thing is though, sometimes these clients decide to purchase elsewhere because of how strongly they feel about the quality difference, but at least I can sleep easy at night knowing I didn't take them for a financial ride.

Jon said...

You might be interested in these articles from Gizmodo: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3 (make sure to read all three).

After posting that I stumbled across some other interesting things about Monster Cable Products Inc. Things that I'm not all too fond of regarding their business and legal practices. Hmm. Anyone want to buy a slightly used "top-quality" Monster component cable? I'm trying to scrounge some cash to buy some vintage clothing (here & here).

Gregg said...

Gosh, Monster is so full of themselves. Lovely.

As for the HDMI, everything in those articles are spot on with HDMI. Though it can actually be troublesome even at 15 foot runs with a cheap cable. My dad bought one and the signal wouldn't even register to the TV. I then got him one from our supplier, Ultralink, and it's glorious... pure absolute gloriousness...ess...

Sweet shirts on that site. I want some now too.