Is Tone Magazine impartial?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 24-Nov-2007 07:00

I find Tone Magazine an interesting read. It's the only magazine of it's type in NZ focussing on home theatre, audio and other g33ky toys and I've found the quality of their articles to generally be very good over the years.

That was until this this month.

Tone have apparently done their homework and asked a few techy audiophile people to talk about cheap vs expensive HDMI cables. If you've ever read Gizmodo or done a Google search  on the topic you'll realise this is a very hot topic with varying opinions on the matter. Typically however there are numerous tests available online that do show that there is no real difference in the quality of a signal transmitted over cheap or expensive HDMI cable unless you're talking about cable lengths in excess of probably 10 metres. HDMI is a digital signal and the quality of cable is nowhere near as relevant as with an analogue signal such as component.

So why then did Tone get a whole pile of "experts" to write on the topic and all write about how essential an expensive HDMI cable is and that buying a cheap one is a waste of money? There were a couple of people who said that picture degredation was very obvious with the cheap cables, how about providing us some proof or some research?

The whole issue of expensive cables has been a hot topic with years, lead by Monster who sell very expensive cables, give great commission to stores to sell their products, and use deceptive marketing* to sell their products. There is a little more about Monster here on Gizmodo.

If you're in the market for a HDMI cable I suggest following some basic advice. Buy a $20 cable. Buy a $200 cable. Keep your receipts and try them both. If you can't tell the difference then take the $200 one back for a refund. It's as simple as that. Don't get sucked into wasting your money on a piece of wire that's supposed to have magical properties.

*Monster have a stand that is typically on display at various Harvey Norman stores showing 2 LCD screens playing the same DVD. One shows a monster cable in bright crisp colours, the other shows the same picture looking quite pale on cheap cable. This display is used by salespeople to push people into buying $200 cables to hook their Sky box up to their new flat screen TV to ensure the best picture quality (completely ignoring the fact Sky TV have an extremely low bitrate and poor picture quality anyway). Look at the back of this display and you'll see the Monster screen uses the component output, the other screen uses a composite signal. Hardly a fair test is it?

Other related posts:
No, AT aren’t stealing your money. How Stuff confused a nation.
The perils of using Airbnb during big events
How to remotely control your heat pump from your phone for under NZ$25

comments powered by Disqus

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at