Should I fork out for quality cable?
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Ruahrc

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I'm getting a hardware digital decoder for my PC and need to buy an RCA cable to run the SPDIF from the PC to the decoder. I already bought the mini-RCA converter, but have not yet gotten the RCA cable itself. I was holding off because I was debating whether or not to buy an expensive nice cable or a cheapo one.

I was looking at a 6' Monster Cable Digital RCA cable, which costs a hefty $50. I also saw some Digital RCA cable at Radio Shack for considerably less, about $12 for a 6' and $15 for a 12'.

My question is do you feel that it is worth it to spend the $50 to buy the quality cable now, instead of buying a cheap cable now (say $20) only to find later that I should have bought a quality cable (say $50), thus making the total cost $70.

Thanks!

Ruahrc
 
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Budgie

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(my opinion is) I don't think the difference will be dramatic between the digital cables, I would save the money and buy some music to enjoy.
 
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KR...

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My Experience is that you can clearly hear differences between Digital cables, and that Monster cables (at least the low end ones, the Audiophile ones that cost 1,000s are suppose to be a different story but I wouldn't know) are a total waste of money.

Try some digitals cables from well known Audiophile cable makers, no need to get the really high end ones, any from these cables will do.

If I were you I would get the MIT Tmax Digital Coaxial Digital Cable which sells for $49.95 at Audio Advisor

You might find it cheaper for used on-line so look around.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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God knows I'm not well versed in the digital domain, but I think I know enough to offer an opinion on the digital cable debate...keep in mind I do not have any digital cables in my system and I have not ever compared the sound of digital cables.

All cables attenuate the signal passing through them, there is no such thing as a lossless cable, because of RFI, EMI, and the physical properties of the cable itself. In the analog domain, this causes reduction in soundstage, loss of high frequency detail, looseness in the bass, etc. In the digital domain, it can cause corruption of the data stream. When the digital information gets to the component converting the digital information to analog, if any of the data has been lost due to the attenuation of the cable, then the error correction circuits are used to compensate for the lost data. The more data that is lost, the more error correction must be used, and the less the signal you finally hear sounds like the original music coming from your source.

In video, this lost information is less important, since the eye is not especially sensitive to slight changes in resolution. But in the audio domain, your ears are much more sensitive to changes in sound, making it possible to discern the differences between digital cables.

In my own experience, I can tell you that once I was playing a CD that was pretty dirty, so dirty in one place that it was skipping. I took the disc and washed in dishwashing liquid, effectively making the surface completely clean. When I put the disc back in, I started it from the beginning, rather than at the point it was skipping a few songs in. In the beginning when the CD was not skipping, I heard an audible improvement in the sound quality, with more detail and smoother sound as opposed to the dirty disc a few minutes before.

In summary, IMO, bits is in fact bits. Its HOW MANY bits that is the real question.
 
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Ruahrc

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Jeff- Great info, but in your opinion do you think the Monster Cable is worth the extra money?

At this point I'm either looking at buying the Radio Shack digital coax (Maybe twice the diameter of plain RCA Line), the Monster Cable digital coax (A little thicker than the Radio Shack coax), or just using plain ordinary RCA line. Ordering online for me right now is a little inconvienent so if possible I'd like to get a cable from a store, thus the limited choices. I will see if there are any audio stores around that might have other brands of cable, but from what I hear then the Monster Cable is not worth it?

Ruahrc
 
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if you ask me, you will only hear a marginal improvement in sound quality using monster cables. In my opinion, monster cables are marketed as "audiophile" (notice the quotes!!!!) cables to the masses (
) who don't know better.

I think you would be much better off getting a low end cable from a respected manufacturer. See what offerings Audioquest or Cardas have. I don't know what kind of length you need. You mentioned 6 and 12 foot runs. A cable that long will likely cost you more than 50 bucks. Sorry.

With all that said. Good interconnects can make a large (and very noticable) difference in sound quality, for both digital and analog signals.

happy hunting,

-JT
 
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qwerty870

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I agree that monster cable is a rip off. I did some testing of digital cables under $50/meter and could determine a difference in blind testing. I preffered the Apogee Wide Eye cables. They can be found here:

http://www.apogeedigital.com/store/

They are under $50 unless you need a longer length than 1 meter.
 
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dhwilkin

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A standard RS Gold digital cable will likely do a good enough job. I've heard differences w/ different inexpensive digital cables (RS Gold vs Belden 1695a), but not huge differences. If you want to try the more expensive ones, I agree w/ skipping Monster.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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Quote:

Originally posted by Ruahrc
Jeff- Great info, but in your opinion do you think the Monster Cable is worth the extra money?

At this point I'm either looking at buying the Radio Shack digital coax (Maybe twice the diameter of plain RCA Line), the Monster Cable digital coax (A little thicker than the Radio Shack coax), or just using plain ordinary RCA line. Ordering online for me right now is a little inconvienent so if possible I'd like to get a cable from a store, thus the limited choices. I will see if there are any audio stores around that might have other brands of cable, but from what I hear then the Monster Cable is not worth it?

Ruahrc


In my own life, I have sufficient money to be able to buy both to decide which I like, and either return or sell the other here on the site. There is no substitute to using your own ears.

That being said, please remember that when you buy a Monster Cable you are paying for a whole lot of marketing and pretty cable. How much of what you paid is actually going in to making a high quality cable?
 
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Ruahrc

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Thanks for all the input. Well I jumped ship and bought the $50 Monster cable. I went to a local audio store and looked at what they had there, and saw that the cable I had been looking at was some of the medium-better quality cable, not the cheap low end Monster Cable. They also had the $100 6-foot silver digital RCA cable, (as well as even pricier yet cabling in the back) but I decided that what I was looking at was probably good enough.

Even if it's at a premium for having the Monster name, I guess so long as it's good cable and will last forever, $50 in the long long run isn't too much. There are more important things in life than money. You make some, you spend some, you gain some, you lose some. It's how it goes. (OK I'm ranting now...)

Ruahrc
 
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Quote:

Thanks for all the input. Well I jumped ship and bought the $50 Monster cable.


The radioshack cable would have sounded the same, how many people told you that Monster was a waste of money? Why even ask...
 
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peter braun

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A good place to look for cables and such is Ebay. There are usually quite a few decent Audioquest and Monstercable items for sale that go for under your fifty dollar range
 
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Ruahrc

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Thanks for the input. Like I said I was in a pinch and could not really go online for the cable. I will keep eBay in mind for future references though.

A couple quick notes about the hardware decoding though:

Before I was using an Audigy which had driver-based decoding of DD5.1 content. It worked better than the straight software decoding that my DVD program did, but when I listened to the hardware decoded audio, it was far superior to the Audigy decoding. The bass was better (The bass on the Audigy decoding was actually a little weak) and better blended, actually the entire sound spectrum seemed more complete and balanced. The 5 channels were balanced better as well (The center channel seemed a bit overdriven using the Audigy decoding). It was also more detailed in the sense that you could place the source of sounds better, which makes action scenes or battle scenes much more immersive.

Ruahrc

p.s. Which affects audio quality more: the IC cables that connect my speakers to the decoder or the speaker wire that connects all my satellites to my sub? If I were to upgrade one for maximum benefit, wouldn't it be to get high quality internconnect cables?
 
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