Do Digital Cables make a difference?
While there are still a few holdouts who say that power cords and analog connector cables don’t make a difference with sound or video quality, they are now a minority. However, the debate remains active about digital cables.
Digital cable Naysayers point out that the digital signal is just a series of 1’s and 0’s. No 1’s or O’s could be lost by going through a cable and they can’t be transformed. They are either 1’s or 0’s. The only thing the transmission line could impact might be speed. People who test such things can prove this with objective evidence and call products like high priced digital cables, CD mats, CD coating solutions or other such products, “snake oil.”
Others say that cable purity and transmission speed does make a difference in sound and video quality for digital signal transmission the same way a good analog connecting cable and power cord impacts the sound quality for analog signal transmission.
Many experts are passionate about their position, but all things in the high end audiophile world the subjective criteria outweighs the objective criteria and the proof is in the listening. Audio systems are somewhat unique because rarely will two audiophiles use the same components in the same configuration with the same cables and share the same power source and power transmission line. It is not surprising, therefore, that people’s experience and the opinions that flow from that experience will be different.
In my system I have not experienced much of a difference in sound quality by using ultra high end digital cables, but I have observed a difference by replacing the digital cable that comes in the box by an entry level or second to the bottom of the line of digital cables made by a company like Audioquest or Shunyata that specialize in making cables.
Just think about it. If manufacturers included better cables with their products they would price them above competitors and would have a hard time with the mass market. Upgrades are left as a choice for connoisseurs who demand better quality.
I have found the cinnamon Ethernet cable to give me an adequate upgrade for use with my digital audio signal. I tried the better cables like the Audioquest Vodka, but I could not notice the improvement over the Cinnamon when I used it for digital audio.
Inexplicably, I have found a higher end cable to make a noticeable difference with the video signal. The Audioquest Vodka Ethernet cable noticeably improves the quality of the video image on Skype, removing some of the fuzz from the image. The Audioquest Chocolate HDMI cable and the Nordost Blue Haven HDMI cable absolutely improve the cable television image. While I cannot confirm that there is a noticeable improvement in sound quality, there is no question that video quality is improved.
Why the video signal is noticeably improved by a high end digital cable and the audio signal’s improvement is not noticeable is mysterious to me. Someone who understands the science better will need to explain. For now I just chalk it up to the alchemy of the high end audio and video world.