When you set up an entertainment system, you think that once you set up everything including the cables that you are all done, yes? You couldn’t be any more wrong. If you use the cables that come with the system (i.e. the ones in the box) you will only be getting low quality visual and audio regardless of the quality of the rest of the system.
For example, say you own a high end sports car; you wouldn’t want to put low-end tires on it. With those cheap tires you would most likely get poor traction along with poor handling as well as increased noise while driving. It is the same with low quality cables. They can rid your system of its true potential.
The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. That is why in order to achieve high quality audio (and video) you absolutely need high quality visual and audio cables.
To choose the right quality cables for your system you need to ask yourself a variety of things. The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of signal will your cables need to carry?
If you plan on connecting a high definition cable box to your TV then you should choose to use an HD cable that is compatible to your HDTV.
If you are connecting speakers then you have a choice of cables that are made with different types of materials. Although price is usually an indicator of quality – you really need to test out your cables (and preferably with your own setup) to make sure that you are happy with the sound.
The materials used in speaker wire construction for example vary greatly. Most common is copper as it is extremely conductive, meaning that the signal we pass down it is passed extremely efficiently and without much resistance. The resistance turns some of the signal into heat which means that we lose some of the fidelity of the music (or video).
Silver-plated cables are also used as speaker wires. Silver has an even lower resistance to copper, but not so much for it to be an improvement that has made it much popular than copper.
You may also come across Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) cables. Oxygen does not do copper any good as it oxidizes it and turns it green, so the oxygen free cables are in theory better as this does not happen. In reality it is not a serious performance issue for cables, so feel free to go for standard copper cables. There are extremely high performing copper cables on the market for both audio and visual needs.
The next question that you need to ask yourself is what length cable do you need? Although it seems like an obvious question, it is important to understand the length you need to make sure the cable with perform to your satisfaction over that range. Cables made with poor quality materials will not perform well over longer distances and are more prone to interference from external sources.
What we have discussed here are the basics of cable selection for any good quality entertainment system. If you are planning on purchasing suitable cables for your own setup make sure that you do your research and more importantly test the cables you want – before buying them. Any good retailer will allow you to listen to the cables setup with a similar system so you can make sure that the warmth and clarity of the output is to your liking.