Wednesday, June 27, 2007


No poker content here. Okay, I'll pimp The Mookie for tonight. Last on for ther BBT! My plan is to get nothing but pocket aces for 62 straight hands. Then I'll drop to Cowboys for the final table so everyone has a fair chance. There, that should jinx the card run away.

Nope, today's rant is brought to you by this post on Cinematical. The topic is supposedly how to build a low-budget entertainment system. This is an admirable goal, because there's tons of stuff out there on how to drop $15,000+ on something, but for us schlubs who live in the world of reality, it's tough to get bang for your buck without some some knowledge.

First, I'll give kudos to the author for spending some money on speakers and a receiver. A lot of people putting together their first system skimp on these components. They figure all the power is in the great big HDTV on their wall. Trust me, my friends are far more impressed by the fact that sound is coming from all around them than how crisp my picture is.

But that's about it as far as praise goes. Read the comments in the article for some far superior suggestions to his on budget systems at the same price point.

I could go on an on about the choice of TV, the specific components, the lack of very much useful information. But I won't. Instead, I'm going to talk about the cables.

This guy is building a $1500 system, using a 32" non-HD CRT TV, $200 speakers, $350 receiver, and $60 DVD player, and he buys $250 worth of Monster cable!

Monster cable is, without a doubt, the biggest ripoff in your local electronics store. Before you high-end cable fans jump down my throat - Yes, it does make a difference over longer distances with VERY high-end video (1080p). But for the average person, you're running maybe 2-3 feet of cable between components (or 6ft if that's the smallest you could find), and not pushing more that 1080i for HD video. As for audio? Spare me. A decent gauge speaker wire will handle all your needs and cost a fraction of the price, and I'm pretty sure you're not running 50ft of wire from your DVD player to your amp.

It's all wire. It's copper, either single or multi-core, surrounded by rubber. Maybe there's a dielectric to insulate from interference. Unless you're going to moving your stuff around, the connection between the connectors and the wire doesn't have to be triple-bonded and sealed, because it will NEVER MOVE.

Even IF it made a noticeable difference in audio or video quality (and I'm not talking for the video/audiophile community who can tell you the volume in dB or if there's a signal discrepency by watching/listening), the manufacturing costs are miniscule in comparison to the retail price. Yes, there's research costs... but I'm pretty sure the marketing costs are higher. Just watch the prices at any store that's closing up or having a major liquidation sale. These high-end cables will drop to the price of a mid-range cable instantly, and the store will still be making a profit.

Save yourself a ton of dough and go to your local electronic wholesaler, or and spend $6 instead of $300. Unless you're running 50ft of cable in your wall to display 1080p video and high-def audio through your $150,000 speaker system. Then you might as well pony up the extra, because you'll be sure you hear a difference anyway. I still think you'd be able to find some high quality cable for a lot cheaper if you looked though.

So this guy goes and sets up $1200 worth of standard-def TV and low-end audio equipment, and plugs $250 worth of cable into it. Like it's going to make ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL. Please, I think a coat hanger would be enough to get the signal across with what you've bought. If he'd given 30 seconds of thought to this instad of blindingly following the marketing spiel of Monster, he'd realize that for $30 he could have met his cable needs and had $220 to spend on the important stuff.

To top it off, he buys an $80 universal remote for what is essentially 3 components. A $20 universal with product code entry would have met his needs just as well. Again though, let me state that I have a $300 universal remote (Harmony 880... it's cheaper now, an I paid < $200 CDN when I bought it), but I also have at least 9 different components hooked up, and different input/output and sound field settings for each. For the system this guy is describing though, that's beyond overkill.

Really, it might as well have been:


1.- Get your grandmother to give you her old 13" B&W TV
2.- Set up the rabbit ears
3.- Turn the volume to max
4.- Buy a $60 DVD player
5.- Buy an $80 remote
6.- Hook it all up with $1360 of Monster cable
7.- Sit on a milk crate and enjoy!

1 comment:

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I agree about Monster cables are rip offs. However, I do believe in the power of good cables. So, go check out and buy their cables. It's high end cables without the Monster price tag.