Interesting observations

I have to start by saying that I am not in the camp of buying high end, very expensive cables.  I do like to buy high quality cables with well made connection points, but I won't go along with buying the cables which cost more than my Ortofon A90 MC.

But here is an interesting observation I have made recently:  I have an Anthem AVM 60 preamp/processor which of course handles the inputs to my system and outputs to the mono block amps for the mains and the multichannel amp for when I wish to stream music or watch a 4K Blue ray movie.  I have a 4 year old Sony XBR 850 LED TV which is were my streaming aps reside and the audio is fed to my Anthem preamp via the ARC HDMI between the TV and the AVM 60.   It has worked very well over the past years, I have not had too many issues other than the common handshake hicups on occasion.  And when it locks up, it is a pain to undo; but it will usually clear up with powering things down, disconnecting the HDMI, restart, etc.

This past August the handshake issue came into play once again and I could not get things to connect.   I spent hours on the tech line with anthem, we tried everything, nothing would make the two units handshake.  I did full factory resets on both the Sony and the Anthem,  that seemed to solve it.  At least for a month, then it happened again.   I was able to get the two to connect after three days of powering off and a bunch of changes in settings.   That lasted about two days and then it was locked up again and I mean locked!   There was no more communication.   

Someone told me that the problem was with the Anthem, someone else said it was the Sony as it probably did an update back in August which started all of this.  Someone else said to change the HDMI cable, but I had done that two times prior and it did nothing.  I have been using Belden high speed HDMI cables but since it's now the holiday sales period at Best Buy with 60 day return policies, I thought why not pick up one of the AudioQuest super expensive HDMI cables just to see if that would help.   I bought a latest/greatest 5 foot "Carbon" 48K cable with 5% silver plating at a cost of around $280.   I brought it home and simply swapped out the HDMI and fired up the system thinking this was not going to help me out; VOILA, everything came alive!   The handshake was fast, like 10 times quicker than usual.

However the most striking observation was that the audio coming through on the streaming music was really extended on the upper range, so much so that I thought that I must have turned the treble setting up on the preamp from my usual flat position and I checked the setting.  It was still flat!   I was stunned at how much brighter the sound was.   

After several days of listening and testing for handshake issues, there havn't been any, I decided for the fun of it, I'd go pick up the next level higher AudioQuest "Vodka" cable with 10% silver plating just to see if that would make any differences.  I swapped it in and what I noticed was the same enhance upper range as the 'Carbon' however the overall range was much smoother and far more open.  It was a significant improvement and now I am into this 5 foot cable for $500!   I refuse to buy the next level up; this is pretty nice and I am staying with it.  But I am wondering!

What I suspect is going on is that Sony did some sort of an update which was putting a lot more information out on the audio files and my HDMI cable would not handle the data properly.   When it did do a handshake, I had a connection, but I was not hearing the enhancements.   By going to a much higher data capacity cable, the handshake was stable but now I am hearing the improvements in the digital format.   But this is only my guess; I am no audio engineer.   I'd love to hear any input or thoughts on this subject as to what was going on.



Seems to me that from an "engineering standpoint", if your first cable didn't work at all and the new one worked, the first one was broken.  Even the cheapest cable, if functioning properly, should allow the components to work together electrically.  As to whether the more expensive cable sounds better, that's up to you to decide. 

No, the cable was not broken, it functions just fine with other devices.   My entire point here is that I was trying to find out if anyone has any insight into why there is a lack of handshake between two devices and it appeared very suddenly.   Was this possibly caused by an update which may have pushed more data which an older design HDMI is not capable of handling and a new 48K may be the reason it now handshakes reliably.    The cable was not broken.

Anyway, sorry I asked as this seems to raised some feathers for some odd reason.

I am not going down the hole over one cable sounding better than another, I stated that the cables sounded better to me, but I hoped to get into why the HDMI handshake becomes unstable suddenly.

Not surprised the handshake issue was the cable. Every so often I have an incompatibility issue with signal integrity with any given cable. I have not been able to absolutely isolate it to one cable. There is simply a possiblty that with any given set of gear the digital link may be unable to pass the signal with 100% integrity, OR the component doesn't like something about how the cable passes the signal. I say that because the same cable may work flawlessly with another set of gear. No one expects the link to be the culprit, but it can be. 

I had a smart router that a chip would overheat and cause the router to become unstable and reconnect. I picked up on it with a thermal gun. I could reboot the router and it wouldn't overheat for a couple of days sometimes. Everytime it acted up though the router box temp would increase 15+ degrees. I swapped routers and fixed my problem.. Intermittent HEAT by a cold solder joint or connection is a PITA.

Worse yet, is when the issue is caused by a connection outside the room or domicile. Aliens! I hate when they visit..