AudioQuest has a well-earned reputation as a manufacturer of exceptional analog video cables. However, the advent of HDMI in 2004 presented a new set of design challenges that needed to be solved. In order for AQ to maximize audio and video performance over HDMI, new materials and higher levels of manufacturing precision were employed to handle the high-speed, high-bandwidth signals of HDMI.
While the basic blueprint for HDMI cable construction was established by the HDMI steering committee (HDMI, LLC) AQ examined areas that could be optimized within the established framework. Several of the analog audio and video design elements that have proven so important over the years turned out to be meaningful to HDMI cable design. Solid core conductors, conductor metallurgy, insulation material (dielectric) and overall precision of manufacture have all been carefully optimized to create a superior line of HDMI cables.
As part of AudioQuest’s re-examination of HDMI cable design, specific attention was paid to maximizing the sonic performance of HDMI. Indeed, AQ’s HDMI cables push the sonic performance to new levels. AudioQuest begins with Long-Grain Copper (LGC) and adds increasing amounts of silver-plate culminating in Diamond HDMI, whose 5 primary signal pairs are made using solid Perfect-Surface Silver (PSS). AQ listens to each primary signal conductor in every HDMI cable to determine proper conductor orientation. Solid Polyethylene insulation ensures stable conductor geometry while minimizing insulation-induced phase distortion. On the top two HDMI cables, Coffee and Diamond, AudioQuest’s patented Dielectric-Bias System (DBS) polarizes the insulation on the five primary signal pairs, providing a drop in the perceived noise floor and an increase in dynamic contrast.
HDMI standards and capabilities have improved significantly since DVI first evolved into HDMI. All generations are backward compatible. However, not all previous HDMI cables can transmit the full 18Gbps of data required to optimize today’s HDMI 2.0 equipment. While there is currently no 4K/60 4:4:4 software requiring the full 18Gbps capability of HDMI 2.0, some sources (UHD Blu-ray players) can be set to upsample, requiring 18Gbps capability. (Upsampling often should be done in the TV rather than in a previous component — but that’s your decision.) The most important thing to know and understand is that all AudioQuest HDMI cables up to 8 meters are guaranteed to exceed the requirements for all possible HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 data streams, including 4K UltraHD, HDR, and Blu-ray Ultra HD.