Do you need those fancy shielded cables?

Electromagnetic Interference versus Shield Cables

Steve Smith talks about whether, or not, you actually need to buy really expensive cables for your devices.

Episode #5-21 released on February 12, 2015

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Last week I talked about the maximum length of cable you can buy, regardless of shielding or quality, and still get a great signal. And, by great, I mean what you are bound to expect from the cable without issue. That was a precursor to this episode, and this week, I explain why companies try to sell you shielded cables, and whether or not, they are actually worth your time and money.

Let us start off with a fun fact, cables and the technologies surround them, have come a long way from the traditional analog technologies. We like to believe that our previous technology was somehow god like, even more resistant to issues that we come across today. One of the biggest issues we hear about is electromagnetic interference.

Electromagnetic interference is caused by numerous devices around our homes, basically anything that has power running through it. As you probably guessed, you entire home is a war zone of electromagnetic interference as a result. Does this mean that we need to buy those expensive cables?

How about we talk about this from the stand point of we already knew this was an issue. Starting with the invention of the twisted pair by Alexander Graham Bell. By having the cables twisted onto their selves, we are able to expose both sides to the same amount of interference, basically cancelling it out.

Now fast forward to today, and we have a distinct knowledge of how electromagnetic interference works and have applied many different sophisticated techniques to our cables and transmission protocols to deal with such interference issues on cables. We even have standards for normal length of cables where we are expected to have no issues with signal degradation over the entirety of the cable, from the primary to secondary connected devices. And, this regardless of the quality of the cable, as long as it abides the specifications set forth for that type of cable.

This means that for digital devices, using the appropriate length of cable will result in a negligible electromagnetic interference, which the standards will have already taken into account.

So, NO, provided you don't use really long cables, and that your setup is considered to be part of the norm, you won't have to buy any of the really expensive cables many store chains try to sell you at an extremely high mark up. There may be times where you may benefit from those cables, but the vast majority of you will never encounter these situations. And, for those that are curious, I may buy the best power supplies, and fans, but I don't use the highest end cables, to connect my sound systems, monitors, and even television, and I have never had any issues with electromagnetic interference.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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