AudioQuest Cinnamon HDMI Cables vs. The Cheap Stuff - Review

DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,398
Introduction

It's been a while since my last HDMI cable comparison, June 2009 to be exact. The result of that comparison was there was no perceived or measured audio or video performance difference between the Monster Cable ($130), Rocketfish ($85), Acoustic Research ($20), and Monoprice ($8) HDMI cables tested in my home theater system. That evaluation was done with a Hitachi 55" 720p plasma HDTV. A link to that review is at the end of this report.

This evaluation compared the performance of SecureOMax HDMI 2.0 cables ($9.99-3 feet, $12.99-6 feet) to AudioQuest Cinnamon HDMI 2.0 cables ($68.75-1 meter, $98.75-2 meters).

The Cinnamon cables provided a slight video and audio performance improvement with my Tivo DVR and a modest video and audio performance improvement with my Pioneer BDP-09FD blu-ray player. I am a longtime user of AudioQuest cables. My two channel system is wired with AudioQuest Sky Gen2 XLR interconnects and Everest speaker cables. However, in the case of these AudioQuest HDMI cables, the much higher prices did not justify the small performance improvements and they were returned.

This evaluation required a 3 foot/1 meter cable between the Tivo DVR and preamp/processor, and 6 foot/2 meter cables between the plasma TV and preamp/processor and blu-ray player and preamp/processor.

Cable Construction

The SecureOMax HDMI cables are made of oxygen-free bare copper and are triple-shielded for maximum performance and ultra low signal to noise ratio. Connectors are 24K gold-plated and soldering points are covered by a thick aluminium shell to achieve better shielding and lower signal to noise ratio.

AudioQuest Cinnamon HDMI cables are made of oxygen-free long grain copper solid core conductors with 1.25% silver plating, Solid High-Density Polyethylene Insulation, and precise winding geometry for noise cancellation.

Cinnamon%20-%20SOM%20HDMI-s_zpsvsslsnky.jpg
Figure 1. AudioQuest Cinnamon on the left, SecureOMax on the right.

Both brands are heavily constructed. I preferred the ergonomics of the SecureOMax's larger connectors. They were much easier to handle when reaching behind my home theater system equipment cabinet to plug and unplug.

Audio And Video Comparisons

Pictures were taken with a Fuji Finepix S9000 digital camera with the lens 3 feet-5 inches from the TV screen. Identical exposure apertures and shutter times were used for each cable comparison of the same scene.

The Tivo DVR captures in figures 2 and 3 are a paused image of a sportscaster shot at f/6.4, 1/8 second at ISO 200. The AQ Cinnamon image has slightly better detail, although this was not perceptible to my eyes when looking at the TV from 12 feet away. If you download the higher resolution pictures attached at the end of this post and flip between them while viewing on a high definition display, you should be able see the differences between them.

The sportscaster's voice was noticeably more clear and resonant and bass sounds from other TV programs had a little more weight and growl.

006%20Tivo-SOM-Face-s_zpssqwrflwm.jpg
Figure 2. Tivo DVR scene capture with SecureOMax HDMI cables.

009%20Tivo-AQ-Face-s_zps2t47l40g.jpg
Figure 3. Tivo DVR scene capture with AQ Cinnamon HDMI cables.

The Pioneer BDP-09FD blu-ray player captures in figures 4 and 5 are a paused image of the male protagonist's eye from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" blu-ray. Both images were shot at f/3.6, 1/13 second at ISO 200. The AQ Cinnamon image has slightly better detail, which was not perceptible to my eyes when looking at the TV 12 feet away. The Cinnamon image also had moderately better contrast, which was perceptible to my eyes. If you download the higher resolution pictures attached at the end of this post and flip between them while viewing on a high definition display, you should be able see the differences between them. When I connected the Cinnamon cable, it was immediately obvious that the picture looked different and "better", which I perceived as better color rendition.

Dialog, and the "clink" of knife blades prior to the female protagonist cutting the bonds of the male protagonist, the "clop-clop-clop" of her footsteps as she runs down concrete steps chasing a serial rapist and serial murderer, and the rumble of motorcycle and truck engines as she chases after him were rendered with moderately more clarity, detail, rumble, growl, and tactile sensation coming through the armrest and seat.

021%20GWDT%20Eye%20SOM%20HDMI%20Crop-s_zps5i5cpcrt.jpg
Figure 4. Blu-ray scene capture with SecureOMax HDMI cables.

024%20GWDT%20Eye%20AQ%20HDMI%20Crop-s_zpsyracoh3m.jpg
Figure 5. Blu-ray scene capture with AudioQuest Cinnamon HDMI cables.

The BDP-09FD blu-ray player has a very good analog output stage. Listening to CDs via the analog outputs provides a wider and deeper sound stage, more image weight, much better bass presentation, and more overall clarity and detail than via its HDMI output. A 2 meter Monster Cable Z100i interconnect was used between the BDP-09FD's analog outputs and the Yamaha CX-A5100 preamp/processor. I did trials comparing each HDMI cable to the sound from the analog output. The AQ Cinnamon HDMI cable came much, much closer to the stereophonic performance of the analog cables. However, I don't play music in the home theater system using the blu-ray player and CDs, I use a Bryston BDP-1 digital player and the CX-A5100's DAC to play Redbook, hi-rez, and DSD files, all of which sound better.

Summary

I would have kept the Cinnamons if they were half the price. I am not as inclined toward excessive diminishing returns in my video entertainment. In the future, when I am more dedicated to video than I am now, or, if I run across a good deal on some higher-end HDMI cables, I might indulge.

Associated Equipment

Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-151FD 60" Plasma TV
Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD Blu-ray Player
Tivo HD XL Digital Video Recorder
Bryston BDP-1 digital player with external Samsung EVO 840 500 GB solid state drive.
Adcom GFA-5500 power amp (200 wpc 8 ohms)/Front Speakers
Adcom GFA-5500 power amp (200 wpc 8 ohms)/Center Channel Speaker
Adcom GFA-5500 power amp (200 wpc 8 ohms)/Surround Speakers
Polk Audio LSiM 706C Center Channel Speaker
Polk Audio LSiM 705 Front Speakers
Polk Audio LSiM 702 F/X Surround Speakers
SVS PB12 Ultra/2 Subwoofer
PS Audio P5 AC Regenerator
PS Audio P10 AC Regenerator
PS Audio AC-5 power cord for AC Regenerators
PS Audio Statement SC power cords for all electronics
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver Digital Coaxial Cable
SecureOMax HDMI Cables
Monster Cable Z3 Reference Speaker Cables, Front, Right, Center
DSR Silverline (Out Of Wall) And Monster UL/CL3 (In-Wall) Speaker Cables, Surround
Blue Jeans LC-1 In-Wall Subwoofer Cable
Monster Cable Z200i Interconnects (Preamp to Power Amps)
Two PS Audio Soloist SE In-Wall Passive Power Conditioners
Two Dedicated 20 amp AC Circuits
Salamander Synergy Quad 30 Audio Cabinet
Dell Venue Pro 11 7140 Tablet Computer For System Control

Reference

2009 HDMI Cable Trials:
http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/84644/tweaking-home-theater-pt-3-the-pioneer-elite-bdp-09fd-blu-ray-player
"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
Post edited by DarqueKnight on

Comments

  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 4,873
    Great review, Ray, as always! Thanks for doing and documenting it. I've used many, many HDMI cables at all price ranges, but I've done very little studying and comparison of the difference, mainly because I perceived any differences to be very subtle, or virtually non-existent. Not saying it's not there, but for the great majority of people with consumer-grade equipment, HDMI cables probably don't matter.
    7.1 - polk RTi10 x 3 (LCR) : FXi3 x 2 : RTi4 x 4 : Sunfire SDS-12 : Yamaha Aventage RX-A2040 : Adcom GFA-7500 : Squeezebox Touch : DIRECTV : Roku SE : Panasonic PT-AX200U PJ @ 120"
    5.1 - Definitive Technology ProMonitor 800 x 4 : ProCenter 1000 : Klipsch Sub-10 : Pioneer Elite SC-91: DIRECTV : LG OLED55B6P : Roku Premiere+
    Garage Duty - polk Monitor 10s : Pioneer A-717 Integrated Amp : Squeezebox Classic
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 30,567
    I might agree with most comments on this. Personally I've seen little difference in HDMI cables....visually. The differences I've come across has all been reliability, handshake issues....which even within the same iteration of HDMI, can vary.

    That was before I got a 4k set. The visual differences now became a tad more apparent.....AND I have an AQ Cinnamon on it now. I guess what it boils down to is, the better the display, the more apparent these subtle differences become. Just like on the audio side, the better and more revealing your system is, the more apparent the subtle differences of a cable can be heard. Just my .02 on the subject.
    HT SYSTEM-2 channel
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Dynaudio Audience 72
    Polk FX500 surrounds
    Cary xciter dac
    Cullen modded Sonos
    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k Ref 4420 amp

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Analysis plus crystal oval ic's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • ThortonThorton Posts: 1,153
    Nice write-up Ray. +1 to what Tony says. The problem I had with less expensive cables (and I tried a few) was handshake issues especially between 1.4 and 2.0 devices. I switched to Cinnamon and so far (knock on wood) I've had no problems.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Source: Roon via ethernet to DAC interface
    DAC: Bricasti M1SE
    Pre/Pro: Marantz AV8805
    Tube Preamp Buffer: Tortuga TPB.V1
    Amp1: W4S MC-5, AMP2: W4S MMC-7
    Front: Salk SoundScape 8's, Center: Salk SoundScape C7
    Surround: Polk FXIA6, Surround Back: Polk RTIA9, Atmos: Polk 70-RT
    Subs: 2 - Rythmik F25's
    IC & Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, Signal Cable
    Power Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, PS Audio
    Room Treatments: GIK Acoustics
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 10,209
    Biggest problem I have with HDMI's is poor construction, even with ones that look nice.

    I purchase 100+ HDMI's a year and seen to many fall apart
    2-channel: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures
    Desktop rig: LSi7, Polk 110sub, Dayens Ampino amp, W4S DAC/pre, Sonos, JRiver
    Gear on standby: Melody 101 tube pre, Unison Research Simply Italy Integrated
    Gone to new homes: (Matt Polk's)Threshold Stasis SA12e monoblocks, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, Dynaudio C4 platinum speakers, Modwright LS100 (voltz), Simaudio 780D DAC
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,162
    I did many shootouts with various HDMI cables over the years and have very similar results as DK did.
    Im my personal system I'm running a mix of Carbon mostly with a Cinnamon up to the Display( Pioneer Elite Kuro 60inch). I stopped at Carbon because I wasn't getting any more benefits.
    If you compare side by side the Cinnamon and Chocolate, I feel there is basically no difference at all.
    When you compare the Forest and Cinnamon it's basically the same thing. It's so close it doesn't warrant spending the extra money.
    Even the Carbon vs the Forest or even Pearl for that matter it's so small you have to ask yourself if the money your spending is worth it. Some say it is, others say no.
    As tonyb pointed out , the more important thing with HDMI cables is the quality of the cable in reliability, handshake issues etc.
    I think personally the best value in the Audioquest line is either the Forest or Cinnamon. The price point IMO is very reasonable for a high quality cable and in all my years I never saw a bad Audioquest cable. I can't say that for any other brand.
    I also like DK use all Audioquest cables. The reason is first and foremost before performance is reliability. I have some old Audioquest cables and a lot of newer ones.
    On the performance side, they are extremely consistent.

    I enjoy reading DK's views on everything he reviews. He is very thorough.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • mrlorenmrloren Posts: 1,699
    Very nice review. great reading for a Saturday morning.

    I see to many people buying junk cables these day's. They get the Willy's or Fry's $3.99 generic cable and think a cable is a cable. "It's all digital right". NO.

    I always suggest the bottom anyone should go is Costco Wirelogic HDMI Cables @ $20 for two 2 meter cables. When I help people change from the generic to these the look on their face when they see for themselves that there is a big difference is priceless.

    The more you go up the chain on HDMI Cables the less benefit there is. Just stay away from the generic stuff.

    For me I went from some very old green cables which just said "AQuest" I picked up at a garage sale to all modern Audioquest HDMI thanks to @mantis for helping me decide on the correct cables for my gear.

    Oppo to AVR Cinnamon, Panasonic to AVR Forest all others are pearl in my HT. These new cables did make from small to big differences. The first night my wife watched a movie with me after the cable change she said it looks and sounds better. I think AQ Pearl is the best bang for the buck there is But it is just my opinion.

    Now I am researching RCA cables for my future AMP. AQ Evergree is looking like it will be my choice.

    Cheers
    When I was a kid my parents told me to turn it down. Now I'm an adult and my kids tell me to turn it down.

    Family Room:
    Samsung UN60H,
    Denon AVR-X4400H, Emotiva XPA3 GEN3
    Oppo BDP-93,Sony UBP-X800BM, Sony DVP-NS3100ES, WD Live HUB.
    Main: Polk Signature S60
    Center: Polk CSi-A6
    Front High/Rear High In-Ceiling Polk 80F/X RT
    Surrounds: Polk S15
    Sub: HSU VTF3-MK5

    Bed Room;
    Sony KDF-E42A10,
    Marantz SR5010, BDP-S270
    Main: Polk Signature S20
    Center: Polk Signature S35
    Rear: Polk R15
    Sub: HSU STF-2

    Working Warehouse;
    Sony 2100ES
    4 Polk RTi4 about 15' up the wall
    Old sony 12" Sub
    Mini tower PC with 400GB of music
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,398
    mantis wrote: »
    Even the Carbon vs the Forest or even Pearl for that matter it's so small you have to ask yourself if the money your spending is worth it. Some say it is, others say no.

    Dan, thank you for your recent personal advice on AQ HDMI cables, and for the HDMI cable shootout you did a few years back. All that information was very helpful.

    I went back and forth between the Cinnamon and the SecureOMax cables many times. When I run across a product that offers significant diminishing returns, the clincher is "can I live without it?" I appreciated the extra bit of performance provided by the Cinnamons, but when I took them out, I didn't miss them. The Cinnamons weren't a lot of money, but in my video life I am not trying to get every last bit of performance that my budget will allow. That's why I still have an 8 year old plasma TV and an 8 year old blu-ray player. If a home theater component doesn't really impress me, it goes back.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,398
    Thus a $10 - $20 well made cable is all that is needed.

    A more balanced and rational recommendation would be to say that a $10 - $20 well made cable is all that is needed for most peoples' HT systems.

    I have used generic and low priced HDMI cables for years with good results. Years ago I tried some higher priced, higher claimed performance HDMI cables and found that they didn't perform any better than an $8 cable. I didn't conclude that higher priced cables are a scam, and that people shouldn't "waste" money on them. I concluded that some examples of such cables didn't provide a performance benefit in my HT system. I didn't side eye people who claimed to hear and see performance improvements in their systems with these cables.

    After the most recent tests, I concluded that performance benefits were seen and heard, but they didn't personally justify the price asked. Perhaps after I upgrade my TV and associated electronics, or if I find the same cables at a much lower price, I would consider investing in them.

    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,784
    I went from mono price hdmi cables that kept failing. I splurged on pearls for my entire system, I was friggen blown away by the increase in video and audio performance for a budget cable. I have carbons now, and noticed only a slight performance increase.

    I use a carbon USB in my 2 channel rig and for the money boy is it good! I now use a diamond, which was a HUGE increase over the carbon, I'm blown away! Audioquest digital cables are fantastic.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 10,458
    A few years ago there was an MIT cable demo program, and I was surprised at the improvement I saw with their HDMI over the Pangea I was using. I wasn't expecting that, but it was there. Of course, I am still using the Pangea with my Oppo 203 and 75" Sony 4K UHD TV. :)
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin S1 - X1 power supply
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on source, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,981
    I tried the MIT HDMI cable before sending them around in the demo. I liked it so much I got some for myself.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • FestYboyFestYboy Posts: 3,246
    How do y'all feel about the Dayton prospects from PE?
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,981
    Serviceable
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 10,458
    Jesse, what was that MIT model number? I want to upgrade the Pangea, and move the Pangea to the Xbox One.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin S1 - X1 power supply
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on source, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 10,209
    FestYboy wrote: »
    How do y'all feel about the Dayton prospects from PE?

    No first hand experience, but at least PC has a review section. When dealing with 15' or less there's some give and take. When using a projector and longer lengths it's gonna cost you a little more.

    My client has ordering systems in the deli/kitchen area, I've been using Tripplite, because I also use their splitters, racks, PDU's etc.

    Been happy so far
    2-channel: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures
    Desktop rig: LSi7, Polk 110sub, Dayens Ampino amp, W4S DAC/pre, Sonos, JRiver
    Gear on standby: Melody 101 tube pre, Unison Research Simply Italy Integrated
    Gone to new homes: (Matt Polk's)Threshold Stasis SA12e monoblocks, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, Dynaudio C4 platinum speakers, Modwright LS100 (voltz), Simaudio 780D DAC
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,981
    edited June 2017
    BlueFox wrote: »
    Jesse, what was that MIT model number? I want to upgrade the Pangea, and move the Pangea to the Xbox One.

    Here you go, http://www.mitcables.com/available-in-stores/video-interconnects/hdmi-3d-digital-cable.html
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 10,458
    Thanks. I will get a 4 meter. I haven't bought anything since I got the Oppo, and am getting antsy to spend money. :)
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin S1 - X1 power supply
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on source, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • FestYboyFestYboy Posts: 3,246
    F1nut wrote: »
    Serviceable

    So you're saying they're nowhere near AE's bottom line?
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,981
    No, I'm saying Dayton stuff in general will get the job done, but it could be done better.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • FestYboyFestYboy Posts: 3,246
    Gotcha. Then I can't complain about the price I paid for them (cheap, on clearance).
  • K_MK_M Posts: 1,197
    FestYboy wrote: »
    How do y'all feel about the Dayton prospects from PE?

    We have a few from Dayton, and for the price they seem well made and work.
    Lsi15, Lsi9, LsiC,Rta11t,M5jr+,M4,SDA 3.1TL, SDA SRS 2.3TL, Rti6....Still listing stuff, a work in progress.
    B+W-Sold
    Epos-Now gone
    Infinity-Sold
    Advent-Now gone
    Yamaha A-S801
    Yamaha RX-V377
    Yamaha RX-A860
    Yamaha RX-A3060
    Harman Kardon Hk-350i
    Harman Kardon Hk-........
    Harman Kardon PM-665
    Harman Kardon HK-775
    Pioneer.......Stereo Receiver

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