Are Monster Cable's Markups Technically Worth It?

Illustration for article titled Are Monster Cable's Markups Technically Worth It?

Consumerist found this amazing list of retailer cost for Monster Cable, where many of the cables went for nearly double what they cost. Monster responded with an answer that was thoughtful from their point of view. Many times, in "jewelery, clothing, and furniture, the markup is even greater." Fine, I don't know anything about retail. But technically speaking and from a consumer's point of view, here is what I think:

While Monster cables are of good quality and engineering, when it comes to digital signals, specifically HDMI cables, we know that its a better idea to buy a $5 dollar HDMI cable today, and then when bandwidth requirements go up in future specs of HDMI, just buy another $5 cable then. It's a lot cheaper than $100 HDMI cables from Monster. The exceptions come when you are running long runs of cable through a wall, where swapping cables is annoying and the signal can degrade (yes, the digital signal can degrade, as proven here, here and here.)

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When it comes to analog cables, like composite and speaker cables, I for one believe you can get a lot out of midrange (Monster is midrange compared to some cables I've seen and used) analog cabling that has a lot of shielding for interference. More than Radio Shack stock cable? I don't know. But I'm sure cable outlets like Monoprice have lower costs for similar cabling. Did you know Monster Cable has a garage with Lamborghini showcars and throws a huge celebrity bash at CES every year? Not cheap.

Not that Monster is alone in this industry. All cable makers who sell through home theater stores are going to have a big mark up.

DISCUSSION

Every time I see a Monster ad and every time I see a sales person pushing Monster cables on customers, I get angry. Here's why....

"The mark-up percentage isn't the problem. The problem is the stores are no longer stocking lower priced cables, so consumers are being forced to buy these very expensive cables if they want to use their new equipment immediately."

I tried to buy a 20' component cable recently, and the only things I could find were $75+ cables at the big retail chains. Wal-Mart had one for $20.

I used to work for a retail store. I purchased inventory, so I know EXACTLY what our cables cost... up to 50% of the retail price - ALL of them. In fact, many of the $3.99 adapters cost us less than $1. Practically ALL cable sales are a ripoff, as cables are relatively easy to manufacture and the cost of raw materials isn't very high. Paying more than about .10-.25 per foot is probably a ripoff, but we're stuck, because "competition" isn't doing its job. Instead of giving us better prices, the cable manufacturers are conspiring to RAISE them every year.

As to musicians who use Monster cables... I AM one. I bought a Monster cable for my bass guitar. Now here's the thing: I move around a lot, and I tend to step on cables. When I stepped on my $10 Guitar Center specials, the cable pulls out of the bass. That's fine. That's what I WANT it to do. But when I stepped on my Monster cable? The wire pulled right out of the end of the connector! If we'd been live, I would have had to stop the show to replace my guitar cord!!

I did an autopsy after the fact. Do you know what I discovered? The actual cable's construction was INFERIOR to the $10 Guitar Center special. That's right.. the insulation, the shielding, even the core itself were not as good as the "cheaper" cables they compete with. And the connectors were crap. As I already mentioned, they don't even hold the wire well enough to prevent it from coming out of the connector, and the cable had no strain relief on either end.

As to the "people who pay too much get what they deserve" comment... actually, the opposite is true. They deserve to get what they pay for, and they didn't get it!