Home Theater, a division of Metra Electronics Corporation, has introduced a new
line of A/V cables designed to provide consumers with high performance interconnects
at a reasonable cost. Their product line features everything from speaker cables
to high-definition video interconnects. We had the opportunity to put some of
their cables to the test and use them in our home theater system. A variety of
interconnects were provided that included composite video, s-video, and component
video cables. Both Toslink and coaxial digital cables were also included in the
mix. To top it off, we also had their 15-pin to 5-BNC and 15-pin to 3-RCA cables
on hand for testing. All of the electrical contacts used on the cables feature
gold-plated conductors for long term reliability and low contact resistance. Something
unique to Ethereal cables we noticed is the black braid material used on the outer
cable jacket. Also, each cable has a unique color band that makes it easy to recognize
in the sea of home theater cables present in most systems.
We connected our front channel speakers with the EP-SWP3 (pair)
and EP-SWC3 cables. The EP-SWP3 comes with a pair of cables for the left and right
channels, while the EP-SWC3 is a single cable for the center channel. The design
of the cables use a single jacket that contains heavy 12 gauge, high strand count
conductors. Each wire is pre-terminated with 24K gold-plated banana jacks coded
red and black with easy to grip backshells. The plugs offered excellent contact
friction with the binding posts found on our M&K S150THX front channel speakers.
The design worked particularly well with our M&K speakers, which are rated
at a 4 ohm nominal impedance. In actuality, the M&K S150THX speakers present
a much lower impedance at some frequencies and having a cable design that offers
very low resistance, proved to be beneficial in our setup. The EP-SWP3 and EP-SWC3
cables are available in lengths of 2m, 3m, 4m, 5m and 10m.
& S-Video Cables
Designated with a yellow band, the V-Series composite
cable is built around a sturdy connector with gold-plating to ensure a long-term
reliable connection. While composite cables appear simple, the reality is they
must not only carry luminance information, but also a modulated chroma signal
to produce a single composite signal. As a result, composite signals can easily
be degraded due to poor line impedance and shielding resulting in color separation
artifacts. The V-Series cable design was impressive with great performance from
our source material. We connected our Sony DVP-NS900V DVD player as a source and
looked at material on our Mitsubishi
PD-5010 50" High-Definition Plasma Display. Although we never recommend using
composite video, there are some cases where one has no choice. Standard VCRs and
even Laserdisc players get their signals from a composite source and in both cases
the V-Series performed well. The V-Series looked as good as any high-priced cable
we've seen in this type of application. The V-Series cables are available in lengths
of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
The S-Series s-video cable also uses a yellow band identifying it as a video interconnect.
The gold contacts reassured us that the connection will offer long-term reliability.
Unfortunately s-video connectors in general are known to be a problem for many
consumers. However, they are here to stay and it's certainly good to know that
cables such as the Ethereal S-Series can maximize video performance. The S-Series
cables are available in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
The set of component video cables we received (CV2) was
marked with the familiar red, green and blue designation bands, which represent
the R-Y, Y and B-Y component video signals. Once again using our Sony DVP-NS900V
progressive scan DVD player, we connected the component video signals to our Mitsubishi
PD-5010. The construction of these
video cables looked very similar to the composite video cable with gold-plated
contacts and small fingers inside of the RCA housing that grabs the RCA jack that
mates to it. There's nothing worse than plugging in an RCA connector only to find
that it doesn't grab the receptacle well. The design of these connectors ensures
that the contact is solid. Video performance was excellent with the CV-Series
cables rendering accurate colors with sharp video and no ringing. We were pleased
with the video produced with the CV-Series. The CV-Series cables are available
in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
Ethereal also offers both Toslink (T-Series) and coaxial
digital (D-Series) cables for audio. Both of these connector backshells are designated
with a lavender color band to distinguish them from the other cables. The Toslink
connector is contained in a sturdy housing with an easy to grab backshell. Unlike
many Toslink connectors, the T-Series are easy to insert and remove from digital
components. We connected the T2 cable from our Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition
D-Theater VCR to our Parasound AVC-2500U Processor. We popped in the recent release
of Moulin Rouge on D-VHS and were blown away with the DTS Digital Surround offered
on this latest release. We never experienced any dropouts or problems using this
cable. The T-Series cables are available in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
the other RCA connectors used in Ethereal cables, the D-Series use a similar design
with gold-plated contacts and a well designed housing for excellent performance
and low-contact resistance. Controlling impedance is particularly important with
high speed edges seen in digital audio signals and the D-Series delivers the performance
one would expect from a quality cable design. We ran the coaxial digital output
from the Sony DVP-NS900V to our Parasound processor and the results were superb.
Whether we played standard two-channel audio, DTS, or Dolby Digital, the sound
quality was excellent with no dropouts. We would have liked to try a longer cable
for this application (ours was only 2 meters long), but didn't have one on hand.
The D-Series cables are available in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
The HD3R-Series cables are designed for high bandwidth signals
with a 15-pin VGA connector on one end and a set of three RCA connectors on the
other end. The RCA connectors used on this cable look different than the RCA connectors
used on the other Ethereal cables. Rather than metal backshells, these gold-plated
RCA connectors used molded plastic. However, this didn't appear to impact performance
in our tests. The 15-pin VGA connector on the other end of the cable also used
and projectors have a 15-pin input connector that's configurable for either component
or RGB inputs. In the case of component video, this cable is ideal for such applications.
There are also products that use the 15-pin connector to output both RGB and component-based
video as in the case of our Home Theater PC fitted with an Macro Image Technology
MDP-100 HDTV tuner. We used this HTPC as a source of high-definition video to
feed our display during our tests. The picture was very detailed with the HD3R-4
installed and there were no signs of any degradation. The HD3R-Series cables are
available in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m and 4m.
Finally, we connected the HD5B-Series cable fitted with a 15-pin
VGA style connector on one side and a set of five BNC connectors on the other
side. This cable was by far our favorite for more than one reason. First of all,
we like BNC connectors on interconnects. They offer a secure twist-lock connection
and you never have to worry about them working their way out. Secondly, the HD5B-Series
cable carries video in its purest form with the RGB/HV connections. Separate horizontal
and vertical sync signals are carried on two separate coaxial wires, while the
RGB video signals are carried on individual red, green and blue coaxial cables.
We tested this cable with the
Mitsubishi PD-5010 50" High-Definition
Our source material came from our Samsung SIR-T165 set-top box. Our local high-definition
broadcasts offer superb video. For example, NBC's Law
and Order produce an excellent picture and image quality was outstanding
with this cable. Our review cable was only 4 meters, but I would expect similar
results with the longer 10 meter version as well. The HD5B-Series cables are available
in lengths of 0.5m, 1m, 2m, 3m, 4m and 10m.
Spending a lot of money on cables is certainly easy to do with the vast amount
of costly cables available to home theater enthusiast. The goal is to create a
system that performs well for years to come without breaking the bank. Ethereal
has a wide variety of cables that satisfy this requirement. The construction and
design of their cables offer consumers a quality product with a solution to the
overwhelming task of wiring all the components needed for today's home entertainment
systems. While there are many new cable companies to choose from, one must beware
of overpriced cables that offer little performance benefits. We found the Ethereal
cables have an excellent amount of performance for the dollar, especially when
compared to many of the cables currently being offered by well-known companies.