AudioQuest HDMI Cable Review Series: Pearl 18, BlueBerry 18, Cherry Cola 48, Cinnamon 48, and ThunderBird 48

Manufacturer & Model
AudioQuest HDMI TEST BENCH Review Series
MSRP
$29.95 to $1399.95
Link
https://www.audioquest.com
Highlights
Reviews include analysis of technologies, packaging, build quality, physical measurements, and both 8K and 4K performance.
Summary
We review eight different AudioQuest HDMI cables hailing from five different series. Models include Pearl, BlueBerry, Cinnamon, Cherry Cola, and ThunderBird, representing a generous cross-section of the company's offerings. Results found well-built cables that, in some cases, perform above spec. Thick PVC and knit jacket coverings are the biggest negative to AudioQuest HDMI cables, often resulting in bend radiuses that aren't as friendly as cables built by rivals.
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In our latest installment of HDMI TEST BENCH, we tackle five different models and eight different lengths of AudioQuest HDMI cables to give you a good idea of whether or not they're fluff, or have the right stuff to reliably transmit digital bits between the various components in your media or home theater system. To get a better idea of AudioQuest's HDMI offerings, we suggest you watch the review series overview video first. In this video, we group together the company's various HDMI cable series using a visual aid and briefly discuss the kind of technologies the different series use. With that knowledge, you can comfortably dive into our individual reviews that analyze AudioQuest's Pearl 18, BlueBerry 18, Cherry Cola 48, Cinnamon 48, and ThunderBird 48. Much like past HDMI TEST BENCH reviews, we look at packaging and build quality, provide physical measurements, and assess performance using Murideo's Fox & Hound 8K Test Kit and real-world testing scenarios.

In past reviews, we've suggested avoiding cables that are shorter than 2m because some short run cables may introduce issues that prevent equalization between two components or a component and display. This is why we asked AudioQuest to provide short lengths where possible and included devices like Apple TV in our testing. In the case of AudioQuest, we didn't encounter any issues with short cables in our testing environment. Please be aware: your mileage may vary.

The models covered in this review series are as follows and can be purchased from a wide range of dealers and online retailers. We've provided links to both Amazon and World Wide Stereo next to each model length. Please note that purchasing through these links may provide AV NIRVANA with a small commission. So, if you'd like to support the forum, click away. Otherwise, we encourage you to support your preferred e-retailer or local dealer.

Models tested are:
Review Series Overview:
Before watching the individual reviews created for each model we tested, click here and watch the overview. Here, you'll better understand AudioQuest's various HDMI offerings and see how the models we reviewed fit into the company's HDMI puzzle.

Reviews:










Link to the ThunderBird 48 review is in the first comment of the discussion!



 
Last edited:

Sonnie

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Cool beans... I use the Cinnamon cables from all my source components to my MK3 processor. Glad it passed your tests. I'll probably pick up another to run from the MK3 to my new Sony TV.
 

Todd Anderson

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I don’t think you can wrong with that buy - pretty amazing that some of their cables rated at 18Gbps are able to pass 40gbps.
 

-Jim-

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Thanks for the video reviews Todd. I could only handle checking out one of the Videos as I struggle severely with cables that are outrageously over priced for what they deliver. And these are amongst that group of suppliers who do that regularly. The only good thing is at least the most expensive HDMI cables they supply do pass the test.

However, I would think most folks would want to know what's the least expensive option from all suppliers that can reliably pass testing. There devices (TVs, HD Blu-ray players, etc.) probably won't cost what some of these cable do.
 

Todd Anderson

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Thanks for the video reviews Todd. I could only handle checking out one of the Videos as I struggle severely with cables that are outrageously over priced for what they deliver. And these are amongst that group of suppliers who do that regularly. The only good thing is at least the most expensive HDMI cables they supply do pass the test.

However, I would think most folks would want to know what's the least expensive option from all suppliers that can reliably pass testing. There devices (TVs, HD Blu-ray players, etc.) probably won't cost what some of these cable do.
Hi Jim! Great to hear from you - thanks for the comments! These definitely fall on the high $$$ spectrum. Tho, the Blueberry series is super intriguing. Not sure if you watched this one...



...but it's a cable that's spec'ed to deliver 18gbps, and my equipment has it passing through 40gbps. That makes this cable series super appealing (ie, bang for the buck) and a strong indicator that the copper used is robust. Why? Legacy HDMI specifications were designed to use 3 data channels and a clock channel. That clock channel only needed to carry a small amount of information as compared to the other three, and thus could be run using lesser materials. HDMI 2.1 uses the clock channel as a 4th conduit for data (up to 12gbps) and embeds clock data in the 3rd data channel. Now, if you try to push an HDMI 2.1 sped signal through a cable designed for legacy HDMI, you *might* run into issues if that clock channel is made of stripped down material (likely copper) that's only robust enough to carry the minimum signal needed to handle clock duties. Super inexpensive cables are inexpensive because a manufacturer keeps costs down by only using what's necessary... or in some cases, not even what's necessary! But, a cable with better materials, like we're likely seeing with the AudioQuest Blueberry cables sereis, that clock channel isn't skimped on, allowing HDMI 2.1 devices to push through a data intensive signal on what would otherwise be reserved for clock duties.

Aside from from confirming the capabilities of all of the AudioQuest cables we reviewed, another purpose of HDMI TEST BENCH is to take physical measurements. So, if you're shopping for a specific cable, we can give you valueable information about how the cable might handle during installation, how much room you'll need to pull it through a conduit, and what kind of bend radius you can expect from the cable.

I'm aware we've only tested high-dollar cables thus far. Next up, we have an active optical cable from a company called Pu-Fi. Pricing ranges from $49 for 15ft up to $199 for 100ft. And we also have a heaping pile of HDMI cables from Monoprice, so you'll see tests for cables that cost dollars up to mid high dollar. After that, we have a few irons heating the fire... and I also plan on digging into the world cheap no-name cables. Think cables from Amazon and 5 Below.

Happy Holidays!
 

-Jim-

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Hi Jim! Great to hear from you - thanks for the comments! These definitely fall on the high $$$ spectrum. Tho, the Blueberry series is super intriguing. Not sure if you watched this one...



...but it's a cable that's spec'ed to deliver 18gbps, and my equipment has it passing through 40gbps. That makes this cable series super appealing (ie, bang for the buck) and a strong indicator that the copper used is robust. Why? Legacy HDMI specifications were designed to use 3 data channels and a clock channel. That clock channel only needed to carry a small amount of information as compared to the other three, and thus could be run using lesser materials. HDMI 2.1 uses the clock channel as a 4th conduit for data (up to 12gbps) and embeds clock data in the 3rd data channel. Now, if you try to push an HDMI 2.1 sped signal through a cable designed for legacy HDMI, you *might* run into issues if that clock channel is made of stripped down material (likely copper) that's only robust enough to carry the minimum signal needed to handle clock duties. Super inexpensive cables are inexpensive because a manufacturer keeps costs down by only using what's necessary... or in some cases, not even what's necessary! But, a cable with better materials, like we're likely seeing with the AudioQuest Blueberry cables sereis, that clock channel isn't skimped on, allowing HDMI 2.1 devices to push through a data intensive signal on what would otherwise be reserved for clock duties.

Aside from from confirming the capabilities of all of the AudioQuest cables we reviewed, another purpose of HDMI TEST BENCH is to take physical measurements. So, if you're shopping for a specific cable, we can give you valueable information about how the cable might handle during installation, how much room you'll need to pull it through a conduit, and what kind of bend radius you can expect from the cable.

I'm aware we've only tested high-dollar cables thus far. Next up, we have an active optical cable from a company called Pu-Fi. Pricing ranges from $49 for 15ft up to $199 for 100ft. And we also have a heaping pile of HDMI cables from Monoprice, so you'll see tests for cables that cost dollars up to mid high dollar. After that, we have a few irons heating the fire... and I also plan on digging into the world cheap no-name cables. Think cables from Amazon and 5 Below.

Happy Holidays!

Hi Todd,

Thanks for the reply. As a past active member of IEEE for well over a decade, I'm well familiar with specifications and testing methodology, so it's good to see your efforts in this regard for those who need this education. You are correct the Blueberry series seems like a bargain when compared to their outrageously priced cable that push silver content with little if any benefit. Some folks are swayed by marketing claims rather than science and will fall for "if this is good then that must be better" scenarios. Then they end up overpaying. Even though this line of cables is by far the least expensive by this supplier, they aren't competitive in the marketplace for what they deliver. (See Monoprice 8K Certified Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable )

As a trained Six Sigma Black Belt, for me it's all about real data, and meeting recognized standards. I was very surprised that AudioQuest couldn't be bothered, or didn't want to pay the token amount, to display certification?

For those member here, who don't want to, or don't understand specs and all, they should download the App to their smart phone and just scan the box before purchase. It's that easy to know what you are buying meets specifications and will perform in your application.

Ultra Hi Speed Cable Certification

Ultra_Label_Gen1toGen2.png


Todd, I'm certain you will find more cost effective robust cables from many other suppliers with this certification.

I often find that suppliers don't manufacture their products but outsource them to a limited few who make them. But that's a story for another time.

Thanks again for the testing videos and all.
 

Todd Anderson

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Hey Jim!

They do have certification labels on their cables spec-ed for 48gbps... since Blueberry isn't specified as ultra high speed, it doesn't have one (even though, from the tests it meets the same standards). As far as I know, the HDMI org doesn't have labels for cables other than Ultra High Speed.

We will definitely keep sourcing from other manufacturers. As I said, Monoprice is in the house and ready to be tested!

Have a great one!
 
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