Most people don’t enjoy fiddling around with their TVs for half an hour before settling in to watch This is Us. Since cable problems are among the hardest to find and diagnose, it’s a good idea to start with good cables.
Or, you could start with total, unmitigated overkill. This is my review of Solid Signal’s build-to-order custom quad shielded RG6 cable. This particular 3-foot length of cable was made especially to be destroyed in this test and it would normally sell for $6.99. Longer cables cost more.
Why Quad Shielded Cable? You may as well say, why climb Mount Everest? It’s true, most homes do not need this cable. For most people I’d recommend the next step down, Solid Signal’s RG6 Cable. A 3-foot length is going to set you back $4.99. Obviously longer ones will cost more.
But you know, there’s a case for spending a little more to get a great cable. This cable could probably live outside for a dozen years without any problems. It wouldn’t be bothered by microwave ovens… it probably could stand a blast from the Active Denial System. This is the cable you attach once and forget about. If you run a broadcast facility or a high-end video distribution system this is the cable for you. If it’s just you and your family in a nice, warm house… yeah it’s a bit much.
Let’s see what the T-Rex of cables is made of.
This cable is thick. At 8mm, it’s the thickest of any cable I’ve tested. It resists bending and according to the sheath it’s rated to 75° Celsius, which believe me is hotter than you’re ever going to get unless maybe you live in the middle of Death Valley. It’s got really meaty looking compression connectors with a full 12mm base to them and a nice large area for grabbing with a wrench. The connector spins smoothly but not easily.
Looking at the connector face on it looks really well done. The 1mm wide center conductor is clearly solid copper and the dielectric, visible here, looks very solid as well. I almost regret what I’m about to do to this well-made piece of cable.
It’s a shame to do this, but it’s all in pursuit of a good story.
Looking at the connector from both sides, it really shows how solidly built it is. It refused to come apart as I cut into it, and in fact disassembly of this cable was much much harder than I thought. I also notice that there is a green plastic insulating ring on the inside of the connector, visible from the back.
Quad shielded cable has four layers of shielding between the jacket and the dielectric. The outermost later is a relatively loose braid and is easily exposed by cutting away the jacket. This cable has more shielding on one of its layers than my Philips cable had on its only layer.
The next layer is a firm foil sheath. It is not crimped or glued together but unlike a similar sheath on the Philips cable it doesn’t yield easily. It feels about the same thickness as heavy-duty aluminum foil, the stuff you buy for the freeezer.
After carefully peeling back the foil, the second layer of braiding shows through. This is a really dense braid that obviously means business, similar to my old cable-company-supplied cable. If you’re getting Solid Signal’s standard RG6, you’d be looking at the same braid without the two outer layers.
As with the cable company line, the foil layer is glued to the dielectric. Unlike the cable company line it took me 10 minutes to remove it from the dielectric without cutting the cable to shreds. It’s the same weight as the outer layer of foil but let me tell you, it’s secured to that dielectric. It’s not going anywhere under normal use.
The dielectric itself is perfectly round, super-dense plastic, 4mm in width. It doesn’t yield at all when pressed. This is a real contrast to the other cables where the dielectric was spongy foam.
The center core is definitely solid copper, and while that may not be necessary, it’s nice to know that no matter how much I beat on this cable, I’m going to get a real copper connection.
Let’s take a look at the overall construction of this cable, both in side view and straight on:
It’s pretty clear this is a really professional grade cable. I’ll admit that I’ve learned a lot through this whole exercise and while I’ve been working with cables for my whole career this is probably the heaviest piece of coax that I’ve ever worked with. I would have no problem using it for anything in my home theatre, or recommending it to anyone doing pro installs.
No surprise, I’ve had this cable connected to my DVR for about a week (except when I disconnected it to test other cables) and it has given me no problems whatsoever. It hasn’t loosened up at all despite being disconnected about 10 times for various reasons. There’s no reason to think it gave me any performance issues… but it also didn’t outperform the regular RG6 line that is there. While it might not be worth the extra $1 per foot, come on, it’s a dollar a foot. If you only need a 6 foot run I’d say go for it. If you need a 50 foot cable I could see going with the less expensive stuff if you’re going to run in through the house.
The surprise winner of this comparison was really the free cable-company cable I had lying around the house. Its well-constructed cable and well-crimped hex connector stood up better than I thought. If I didn’t have that, though, I’d definitely skip the bargain stores or pre-packaged cables and wait to get some really solidly built RG6 with the compression connectors. It’s worth it, because as I found out the pre-packaged ones work for a little while and then they might start to become problematic.