"I really hope he announces a crappy product now so I can hate him again."

Monster Cable reader poll

I think it is safe to say that Joel Johnson's liveblog of the Monster Cable press event at the Consumer Electronics Show was not entirely complimentary.

Some (seemingly) worthwhile products managed to poke their heads up above the mire, but I can't help but wonder whether Monster's new uninterruptible power supplies will be like their existing power conditioners, whose specifications appear to be a secret.

At least they haven't yet made any cables out of garden hose. They don't sell cable conditioners, either, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they did.

21 Responses to “"I really hope he announces a crappy product now so I can hate him again."”

  1. Red October Says:

    I'm not too sure about how Monster cable is being held up as the whipping boy for stupid cables. They're expensive, sure, and I'd never buy a full price one (One of the perks of working in an electronics retailer is being able to see how much things actually cost the company. Here's a hint -you pay a premium to be able to get it today and have someone tell you what it's for. If you don't need these things, buy your items in lots on ebay.) But they're not fundamentally bad products, like the garden hose cable or cable conditioners. They also tend to go on sale for large discounts (about %40-%60 at my shop) which can make them worthwhile, especially when combined with other discounts like coupons or the discount you get when you open a store charge (or my %30 employee discount ;) ). The other thing is Monster cables have lifetime warantees and they do make good on it; my girlfriend had one eaten by a dog and it was replaced. That said there is no reason to buy certain things, like monster power cords, (which clearanced out of our store ages ago for $9 and became a good deal since all told they are high quality goods) or the cables of the higer "Series" numbers, that tend to differ only in having a protective braid on them but cost $15 more. What I'm saying is they're not fundamentally faulty products, just fundamentally whoppingly overpriced :)

  2. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    The problem, though, is that sometimes you need a cable Right Yesterday, and besides, it's not worth paying the shipping on. So what do you do? You don't need a Platinum-Encrusted Cable Of +1 Data Whatever, so why should you have to pay extra for one?

    When it comes down to it, my problem is that consumers sometimes don't have a choice but to buy the whoppingly overpriced product that they don't really need the potential benefits of. I won't go so far as to say that Monster (in particular) has crowded other, cheaper (in both senses of the word) cables out of retail stores - but there's got to be some reason they seem to have mostly gone away.

    [The reason: Sales staff that get paid commissions. Which would you rather sell, if the bulk, or sometimes even ALL, of your wage comes from commissions: A $9.95 cable that works perfectly well, or the $89.95 Monster Cable version? -Dan]

  3. Red October Says:

    The shop I work in has three kinds of audio cables -"Good" -our own brand, nothing special, but good thick cable nonetheless, fine for most HiFi gear or the like. Prices all under $20, except the 36 footer. "Better" -again, our own brand, but with high quality metal connectors, thicker insulation still, shielding, and gold plated contact areas. 90% of people buy these and it's all the cable they'll ever need. Then we sell Monster. Some are only a few dollars more than our own "Better" cables, not a bad deal for the warranty. Others, like the 2-metre HDMI cables, cost $129, which is silly, since HDMI is digital and you could pass it down a repurposed 25 year old RS232 terminal feed if you wanted to. But HDMI is overpriced anyway because it's a proprietary standard, which of course doesn't help matters any. With the exception of some oddball little patch leads our cables are all at least adequate and the cheap ones are affordable. You can still drive down the road to the hardware store and buy the shitty old style, thin audio cables with the old style ends on them, but you'd have to be an awful skinflint to buy that kind of cable, since they cost maybe $1 less than the ones that would at least stand up to a good yank or being accidentally pinched or slammed against a wall. The cheapass cables have probably gone away because the profit margins aren't as high, and retailers, especially "big-box" places want to maximize dollars for floor space, and if they have three things that all do the same thing, and they can foist an item with a 50% margin on someone (since most of those stores don't do "customer service" per say and will tell you you "need" monster cable or whatever for ordinary HiFi hookups) who is already confused and laying out $500 for some silly home theatre in a box with a zillion little speakers that are probably the same thing as the $20-a-pair Pyramids I put in my MR2, and a gimcrack amp with proprietary speaker connectors that claims to have 1,000 watts (yet draws only 198) and only has two audio inputs, and all the quality of the Sears special I threw away a decade ago.

  4. phrantic Says:

    It really bothers me that HDMI cables in particular are so overpriced. The cheapest ones I've seen around my local electronics stores is about $50. For some bloody wire! Viva la DisplayPort!

  5. Jonadab Says:

    I agree with Red October on this one. Monster-brand cables are consistently overpriced, yes, but they're not bad in any other way that I'm aware of, so I'm not sure how they could be considered a scam. I don't buy them, because I'm more frugal than that, but that doesn't make them a bad product. And while they're consistently overpriced, we're talking about roughly the same level of overpricing (up to a thousand percent or so versus a bargain-priced equivalent product elsewhere) that you also see at places like Bath & Body Works or even J.C. Penny's.

  6. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Red: Glad to see that you still have an option there. In that case, it just comes down to whether there's false information being provided.

    At least they're safe, decent cables.

  7. Changes Says:

    Following Dan's links I came across the $6500 siltech signature whatever g6 cables. Thinking that was as insane as you could possibly get, I Googled "siltech g6", and came across this.

    $26750 for a two-and-a-half meter pair of speaker cables.

    Anyone knows how much it costs to order a small-scale production of something like that to a factory? Cos the thought of working my ass off for that money is definitely unappealing compared to that of selling one cable per year and keeping my ass on soft cushions.

    Oh, and I particularly loved the "reviewer"'s claim that Siltech have "made a believer out of him".

  8. unfunk Says:

    As a guitarist, I'd probably buy Monster guitar leads if I had the money - nothing sucks more than taking to the stage, only to realise your bassist rolled his 5673289kg amp over your lead and crushed the interior... or when you plug in to your guitar, to discover that you have the Mysterious Ghost Tone, where it works fine until you actually play the guitar. Then, when you're trying to isolate the break, you can't.

    Buuuut, they're super-expensive, and I doubt anything is capable of withstanding my bassist's amp being rolled over it.

  9. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I agree that Monster Cable products, like those of less well-known but often even more expensive fancy-cable companies, are generally not actually defective. But they are, without exception, encrusted with advertising that promises that there is some actual technical reason why the Monster product is superior to the much cheaper generic one, and those promises are, almost invariably, complete nonsense.

    And then there are the retailers that make it look as if the promises are true by hooking up the "Monster Cabled" screen with a gen-u-wine Monster HDMI lead, and the "cheaper cabled" screen with 100 feet of composite-video RCA lead. And then, less relevantly but still worth mentioning, there's Monster's endless stream of frivolous trademark lawsuits against other companies that use the name "Monster" but are not in anything like the same business: Mini-golf. Deer licks. Yes, you do need to defend your trademark, but not by harassing people whose business is utterly different from yours.

    (See also: Leo Stoller.)

    Even if you don't care about the cheating in-store "demonstrations" and the stupid, bullying business practices, I contend that Monster's long history of Making Shit Up about their cables - which is only getting worse now that they're saying the same things about digital cables, for God's sake - qualifies the very core of their business, the thing that gets people to buy their cables instead of other ones, as a scam.

  10. steveg Says:

    Is there are science anywhere that says Expensive Cables are better than what you get from Jaycar's cable-on-bobbin section? All the crap I've seen waxes lyrical -- much like wine descriptions.

  11. trr Says:

    But the performance of these cables is backed by science.

  12. Red October Says:

    I hear ya, Dan, Monster produces, well, a Monster-sized pile of ...Marketing. I'm not too sure it's much different from any other company, though. (I don't stand by my authority on this, and neither should anyone else, I tend to accept marketing as propaganda) A little over-zealous, but hey, our store-brand cables have silly graphs and stuff on them and all about the "power" of Gold, and all that. I drive a Corvette. In spite of that, I don't quite need to tuck the end of my genital into my sock. (Though given the state of the world's Sportscar market, the Corvette isn't the best example. I only wish I could own a Ferrari, which would make a better example.)

  13. Duriel Says:

    Thanks for clearing that up Red.

  14. RichVR Says:

    When I got my Sharp Aquos the girlfriend ran to Best Buy to get an HDMI cable while I set up the TV. She came back with a $100 Monster cable. I thought she was smarter than that and said so.

    She said that Monster was all they carried. Of course I apologized profusely.

    The next time I went to Best Buy I checked. It's true. Monster branded cables only.

    That will be the last time I shop at BB. I knew they sucked but not the degree of suckitude.

  15. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    RichVR, that's the sort of thing I mentioned above.

    And Red, don't step in the marketing!

  16. Red October Says:

    Well Fuzzy gets my joke, at least. There was a Dilbert cartoon that talked about "Steaming piles of marketing" -i.e. bullshit. My example with my Corvette is basically that while I own a product with a lot of hype and advertising, while it's still awesome, it's not as awesome as the hype makes it out to be. Right now, however, the new Corvettes are very cheap but compete very well with the US$250,000 sportscars even though they run from about US$40,000-90,000 (the latter for the quite costly ZR1), so they're more like the store-brand gold cables -only slightly less as good as the Monster, but costing so much less that it becomes academic which is "better".

  17. RichVR Says:

    Red, I wasn't aiming that comment at you. I understand your point. No snark intended, just an anecdote.

  18. RichVR Says:

    Oh, and a follow-up. The reason that I had to go to BB the last time was because I was putting together a new computer for the kid. I needed a power supply and a case.

    After the salesperson helped me out she suggested that I go over to where my girlfriend was waiting in line to make a return. I said I'd rather wait and ring it up at her register in the computer department. I didn't want her to lose the commission. She laughed and told me that they didn't get commissions. Only the managers got them.

    That surprised me.

  19. Tim Says:

    I'm surprised that Best Buy now only carries the Monster cables (been a while since I've bought anything from them, it seems) - they used to carry a good selection of their in-house Dynex branded cables of various sorts. Time marches on, I guess.

  20. Jonadab Says:

    The only steaming piles of marketing I'd seen was the usual stuff on the packaging that just sort of _implied_ the cables were better, mostly by making factual (albeit irrelevant to function) statements about them. Sure, people who don't know any better may think maybe the platinum-plated triple-shielded cables are better than the regular aluminum ones, but if the package says they're gold-plated and triple-shielded, and they are in fact (needlessly) gold-plated and triple-shielded, that's a stupidly expensive product, but I don't see how it's a scam.

    I was not aware of the phony demonstrations, though. That's smacks of scam, certainly.

    Maybe I'm behind the times, because it's been a few years since I've seen a Monster cable package. (I don't _go_ to places like Best Buy. Those places don't sell *anything* at less than 20% markup over its actual value, usually more like 40%, and I'm just more frugal than that.) Perhaps they've become more audacious while I wasn't watching closely.

    I still say the markup on Monster Cables isn't any more insane than the markup on name-brand clothing (which I also don't buy).

  21. materielinformatique Says:

    No, I never bought Monster cable. One of my friend has told me that monster cable is suing an American automotive manufacturing company in the middle of a recession. I don't have much idea about it but ready to know.

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