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Old 12-19-2006   #1
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Default What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Hey guys,

I know the general consensus about amps is that they're all pretty much the same, and that I shouldn't get caught up in the hype. But what's the deal with RCA cables?

Right now I'm using the Lightning Audio cables, they're the mid grade level that's silver\blue in colour. I'm planning on ripping everything out and re-wiring it again as I'm not happy the way it was initially done by the shop.
Now that I'm more confident in what I can do and how far I'm willing to go, ... I want to do it right.

So should I just spend the money on the top of the line rca cables that companies like Monster Cable\Pheonix Gold\Lightning Audio has to offer? Or is that a waste of money?

The reason I can't use the existing ones is due to the male ends being screwed up, and it isn't the type that I can unscrew and replace. Although I guess I could just cut it\strip it\then solder it to a new screwable male end. But I'd rather upgrade if it's worth it.

Any and all input is much appreciated.
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Old 12-19-2006   #2
 
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

there is a write up about RCAs in this months CA&E mag.
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Old 12-19-2006   #3
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I fond no sonic differences based on shielding. I DO notice a difference if the cable is UNshielded (cheapest thing radio shack has got) versus shielded, but once its shielded? I cant tell between the most expensive gear and the radioshack gold series.

dont get me wrong! there is a reason to be picky with cabling! It has to do with reliability of the connector and solder joints. Great example would be one of the KNU rca cable lines. the heads looked great, screwed on, felt secure, etc. But the shroud would slip out of the rca head threads, and pulling a connector to remove it, you would end up with a stress relief shroud in one hand, and your cable still plugged in! Thats a bad cable!

Radioshack gold series are another issue. the cable connector shield itself is flimsy metal. perfect for one time use, or home use where equipment isnt subject to the same violent vibration as a car environment. But if we are constantly changing things around (and who isnt here?) the shield tends to widen out, cables get loose over time, and the signal gets intermittant, scratchy, all sorts of problems arise. and crimping it back smaller is just never the same for signal transfer.

the last is solder joint reliability. Ive not had too many issues here, but its not uncommon to have a cable with a sheild that feels great, a solid connection, and then an audio signal that just sucks; then the installer wiggles the cable behind the head and the signal comes in crystal clear, everything is great? thats a bad cable!
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Old 12-19-2006   #4
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I personally have always spent a little extra money on RCA cables .. not only for connection quality and signal retention, but for shielding and noise purposes. Understand when I say a "little extra money" I mean not using the $4 rca's from radio shack, using the $12-30 Knukonceptz cables.

If you head over to places like head-fi.com or other "audiophile" sites you will hear a lot of talk about cables. You will also hear about "critical listening" and training yourself to hear differences. To each their own. I doubt very much that you would hear any significant difference between properly installed and functioning RCA cables that were $1 a foot vs $80 a foot, especially in the car environment. Maybe in a much more audio friendly environment like the home or even more so in the high end headphone arenas. Lot less reflections and other distorted sound issues in those places than in the car, where some of the smallest details may be heard ... maybe

Just read White's response .. I have been using RS gold connectors in my home for years heh.

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Old 12-19-2006   #5
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

If someone can make a business out of convincing people to buy $80 RCA cables, more power to them. But they won't be getting my money.

Restating what fej said, as long as the cable is shielded and the connectors are solid enough to be used over and over again, they are good enough for me.

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Old 12-19-2006   #6
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuyler1
If someone can make a business out of convincing people to buy $80 RCA cables, more power to them. But they won't be getting my money.
$80? Thats cheap. What about the $1000+ per foot?


I prefer to just make my own. I have the choice of ends, make it what ever color I want, exact length, plus I know the solder joints are good. Plus if you use good ends you can just de-solder them and use them again.
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Old 12-19-2006   #7
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Cool, that's what I thought, but I wanted to see what other have to say.

I'm upgrading my head unit to the Clarion DRZ9255, and I already had the JL Audio 250\4 and 300\1 amps, so I figured I'll spend the money on RCA cables if it really makes a difference, but if not, then I'll spend the money on upgrading the speakers instead.

Please keep posting your input on this topic as I'd like to know how many others agree or disagree.
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Old 12-19-2006   #8
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

just buy knuconcepts. or get whatever brand can be found cheap on ebay. anything made by a car audio company should be shielded and that shoudl be good enough.

personally, i bought my RCA cables based on looks. for the long runs from HU to trunk i have some MTX-somthing cables that are black and look great. i am also making my own cables for the shorter runs so the install looks clean.
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Old 12-19-2006   #9
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NaamanF
$80? Thats cheap. What about the $1000+ per foot?


I prefer to just make my own. I have the choice of ends, make it what ever color I want, exact length, plus I know the solder joints are good. Plus if you use good ends you can just de-solder them and use them again.
Any particular manufacturer in mind? For the ends or the cables?

Like I said, I already have the shielded mid-grade Lightning audio Blue\silver RCA cables, it's just that one of the male ends it screwed up and I'm contemplating just redoing the ends with screwable ones instead of the sealed ones that it currently has. After reading the responses, I guess I should forget upgrading now, as it seems that it'll just be a waste of time and money.
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Old 12-19-2006   #10
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I build mine out of install grade audio/data cable that has a 100% foil sheild. BUT my car is VERY noisy in the RF arena. I have a Big Strapper fuel pump, gen-fer good buddy! My fuel pump can whipe out damn near the whole HF radio spectrum from 25-35 feet away and even dicks with the VHF spectrum up to around 175Mhz.

Um yeah, I use heavy shielding and the wire is only 20 cents a foot

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Old 12-19-2006   #11
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I have been buying mine from here-> http://www.homegrownaudio.com/ Not the cheapest by any means but they are solid and well built. You can find cheaper ones at partexpress or other online stores.

If money was no option I think I would be rollin' with WBTs.
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Old 12-19-2006   #12
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I've used both the cheap, thin Walmart ones and KnuKonceptz (running now) and I couldn't notice a difference.
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Old 12-19-2006   #13
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiterabbit
dont get me wrong! there is a reason to be picky with cabling! It has to do with reliability of the connector and solder joints.
Agreed. Any guitar players in here? How many cables do you have lying around? Ok, now how many BAD cables do you have lying around? Those damned things have a life that seems to be on the order of hours for some of them.
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Old 12-19-2006   #14
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I don't generally use shielding. Call me a mental patient if you want, but I've had more problems with shielded "car audio" RCAs than non-shielded and I'm not sure why. I wonder what happens if the shield breaks somewhere along the line...
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Old 12-19-2006   #15
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkZ
I don't generally use shielding. Call me a mental patient if you want, but I've had more problems with shielded "car audio" RCAs than non-shielded and I'm not sure why. I wonder what happens if the shield breaks somewhere along the line...
x2 for me
ive had far less problems with shielded as well in the car audio environment. so i guess im in the same ward as you MarkZ

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Old 12-19-2006   #16
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkZ
Agreed. Any guitar players in here? How many cables do you have lying around? Ok, now how many BAD cables do you have lying around? Those damned things have a life that seems to be on the order of hours for some of them.

And then how many have heard microphonic guitar cables? That will drive you batty!

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Old 12-19-2006   #17
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Guitar cables are a totally different environment. Those get run over by heavy equipment, stepped on, pulled every which way, and then rolled up and unraveled over and over again.

Car RCAs are installed once and pretty much kept in place (unless you swap out equipment regularly). Sure they endure cold and hot climates but they don't have to move around nearly as much.

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Old 12-19-2006   #18
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuyler1
Guitar cables are a totally different environment. Those get run over by heavy equipment, stepped on, pulled every which way, and then rolled up and unraveled over and over again.

Car RCAs are installed once and pretty much kept in place (unless you swap out equipment regularly). Sure they endure cold and hot climates but they don't have to move around nearly as much.
...except for initial installation, where car RCAs are yanked, pulled, and bent.
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I found this article I havent read the entire thing but its pretty interesting. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa/...ect/page1.html
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Old 12-19-2006   #20
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

I started a post like this on another forum once. The consensus what that the law of diminshing returns starts at around $30 a pair or so.

I totally agree with whiterabbit. But I would also say that I've had some Stinger cables with VERY tight fitting plugs get ripped apart due to the wire getting tugged away from the plug over time.

The Knu cables I've had for probably 4 years still work great, but the plugs have loostened over time and I find myself taking a needle nose plyers after them from time to time to keep the connection snug.

So if you can justify the cost based on the level of equipment in your system as a whole, then spending over $30 makes sense. But spend that money on the quality, construction and durabiltiy of the cable, not on it's marketing bullshit.

I was thinking of making my own line of car audio RCA cables and calling them Monsterous SQizze, but I probably can't afford the court fees when Monster Cable sues my ass.

This place has some good stuff for pretty cheap: www.accessories4less.com otherwise Darvex (bagboy) on ebay is good as well. Also Bobdutch has a make your own sale going if you want to go the custom route.
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Old 12-19-2006   #21
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

The " difference " in the sound of cables , is directly related to the quality of your equipment and install , but most importantly : How well your ears are trained to hear differences.
Recently , I had Rockford Fosgate Riot Matrix , Streetwires Zero Noise 6N , and Daxx R-99 RCA cables in my car at one time , and could switch from one to another very easily.
There were VERY noticible differences in tonality , as well as imaging / soundstaging.
In the end , only YOU can decide what is right for you ...
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Old 12-19-2006   #22
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

If I bought a 50" plasma TV for some grands, it would look better to me no matter how ordinary it appeared to others

I don't think there will be an actual difference under 30'. But I agree, if it makes (or seems to make) an audible difference to the owner, that's what matters.

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Old 12-19-2006   #23
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AVI
The " difference " in the sound of cables , is directly related to the quality of your equipment and install , but most importantly : How well your ears are trained to hear differences.
Recently , I had Rockford Fosgate Riot Matrix , Streetwires Zero Noise 6N , and Daxx R-99 RCA cables in my car at one time , and could switch from one to another very easily.
There were VERY noticible differences in tonality , as well as imaging / soundstaging.
In the end , only YOU can decide what is right for you ...
Until you can prove that with cold hard numbers... I have a bridge to sell you.... In central Arizona.

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Old 12-19-2006   #24
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

Quote:
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Until you can prove that with cold hard numbers... I have a bridge to sell you.... In central Arizona.

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Old 12-19-2006   #25
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Default Re: What's the truth about RCA Cables?

your ears only hear the faint breeze whisping through your wallet. That primarily accounts for the light airy sound.
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