A straightforward answer to “Do RCA Cables Make A Difference” is yes. RCA cables make a difference in the overall sound quality.
However, the long answer is more than that.
What type of RCA cable are we talking about? Does the length of the cable and the quality have anything to do with it?
Let’s find out the answers in this post.
- Do RCA Cables Make A Difference?
- Do RCA Cables Make A Difference In-Car Audio?
- Does RCA Cable Quality Matter?
- Does RCA Cable Length Affect Sound Quality?
- Does The Thickness Of An RCA Cable Matter?
- Are Gold-Plated RCA Cables Better?
- Can Bad RCA Cables Cause Static?
- Signs Of Bad RCA Cables?
- Recommended RCA Cables
Do RCA Cables Make A Difference?
RCA cables can make a huge difference to sound quality. To untrained ears, the sometimes-subtle difference in the sound quality is not apparent.
However, RCA cables allow the sound to be detailed for a trained ear so that the listeners hear the layers and more complex sounds.
To put it simply, RCA cables carry sounds in the form of voltage. This voltage, through the positive and negative loads, moves to the speaker and generates the sound. If the voltage is not modified when it reaches the speaker, a detailed sound reaches the speaker.
However, when there is a difference in the voltage in the RCA cable, it results in sound degradation.
Sound degradation occurs due to two major factors:
An electrical socket with poor grounding will almost definitely cause your audio equipment to generate noise. So if your sound system is hooked to a socket with poor grounding, the resulting sound can be pretty bad.
Therefore, before you reject or find fault with the RCA cable, check the grounding system.
Sound degradation also increases with the length of the RCA cable. The distance makes it susceptible for the RCA cable to pick up more noise, resulting in sound degradation. The sound degradation is more when the RCA cable is of substandard quality.
Furthermore, cables of low quality can also pick up RCA cable noise even if the distance is short. In addition, if the substandard quality RCA cable is near the noise source, it will not reject the noise.
RCA cables that have OFMC construction and braided shielding are excellent at noise rejection. These cables can reject noise and keep the voltage conductivity throughout the entire length without distortion.
Do RCA Cables Make A Difference In-Car Audio?
Yes. RCA cables can also make a difference in-car audio.
This is assuming that the sound system in your car is already the best you can afford.
RCA cables for mobile applications such as a car usually have more than one layer of shielding. This enables the cable to reduce the noise due to electromagnetic interference or EMI. In addition, a good quality RCA cable also comes with end-to-end shielding, which helps with noise reduction.
However, RCA cables for stationary connections are not suitable for use in cars. This is because electrical connections on a car undergo a lot of stress. This happens through engine vibrations, road bumps, and braking.
Therefore, RCA cables for mobile applications such as in a car need more than a layer of shielding and integrated strain relief to ease the hardening or, worse, breaking.
Despite having a good quality sound system in your car hooked up with RCA cables, if you still experience noise, you might want to check the frequency response calibration. Several components in a car, including glass, leather, vinyl, and plastic, can tamper and reduce the car’s frequency response.
In this case, calibrating the frequency response with an equalizer usually fixes the noise issue.
Another point of consideration is the quality of the sound system in your car. Premium RCA cables will not be of any help if your car’s sound system is nothing more than a Bluetooth speaker.
Does RCA Cable Quality Matter?
Absolutely. The quality of the RCA is one of the primary factors that determine the quality of the sound.
RCA cables that are low in quality do not have the shielding and the design to reject the noise between the source and the speakers. This makes it easy for the cables to distort the noise.
On the other hand, premium RCA cables have the right construction and design to produce the best sound quality. RCA cables with OFMC or Oxygen Free Multi-Stranded Copper construction are among the top ones on the market. In addition to the multi-stranded copper construction, they also come with braided shielding.
RCA cables with such construction and shielding are outstanding at noise rejection and distortion. So regardless of the level of noise and how close to the noise source the cable may be, there is not much of a noise distortion in the final sound.
Does RCA Cable Length Affect Sound Quality?
The length of the RCA cable does not affect the sound quality per se.
It is the quality of the cable that is primarily responsible for the sound. Poor quality RCA cables do not have the right design or the construction to reject the noise.
So regardless of the length of the cable, the poor quality RCA cable will pick up the noise from the source and distort the final sound.
Does The Thickness Of An RCA Cable Matter?
Yes and no. In some cases, the thickness of an RCA cable can make sound weighty and complex. This is especially true if you have a sound system that has the right setup.
However, with the wrong setup in the sound system, the thickness or the quality of the RCA cable will not be as influential.
Are Gold-Plated RCA Cables Better?
Gold-plated RCA cables can perform better but not without the right connector and cable connection.
Gold is the third most conductive metal after copper and silver. This means that RCA cables with gold plating can make the sound better, theoretically.
But the gold plating in itself does not improve the sound quality. For the gold plated component in RCA cables to work, the connector needs to be of good quality too, which is seen in good quality cables, aka, thicker cables.
Another reason why gold-plated RCA cables are considered better is because they last longer since gold is more rust resistant than other metals.
Can Bad RCA Cables Cause Static?
Yes, bad or poor-quality RCA cables can pick up static noise. This is especially true if the RCA cables are in a mobile application such as a car.
In this case, detaching the RCA cables from the amplifier and hooking it up into the input jacks usually helps fix the problem.
However, in other cases, RCA cables are not the sole culprit for static. The RCA input can also cause static.
Signs Of Bad RCA Cables?
Similar to other cables, RCA cables can also go bad or degrade over time. The main reason for degrading RCA cables is poor manufacturing. However, repeated motions of plugging and unplugging can also damage the cables.
Below are the most common signs of bad RCA cables:
- Exposed parts in any length of the cable
- Pinch or dents in parts of the cable
- No signal at all from the cables
- Degrading sound or video quality that was not present earlier. Rusting of the components in the cable can reduce the quality of audio and video.
Recommended RCA Cables
In this section, we recommend our top choice of the best RCA cables on the market.
AudioQuest – Red River
The Red River from AudioQuest is undeniably our top choice of the best RCA cables on the market.
It comes with a triple balanced design and separate ground connector, which makes it top quality. The triple layer makes this RCA fantastic at noise dissipation, so you will have a great performance every single time. In addition, this RCA cable also has long-grain copper construction, so it is also great in quality.
JSAUX RCA cable
An RCA cable that is exceptionally long and is a value for your money is this JSAUX RCA cable. With braided cord construction and 2RCA male cord, this RCA cable comes in two lengths – 6.6 and 10 feet.
In addition, this RCA cable is also very affordable and compatible with multiple devices. So this JSAUX RCA cable is indeed a bang for your buck.
Hosa CPR-202 Dual RCA
This Hosa CPR-202 Dual RCA comes with nickel plating, so it is durable and good in performance. This RCA cable is best for connecting phones and stereo jacks.
You will also appreciate that this RCA cable comes with OFMC construction. This means that the cable is resistant to RFI and BMI interference, and you get pristine high-quality sound.
This Hosa CPR-202 Dual RCA is also very affordable, which is great considering that this RCA cable is great in quality.
Fosmon A1602 RCA Splitter With 3-Way Audio Switcher
This multipurpose RCA splitter connects up to three devices at once, so you get a good deal out of it. The 3-way audio/video splitter means that you don’t have to unplug a device to use another one.
Fosmon A1602 RCA splitter also does not require an external power source, making it very portable friendly. Furthermore, this RCA cable comes at an unbeatable price.
The RCA cable has come a long way since it hit the market in the 40s. RCA cables come with fantastic advantages of versatility and great performance.
RCA cables have a lot of impact on the quality of the sound. However, the quality of the RCA cables and the setup is also paramount.