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3.5mm to RCA cables for dac/amp interconnect

SeanTek

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Feb 18, 2023
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I got back around to working on getting 7.1 audio out from my computer again, and set up a Creative Sound Blaster X3 USB DAC + Emotiva BasX A7 + KEF e305 / e301 setup. The results are good. However, I am out of high quality 3.5mm to RCA interconnect cables so I wanted to ask for advice.

The Emotiva BasX A7 only takes unbalanced audio in, and the Creative Sound Blaster X3 only outputs unbalanced audio out. So we are good on no need for balanced cables. I am looking for 3ft or 6ft runs. However the Center/Sub are on one 3.5mm jack so they need to be split with a 3.5mm-to-RCA adapter, and then sent in different directions (one directly to the subwoofer, the other to the center channel amp).

I am looking at the following cable families:

Monoprice Premium
3.5mm to stereo RCA cable) = $2.49/3ft (5597), ~$3.49/6ft
stereo RCA cables = $7.49/3ft (2869), $5.99/6ft (must be economies of scale)

Monoprice Onix
3.5mm to stereo RCA cable = $4.79/3ft (38081) (no 6ft option)*
* reviews at https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-3-5mm-2-Male-Adapter-Cable/dp/B07RS4SR7L/ say there's a design error and the left connector is connected to both RCA outputs.
stereo RCA cables = $18.99/3ft (38076), $18.99/6ft**
** review shows a manufacturing defect/short: https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Channel-Stereo-Audio-Cable/dp/B07RWPV3YV/

Basically it seems like Monoprice Onix is not worth the risk of a bad cable.

Monoprice Monolith
one RCA cable = $16.99/3ft (18534), $21.15/6ft

Mogami Gold
3.5mm to stereo RCA cable = $63.95/3ft (Gold3.52R03), $72.95/6ft (Gold3.52R06)
one RCA cable = $44.95/3ft (GoldRCA03), $52.95/6ft (GoldRCA06)

Audioquest Evergreen***
3.5mm to stereo RCA cable = $79.95/3ft, $95.95/6ft
stereo RCA cables = $79.95/3ft, $95.65/6ft

***I was only considering these since they were on clearance for ~50% off at Best Buy. However, that deal no longer appears to be happening. So very had to justify these prices.

Adapters (3.5mm TRS to Dual RCA female):
Monoprice 3.5mm to RCA adapter (gold plated) = $0.59
Hosa Stereo RCA to Mini Adapter (not gold plated) = $4.15
D'Addario PW-P047C = $12.99
Audioquest FLX-Mini/RCA Adapter = $29.95

It seems that at these 3ft - 6 ft lengths, the questions that matter are "is it shielded" (yes), "is it NOT too fat" (no, not too fat), and "is the connector of good quality" (however that is measured).

I figured there are holy wars out there about cables and such...but I am here for objective and hopefully measurable advice. I think for Audioquest (and Monster, etc.) about 50-75% of the price is paying for the brand name. However, at least one reviewer of Monoprice Onix on Amazon said that there was a short at the connector for his cable due to a stray copper strand that did not get soldered down properly. I do think as you go up in price, you should expect less likelihood of manufacturing defects.

I like Blue Jeans Cable, and have a white + purple connector LC-1 for subwoofer interconnect, but Blue Jeans does not appear to make an integrated shielded 3.5mm to stereo RCA cable with LC-1 cabling. I looked at World's Best Cables and it seems that they do not carry 3.5mm to stereo RCA cables.
 

Dunring

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I did a noise test of 4 different 3.5mm to RCA cables I had at the time. Pausing a song and turning the volume up to listen for hiss, the Yougreen had the best resistance to noise.
 

staticV3

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I highly recommend making your own cables out of bulk wires and DIY connectors.

It's pretty much the easiest introduction to soldering that you can get.

It's a super rewarding experience, way less expensive than some of the cables on your list ($100 for 6ft is ridiculous!), and you know exactly what you get in terms of materials quality and pinout.
Plus you can customize the cable length just how you need it.

A Pinecil V2 is perfect for the job: https://pine64.com/product/pinecil-smart-mini-portable-soldering-iron/
 
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DVDdoug

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I've never had any trouble with Monoprice cables. I usually get the "heavy duty" ones if they have the configuration I'm looking for because they are still cheap. And since they are cheap, I usually buy extras to "justify" the shipping.
 

Zek

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a 3.5mm to stereo RCA adapter
In many cases, a 3.5mm to stereo RCA adapter is made of very poor material, and I would avoid such a combination because there are many transition and contact points with different types of material on the path of the audio signal.
 

ZolaIII

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Just try to find normal quality 3.5 mm to 2x RCA cables with full separated cable without Y spliter at the end to a length you need (5 m and 10 m with thicker more quality ones but you probably don't need so long ones) and split the RCA side as you need.
I use this for my sub's (remapped to rares). Don't use adaptera.
 

Speedskater

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In many cases, a 3.5mm to stereo RCA adapter is made of very poor material, and I would avoid such a combination because there are many transition and contact points with different types of material on the path of the audio signal.
What?????
Switchcraft has always made excellent connectors and adapters. With the minimum transition and contact points.
While a wye out of a 3.5mm connector is very fragile.
 
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