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Are Dirt Cheap RCA Cables Any Good? (Video)

amirm

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E-Lint

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I feel like I'm looking over your shoulder Amir. My timing is perfect tonight. Thank you from a newbie. Cheers sir.
 
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Vovgan

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It would be very nice to also have a couple of entry level cables from audiophile cable brands like Inakustic or Audioquest or QED tested because the only time I felt I had a perceptible change in audio quality was when I used In-Akustik Star Audio Cable RCA and it kind of destroyed the sound. Could it be that these companies deliberately do something to make their entry cables perform worse than normal cheap cables to justify the further upgrades? Thanks.
 

JayGilb

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It would be very nice to also have a couple of entry level cables from audiophile cable brands like Inakustic or Audioquest or QED tested because the only time I felt I had a perceptible change in audio quality was when I used In-Akustik Star Audio Cable RCA and it kind of destroyed the sound. Could it be that these companies deliberately do something to make their entry cables perform worse than normal cheap cables to justify the further upgrades? Thanks.
Since this dirt cheap cable passes the signal without distortion, any cable that alters the sound would have to be adding distortion.
Instead of removing a veil, they are actually added one.
 

DWI

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Since when was QED an audiophile brand? I used QED79 as a poor student, as did everyone else, and the inductance is low enough of Quad Electrostatics.
 

Vovgan

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Since when was QED an audiophile brand? I used QED79 as a poor student, as did everyone else, and the inductance is low enough of Quad Electrostatics.
I think the main lesson that we’ve learned here is that for cables the only meaningful definition of “audiophile” is costing more than Amazon basics, or more than x20 Amazon basics + being heavily marketed. QED has cables that fit both definitions.

Since this dirt cheap cable passes the signal without distortion, any cable that alters the sound would have to be adding distortion.
Instead of removing a veil, they are actually added one.
Yeah so if the cheapest tiers of audiophile cable brands show sub-dirt-cheap cable performance, that would mean that they really did extra work to bring the quality down! I want to see if this is the case. Several observations point to the possibility that this is the case indeed.
 

Dennis_FL

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I don’t understand. So cable diameter, composition, and shielding mean nothing? And gold coating of RCA connections….nothing?

Same thing with speaker wire?
 

nyxnyxnyx

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I don’t understand. So cable diameter, composition, and shielding mean nothing? And gold coating of RCA connections….nothing?

Same thing with speaker wire?
gold coating is for durability though? I don't think any brands had ever promoted that gold plating/platinum plating or whatever sounds better.
I think good shielding should bring a measurable difference WHEN it is used in an environment that requires proper shielding.
I can't speak for cable diameter and composition, maybe they can make tiny to substantial differences but cable companies usually base their snake-oil scheme on those aspects so we need further verifications.
 

AudiOhm

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Adding a 70 volt bias circuit made the cables worse...

Ohms
 

Spkrdctr

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I don’t understand. So cable diameter, composition, and shielding mean nothing? And gold coating of RCA connections….nothing?

Same thing with speaker wire?
Mostly, Yes!
 

Killingbeans

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I don’t understand. So cable diameter, composition, and shielding mean nothing? And gold coating of RCA connections….nothing?

Conductor cross-section is largely irrelevant. Resistance normally isn't critical in RCA cables (within reason), but you'll want low capacitance. No need to overdo it though. Any short RCA cable not designed by a muppet will have low enough capacitance to avoid treble roll off.

Forget about exotic compositions. Good old coax is all you need. If the shielding isn't good enough to make interference inaudible, or you get problems with ground loops, use balanced out/inputs instead.

Gold coating is to avoid surface oxidation with time. That's all. It has nothing to do with sound.

Same thing with speaker wire?

Resistance and inductance low enough to avoid messing with the frequency response. Not a tall order.
 
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rodrigaj

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I play my old classical music LP's and 70's folk rock, mostly for nostalgia, on my VPI TT with Moerch Arm.

The only application where I have found cable construction to make a difference is in this phono applications, specifically, 5 pin DIN to RCA termination, from my tonearm to my phono preamp.

...and the difference was in hearing/not hearing low level RFI (i.e., not audiophile stuff like "more air around instruments", etc...). RFI sounds like a very high pitched weeeeeeeee, very directional. My wife would hear it before I did (her HF hearing is better), but once she pointed it out it is very obvious.

My choice of cables to replace ran from about $125 (entry level Audioquest) to $2000 (Audience), and everything in between. Needless to say, I bought the Audioquest cable, and the RFI was gone. I tried two other cables and returned them - no perceptible difference - although all three of them cured the RFI.
 

Nwickliff

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Video review of the "throw-away" RCA cables:


Text review and discussion at: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ton-rca-cable-review-ultra-cheap-cable.33473/
I did have some "throw away" rca cables that sounded fine until I turned my amplifier past one notch. Two different class d amps (Sabaj A20) I was so bummed because I thought I bought faulty amplifiers. I went through the signal path, piece by piece and realized it was the rca cables. replaced them with some amazon basics and the noise was gone. I'm not advocating for expensive wires but, they are not all created equal, I guess. I'll see if I can find them ( I originally threw them away but then dug them out of the garbage because I thought it might be worthwhile to show people).
 

JayGilb

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I did have some "throw away" rca cables that sounded fine until I turned my amplifier past one notch. Two different class d amps (Sabaj A20) I was so bummed because I thought I bought faulty amplifiers. I went through the signal path, piece by piece and realized it was the rca cables. replaced them with some amazon basics and the noise was gone. I'm not advocating for expensive wires but, they are not all created equal, I guess. I'll see if I can find them ( I originally threw them away but then dug them out of the garbage because I thought it might be worthwhile to show people).
I have used some dirt cheap cables that had what looked like 32 gauge or smaller wires and ran into the same problem as you. Worked great at lower level settings, but soon distorted when driven harder.
 

Nwickliff

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I have used some dirt cheap cables that had what looked like 32 gauge or smaller wires and ran into the same problem as you. Worked great at lower level settings, but soon distorted when driven harder.
It was strange that it was a brick wall switch. Didn't get progressively worse, it was just at a certain volume level, one click, it was audible and really bad and one switch back, it went to fine again.
 

Malcolm

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Maybe these High End cable companies should take a leaf out of the book of Hippocrates “First, do no harm”
 

Speedskater

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Only two things matter in an analog RCA interconnect:

1] Shield effectiveness at the frequency of present interference. If there is no interference present then the shield doesn't matter.
(it's not all that easy to test this)

2] Low end-to-end resistance of the shield. This is to reduce Common Impedance Coupling noise. This matters more on long interconnect cables or when the two audio units are on different AC power circuits.

* * * * * * * * *
With reasonable audio units and cables, capacitance and inductance don't matter.
 
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