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Recoton RCA Cable Review (Ultra Cheap Cable)

Rate this cable

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 4.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 13 5.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 72 30.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 144 60.0%

  • Total voters
    240
OP
amirm

amirm

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Then why spend your time on testing this in the first place,
Because of the general concept that these cables can't be any good.
 

chych7

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Because of the general concept that these cables can't be any good.

And I would contend they aren't, you just haven't performed the right testing to show it.

For fun I just plugged in one of these freebie cables into my headphone amp, not much difference in apparent quality of what you reviewed (heck, mine has gold plating), and is a class of cable that is part of your generalization.
1651177342319.jpeg

Wow, just wow. 60 Hz hum galore, nearly as loud as the music playing itself, and the cable is nowhere near a power line. I didn't expect it to be this bad (was expecting a quiet background hum), but these were atrocious. Then I plugged in a (inexpensive) shielded cable of the similar type, no more hum. Would you like me to ship this cable to you for more extensive testing? I unfortunately do not have a precision audio analyzer sitting around.
 

Talisman

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Like this?

13496-c20a9c8d04958f6cfbef7a8531964a29.jpg



I laughed more than it was legitimate ... I almost hope it's true
 
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amirm

amirm

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And I would contend they aren't, you just haven't performed the right testing to show it.
No. The people who spend more money on cables don't do so because they have noise issues. They do so to get "darker backgrounds, better soundstage, more analog sound, etc." Paradoxically, some of the fancy cables I have tested are worse than generic ones when it comes to noise pick up.
 

RayDunzl

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Another Better Than Nothing Cable Test:

Noise on no-name balanced XLR vs no-name unbalanced TR guitar cable, loop back on Focusrite Clarett interface.

Tested in my Rat's Nest of mains, power strips, wall warts, USB, HDMI, coax, and analog signal cables behind my gear.

index.php


Conclusion:

If you're that worried about noisy cables whether you can hear it or not, go ahead and get balanced gear and cable.
 
Last edited:

AudioSceptic

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Like this?

13496-c20a9c8d04958f6cfbef7a8531964a29.jpg



Who actually makes the conductors and insulation in any of the overpriced boutique cables?
 

Overseas

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Maybe cables should be classified somehow different, like per use cases. Take me:
living in an individual house
next houses at 50m distance
my stereo listening is at night, no tv or other audio video running in parallel
no computer work while listening

So, am I ok with simple cheap interconnects?

For my day listening of ambiental music while working on computer or speaking over the phone why should I bother spending lots for a max quality sound?!
 

Lorenzo74

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the ultra cheap, "vintage," retail RCA cable. A member kindly sent it to me. It is not available anymore but I see two-packs on ebay for $4.
View attachment 203024

The cable reminds me of the free ones you used to get in audio gear. It fits rather loosely on especially when you are used to today's stiff RCA plugs. The wire is still flexible and feels like it would have when new.

Recoton Cheap RCA Cable Measurements
The Audio Precision APx555 analyzer I use for testing has an internal "loopback" where using a relay, shorts inputs to outputs. In other words, it is the shortest and most optimized path between input and output. Let's measure that performance with 2 volts using 22 kHz as bandwidth and 1 kHz tone:

View attachment 203026

We see the stellar performance that we expect from Audio Precision. Only a second harmonic is visible at astonishingly low -148 dB! This is good 30 dB below threshold of hearing. SINAD measurement is therefore noise bound to the tune of 121 dB -- again about 6 dB lower than threshold of hearing.

Now let's switch the internal loop back with our cheap RCA cable:

View attachment 203031

That's right. Not a thing has changed. Same noise floor. Same distortion profile. Same output voltage.

OK, that is one tone but let's throw 32 tones at it to simulate "music:"
View attachment 203032

It can't be more identical than this. If turned on both graphs at once, you could not distinguish one from the other when overlaid.

Let's widen the bandwidth to 90 kHz and sweep every audible frequency and measure distortion and noise:
View attachment 203035

Again, identical performance to "no wire."

Folks at this point complain that "something is happening in timing domain." So let's run a step response with 1 MHz bandwidth (25X audible bandwidth) and see what happens to our edge:

View attachment 203036

Again, the two graphs land right on top of each other.

We could keep testing but you get the picture hopefully.

Conclusions
Electrically the Recoton RCA cable is as good as "no wire" internal loop back in the analyzer. So it doesn't get any better than that. In all performance vectors we get the same results. Even measuring up to 1 MHz, timing test shows the same performance.

From usability point of view, the connectors are a bit loose for my taste (although you could pinch the outer ring to fix). And cable is too thin to withstand repeated connection or disconnection. If these are not an issue with whatever cheap/free cable you have, you can feel confident that there is no performance impact on your audio equipment in using such.

Indeed, personally I use such cables when I need one that is not so stiff or too long. They take up much less space and are easier to route.

Next time someone shames you that your RCA cables are too thin and dirt cheap looking, you can point them to this review to show that they give you all the performance you or anyone else needs!

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

“Next time someone shames you that your RCA cables are too thin and dirt cheap looking, you can point them to this review to show that they give you all the performance
you or anyone else needs!”

Only This worth an annual subscription to ASR magazine…
Fantastic!
 

Bruce Morgen

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I thought, AR, that's a proper make, then saw "Recoton" (same as Amir's cheap RCA cable).

AR, along with Jensen and several other old-time audio brands, was acquired by Recoton (from Teledyne, then the "Water Pik" people) in 1996 -- then, in 2003, Recoton's entire U.S. operation were acquired by Audiovox, which is now known as "Voxx International." IOW, the AR logo has become just another marketing tool, several times removed from the legendary heyday of Villchur and Allison.

That said, the "speaker wire" zipcord from that spool was perfectly usable and quite a bit more bendable than the AC line cords found on cheap Chinese floor lamps from Walmart -- it's more than adequate for a typical two meter run from amp to speaker. Put it in a braided sleeve secured at the ends by shrink tubing, add fancy-looking banana plugs -- then brand it "Audiokvetch" or some such and sell it for big bucks on eBay or Amazon!
 

chych7

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Maybe cables should be classified somehow different, like per use cases. Take me:
living in an individual house
next houses at 50m distance
my stereo listening is at night, no tv or other audio video running in parallel
no computer work while listening

So, am I ok with simple cheap interconnects?

For my day listening of ambiental music while working on computer or speaking over the phone why should I bother spending lots for a max quality sound?!

You don't need to spend a lot for a decent interconnect, but you don't have to go with the bargain basement stuff either. Spend an extra few $ for something shielded at least.
 

tonycollinet

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An analogue cable interconnect should be seen as a transmission line between signal source and amplifier, so line parameters are important and determine the characteristic impedance of the cable. Ideally to prevent reflections the terminating impedance, in this instance the input impedance of the amplifier, should match the characteristic impedance of the cable, in the same way that the output impedance of the source should also match the characteristic impedance. The bad news is that this can only be done at one frequency and a compromise design value for charateristic impedance is usually made.

Different conductor materials will have different distributed electrical properties (R, G, L and C) so over (very) long cables phase differences will become important . In air a 20kHz sine wave has a wavelength of 15kM, so there is an argument that phase shift in a cable 1m long will not be significant.

The wavelength is inversely proportional to the sinusoidal frequency, so at lower frequencies the wavelength increases. Testing cables for audio purposes above 20kHz may be seen as somewhat unnecessary. Where the interconnect is considered to be lossless, (R and G both are negible), the characteristic impedance is the square root of (L/C).

Cables for digital connections are a different proposition, as a Fourier analysis of a digital waveform will show very high frequency components. The audio bit rate for a Red Book audio CD is 1,411,200 bits/sec for 2-channel stereo giving a possible signal frequency of around 1.5Mhz, with the Fourier components extending well beyond. This is a completely different ball game where impedance matching to prevent reflections becomes a priority. Ideally impedance matching should be extended to circuit board tracks and components. The wavelength of a 1.5MHz signal (in air) is 200m. Although still longer than most digital interconnects, phase shift becomes important with increasing sampling frequency and bit depth.

Digital cables require a completely different approach to testing and evaluation. Perhaps the cable between a digital source and DAC may warrant a more premium cable than a standard USB cabl,, or altrnatively use fibre optics.

Another approach is to consider how to model the signal source. If it is a voltage source, the source impedance is in series with the signal generator and needs to be low compared to the load impedance for maximum voltage transfer. Some signal sources are considered to be current sources where the source impedance is in parallel with the load and needs to be high compared to the load impedance for maximum current transfer.

The same considerations apply to connections between the amplifier and the speakers. Different conductor materials will have different signature characteristics. For example a copper core has a different resistivity to a silver core, so the perceived effect on the delivered sound may, just may, be different.

In the analogue domain there is no need to burn green backs on expensive cables, but whether this is true or not for digital interconnects remains an open book.
There is a lot wrong with that post. Lets start with "audio frequency analogue interconnect cables don't act as transmission lines, and are not impedance matched"
 

PeteL

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No. The people who spend more money on cables don't do so because they have noise issues. They do so to get "darker backgrounds, better soundstage, more analog sound, etc." Paradoxically, some of the fancy cables I have tested are worse than generic ones when it comes to noise pick up.
I spend money on cables because these keep breaking.
 

PeteL

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On the other hand I am still using some that came with kit my Dad bought in around 1978. :cool:
Good for you, my system change often. I did have hum in my systems due to bad cables, It's worth buying quality for me.
 

Bruce Morgen

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Is there any noise (EMI, hum, etc.) suppression advantage in using RCA cables with two inner conductors that complete the actual circuit and a separate shield that's only connected to the "return" inner conductor (and chassis ground) at one end?
 

JSmith

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whether this is true or not for digital interconnects remains an open book.
I just purchased a 3m USB cable for $3.56 including postage, good connectors, well constructed, even braided cable sleeve... seems to work fine. Please, tell me more about this open book you speak of.


JSmith
 
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amirm

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An analogue cable interconnect should be seen as a transmission line between signal source and amplifier, so line parameters are important and determine the characteristic impedance of the cable.
Transmission line effects become significant when the cable length becomes larger than 1/10th the wavelength of the highest frequency of interest. Using 20 kHz, the wavelength is about 15,000 meters. 1/10th of that is 1,500 meters. The cable I tested is shy of 1 meter. So no way, no how it is subject to transmission line analysis/effects. Even a 100 meter cable won't see any transmission line effects in analog audio use.
 
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amirm

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I spend money on cables because these keep breaking.
Yeh, this is a problem. I bought a bunch of low cost XLR cables since they came in different colors. After a few dozen uses, the female end would no longer make a secure connection. Had to cut it off and terminate with a Neutrik connector. Sadly I could not find any quality cable that wasn't just black.
 

Adaboy4z

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I have 2 pair of the gray RCA cables from the 80s. One is the original to my Technics CD player. Sound is fine to my ears.
 

HiFidFan

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the ultra cheap, "vintage," retail RCA cable. A member kindly sent it to me. It is not available anymore but I see two-packs on ebay for $4.
View attachment 203024

The cable reminds me of the free ones you used to get in audio gear. It fits rather loosely on especially when you are used to today's stiff RCA plugs. The wire is still flexible and feels like it would have when new.

Recoton Cheap RCA Cable Measurements
The Audio Precision APx555 analyzer I use for testing has an internal "loopback" where using a relay, shorts inputs to outputs. In other words, it is the shortest and most optimized path between input and output. Let's measure that performance with 2 volts using 22 kHz as bandwidth and 1 kHz tone:

View attachment 203026

We see the stellar performance that we expect from Audio Precision. Only a second harmonic is visible at astonishingly low -148 dB! This is good 30 dB below threshold of hearing. SINAD measurement is therefore noise bound to the tune of 121 dB -- again about 6 dB lower than threshold of hearing.

Now let's switch the internal loop back with our cheap RCA cable:

View attachment 203031

That's right. Not a thing has changed. Same noise floor. Same distortion profile. Same output voltage.

OK, that is one tone but let's throw 32 tones at it to simulate "music:"
View attachment 203032

It can't be more identical than this. If turned on both graphs at once, you could not distinguish one from the other when overlaid.

Let's widen the bandwidth to 90 kHz and sweep every audible frequency and measure distortion and noise:
View attachment 203035

Again, identical performance to "no wire."

Folks at this point complain that "something is happening in timing domain." So let's run a step response with 1 MHz bandwidth (25X audible bandwidth) and see what happens to our edge:

View attachment 203036

Again, the two graphs land right on top of each other.

We could keep testing but you get the picture hopefully.

Conclusions
Electrically the Recoton RCA cable is as good as "no wire" internal loop back in the analyzer. So it doesn't get any better than that. In all performance vectors we get the same results. Even measuring up to 1 MHz, timing test shows the same performance.

From usability point of view, the connectors are a bit loose for my taste (although you could pinch the outer ring to fix). And cable is too thin to withstand repeated connection or disconnection. If these are not an issue with whatever cheap/free cable you have, you can feel confident that there is no performance impact on your audio equipment in using such.

Indeed, personally I use such cables when I need one that is not so stiff or too long. They take up much less space and are easier to route.

Next time someone shames you that your RCA cables are too thin and dirt cheap looking, you can point them to this review to show that they give you all the performance you or anyone else needs!

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Sure. But how does it sound?

:D
 
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