Audio cable is essential in our everyday activities. We see them every day in our homes and offices; they are virtually everywhere we go, yet we fail to recognize how vital these audio lines are.
Without the aid of audio cables, it will be impossible to enjoy gadgets and electrical appliances.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about audio cables, how they work, the different types, and many more.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: What is Audio Cable?
1.1 What is the Audio Cable?
Audio cables are wires with mini-phone plugs used to transfer audible signals such as voice or music.
They can be connected to different audio sources such as stereo, microphones, and speakers.
Audio cables are used to transmit signals properly and curb noise interference, which can distort the proper dissemination of information.
1.2 Basic Components of the Audio Cable
a. Conductors: This is popularly referred to as the powerhouse of the cable. It is also considered to be an intricate part of the structure. Its make-up is copper or silver-coated copper.
Conductors house the gauge of the cable, and the efficiency of the cable to a large extent depends on the size of the gauge.
b. Dielectric: It covers the conductor just like an insulator. Dielectric is made up of foam polyethylene. The covering of the dielectric determines the ability of the cable to withstand electrical current. It is essential because, without this quality, electrical appliances stand a risk of explosion. For this reason, the source and cable must share a similar quality.
c. Shield: This provides coverage for the conductor. It protects it from disturbing noise that can mitigate its signal transmission.
The higher the chances of coverage, the more sophisticated protection the shield assumes.
d. Jacket: It is made up of Poly Vinyl Chloride. It protects the inner material.
e. Connectors: This help connects the cable plug to various electrical appliances; such as computers, musical instrument, speakers, and so on.
Furthermore, audio cables do not exist in isolation but depend on these various basic components to work properly.
Chapter Two: Types of Audio Cable
There are four major types of audio cables. We have the Analog RAC cable, speaker cable, optical digital cable, and coaxial digital cable.
2.1 Analog RAC Cable
Analog RCA cables date as far back as 1960. They are used for connecting old and new components. They are helpful in the connection of microphones, DVD players, and so many more to stereo receivers. Additionally, it can use them for digital enhancements. These cables are not compatible with long distances, and they could become unstable. If the distance is wide apart, it may impair the sound quality, especially when there is a ground loop. Ground loops are present when different equipment isn’t properly connected, and a loop is created.
2.2 Speaker cable
These are used to transmit signals from a stereo receiver to a speaker system. Speaker cables are not balanced cables but are of utmost importance in transmitting audio signals. Speaker cables affect the sound quality if the length of the cable is considered too long when the cable has a poor composition and a poor gauge.
2.3 Optical Digital Cables
It is one of the finest births of audio cable technology. The aids the transmission of digital sound with light pulses and ease. It must first translate the signal from the electrical signal to an optical one. These cables are not easily affected by external sources, which may emit from Radiofrequency interference because light doesn’t suffer the resistance of copper cables. They have a thick guard from external interference and don’t lose their signal over long distances.
optic fiber cables connected to data center
2.4 Coaxial Digital Cables
Coaxial Digital Cables are advanced audio cables that are used to transmit digital signals between components. Coaxial cables are vulnerable to radio frequency interference. If there is any external interference within the system, the coaxial cable easily transfers the distracting sound between the components. These cables impair the quality of sound over long distances.
Chapter Three: Types of Audio Cable Connectors
Audio cable connectors are electromechanical devices that link the audio cable with the output device. Connectors are classified with the kind of signal it transmits. To be regarded as a sound professional, it is pertinent to have in-depth knowledge about connectors to understand their various uses. Connectors are grouped as balanced and unbalanced connectors. The various kinds of connectors can both be used by different professional and individual consumers. These connectors come at different prices and different quality levels. The basic types of audio cable connectors are:
3.1 Analog audio connectors:
An Analog audio connector is an output found on some home electronics such as DVD players and VCRs and is used to connect analog audio cables to receivers and TVs. The various types of analog audio connectors are:
a. RCA connectors: RCA connectors are unbalanced connectors that are used by a large number of professionals. Connectors are used for connecting home stereo systems, video cassette recorders, and so on. They are responsible for ten dB (consumer) line levels.
connectors, RCA connector
b. XLR connectors: Professionals predominantly use these connectors. There are three types of XLR connectors. They are XLR male, XLR female, and TRS. These XLR connectors have three contact points that transmit signals from the ground, positive and negative wires.
i. XLR male: This is essential for connecting a variety of hardware inputs.
ii. XLR female: It is important for establishing a connection between a microphone and a variety of hardware inputs.
iii. TRS: This XLR connector connects both the input and output devices.
c. ¼ Audio connectors: These connectors are generally regarded as phone plugs. They are used to connect cables with various professional and consumer musical equipment such as speakers, musical instruments, amplifiers, and so many more.
3.2 Digital Audio Connectors:
Digital Audio Connectors are more advanced than analog audio connectors. Nonetheless, analog connectors can transmit digital signals just like digital connectors. Some types of Digital Audio Connectors are:
a. S/PDIF: This is an acronym for Sony/ Philips Digital Interface Format. It is used for recorders, CD players, DVD players, MiniDisc equipment, consumer-level AES/EBU digital audio protocol, and audio interfaces.
b. AES/ EBU: This abbreviation means Audio Engineering Society/ European Broadcasting Union. They are used in a professional setup.
c. TOSLINK Optical and AdatLightpipe: It is the most frequently used digital connector that can transmit different digital signal formats. These formats are:
ii. AC-3 and DTS
iii. ADAT Lightpipe
There are varieties of audio connectors on the market. For best results, it is important to learn about audio cables and the connectors that work best.
Chapter Four:3.5 mm Audio Cable VS ¼ Audio Cable
3.5 mm audio cables are used for consumer electronic devices like camcorders, cameras, and portable DVD players. They ensure the proper transmission of audio and videos.
The 3.5 mm can also attach the audio cable to factory stereo and external sources such as a portable MP3 player or another source. There are quite several 3.5mm audio cables.
These cables are used in various capacities. Examples are: Gold plated 3.5mm stereo audio cable to female extension cable, 2- pack 3.5mm stereo audio cable, gold plated 3.5mm to 2- RCA stereo audio cable, two-pack, 3.5mm coiled stereo audio cable in black 5Ft and gold plated 3.5mm stereo splitter 8 inches.
On the other hand, ¼ audio cables are used for musical instruments. Unlike 3.5mm audio cables, 1⁄4 cables are connected to instruments such as guitars and keyboards.
It is known as the most versatile audio connector.
This cable does not perform the same function as 3.5mm audio cables. For the 3.5mm audio cable, it is easier to transmit stereo signals, but not with 1⁄4 audio cables.
When connecting the ¼ audio cables to instruments, it is safer to purchase instruments cables alongside.
The major difference between the 3.5mm audio cables and ¼ audio cables is the structure. While the former can be dual plugs, the latter is generally mono-like.
Furthermore, the capacity of both cables varies. 3.5mm is used for consumer electronic devices and can be used for stereo, but ¼ audio cables are used for musical instruments.
Standard 3.5mm TRRS audio jack to split mic and headphone cable.
Chapter Five: How to Keep the Audio Cable Organized
Audio cables are essential in producing desired sound output and quality.
While this is true, these cables can also be disastrous to human lives and instruments if not properly handled.
Hence, it becomes necessary to keep these cables to forestall accidents but prolong their use in the homes, recording houses, and offices.
There are two different ways of keeping the audio cable organized. They are;
1. Use the snake cables:
Snake cables are a combination of many cables into a single cable with different output connectors.
· Advantages of snake cables
a. It makes it easier to organize cables without creating a mess of it. For recording studios with lots of cables, snake cables enable cables to retain their proper state and working condition
b. It is very portable
2. Use the cable winders:
Cable winders help to keep the audio cables organized at all times. It keeps cables safe from dust and dirt. It can be used anywhere, probably at home or office.
· Advantages of cable winders
a. It is easy to carry around
b. It can adjust to various cable lengths
c. It keeps the cable safe from stains and dust
3 side cable winder, a treadmill in the stadium, is one of the devices used to connect the audio signal to the OB van.
Chapter Six: Need Custom Audio Cable?
Everyone desires to have something worthwhile, especially a service that provides comfort and a pleasant sound. We are readily available to help provide you with cables that suit your needs. You are just four(4) steps away from reaching it. These steps are:
1. Tell us your requirement: To serve you better, we require you to provide us with details of the plug you desire and the length of your choice cable
2. Confirm the samples: Based on the description you have made, we will produce a sample for you to access. If the sample suits your design, we will expect a response in that regard.
3. Produce the bulk order: When you have approved the sample, we will deliver results immediately! We will produce the bulk goods for you.
4. Deliver the goods to you: This is the last of the process. As long as you are comfortable with the samples you received from us, we ensure we send out the goods to you.
Audio cables are straightforward to handle, but one needs to understand the technicalities involved to get the best out of them. I’m sure you’ve learned many new things about audio cables. If you have any questions or you’ll like to know more about audio cable, please feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help!
Our services include guiding and working with you in your choice of audio cables and connectors. We provide a seasoned insight into the world of cables.