A guide to audio cables





Untangling their mystery.

Cables may seem like the least exciting component in your system, however they are arguably one of the most important parts.

Because cables serve as the medium through which audio information, aka electrical signals, are transferred, it is important that they are cared for and set up properly. Improper handling, set-up, and use can cause even the best sound systems to experience distortion and an overall degradation in audio quality.

In 2022, the audio world is continuing to move towards an increasingly wireless state of being. Turntables and sound set-ups are featuring more high-resolution Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionalities than ever before,

While cables may seem like they are getting ditched in favour of all wireless systems, even in this wireless world we live in they still play an important role in maximising the home vinyl listening experience.

Many turntables, speakers, and amplifiers that offer wireless features include ports that allow you to connect directly to a sound source, or transfer audio signals via an analogue cable. It’s often the best bridge of connection, with little to no information lost during this transfer process, if you have the right cable.

Elements such as high price points and materials also play a pivotal role in the sound you get. High-quality systems require high-quality components to achieve their full potential, and without a higher-quality set of cables to match a high-quality turntable, amplifier, and speaker set-up, your overall sound quality will suffer.

While RCA, Speaker Wires, 3.5MM, and optical cables essentially transfer sound to be out-putted, they all have very different functions. It is important that you know the equipment you have or are carefully read about the equipment you’re thinking about copping to ensure you have not only the best quality cables to fit your system and achieve the best quality, but the proper ones so you can actually connect and enjoy your records.


Interconnect cables are the most common cables encountered during your home listening journey. These types of cables take the signal from a source that produces music, such as your turntable, and connects it to your amplifier, or speakers – if you have powered, active speakers. They are also used to transfer an audio signal from the amplifier into your pair of passive speakers.

The common types of interconnect cables are: RCA, XLR, and 3.5mm cables.

RCA cables are usually red and white on both ends and serve as one of the most common ways to connect your turntable to its amplifier or set of active speakers. With these cables, you do not want to go above 4.0 meters as distortion tends to occur.

XLR cables have three-pin connectors, usually a male and female side, and are balanced. These cables are typically used for higher-end audio gear and are perfect to use if you need to connect audio over a longer distance.

3.5mm cables are what you may colloquially refer to as the “aux” cord. While many cell phone brands have killed this connection off, RIP, it still serves as a valuable cable to connect turntables, laptops, CD players, and other audio devices to amplifiers and active speakers.

Speaker Cables

Speaker cables are pretty straightforward, their only purpose is to connect speakers from an amplifier to a speaker. For passive speakers, who get their power and sound from these cables, this is their bread and butter. While speaker cables come in different sizes and shapes they essentially all operate in the same way.

any may remember these cables from their parents’ systems where you had to strip the outer layer to reveal the copper wires to connect to the back of the speakers, YUP these are those cables!

The main thing to look out for with speaker wires is the thickness, thicker cables are more suited for higher volumes and bass-heavy systems. The overall quality of the cable does add to sound quality and longevity.

Some speakers also benefit from bi-wiring, meaning they have two terminals that are connected by bridging bars. This means you have to use two speaker cable runs per speaker to put into the back of your amplifier. Also, you want to make sure the Left/Right connections match when attaching the speaker wire. The left being the left speaker when you face your listening station.

There are also banana plugs that either have to be attached to pre-existing speaker wire or come pre-attached. These are prong-like connectors that don’t expose the copper wiring, and can more easily be inserted into the back of your passive speakers. It is important to keep in mind that not all speakers are compatible with banana plugs.

Digital Cables

While digital cables possess similar features as interconnects, and some share similar designs, they do serve a different functionality: bringing a digital connection into the mix.

USB cables are appearing more in the world of turntables and hi-fi vinyl listening systems. Their main purpose is in connecting an audio source, such as your turntable, to a computer. This is useful if you need to digitise your records.

RCA is mainly used as an analogue connection, however with certain devices, using a single RCA cable can send a digital audio signal.

Optical and coaxial cables are super digital cables typically used to connect devices to TVs and soundbars and such, but many turntables and amplifiers are also being made with this output built-in.


There is a lot of debate about what types of materials result in better sounding cables. A majority of entry-level and mid-range cables use copper. Moving to high-end price points, you’ll find silver within the higher-end cables because its metal is a better conductor of electrical signals, and transfers sound more efficiently.

However, if solely silver is used as the cable material, when these cables are exposed to oxygen it tarnishes and degrades, thus resulting in overall lower quality and sound experience over time. To obtain a solid middle ground of quality and lasting material we advise choosing silver-plated copper cables that are insulated in PTFE of Teflon, to keep oxygen out, and ensure that you get the best sound possible.

Why upgrade?

Why spend £50+ on a set of RCA cables when you can get a pair of RCA cables for £5? In a word: quality. There is a large jump in overall sound quality as you move up in price.

Better materials results in better sound, as well as a greater longevity of the cable you’re actually getting. However, there is a caveat to this. While upgrading your speaker or turntable may result in an immediate improvement in sound quality, upgrading your cables may not be as noticeable.

Higher quality cables require higher quality devices all the way through, meaning your amplifier, turntable, and speakers should all be upgraded alongside your cables, if you want to hear a significant improvement. And, at the upper end of cable price points, you may need a trained ear to notice the differences in sound.

Whatever your budget may be, cables are a vital component in creating the kind of realistic, and all-encompassing sound experience. that all music lovers aspire to.