Subwoofer cables and RCA cables are commonly used to connect subwoofers in home theatre systems. But which of these cables should you use? Read on to learn about the differences and similarities between subwoofer and RCA cables and which one will suit your needs.
RCA cables and subwoofer cables can both be used to connect your subwoofer to your amplifier or receiver. The main difference between RCA vs subwoofer cables is that subwoofer cables can greatly increase sound quality due to extra shielding and are generally better designed.
Subwoofer Cables vs RCA Cables Table
|RCA Cables||Subwoofer Cables|
|Used to connect a variety of media devices||Used mostly to connect subwoofers|
|Connects to subwoofer/speaker L/R inputs||Connects to subwoofer LFE inputs|
|Cheap||A bit more expensive|
|Carries a wide range of frequencies||Carries low frequencies for subwoofers|
|Does not reduce subwoofer hum due to interference||Reduces subwoofer hun due to interference|
What Are Subwoofer and RCA Cables?
What Are RCA Cables: The term “RCA” sometimes called a phono connector identifies any coaxial cable with RCA push-in connectors on the ends.
These cables were developed in the 1940s, and originally carried a signal to an amplifier from a phonograph, which means they were only audio-enabled.
However, with advances in technology, they can now transmit video and audio signals. For example, they care commonly used to connect DVD or Blu-Ray players to TVs.
What Are Subwoofer Cables: Subwoofer cables are normally used to connect amplifiers to subwoofers and transmit up to 100 Hz sound signals.
In addition, subwoofer cables are more complex and powerful when compared to RCA cables because they can greatly increase sound quality.
This is because they are manufactured from modern, durable materials and with better technology. In most cases, however, subwoofer cables are no more than RCA cables with additional features.
In fact, it really comes down to the insulating materials used. In general, subwoofer cables use tighter woven fibers to make the insulating mesh of the shield or it may use a second or third shield of mesh or foil to improve insulation.
In fact, many people even use coaxial as subwoofer cables because of nth extra shielding and greater length.
Types of RCA Cables
There are two significant types of RCA connections:
Composite RCA Connections
Composite Video RCA is a common analog video signal format that transmits single-channel video signals.
In most cases, composite video is connected using a yellow RCA connector. Normally, the yellow connector is accompanied by red and white connectors for right and left audio channels respectively. So, the yellow connector is for video and red and white connectors for audio.
Composite carries video signals over a single channel and delivers standard definition video (480i or 576i).
In other words, the audio information is combined into a single line-level signal. The 480i NTSC/576i PAL standard video signals that make up composite videos are however not suitable for digital videos or high-definition analog.
Component RCA Connections
Component video is another common method of transmitting video signals and are three video lines colored blue, green, and red.
In this case, the component analog video (CAV) information is transmitted or stored as three separate signals, unlike composite which combines the audio data into one signal.
Like composite, however, component video cables do not carry audio and are often paired with audio cables. Component cables normally have two audio cable lines colored white and red or black. Often, the two red lines are easy to distinguish since they have an additional color around the wire for example.
Due to component RCA cables’ unique features, it can achieve a much higher resolution than most composite video cables.
Composite To Component Conversion
In some cases, you will find that certain devices may not support composite connection, especially.
In this case, you will need to use a composite to component converter, commonly referred to as red yellow white cable to red green blue converters.
Types of Subwoofer Cables
With the emergence of advanced technology, numerous affordable and powerful subs no longer use RCA cables.For example, ¼-inch jacks are quickly becoming ubiquitous consumer-grade audio hardware. Even though many still use RCA cables, these changes are pushing consumers towards depending on subwoofer cables.
Subwoofer cables are more complex than RCA cables and require better materials for dielectric coating and conductors.
They are also available in different designs that address the unique needs of consumers.
Here are the various types of subwoofer cables:
- Split cables: Designed for subs with stereo input. It ensures that the two subwoofer inputs receive the same signal, which raises the system’s volume by about 3 dB.
- Regular mono subwoofer: Used when one of the sub’s inputs is labeled mono or LFE (Low-frequency effects). For example, subwoofer Y adapters are normally used to connect mono subwoofers. Even though there are numerous ways to connect a subwoofer, about 99% of the time, people use the LFE connection.
- Stereo phone cable: Used with a surround or stereo amp that has two subwoofers or pre-outs. Alternatively, you can use two mono subwoofer cables.
What Are RCA Cables Used For?
RCA cables are useful for connecting a wide variety of video and audio devices. They offer the best results if you use a high-end device that has all three RCA jacks.
At the same time, it allows the video signals to go through the remaining channel. Otherwise, if your device only has a stereo jack, you will most likely get a low-quality transfer due to the compression of the signals.
Since most digital devices like computers do not have all the three RCA jacks, you cannot directly plug them into them. For these devices, you need digital cables.
What Are Subwoofer Cables Used For?
Remember, subwoofer cables are pretty much RCA cables with better shielding. As we have seen, subwoofer cables are just advanced versions of RCA cables.
In general, they have the same uses as regular RCA cables. They are used to connect any media device that supports coaxial (S/PDIF) audio interface.
Are Subwoofer Cables Better than RCA Cables?
It’s a common and fair question, do subwoofer cables offer substantial advantages over RCA cables?
It is first vital to remember that manufacturers of subwoofer cables design them exclusively for connecting subs to other components, typically amplifiers and receivers.
As such, they test them with amplified subwoofers to ensure flawless audio signal transmission.
RCA cables, on the other hand, are multipurpose and may not handle some of the nuances of amplified subs like AC hum.
In addition, it is possible to optimize subwoofer cables for performance demands. They have advanced shielding, which guarantees seamless low-frequency signal transmission.
This makes subwoofer cables a better choice over RCA cables for individuals who want to enjoy the best quality sound despite the interference from other nearby sound accessories.
Do Subwoofer Cables Reduce Subwoofer Hum?
Subwoofer hum is normally caused by some sort of interference. When unwanted RF signals enter the audio lines, interference occurs and causes an annoying hum.
Sometimes, subwoofers can cause hum simply because household electric power operates at 60 Hz or 50Hz.
There are many ways to fix a subwoofer hum and one is to use subwoofer cables instead of RCA cables since subwoofer cables are better shielded.
Here the two other leading causes of subwoofer hum:
- Induction from the wiring or other equipment into the speaker
- A ground loop
Extra shielding of your RCA cable may reduce the hum if induction is the cause. Subwoofer cables are typically adequately shielded, and that is why they are ideal when you want to minimize this kind of interference. Of course, if your subwoofer is humming with no cable input, something else is causing the hum.
RCA cables typically come with three separate wires bundled together with different colored terminal connectors.
The yellow terminal is the visual component, and the rest are use for audio. They are normally used to connect subwoofers to receivers or amps but can be used for a variety of other A/V connections as well.
Subwoofer cables serve the same purpose as RCA cables, but they are mainly designed to only transmit low-frequency audio signals that the subwoofer produces. They are also better shielded. They are connected from a receiver or amplifier directly to the subwoofer.