Every piece of equipment used to carry your signal will have some impact on the sound that comes out of your speakers, and while the difference is certainly more noticeable from upgrading your speakers or receivers, swapping out your cables can give your tone that final push from great to extraordinary—and is a lot less expensive than buying new equipment. If you think your cables might be holding your car’s system back, check out the options on the list that follows. These are, in our humble opinion, the best RCA cables for car audio you can buy.
Rockford Fosgate RFI-10
The RFI-10 from Rockford Fosgate uses a twisted pair design with a split center pin, the perfect arrangement for car audio use. The wire core of this cable uses oxygen free copper, which is both corrosive resistant and gives you transparent signal carriage. The ends are plated in platinum, which also helps to ward off corrosion, and the outer shielding is a frosted rubber that’s both flexible and tough, giving these cables the durability to serve you well for years. It also comes in a variety of lengths, from 3 feet up to 20 feet—none of which cost more than $15, making this one of the best car audio RCA cables for the money.
SHI236 Stinger 2 Chanel RCA Cables
The Stinger mission with their cables is complete accuracy in sound reproduction, and they hold true to that mission with these split-top twisted-pair RCA cables. The 6 foot length is ideal for most car audio set-ups. The most unique feature of this cable—and the thing that makes it ideal for use in your car—is the twist-lock on the ends. This means you don’t have to worry about your cable coming loose over time from the natural vibrations of your car as you drive. When you do want to unplug it, the textured rubber grip (see full specs) makes that easier, too—an especially helpful detail if your connections are in hard to access areas of your car.
AudioQuest Tower 3M RCA Cable
If you’re a true audiophile, you’ll likely get a bit excited when you see these AudioQuest cables. They’re made using the most innovative techniques in signal carrying technology, designed plug to plug for absolute accuracy and minimal interference. The solid long-grain copper used for the wire gives you a noticeably smoother sound than the oxygen free copper used in most RCA cables.
They also have a unique insulation style (see full specs), using a Polyethylene foam. The foam reduces signal distortion and allows for the use of air as an insulator, perfect because it absorbs almost no energy. To top it off, the plugs are cold-welded, meaning they don’t use any solder—a common cause of distortion in other cables. If you’re looking for a car audio sound that’s as clear and pure as what you get in your home listening room, these cables can be a huge help in getting you there.
Krystal Kable 2 Channel 4M
Knu Konceptz is a relatively recent player in the audio equipment market, but they’ve already made a name for themselves as a manufacturer you can trust to fill your audio needs. The insulation is multi-layered, with Mylar foil around a jacket of PVC, and copper foil around the audio signal. The wire inside is a twisted pair of 22-gauge oxygen free copper. The Krystal Kable also has some unique plugs. They’re gold plated for corrosion resistance and use knurled metal rings machined with what they call their Diagonal Kut Konnection, giving you a more secure connection. Hands down, these are among the best RCA cables for car audio.
How Much Difference Does a Cable Make?
Obviously, your speakers, head unit, and amplifier are going to have a far greater impact on your audio quality than smaller components, like cables and connectors. If you don’t have quality components in the other parts of your system, getting a new cable to connect them won’t make them sound any better. If you’re using a low-quality or damaged cable, though, it can negatively impact the signal, making it susceptible to extra noise.
The most important thing in an RCA cable being used for a car audio system is to make sure the cable is shielded. Many systems in modern cars are run using computerized parts, and the vibrations of the mechanical components create their own disturbance. Shielding prevents these outside electrical signals and other interference from impacting your sound.
Having the right wire to conduct your sound is also important. The wire is where the signal actually travels; the better the wire’s conductivity, the more pure the signal will remain when it reaches its destination. Copper is by and large the most popular metal used in conductive wires. Many wires use what is known as oxygen free copper, or OFC, because of its purity and the transparency of the signals it carries. Again, a wire will not add anything to the sound, and if it’s muddled or bad to begin with, all the cable can do is faithfully send that bad signal along; the main advantage of upgrading is to minimize signal degradation.
There are mechanical advantages to upgrading your cables, as well. Most inexpensive, all-purpose RCA cables use very similar connecting hardware. Car audio equipment, though, has to deal with temperature shifts, humidity levels, and movement beyond what most cables for home use are designed to face. The cables on this list—which, again, are the best car audio RCA cables we could find—are made with car audio use in mind, and this means their connectors are better able to stay in place once you hook them up. This is especially good because car audio equipment is installed by necessity in tight spaces. When a connection comes loose, it can be tricky to reach it and fix the problem; preventing loose connections can save you the annoyance.