Every piece of electronics that the audio signal passes through from the source to your ear will have some impact on its quality. If you know your turntable equipment is top notch but you’re still not quite getting the sound you’re looking for, switching out your cables can be an affordable and simple way to improve this signal quality, bringing you the best that your equipment has to offer.
Below are, in our humble opinion, the 4 best RCA cables for turntables on the market:
AudioQuest Golden Gate Cable
Some people might balk at spending over fifty bucks on a cable, but the truth is the Golden Gate is a value at that price, bringing professional-level technology and design into the home audio market. The connectors are made from perfect-surface copper, a new innovation that use a solid metal composition to produce an incredibly smooth surface, minimizing the distortion during the transfer of the signal from your turntable to the cable.
On top of this, the connectors are cold-welded instead of soldered, eliminating one common source of distortion in most cables. They also use a unique cable path, called “double-balanced asymmetrical geometry,” that separates the ground and shield paths. This gives you a clean sound without any added noise. You won’t get a more transparent, clear signal from any other cable on the market.
AudioQuest Evergreen RCA Phono Cables
Another great option from AudioQuest is their Evergreen cable. Like the Golden Gate, it’s a thin and lightweight cable designed to stay out of the way of the signal from your turntable. At only two feet long, it’s also one of the shortest options you’ll find. With so little distance to travel, the signal has a much lower chance of degrading on the way.
It uses a similar path geometry to the model above, but with a long-grain copper for the conductors. The shielding is thin enough for the cable to fit easily in any turntable, using a metal-layer noise dissipation system to protect against interference. These should be on anyone’s list of the best RCA cables for turntables.
Technics 1200 RCA Cables
Technics is known for their exceptional turntables, some of which have been called the best modern turntables on the market. It stands to reason, then, that they would maintain this same level of quality in their peripheral equipment.
This cable is designed specifically with turntables in mind. They modified the typical ground and shield path system by using an internal ground, eliminating the need for an extra wire. While it’s a bit long at six feet, that can be helpful if your set-up doesn’t allow for the ideal close arrangement and you need a bit of extra footage to connect it all together. Because it comes pre-soldered, it’s also easy to install, even for the relative novice.
If your budget has you looking more in the “less than ten dollars” range, Hosa is the brand you want to look for. They’re known in the audiophile world for their value, paying as much attention to the construction details as far more costly manufacturers.
This one meter RCA cable is designed with both the home audiophile and the traveling DJ in mind. It’s durable enough to take on the road, with nickel-plated connectors that can withstand a lot of wear and tear without losing integrity in the signal transfer. The conductors are made of oxygen-free copper, which also enhances the clarity, while the spiral shielding prevents interference without sacrificing the cable’s flexibility. Hands down, it’s one of the best RCA cables for turntables around.
The Length and Cost of Turntable RCA Cables
One major detail that many people don’t think about is the length of the cable. The longer the signal has to travel, the more likely it is to degrade. If your set-up will allow it, buy a cable that’s no more than three feet in length for optimal signal quality retention. You’ll also want to get a RCA cable that’s shielded to prevent interference, but not too well shielded; a cable that’s too wide will have trouble fitting into the back of your turntable. The options listed above share all of these characteristics, and are all worth a solid look if you’re ready to upgrade the cable for your turntable.
Cost-wise, you can find cheap RCA cables at any electronics store for around five bucks a set, and knowing this can make it hard for some people to justify the cost of a high-end cable. When you consider the difference in the context of other audio equipment, however, it starts to seem more logical.
The price difference between an entry-level and professional-quality speaker can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Better materials and a higher level of craftsmanship in the construction inevitably come with a higher price tag. Skimping on your cable quality might save you a few bucks, but it will also mean you’re not getting the most out of your other equipment. Like many other systems, an audio set-up is only as good as its weakest link.
That being said, you can stay on budget and still get quality sound if you know what you’re looking for. Avoid the generic RCA cables you’ll find in the electronics aisle of your local department store. A high-quality Hosa cable is affordable enough for any budget. It would be a lie to say these cables offer the same signal transparency higher-priced models from AudioQuest (see full specs)—there is, after all, a reason why those cables are so costly—but they will give you a secure connection with minimal interference.
The main thing that separates the best RCA cables for turntables and their divergent price points tends to be the material used in the connector. The smoother the material, the less likely it will bring unwanted noise into the sound. It’s up to you to determine where your needs fall on the spectrum of value versus pure signal clarity. Good luck!