We have heard this complaint so many times from our readers! Maybe the sound you are getting in your car is not what you expected, even though the audio system looks great. So what could be the problem? It might just be that the cables that came with the car audio need to be swapped with better RCA cables. If this is the case, read on as we determine the best RCA cables and what to look for.
By way of background, RCA cables are used to carry signals from the car audio player to the amp or subwoofer or from a car amp to the subwoofer, and so on. If you’re curious, these cables are called RCA cables because a company called Radio Corporation of America designed the first ones in the 1930s.
Table of Contents
- Best RCA Cables Comparison Table
- How We Chose the Best RCA Cables for Use in Car Audio
- 1. Better Cables RCA Cables– Overall Best
- 2. Rockford Fosgate Twisted Pair RCA Cables
- 3. Hosa CMP-159 – Best Budget RCA Cable
- 4. Mediabridge 3.5mm
- 5. Audioquest Evergreen
- 6. KabelDirekt RCA Stereo Cable
- 7. Amazon Basics RCA Cable
- 8. UGREEN 3.5mm
- Things to Consider Before Buying RCA Cables
Best RCA Cables Comparison Table
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How We Chose the Best RCA Cables for Use in Car Audio
Considering the fact that there’re dozens of RCA cables on the market, it becomes challenging to choose the best type for your car audio. We chose the best RCA cables for this report after doing intensive research. We gathered reports from experts dealing with RCA cables. We also reviewed findings from existing research done on different RCA cables. In addition, we interviewed a good number of real users to find out the RCA cables they find work best in their cars. From our thorough research and the reports we gathered, we were able to come up with a list of the eight best RCA cables for car audio.
Let’s get started!
1. Better Cables RCA Cables– Overall Best
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Better Cables boast of being a unique hybrid RCA cable made from a combination of both silver and copper. The hybrid delivers more efficient conductivity and reduced resistance. Without a doubt, this unique hybrid makes Better Cables feature in this review. The hybrid eliminates the challenges associated with pure copper or silver RCA cables.
Features and Benefits of Better Cables RCA Cables
- Incredible silver coating: Better Cables are specially coated with pure silver rather than copper. Pure silver is known to be a better conductor than copper; thus the silver coating delivers better conductivity of car audio signals
- Highly flexible: Better Cables are designed to be very flexible such that they bend easily without damage to the cables and the cable cover. Their flexibility ensures that you can easily bend the cable over or around any obstacle while connecting them between car audio components.
- Low capacitance: In addition, another notable feature of Better Cables is that they are designed with low capacitance. Lower capacitance in RCA cables means that the cable is less likely to pick up stray signals; thus it only delivers original signals, thereby making the original sound more noticeable.
- Stranded conductors: Most noteworthy is that Better Cables come with stranded conductors. The stranded conductors in the RCA cables comprise many thin cables with the aim of increasing flexibility and surface area of conductivity while reducing resistance.
- Braided shielding: In addition, another great feature that comes with Better Cables RCA Cables is that they have 95 percent braided shielding. The shielding surrounds the cable to limit the chances of signals from escaping, thereby delivering high-quality signals.
- High flexibility
- Very low capacitance
- Stranded conductors
- Suitable for multi-channel application
- Quality insulation
- High price range
- Stranded cabling may cause some electronic interference
- Silver coating may get oxidized with time
If you really need an RCA cable for your car audio with high conductivity and minimal resistance, then you should add Better Cables RCA Cables to your shortlist. However, be ready to pay more for its quality features. We think they are totally worth the price.
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Rockford Fosgate is one of the leading manufacturers of car audio components. The manufacturer is not left behind when it comes to RCA cables. The Rockford Fosgate Twisted Pair is outstanding for delivering a highly clean audio signal. It’s designed to minimize the noise in an audio signal, thereby delivering high-quality sound.
Features and Benefits of Rockford Fosgate Twisted Pair RCA Cables
- Split pin: This lengthy RCA cable comes with a split center type of pin. The pin acts as a fastener that holds the cable securely in place and can be bent for fastening around objects such as screws.
- Oxygen-Free Copper: This RCA cable is made with an oxygen-free type of copper. The main benefit of this type of copper is that it resists corrosion and enhances the conductivity of low-frequency signals.
- Platinum-plated cable ends: The ends of the Rockford Fosgate RCA cable are plated with platinum. The benefit of platinum plating is that it makes the ends harder, thereby making them less prone to scratching, rusting, and other surface damage.
- Frosted shielding: Rockford Fosgate cable comes with frosted outer shielding. The shielding reduces noise while still allowing for flexibility and enhancing the durability of the cable.
- Twisted pair wiring: This RCA cable is designed as a twisted pair cable, and this comes with extra benefits. Twisted pair cables are effective in reducing electromagnetic radiation, interference, and crosstalk between the cables, thereby delivering great sound.
- Small ends
- No noise
- Incredible length
- Needs more insulation
- Not ideal for closely placed car audio system setup
- Twisted pair is fragile if pulled too tightly
The Rockford Fosgate Twisted Pair is ideal for anyone who wants a lengthy RCA cable that delivers quality sound. Note that this cable might be too lengthy for a car audio setup where the amp or speakers are closely set together.
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3. Hosa CMP-159 – Best Budget RCA Cable
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Hosa CMP-159 RCA cable is designed for quality and affordability. It’s actually one of the most readily available and affordable RCA cables without a compromise on the quality of sound it delivers. It’s built with high-quality yet affordable materials. Don’t be misled by its low price, it delivers high-quality audio signals.
Features and Benefits of Hosa CMP-159
- Connectivity to mobile devices: One of the most noteworthy features of the Hosa CMP-159 RCA cable is its ability to connect to mobile devices. This RCA cable is specially designed for connectivity to mobile devices’ audio output to an audio mixer.
- Nickel-plated connectors: This RCA cable comes with plugs that are specially plated with nickel. Nickel plating ensures that their durability is enhanced while allowing for efficient conductivity of audio signals.
- Copper conductors that are free of oxygen: This cable consists of copper conductors that have been treated to ensure they are oxygen-free. The key purpose of this kind of treatment is to ensure the RCA cables are more efficient at conducting audio signals.
- Bends easily: This RCA cable has a very sturdy build, yet it bends easily. Despite having a sturdy build, the cable is not stiff such that it bends easily around corners and objects.
- Very affordable: This RCA cable outshines many other options when it comes to affordability. It’s extremely affordable for its quality.
- Connectivity to mobile devices
- Very affordable
- Longlasting when handled carefully
- No noise when the cable is stable
- Great build
- Prone to tear in high-traffic areas
- Requires more care when handling
- Some static noise when moving the cable
The Hosa CMP-159 RCA cable is ideal for anyone looking for a quality yet extremely affordable car audio RCA cable. However, it demands more care when handling and is not ideal for use in high-traffic areas.
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Mediabridge 3.5mm is a single-male to two-male RCA adapter that is specially designed to connect mobile devices to a car audio system. With this RCA cable, you can connect your portable device to your car audio receiver, amplifier, or speakers.
Features and Benefits of Mediabridge 3.5mm Cables
- Step-down design: This RCA cable is specially built to have a step-down design. The purpose of this design is to ensure the plugs are connected to both your mobile music device and the car audio system firmly.
- Dual shielding: The Mediabridge 3.5mm is built with dual shielding, unlike most RCA cables that have just a single shielding. Dual shielding makes the RCA cable less prone to electromagnetic interference from outside power sources, thereby delivering a clean signal.
- Polished metallic connectors: The RCA cable has specially polished jack connectors. Polished connectors are less prone to corrosion and give them a shiny, attractive finish.
- Gold-plated connectors: This RCA cable comes with 3.5mm gold-plated jacks. Gold plating eliminates the problem of oxidation, thereby making the cable less prone to corrosion.
- Flexible jacket: Mediabridge 3.5mm RCA cable is extremely strong yet has a very flexible jacket. The flexible jacket makes it easy to pass the cable through tight spaces without damage to the conductors and shielding.
- High-contact jack connectivity
- Connectivity to mobile devices
- Very affordable
- Flexible jacket
- Polished connectors
- The tight connectors require careful unplugging to avoid damaging the cable
- Restricted to only male-to-male connections
- Limited to devices with a 3.5mm jack
Mediabridge 3.5mm RCA cableMediabridge™ 3.5mm Male to 2-Male RCA Adapter (12 Feet) – Step Down Design – (Part# MPC-35-2XRCA-12) is ideal for anyone who wants to bring their mobile device music to their car and enjoy tight connections. However, remember that this cable can only get a signal from a 3.5mm jack.
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Competing brands have not left behind the Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable. This RCA cable stands out based on a special type of air-filled insulation to keep the conductors protected from losing signals. This kind of shielding also ensures that the audio signals are not affected by external energy sources.
Features and Benefits of Audioquest Evergreen
- Polyethylene foam insulation: The two solid copper conductors of this RCA cable are insulated with polyethylene foam. The foam is filled with air whose purpose is to ensure the conductors are insulated against absorbing external energy such as electromagnetic energy and radio frequencies.
- Long grain and solid copper wire: Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable is specially designed with long grain and solid copper wire. This type of copper comes with fewer oxides than standard copper, is less impure, and has fewer grain boundaries, thereby enhancing its conductivity.
- Connectivity to mobile devices: The cable comes with a male 3.5mm jack and two male RCA outputs for car stereo speakers or amps. You can simply plug in the 3.5mm jack to any mobile device that has a 3.5mm audio port.
- Gold-plated connectors: This 3.5mm to RCA cable comes with gold-plated plugs that are cold welded. Gold is hardly prone to oxidation, such that the plugs are less prone to corrosion, while cold welding creates smooth and strong joints.
- Metallic noise dissipation: The Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable features a noise dissipation system made of a metallic layer. This kind of noise dissipation technique keeps external radio frequencies away such that the cable delivers a signal free from noise.
- Its price range is great for its features
- Connectivity to mobile devices
- The cable looks great and delivers quality sound
- Sturdy and flexible
- The jack and plugs deliver a superior connection
- Fits too tightly and is not ideal for excessive plugging and unplugging
- Comes with a single input that’s only usable for 3.5mm jack mobile devices
- The jack may not go all the way through some extremely thick phone protective cases
The Audioquest Evergreen RCA cable is ideal for anyone who wants to eliminate the issue of noise in lower-quality cables. It’s specially designed for quality sound, but its tight fit is not ideal for frequent plugging and unplugging.
6. KabelDirekt RCA Stereo Cable
KabelDirekt RCA cable stands out as a two-channel cable that delivers quality audio signals for the right and left audio channels. It’s ideal for connecting signals from any car audio receiver to the speakers or amplifier. Moreover, it is designed for affordability.
Features and Benefits of KabelDirekt RCA Cable
- Double-shielded conductors: The KabelDirekt RCA cable is built with copper conductors that are double-shielded. Double shielding enhances the ability of the cable to keep off electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, thereby delivering a cleaner signal.
- Oxygen-free copper: The core conductor of this cable comprises specially treated oxygen-free copper. This type of copper has the ability to transfer low-frequency audio signals and allows for more conductivity than standard copper.
- Two male to two male plugs: This RCA cable comes with two male plugs on either end. The benefit is that the cable is bidirectional such that you can connect it either way to any standard output that has left and right outputs.
- Gold-plated plugs: The cable comes with high-quality, gold-plated plugs. Gold plating adds protection to the connectors such that they are less susceptible to corrosion.
- Available in six sizes: With this brand, you can choose between six different sizes as needed, including 3, 6, 10, 15, 20, and 25 feet. This way, you can choose the length that fits your car’s audio system setup.
- Available in six different sizes
- Very affordable
- Connectors have a high-grade metallic casing
- Jacket is very flexible
- Connectors are marked for easier connectivity
- Cannot connect to mobile devices
- May slip off easily in high-traffic areas
- The color marking is only on one side and not easily visible in dull lighting
If you are searching for a quality, yet affordable RCA cable that can connect your car audio receiver or stereo to a speaker or amp, then you should add the KabelDirekt RCA cable to your shortlist. However, the connectors may slip off easily in high-traffic areas but are ideal for plugging in and out often without any issue.
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AmazonBasics RCA cable is built to connect either high or low frequencies. For instance, you can use it to connect to a low-frequency car subwoofer or a high-frequency car stereo. Since it comes with two male to two male connectors, it is ideal for any HiFi car stereo with either left or right channels.
Features and Benefits
- Gold-plated plugs: This cable features metallic gold-plated plugs. Gold plating allows for enhanced resistance to corrosion since it is hard to oxidize a gold-plated surface.
- Colored plugs: The connectors are marked in red and white color on either end. The benefit of the colored markings on the connectors is to allow for easy and appropriate connection.
- Specially shielded: AmazonBasics RCA cable is shielded appropriately. The shielding eliminates noise in the signal, thereby allowing for the transmission of clear audio.
- Accepts both low and high-frequency signals: The cable connects to low-frequency types of audio signals, such as a car subwoofer, and high frequency such as digital car stereos.
- Connectors fit into RCA ports just right
- Very affordable
- Colored connectors
- No distortion of sound
- Very sturdy
- Only available as 8 feet, which may be short for some speaker setup
- Looks relatively bulky
- May not fit in extremely tight spots due to its thickness
Car owners looking for an RCA cable that can connect to both low and high frequencies should consider the AmazonBasics RCA cable. It fits just right into RCA ports but may not fit in extremely tight spots.
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Ugreen 3.5mm is specially built to connect mobile devices with 3.5mm jack support, such as tablets, mobile phones, music players, and laptops, to a car audio player. You simply connect the Ugreen 3.5mm jack to your portable device and connect the RCA connectors to your car audio receiver or amplifier.
Key Highlights and Benefits of UGREEN 3.5mm
- Gold-plated plugs: Ugreen 3.5mm comes with one gold-plated 3.5mm jack and two gold-plated RCA connectors. Gold plating enhances their durability while still making the plugs less prone to issues of corrosion.
- Oxygen-free conductors: The cable is built with oxygen-free copper conductors. This type of copper allows for enhanced conductivity.
- Connectivity to mobile devices: This cable comes with a 3.5mm jack which connects to mobile devices with a 3.5mm audio port. The benefit is that you are able to play music from your mobile devices to your car audio.
- Slim 3.5mm jack: The Ugreen RCA cable comes with a slim 3.5mm jack. Its slim nature allows for effortless connection even with mobile devices that have thick protection covers.
- Soft jacket: The outer cover of this cable is made of a soft PVC cover. Its soft nature makes it flexible while still protecting the cable from damage.
- Connectivity to mobile devices
- Easily fits into mobile devices with protective covers
- Great audio quality
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Extremely affordable
- May wear out if twisted constantly
- Not ideal for excessive moving
- May shrink when used in extremely cold environments
If you have tried other 3.5mm to RCA cables and failed to fit well in your mobile device, then you should try Ugreen 3.5mm RCA cable. It fits snugly into any mobile device, even if it has a thick protective cover. However, it may get damaged sooner if moved or twisted constantly.
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Things to Consider Before Buying RCA Cables
Choosing the best RCA cables for your car audio is not a complicated process. It’s quite simple if you know what to look for in the cables. There are five key factors you’ll need to consider when choosing the ideal cables for your needs.
1. Type of Shielding Used
Generally, RCA cables consist of a conductor that carries signals from one car audio device to another. You will be using the cable alongside other electronic components and wires in your car. This means that the signal carried in the RCA cables will also run along other signals or electric energy passing through other wires. Such external signals can interfere with the audio signal carried in your car audio RCA cable such that the delivered signal may be distorted or noisy.
To prevent this from happening, the RCA cable should have effective shielding. Thus, you should consider choosing a cable that is shielded against noise and electromagnetic interference. The shielding should also protect the cable from external radio frequencies. In case the shielding used is extremely thin, your signal will suffer some loss in energy or gain external noise. Thus, consider a cable with thicker shielding or better double shielding. Avoid cutting corners when it comes to shielding.
2. Sturdiness of Connectors
Both sides of RCA cables have connectors. Some have one male 3.5mm jack pin to two RCA, and others have two male to two male RCA. Whichever connector configuration you want, you should consider connectors that are sturdy enough to last longer. Thicker RCA connectors are ideal because they give a tight connection for a car head unit or mobile device to the car amplifier or subwoofer.
When comparing different RCA cables, consider thicker connectors, as they give better contact than thinner ones. Thinner connectors tend to loosen up and lose contact. Tighter contact allows for better conductivity; thereby, the quality of the signal delivered is higher. Also, a tighter connection reduces noise at the point of contact.
3. Type of Conductor Used
Different brands of RCA cables use different standards and types of conductors. However, most RCA cables are made using copper as the core conductor. Copper is more suitable for transferring audio signals.
Nevertheless, copper comes in different standards. Some RCA cables use copper in its standard form, while others use specially treated copper or copper mixed with other metals such as silver. Specially treated copper, such as copper which is free of oxygen, proves to be a better conductor than standard copper.
We highly recommend RCA cables with specially treated copper conductors for enhanced conductivity.
It’s obviously good to consider the cost of RCA cables before making a purchase. However, never compromise the quality of the cable over cost. You should not really overpay, but the cost should match the quality of the cable.
Always go for a car audio RCA cable with the highest quality, even if it means adding a few dollars. You won’t regret it.
RCA cables for car audio come in different lengths. The cable you choose should have sufficient length based on your car’s audio system and speaker setup. Thus, before choosing an RCA cable, determine how far your car amp or subwoofer is from the audio receiver.