From time to time, I get some nice emails from readers. I try to answer each email personally. Yesterday, I received an email from Justin P. who asked me where he could find some RCA cables/interconnects on a budget.
Justin, thanks for your email and here are my thoughts. RCA analog interconnects are obviously an important part of any audio system. Normally, the analog interconnects are used between your source device (CD, Blu-ray, cable box, etc) and your receiver or preamp. If you have separates, then you’ll also use analog interconnects between your preamp and amplifier(s).
While you’ll hear varying opinions online about interconnects and whether different brands make an audible difference, one thing we can all agree upon (and measure) is that bad quality interconnects will make your system perform worse. That being said, where can you get good quality analog RCA interconnects for the poor audiophile on a budget.
Here are my thoughts:
|Better Cables Analog Interconnects|
Better Cables: Better Cables is an online reseller of a wide variety of cables including RCA audio cables. I personally own a set of 1 meter component and 6 meter silver serpent balanced cables. I find that the quality of Better Cables products to be very good with high build quality, with nylon tangle-free jackets, and I’ve never ever had any issues with any of their cables. They are not the cheapest cables out there, but they look great and offer good value for what you pay given their build quality.
Blue Jeans Cable: Blue Jeans Cable is another online reseller of various cables. They are no nonsense and just give you quality stuff. BlueJeans tells you where they source their cables from and will give you technical details about the terminations and the cable itself. They don’t look as good as Better Cables (in my opinion) and don’t have the nylon jacket as a stock feature like Better Cables. As a result, they are a bit cheaper. I own several cables from Blue Jeans Cable and have never ever had a problem. I have no hesitation in recommending any products they sell.
|Blue Jeans Cables Analog Interconnects|
Accessories4Less: Accessories4Less is a great source for overstock, B-Stock, refurbished, or discontinued products. They have RCA cables from Monster, Etherial, and others. They offer these cables at a significant discount off retail and closer to “eBay” pricing. If you’re looking for bargain basement, this may be the fit for you. I’ve personally had good, overall success with Monster, but the build quality in their lower-end models has been so-so in my opinion and experience.
SVS SoundPath Cables: I was recently introduced to SVS’ SoundPath Cables, which they sent along with a pair of SB13 subs that I have in for review. They are individual cables primarily intended for subs, but the build quality is very nice and a good option. They have good looks, build quality and come with a nylon jacket. You also get a generous shipping and return policy.
MIT Cables Express Store: MIT is one of the well known “high end” cable manufacturers. Like any manufacturer, they have demo products, products they discontinue, etc. While it’s not consistent, they often have RCA cables from their cable lines. The cables may be from either their entry level or higher-end and higher priced lines. Back in 2011, they were having a clearance of some analog RCA pairs of 2m interconnects and 1m balanced cables. I grabbed a few pairs at unbelievable pricing and I have been very happy with the cables and the build quality. On average, you can save 25% – 75% off their retail prices. You can sign up for their email newsletter on their web site to get periodic updates of what’s new on their clearance block.
|Nordost Interconnects on sale
Music Direct Clearance: Music Direct often has demo and clearance interconnects on sale. They tend to be Audioquest, Cardas, and Nordost cables. You can often save 33% – 50% or more. You may find some of the deals falling under $100 but these are normally cables in the several hundred to thousands of dollars on sale and may be out of the poor audiophile’s price range. Personally speaking, I find Audioquest, Cardas, and Nordost to all have great build quality and my preference is towards Cardas and Nordost.
Monoprice: Monoprice offers RCA cables at dirt-cheap prices. What will cost you $20, $40 or $60 you can get for $3 – $5. The connectors on these cables are not of the same quality as you’ll find with Better Cables, Blue Jeans, or the others in this list, they don’t have a nylon braiding, and other items. If none of that matters to you then these may be your ticket. I have a few pairs of these Monoprice Premium interconnects and I think that the build quality of Blue Jeans, Better Cables, and MIT is superior. For the poor audiophile, however, you can’t beat the price!
|Monoprice’s premium RCA Interconnects|
Ebay, Audiogon, and Amazon: Lastly, I’ll refer you to the standard auction and marketplace sites for audiophiles: Ebay, Amazon, and Audiogon. You can find deals on these sites but shipping is often a deal breaker since the shipping is sometimes 50% the cost of the cable. If you want exotic or more quality built cables at a discount because they are demo or close-out, then look to Audiogon. Ebay is a good place to look for Monster cable discounts, and Amazon is good to price compare and you may find some interesting deals.
For the audiophile on a budget, putting the maximum possible investment in the gear is where your priority should be. While interconnects are a necessity, they shouldn’t break the bank and certainly should not cost you more than some of your components you’re trying to connect! Personally, I chose to give my money and invest in companies that give me good value and no-nonsense. That’s why I have Better Cables, Blue Jeans Cables, and MIT cables in my system (I do have Monoprice cables, but only their HDMI cables). Visiting some of the sites above will give you good value and can save you quite a bit of money while giving you quality that will last for many many years.
Justin dropped me a follow-up email letting me know that he is going to purchase his interconnects from Better Cables and his speaker cables from Blue Jeans Cable. Good luck Justin and enjoy your new cables!