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While a cable might seem the last part of your sound system that you think makes a difference in audio quality, choosing the right one can make a huge improvement.
When it comes to subwoofers, there are two types of cables you can use: RCA and special subwoofer ones, which are also called coaxial cables.
These two types of cables are very similar and interchangeable to a certain extent. Both can connect to your receiver and receive the right audio signal consisting of the low frequencies a subwoofer is designed to reproduce.
The main difference between the two, however, lies in the fact that subwoofer cables are specially designed to work with these devices and feature much better shielding against hum and noise.
In this article, we will explain all of the advantages and disadvantages of RCA and subwoofer cables and help you find the best option for your particular use case.
Stick with us to learn more!
RCA vs. Subwoofer Cables: Which One Should You Choose?
Subwoofer cables are the best solution for your audio system because they provide superior audio quality and shielding capabilities against hum and noise. You will get much more clarity in your audio by choosing a subwoofer cable as opposed to an RCA one.
As subwoofers are designed to reproduce low frequencies only, a dedicated cable is the most obvious choice if you’re looking for optimal sound quality.
Most subwoofer cables on the market feature better components and materials than RCA ones and better build quality.
Let’s explain RCA and subwoofer cables and compare their main differences.
RCA Cables: What Are They?
RCA cables are very popular and found in most households. These cables usually feature three connectors, which are usually colored red, white, and black.
RCA cables have a lot of uses, and they can be either employed for audio and video (a use that is not so common nowadays with the advent of HDMI and DisplayPort), or for audio only, with each connector being responsible for the left, right and center channels.
An RCA cable can be used to connect a subwoofer to a receiver. They are cheaper and easier to find when compared to dedicated subwoofer cables but have some disadvantages as we will see below.
- RCA cables are employed in a lot of different uses, and a wide variety of home equipment uses them.
- RCA cables feature three connectors which are employed in different ways depending on what device you’re using the cable with. Each connector represents the left, right, and center audio channels for audio.
- Most receivers have RCA inputs.
- RCA cables are very cheap and can be easily found in most electronics stores. You might even have one lying around in your home right now.
- RCA cables are universal and are compatible with most technologies.
- These cables tend to have inferior quality when compared to subwoofer ones. RCA cables are usually thinner.
- RCA cables are not as well-shielded against hum and noise as subwoofer cables are.
- RCA cables might not be able to deliver the right amount of power to your subwoofer depending on your application.
Subwoofer Cables: What Are They?
Subwoofer cables are very similar to RCA ones, but as the name implies, they are specially designed to work with subwoofers and provide the best low-frequency performance.
These cables are heavier-gauge and feature much better shielding than their RCA counterparts. They are usually available at longer lengths, something that may come in handy depending on your sound system layout.
The biggest benefit of using a subwoofer cable is that you will have fewer issues with hum, noise, and interference from other devices, as well as the ability to feed your subwoofer with the right amount of power it needs in order to work properly. subwoofer cable which is also called coaxial cables.
- Subwoofer cables are similar to RCA cables but designed for use with subwoofers only and are audiophile-grade audio quality.
- Subwoofer cables are designed to receive and deliver the low frequencies to your subwoofer, and they usually provide your audio with a more transparent and solid bass performance.
- Subwoofer cables have much better construction when compared to their RCA counterparts, providing more durability.
- Subwoofer cables are well-shielding and will prevent issues with hum and noise in your audio system.
- These cables can handle more power than RCA ones.
- Subwoofer cables are more expensive than their RCA counterparts, so they are a long-term investment.
- Not as easily found in stores as RCA cables.
Check our guide on the Subwoofer Phase 0 or 180.
Key Differences Between RCA and Subwoofer Cables
Below is a chart with the main differentiating factors between RCA cables and subwoofer cables. These include specifications such as compatibility, wire gauge, and shielding.
|Differentiating Factors||RCA Cables||Subwoofer Cables|
|Compatibility||RCA cables are compatible with a wide range of home equipment and technologies.||Subwoofer cables are specially designed to work with subwoofers only.|
|Price||RCA cables are pretty cheap and can be found at almost all electronics stores.||Subwoofer cables are more expensive and require a larger investment.|
|Wire Gauge||RCA cables have a thinner gauge, and that makes them more prone to breakage.||Subwoofer cables have a thicker gauge when compared to their RCA counterparts, which improves durability.|
|Shielding||RCA cables have less shielding, which can lead to issues such as hum and noise.||Subwoofer cables have better shielding materials.|
|Power Handling||RCA cables can handle less power when compared to its subwoofer counterpart and this might be an issue in some situations.||Subwoofer cables can handle all of the power needed for your subwoofer to work properly.|
|Durability||RCA cables won't last as long as subwoofer cables, due to the poorer construction.||Subwoofer cables will definitely last a long time if you take proper care of them.|
Yes, a standard RCA cable will work with most subwoofers and might be an easy and fast solution if you’re on a budget, but subwoofer cables are considerably superior for that application.
Subwoofer cables are designed to maximize your subwoofer’s performance. This means they feature higher-quality components, better shielding, and can handle the power necessary for these devices to work properly.
It depends on the application. RCA cables provide unamplified signals so they might work best with smaller speakers, while speaker wires are often best employed in larger audio setups and systems.
As you learned, although RCA and subwoofer cables share similar technologies and can be used interchangeably in a system, specialized cables are always the optimal solution if you’re looking to get the best audio quality from your setup.
Subwoofer cables are a great investment since they hold superior build standards, better shielding capabilities against hum and noise, and provide an improvement in audio quality overall.
However, if you’re on a budget, you can always use RCA cables, since they are cheaper and you most likely have one lying around in your home. In the long run, though, we suggest you invest in a subwoofer cable.
We hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions related to the subject, feel free to contact us. Happy listening!
Hello, I’m Ian.
I’m a music producer, musician, and writer for the AudioReputation website. I’ve been involved with making music and the processes revolving around audio technology for longer than I can recall, so I find it amusing to share my knowledge with fellow enthusiasts worldwide when I’m not working with artists or creating new songs.
Along my path as a music maker, I discovered the ability to write informative content, and I decided to embrace it. I’ve written for a few websites about audio and music, including a digital magazine.
I’m particularly passionate about any sort of audio gear: guitar pedals, amplifiers, headphones, and even home speakers. That makes it really joyful for me to review any product related to the subject and give my honest opinion about them. I also frequently write tips and guides for consumer and professional-grade audio.