Subwoofer Cable Vs. RCA: Which is Better?

RCA and subwoofer cables are both used to connect subwoofers to home theater systems. Subwoofers work normally with RCA cables because they can work with the connection, however, some cables diminish AC hum to produce a clear sound by offering higher shielding.

Buying high-quality cable for your subwoofer is important. However, which one of them is the best? Which cable should you be using in your home theater setup?

Read on to understand the similarities and differences between subwoofer and RCA cables and hopefully this would help you in choosing the best one for your home theater systems.

What are Subwoofer and RCA cables?

Subwoofer Cables

A subwoofer cable is an analog audio cable that is made for long distances. They are used to connect the amplifier to the subwoofer and can transmit up to 100 Hz in sound. They are more complex and powerful compared to the RCA cables.

This is due to the fact that they are made with modern, durable materials and better technology. It has strong shielding and is insensitive to low-frequency noise.

Subwoofer cables are made with durable, tighter woven fiber to make an insulating mesh or field. Some people use coaxial as a subwoofer cable because of its strength and great length.

You can find subwoofer cables in split cables, mono cables, and regular cables.

From Home Media

RCA Cables

RCA cable, also named Radio Corporation of America, was first used to concert phonographs to amplifiers in the 1940s. They became more popular in homes in the 1950s and it is still used till today. They can be used to connect a variety of video and audio devices such as stereos, TV, and camcorders to speakers.

High-end camcorders have three RCA jacks, so the signal going through the device passes three separate channels (two audio and one video) which results in high-quality signal transfer. Other camcorders have a stereo jack, which means one jack combines all three channels.

RCA cables can be used to transmit non-digital signals, this is why they cannot be plugged directly into a digital device or a PC. They only connect amplifiers to all sorts of devices.

MPN395-N - RCA Male to Male Gold Stereo Audio Cable - 12Feet
From Cmple

Types of Subwoofer Cables

With the emergence of technology, subwoofer cables have gotten more better and affordable, people rarely use RCA cables. ¼ inch jacks are becoming a more popular consumer-grade audio hardware. Even though people still use RCA cables, there is a shift that pushes consumers to buy Subwoofer cables.

Below are the different varieties of Subwoofer cables:

Split Cable

Split cables are designed for subwoofers with stereo input. It raises the system’s volume by 2Db by ensuring the subwoofer inputs receive the same signal.

Regular Mono subwoofer

This cable is used when the subwoofer input is labelled Low-Frequency Effects or LFE. Let’s say subwoofer Y adapters are used to connect mono subwoofers. People would tend to use the LFE connection even though there are alternative ways of securing a connection with a subwoofer.

Types of RCA Cables

There are two main types of RCA cables:

Composite RCA Cables

Composite RCA cables allow an analog means of transmitting video signals. It sends the entire video data through one signal. The downside here is, the quality of the video signal is low. This is because three different signals make up analog audio and when all three signs are combined, the video quality becomes low.

RCA cables are different because of their distinct color combinations; they are mainly black, white, or red. The yellow cables deliver composite video, the red and white are used for both the left and right audio channels.

Composite videos over a single channel deliver video in standard definition (48oi and 576i). The signal of composite video is 480i NTSC/576i, which is not enough to play videos in high-definition.

The Best RCA Cables: How to Connect you A/V Devices Easily - Rolling Stone

Component RCA cables

These cables are green, blue, and red video lined. Sometimes, they come in red, white, and black audio cables. No matter what color they come in, it is used for distinguishing purposes. Component RCA cables are preferred to Composite RCA because they offer better audio quality.

Video signals in these cables transmit three different signals, unlike Composite cables that combine three signals into one. Component RCA cables have to be paired with audio cables to enable it to carry its audio signals as they do not carry audio signals.

But, depending on the brand, each cable has a higher resolution capacity than the other. The most common capacities are 480p, 576p, 720p, and 1080p quality.

What Are RCA Cables used for?

RCA cables are used for connecting to audio and video devices. They deliver high-quality signals if you have a device that supports the three RCA Jacks. RCA cables allow audio signals passing through your TV and camcorders to pass through two channels. Then the third channel is for the video signals.

But if you use a stereo jack, the quality of the sound and audio you get will be low due to the fact that all the signals are compressed due to low-quality transfer.

However, computers do not have three RCA jackets, so you cannot plug them directly into them. For devices like this, the best option is to get digital cables.

What Are Subwoofer Cables used for?

Subwoofer cables are pretty much RCA cables with durable material and technology. As we’ve seen, Subwoofer cables are just better versions of RCA cables. They have the same use as the RCA cables: to transmit audio and video signals to the TV.

It also carries low frequencies for subwoofers. Overall, Subwoofer cables are used to connect to any device that supports S/PDIF coaxial audio interface.

Differences between Subwoofer Cables and RCA Cables

You might be not be sure about how well the sound quality of one is. If you’re confused about the best one to invest in, you can start by understanding the specifications of your subwoofer. Then, read on to understand the difference between the two cables.

A subwoofer cable is used to connect the subwoofer to the receiver. The work of the subwoofer is to emulate and capture the audio signals, so is it important that this type of cable be used to connect both sound equipment.

Therefore there can be smooth signal transmission from one device to another. This comes down to the coating and wiring of the RCA cables that make up the subwoofer cable.

A subwoofer cable is built the same way as the RCA cable, however, the extra coating and shielding help reduce the hum of the speaker. Subwoofer eliminates the buzz or squeals that come from the poor connection between all the components in the speaker system.

Subwoofer Cables vs RCA Cables | BoomSpeaker
From Boomspeaker

When choosing the cable to use for your theater system, test both cables out, listen to the audio produced by both. If you connect the RCA cable to the subwoofer and receiver there are no humming or distortable sounds, then there is really no need to buy a subwoofer cable.

But if you notice that the RCA connection results in humming, there is a need to invest in a subwoofer cable.

Induction from the wiring into the speaker cable or from the ground loop to the shield of a conical cable causes the hum. The hum frequency range is at the range of a subwoofer and it gets more prevalent. The extra shield possessed by the RCA cable to the subwoofer reduced the hum caused by the induction.

Can I use an RCA cable for the Subwoofer?

If you are not impressed about the use of a subwoofer cable and its heightened amount of shielding plus top-level technology compared to an RCA cable, then you are wondering how to get the most out of a connection between a subwoofer and receiver with an RCA cable. The thing with RCA cables is, they do not produce clear audio signals as the subwoofer cable would.

However, it can be used to connect the subwoofer to the receiver. One thing to note is the specifications of the cable to make you get a connection to the left and right audio channels so you can get a viewing (digital) connection.

You might find that video cables have an impedance difference from what your home theater system needs, so you want to make sure the ratings on the cable and the subwoofer match up.

From Crutchfield

The RCA cable can be used to achieve a secure connection for the subwoofer. While the audio quality might not be clear considering the fact that the cable doesn’t have a dense shield among other types of advanced technology it counterpart has and it can work to provide a good audio experience for low-frequency audio signals when sent to the subwoofer.

If you’re wondering whether to get the RCA cable or surround system for your sound system setup, the best factor to determine that is the specifications of your devices. Before you make a buying decision, check the specifications and invest in quality cables that would not break the bank and fit your audio needs.

Even though a subwoofer cable would give you a very pleasing audio experience, the RCA cable when connected well achieves an indistinguishable audio quality that you would love. If you are, however, skeptical about the one to buy, you can do well to contact a professional or a friend well-versed in this field to guide you through.

What Differences do Subwoofer Cables make?

If you are debating upgrading your cables from the standard RCA connections to subwoofer cables that are designed to send low-frequency audio signals to your device. You might be wondering if the investment is worth it or not?

Well, there are many components that need an upgrade on a sound system. Why Subwoofer cables? And will they be worth it?

Some people find that buying high-quality subwoofer cables is with the investment because it provides a clear audio experience and reduces speaker hum. Some argued that RCA cables can deliver the same work as the subwoofer connection when shielded well. Just make sure to check your device specifications to be sure.

Some devices come with emission ratings that don’t require a special type of cable with, a standard RCA cable that can be used to secure the connection between the subwoofer and the receiver. 

But if you notice the sound quality is distorted and not what you like, then you might want to consider buying a subwoofer cable or replacing the RCA cables you have with high-quality, more expensive cables.

If you have not thought about changing your cables then you might not know how this would affect your audio experience. Just like how the brand, type, and quality of the speakers you get transforms the audio experience in your home theater is how the cables used to connect to your sound system change the audio quality.

From Klipsch

The more you get more familiar with cables, the more you realize that cheap cables and thoughtfully-made ones are created to give different sound quality, therefore, the price of the cable you get depends on the sound quality it gives.

Also make sure you check the specifications of the cable you are getting, and don’t forget protection and shielding for the wires if you decide to go for an RCA cable. This is because these cables carry audio signals to the subwoofer and receiver, they need to be protected with a high-quality cable.

Apart from cables, wiring is also super important. Make sure the wiring is connected and available and ensure the cable is properly shielded so that there is proper emission of audio signal and protection from an anomaly like a distortion.

Investing in high-quality cables for your sound system might be on your priority list for your sound system but starting at the root of the audio system delivers a good audio quality from the speakers in your sound system.

The key to enjoying a connection no matter what kind of cable it is investing in high-quality equipment and setting it up the right way.

People Also Wonder

Can I use only an RCA cable for my Subwoofer?

Any cable, whether RCA or subwoofer is sufficient. If any of the cables when connected give a hum then, use a shielded subwoofer cable. At the end of the receiver, the subwoofer output would accept one of the ends of the subwoofer cable.

Is Subwoofer cable the same as RCA cables?

An RCA connects the subwoofer to the receiver to ensure efficient transfer of audio signals supplied by a connection from different angles organized into three( left, right, and center). Just like the RCA cables, the subwoofer has the same wiring. The difference between both is that subwoofer cables have an extra shield to the speaker hum.

What type of cable does a subwoofer use?

A subwoofer output connector is designed to allow cables to transport video and audio signals to pass through it. Some vintage AVRs however use a wired connection where the output connector is direct to the AVRs “subwoofer out” port.

Best RCA Cable for Subwoofer

AudioQuest Black lab cable

AudioQuest Black Lab cable delivers a great bass that the subwoofer can produce. It comes with two conductors, in which every single one is made of high-purity Long-grain coper. These conductors remove any magnetic and electrical interference that can make any conductor brittle.

The AudioQuest Black lab is made of Solid Long-grain copper conductors, Cold-welded Gold-plated plugs, Metal-layer noise-dissipation system, foamed-polyethylene Insulation, Symmetrical Coax Geometry, and Grounding.

Audioquest Black Lab Subwoofer Cable

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Best Subwoofer Cable

Mediabridge Ultra Series Subwoofer Cable

The Metabridge ultra series subwoofer cables transfer low-frequency signals. The audio details dig deep. It delivers a very precise sound and great audio quality. Some cables are susceptible to damage when installed into the walls making in-wall cable installations impossible. Mediabridge subwoofer cables can be installed into the wall without any fear. It does not damage the cables and gives it a clean look.

The Ultra series subwoofer cable also comes with a travel-friendly dual-tab design to keep speakers clean and firm. With the velcro strap that comes with it, you can roll the ables and organize them.

What we dislike about the cable is that the stiffness index is high. It was hard rolling the cable back after usage. On the bright side, these cables deliver rich sound quality and a turbine design for secure connections.

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RCA cables are three wired cables that are in separate wired bundled together. The other terminals in different colors are audio signals while the main terminal, the yellow terminal, is used for visual signals. These cables are normally used to connect the subwoofer to the receiver as well, but they can be used for different A/V connections.

Subwoofer cables serve the same purpose as the RCA cables, they are just more shielded or protected than the other.

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