Audio Interconnects

Audio/Video Cables: Does Upgrading Really Matter?


What makes good interconnect?
There are many factors that affect the performance of an interconnect, which in turn affects the signal passing from one component to the next. The best connection between a DVD player and a TV is made using a 75-ohm impedance video cable. Impedance in video cables is determined by the size of the conductors, the distance between the two conductors, and the dielectric constant of the material between the conductors. While this sounds like a simple requirement, many cable manufacturers do not achieve this with their cables. Not only should the cable be 75-ohm, the connectors should be 75-ohm as well. You also want the cable to be well shielded to protect against RF interference.

What about the “free” cables that came with my component?
The free yellow video cable that comes with your components does not meet any of the requirements for good video reproduction. They are usually unshielded, lack a good dielectric, and are not 75-ohm. They also have very cheap connectors. You will get a picture - just not the best picture you can achieve.


A Standard Cable

Here is a picture of the video cable used for composite video (RCA).

A "Better" Cable

So, hopefully I have started help you realize the importance of an upgraded video cable. But what should you look for in an upgraded cable? This is where it gets tricky. You can spend hundreds of dollars just for a short upgraded video cable, but that shouldn't be necessary.

Getting the most performance out of your system:

Buying high-quality components is only the first part of maximizing your enjoyment of your home theater system. Upgrading your audio/video cabling may be the best way to make sure you are getting the best performance for the money you have spent on components.

Audio Interconnects to Maximize the Home-Cinema Experience

The standard audio leads included with your A/V purchase is unlikely to bring out the best from your Home Cinema components. That's because those "free" leads are likely to have been designed with cost savings in mind, not exotic performance.


In a home-cinema system, there are a large number of connections to be made between equipment in different part of a house, or even a house. The average home is a hostile environment for audio interconnects, which are prone to picking up noise from electromagnetic fields (AC power lines inside and of walls), dimmers, and equipment racks. The lengthy audio runs encountered in Home Cinema require the lowest loss interconnect one can afford for the best performance.

How to Choose Interconnects and Interconnects

In order to assist you with choosing the correct interconnect for your equipment, follow our Audio Hook Up Guide.

Audio Interconnects and Hook Up guide

Digital audio (The best )

Component analogue audio (Very good )

Stereo/surround analogue audio (Good )

RF digital audio (Laser Disc player only )


Once you've got a feel for how your system is-or will be-configured, make a list of the interconnects and interconnects you'll need, and their lengths. Keep all lengths as short as possible, but allow some flexibility for moving loudspeakers, putting your preamp in a different space in the rack, or other possible changes. After you've found the minimum length, add half a meter for flexibility.

What to Listen For

Interconnects need time to break in before they sound their best. Before break-in, a interconnect often sounds bright, hard, fatiguing, congested, and lacking in soundstage depth. These characteristics often disappear after several hours' use, with days or weeks of use required for full break-in. You can't be sure, however, if the interconnect is inherently bright- and hard-sounding, or if it just needs breaking-in. Note that break-in wears off over time. Even if a interconnect has had significant use, after a long period of not being used it may not sound its best until you've put music through it for a few days.

Keep in mind, however, that a better interconnect can sometimes reveal flaws in the rest of your system.


Getting the Best Sound from Interconnects

Here are several other tricks to help you keep interconnects and interconnects from degrading your system's sound:

  1. Because all wire degrades the signal passing through it, the less wire you have in your system, the better. Keep interconnects and loudspeaker interconnects short.
  2. Keep left and right loudspeaker interconnects, and left and right interconnects, the same length.
  3. If you have excess interconnect or interconnect, don't wind it into a neat loop behind the loudspeaker or equipment rack. This will make the interconnect more inductive and change its characteristics. Instead, drape the interconnect so it crosses other loops at right angles.
  4. Periodically disconnect all interconnects and loudspeaker interconnects for cleaning. Oxide builds up on jacks and plugs, interfering with the electrical transfer. Use a contact cleaner (available at most high-end stores). It works. In fact, switching interconnects sometimes cleans the jacks, making the system sound better even though the interconnect may not be intrinsically better.
  5. When connecting and disconnecting PHONO plugs, always grip the plug, never the interconnect. Remember to push the tab when disconnecting XLR plugs.
  6. Ensure tight connection of all PHONO plugs, and particularly spade lugs on power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Get lots of contact surface area between the spade lug and post, then tighten down the binding posts.
  7. Avoid sharp bends in interconnects and interconnects.