Audio cables, adapters and connectors for DJs, Hifi and PA
Since there are now many different audio devices on the market that need to be connected together frequently, it goes without saying that audio cables are also different. Which of them is used where and with which plugs is compatible, we present here.
The RCA plug
The RCA plug is mainly used for hi-fi systems and DJ equipment where a connection between the sound system and the amplifier or loudspeaker must be established. This requires a RCA cable with RCA plugs at both ends. They are the most common type of audio cable on the market and are now also used for other electronic devices. For each transmission channel a single-core cable is required, which has a so-called shielding braid.
RCA cables are usually stereo cables - this means that two individual single-core cables can be joined together to form a two-core cable. This is called a stem-type cable, where the coaxial cable is also used.
RCA plugs have been in use in the USA for longer than in this country. Until about 50 years ago, banana plugs were mainly produced in Europe, but today they have been largely replaced by the RCA plug. Here, the left audio channel is marked with white paint and a white plug, while the right channel is shown in red.
The jack plug
Jack plugs are used all over the world when audio signals are to be transmitted. These are now available in a wide variety of designs, ranging from 0 (optical) to 2 (mono) and 3 (stereo) to 4 (stereo with additional) contacts. Especially for headphones, stereo jack plugs are nowadays installed as standard, as they are the successor of the simple mono plug, so to speak.
Mp3 players, smartphones and other small electronic devices are usually equipped with a 3.5 mm jack plug. Headphone cables also have the 3-5 mm plug. With an appropriate adapter, the plug can even be used in a larger socket with a diameter of 6.35 mm. If desired, the 3.5 mm plug can also be purchased in an angled form. In addition, the cable is usually well protected against external influences.
The 3.5 mm jack is primarily intended for connecting headphones or earphones. Often there is also a so-called line-out jack, which allows the audio signal to be routed to a hi-fi system without an additional amplifier. This cable has a 3.5 mm plug on one end, while two RCA plugs are attached to the other end. This allows small electronic devices such as the smartphone or the Mp3 player to be connected to the hi-fi system in the living room in just a few seconds.
In professional audio applications, jack cables with a diameter of 6.3 mm are often used.
The banana plug
This plug is a so-called spring cotter, whose diameter is usually 4 mm. It has a built-in leaf spring, which guarantees a firm fit for the plug even without any further accessories. Banana plugs are mainly used in laboratory technology, but they are also widely used for amplifiers or loudspeakers. For banana plugs, there are also adapters available that allow compatibility with other types of plugs.
Which adapters are important for audio cables?
As you have learned in this article, there is a wide range of different audio cables. Their use depends primarily on their intended purpose, but often the plugs are just modern modifications of similar types. If you have a very old device whose plugs do not fit into any jack, you can use a suitable audio cable adapter to make a connection anyway.
If you look around the market, you will quickly see that the choice of suitable adapters is almost as large as the choice of plugs nowadays. With the appropriate accessories, it is therefore easy to switch from a 3-5 mm jack to a 6.3 mm jack: For this you need a so-called jack plug adapter-5-3.
There are even compatible adapters for banana plugs, so that you can also connect them to a wide variety of devices.
So be careful when disposing of older hi-fi systems or turntables, as the amplifier does not have a compatible interface for the connecting cables. First of all, you should definitely enquire whether suitable adapters are available in stores. Especially with older turntables there are very often