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Connect Yourself to a Great Sound Experience with Audio Cables

Audio cables are like the forgotten stepchild of audio electronics. Most shoppers focus their attention on high-profile products like the audio source (smartphone, MP3 player, turntable, receiver, etc.) or the speaker that pumps out all the sound. But there's a crucial component in this audio equation that's easy to overlook, and that's the audio cable. 

Whether you're setting up a surround sound system or simply looking for a way to connect your MP3 player to a portable speaker, here are the main factors you should consider while shopping for an audio cable. 

Get the Right Cable Length 

This may seem obvious, but it's an easy thing to overlook. If you're connecting two components that are a set length apart, like a home theatre receiver and a subwoofer, you'll need to get a cable that's long enough for the job. Take a piece of string and run it between the two components, then measure the length of the string and you'll know how long a cable you need to pick up. 

If you'd prefer to extend your current cable a little longer, look for an extension cable to cover that last little bit of distance. Audio extension cables are especially useful for headphones, especially if you like to jive and jitterbug around the room while listening to your swing music playlist. 

Choose the Right Cable Gauge 

The wire gauge is a number that indicates a cable's thickness and resistance – the lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. (It seems kind of counterintuitive, but it is what it is.) Thicker wires are labeled 12 or 14 gauge, while thinner wires can go to 18 gauge. Generally speaking, the longer distance you need to cover, the thicker the wire should be (and the lower the gauge number). 

Cable Management 

Cables are very useful. Unfortunately, they can also get messy and unsightly, especially if you've got a lot of them lying around. Accessories like cable ties and banana connectors can be used to turn a bird's nest of cables into a much more organized (and better looking) system. 

Types of Audio Cables 

The type of audio cable you choose will usually be determined by the ports that are built into the components you're connecting. Here's a brief rundown of some of the most common types: 

RCA Connector Cables 

If you've connected any audio equipment over the past forty years or so, you've probably seen these cables with the bright red and white connectors. The two colours represent the left and right audio channels and many older audio products are equipped with these RCA ports. 

Subwoofer cables are slightly different. Since they only carry a mono (not stereo) signal, they only include a single connector instead of two. 

3.5mm Aux Cables 

Also called stereo minijack ports, the 3.5mm jack is the one you see in most smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, wired headphones, portable game consoles, and other products. You can find "male-to-male" 3.5mm cables that can be used to connect a smartphone to a speaker or an MP3 player to your car's stereo deck. 

Digital Audio Cables 

These types of cables are used to carry digital signals and are found in many modern products like stereo receivers, sound bars, and flat-panel TVs. 

There are two main types: optical digital (Toslink) cables and coaxial digital cables. Check out our Digital Audio Cables page for a wide selection of these cables, as well as more info on how to choose the right one for your needs.