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RCA Vs. Optical: The Battle Of Cables

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RCA vs. Optical

We all love great and smooth music. To achieve this, ensure you are using the correct audio cable, and it’s well fixed. 

Audio is not complicated as long as you learn active noise cancellation and available audio connections. 

When assembling the first sound system for your home entertainment, you’ll have to decide on the type of sound plug formats and cabling. Don’t worry; there are several options such as Optical, RCA, Coaxial, and HDMI. 

HDMI is the most popular right now because of various factors. However, this article is about RCA and Optical cables. 

We are going to highlight their differences and similarities in functionality. It will help you know which is better between the two cables.  

RCA Vs. Optical

If you’re an ordinary person and not tech-savvy, you’ll find these cables to be highly confusing. You might also think that the audio cable is just one. 

While RCA cables are associated with analog signals, the optical cables transmit digital multichannel audio signals as pulses of light. For this reason, the optical cables offer superior sound quality compared to RCA.

RCA cable

This type of cable was quite common in the olden days. It was before the invention of ultra-high-definition curved televisions. 

RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America, which is the original manufacturer of the cable. RCA connectors are pretty beautiful and split into three. Mostly they come in three colors: red, white and yellow.  

Today, RCA cable is used chiefly when audio and video need to be transferred at the same time between devices. For example, the yellow cable transfers video red for right audio and white for left audio.

Optical Cable

It’s another way of transmitting both audio and visual simultaneously between devices. They perform similar functions as the RCA connectors, connecting devices with visible components like console and DVD. 

However, the Optical cable is unique in its design. Instead of wires, it uses fiber optic cables to transmit light and signal. 

The optical cables can be compared to the modern and most popular cable, the HDMI. The signal remains as clear as long as it is within effective distance. 

However, if the distance between the devices increases, there’s a sudden drop in signal quality. 

Some Of The Notable Difference Between RCA And Optical

1. Resistance of EMI and RFI 

When compared to RCA, Optical cable is superior in transmitting audio. First, this is because it transmits better quality signals over long distances. 

Second, it’s because Optical cables are not susceptible to radio and electromagnetic frequencies.

It’s because electrical frequencies flow through RCA cable, therefore, degrade the signal with distance. 

As a result, the optical fibers are less prone to noise. However, if you are not keen, you won’t notice any difference in audio quality.

2. Bandwidth

Optical cables tend to have better bandwidth compared to RCA. This means it will provide better quality audio and visuals.

Most optical cables pass the 24 bits/96kzh, but none goes above 384k. If you want to know the bandwidth of any of the two cables, you can test. 

3. HD Audio Transmissions

Opticality is limited when it comes to audio transmission. Despite the years, the ability of RCA to transmit various audios makes it a buy.

It’s only HDMI and RCA cables that can send HD audios such as Master audio, DTS-H, and Dolby True HD. 

4. Price

The optical cable is more expensive than its counterpart RCA.  Pricing has made many choose RCA over Optical. 

However, this price can be justified. Optical cable has higher frequencies hence high pricing.

5. Camcorder recordings

RCA carries the day when it comes to camcorder recordings. Camcorders do require separate cables for video and audio. This ensures faster and quality processing. 

The cheaper camcorders that do not have a three-channel jack tend to have low-quality transfers. The best ones have three separate channels. Meaning the RCA is the only cable that can be used.

Best RCA cables 

Today, HDMI is most preferred because of several factors. However, RCA cable is very much necessary, and many appliances still use it, like televisions. 

This cable was developed in the ’40s and has been used for various functions since. Here are the best types of RCA cables.

1. IXCC 6ft: Dual Shielded 3.5mm 

Its plate shield is made of gold. This guarantees you excellent quality sound without any interference. The gold plate reduces the chances of corrosion. 

The 3.5 mm is compatible with any device that has a 3.5mm aux port. This includes various devices such as iPhones, iPods, and many more.

It’s been made in a way that it can be used across smartphones without removing its cover. Its tangle-free design also makes it easy to use. 

2. Amazon Basics: 2-Male to 2-Male

The materials that have been used to make Amazon basics have added to its quality. As a result, it’s the perfect cable for both home and professional settings. In addition, the cable cancels any noise and offers pure audio. 

It can be used on robust systems and still offer quality. It’s gold plated, and it guarantees long life. The amazon basic is easy to use and has two outputs, left and right.

3. Media Bridge ULTRA RCA Subwoofer cable

This is the best choice for those who need a better woofer experience. It’s optimized to connect your woofer to audio devices. It’s affordable, and with it, you’ll get the best quality bass. 

It’s also effective when it comes to low frequencies. It’s also gold-plated to reduce corrosion. It has high contact pressure and strong signal strength because of the split-tip center.

4 . Audioquest – Red River RCA

It is designed using modern technology. Its insulators and connectors are perfect. 

The cables are insulated with polythene foam. This ensures no sound interference and original sound is retained. 

The noise dissipation system is triple-layered and redefines audio quality. The wires on the inside are made of copper. 

Audio quest did put a lot of effort into this RCA. It meets professional standards.  In addition, it’s the most beautiful RCA cable you can find.

5. Hosa CMP – 159 3.5MM TRS Cable

It connects with all devices that have 3.5MM ports. This means you can connect your phone with other devices like the console. 

The conductors are of excellent quality and oxygen-free. Its conductors are nickel-plated to prevent corrosion and match its quality. The great thing is it’s cheap and is of excellent quality.

Best Optical Cables

Before the invention of HDMI, the optical cable, also known as TOSLINK, was so standard. Toshiba pioneered it and was used to transfer uncompressed audio signals. 

Here are some brands of optical cables that will bring you the best Audio experience.

1. IVANKA Optical Audio Cable

The brand has packed a lot of solid features in its optical audio cable. For example, the iVANKY cable jacket is nylon braided; it acts as an antifriction and protects it against corrosion. 

It has removable rubber caps. This is an ideal feature when storing the cable; it prevents dust from entering the tips. You can get this type from amazon at $12.

2. KabelDirekt Optical Digital Audio Cable 

It’s one of the best optical cables; its design and efficiency are top-notch. Its connectors are gold-plated. This prevents it from corrosion and also contains electromagnetic and radio frequencies.

4. Cmple TOSLINK Digital Fiber Optical Cable

It’s best for theatres that require long optical cables. The brand provides 100 feet cable at an affordable price. 

The connectors are gold-plated and are covered by resistant PVC material. It’s love because of its lightweight, and it’s ultra-thin. It can be a great addition to your room.

5. AmazonBasics Digital Optical TOSLINK Cable

It does not have extreme looks like other cables. However, it’s great when it comes to performance. 

Plus, the cable enjoys having the name Amazon, the largest online retailer. Finally, the cable is well priced. Anyone who is not after style and aesthetics can go for this cable.

6. FosPower TOSLINK Digital Optical Cable

Like AmazonBasics, this brand does not have unique features that make it stand out from others. 

However, the great thing is pricing; this cable is affordable. In addition, its connectors are gold-plated and have been braided in nylon mesh. 

Best Alternative To RCA And Optical

HDMI

It was launched in 2002 and has since been the most used cable. It offers greater bandwidth than RCA and Optical cables. 

In addition, it allows playback of lossless audio formats like that of Dolby, DTS-HD, and True HD. 

The HDMI is just a beast, and the competition offered by the other cables isn’t much. Throughout the years, HDMI has undergone advancements. 

The modern ones provide incredible bandwidth and transmit more audio channels like Dolby, Atmos, etc. As a result, many devices do support HDMI.

Conclusion 

RCA and Optical cables’ roles are pretty similar. However, there is some slight difference in the quality of transmitted audio. 

Optical cables have been rated highly compared to RCA cables because of certain factors. 

This does not mean the RCA cable is not a buy. On the contrary, it can be so valuable in certain circumstances, like when using a camcorder.

Unlike the fragile optical cables that cannot be bent tightly, the RCA is long-lasting. Your choice of the type of cable is dependent on your needs and the types of devices you’re using.

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