It is a classic problem: You have just brought home a new Hi-Fi separate and want to connect it to your existing home audio system. For many people this is the reason they bought separates in the first place, they wanted to be able to buy components individually rather than having to budget for everything at once. The other side of the same coin is that sometimes you might find a piece of old technology that you absolutely have to attach to a system of much more recent vintage.
Whatever the situation, it all comes back to the same issue: connecting two pieces of technology that were not designed to work in conjunction with one another. The question that comes to mind is how does one do it. Many systems rely on fibre-optic connections, but most older technology does not use it and cannot connect with it. This means that those looking to connect older devices and technology need to pay particular attention to the interfaces they have in order to ensure that they can connect to newer technology, or even in some cases to other pieces of older technology.
Terminated Interconnect Basics
The simplest description of a terminated interconnect is that it is a cable with terminators at each end, which is used to connect two pieces of technology so that they can pass a signal between them. There are different interconnects for different needs and they vary widely in length, protocol support, and even the kinds of terminators they come with. Some are designed for analogue signals, others for digital, and there are others still designed to pass fibre-optic signals. No matter what kind of signals the cables are designed to work with, they all serve the same purpose in an essentially similar fashion. A terminated interconnect really is no different to a pipe, except it is a pipe for data rather than water.
Start With the Components
The first step is to study the two components you intend to connect and look to see if they have any inputs or outputs in common. This is what can make or break the deal. Most modern devices have several different kinds of outputs and support multiple interconnects. Older technology tends to be less forgiving, they tend to have fewer inputs and outputs as they were designed to work in less complex situations with fewer components. Once you know how you intend to connect the devices, you can figure out which kind of terminated interconnect best fits your needs.
Choose the Source
When choosing a source, you may want to use a newer device so that you can feed its output through the older system's speakers. The first step is to choose which of the two devices you want to provide the audio source. Whichever option you choose, the thing to remember is that the way to connect an older system to a newer one is through analogue rather than digital connections and the choice of terminated interconnect has to reflect that.
The difference between digital and analogue is that an analogue audio signal is the sound, a digital one is the instructions to recreate the sound. Older technology did not use digital, and so there is no point using a digital connection. Some terminated interconnects designed for use in a digital application may use the same physical terminators as the analogue interconnects they replaced, but that does not mean they are always compatible.
Terminated Interconnect Options
Because of the necessity of using an analogue connection with most older technology, there are certain limits on which terminated interconnects can be used. For obvious reasons, it is usually impossible to use a fibre-optic based interconnect as it has no way to carry an analogue signal, particularly not an electrical, as opposed to an optical, one. Luckily, most copper-based terminated interconnects do work with older technology as long as they have the right terminators.
The most common form of terminator is the RCA plug. This cylindrical terminator is not only used for analogue but also for digital connections. The big advantage of using this kind of terminator is that it is one of the most universally compatible options. The majority of older technology relied on these connections for most of their dedicated audio and video inputs and outputs. It was one of the most common forms of terminated interconnect in use with analogue technology. Many more recent devices also use the same kind of terminators if they support direct analogue input. Each channel requires its own interconnect, which can lead to a large number of connectors, but in many cases this is the best way to set up a high fidelity connection involving older technology.
Another way to connect older technology is to use the headphone plug. Many older audio systems had a headphone plug which can sometimes be connected to the auxiliary input on technology of more recent vintage. This may require an adapter, as some older technology used larger headphone plugs, but it has the advantage of only requiring a single interconnect to carry a stereo signal. The nature of the plug and wiring may not provide as clear a signal, but it is a viable option even if it isn’t the best or preferred option in many circumstances.
Choosing the Right Terminated Interconnect
Choosing the right terminated interconnect for old technology is not difficult for anyone who can put in a little time and effort. The key is to identify your needs before you begin. What devices do you need to connect and why? Once you know that, it becomes much easier to determine which terminated interconnect is best fitted to meet your needs. If the systems support it, an interconnect with RCA terminators is often the most effective choice. These interconnects can provide a clear signal and are available in a wide variety of lengths and grades. Using a headphone plug to connect to an auxiliary input is also an option, but the interconnects can be relatively thin and flimsy, which can make them unsuitable for long-term use.
Regardless of the details, the best option is normally based on the types of connections the devices you are trying to connect support. Adapters are sometimes available, depending on the specific requirements, but they simply provide another layer of complexity with no commensurate increase in quality or durability.
Buying the Right Terminated Interconnect for Old Technology on eBay
eBay is one of the best places to find just the right terminated interconnect to hook up your old technology. It offers a wide variety of interconnects along with a set of tools that make it easy to find just the interconnect you need. All you have to do to start is enter the terms you want in the search box, you can find one on every eBay page, and then watch your results appear. Once you have the results in front of you, you can use the filters in the sidebar to hide the ones you do not want. You can filter by everything from price range, to brand, to the type of terminator, and even length. Once you have narrowed down your results to just the ones you want, you can sort them so those which best meet your requirements appear at the top of the list. eBay's robust sort function lets you arrange the results by everything from price to shipping distance to put the interconnects you want at the head of the list.
After you have determined which terminated interconnects best meet your requirements, the next step is to find your best match amongst eBay's many reputable sellers. The best place to do that is at their profile page where you can see everything from their feedback to location. You can also check to determine if they have any special policies such as bundling several interconnects together or even allowing local purchasers to save on shipping by picking up their interconnect in person.
The key to buying the right terminated interconnect for old technology lies in determining your needs and the requirements of the technology. Once you know what you need and what the technology can and cannot do, it becomes much easier to determine which terminated interconnects best meet those needs. It is important to remember that as a general rule, older technology is entirely analogue and does not possess any digital inputs or outputs and so it requires the use of analogue terminated interconnects. The next thing to consider is the specific terminators on any given piece of old technology. Some use RCA plugs while others may only have headphone plugs. In either case, the key is the wide availability of analogue hardware and terminators. This is what makes it possible for older technology to connect with anything, whether with newer technology or other pieces of older technology. By understanding how analogue technology works, you can easily find the right terminated interconnect for your old technology needs.