Interconnects are a set of cables connecting all individual electronic components in the audio hi-fi or home theatre systems. Audio quality on hi-fi systems depend a great deal on the cables and wires used to propagate the audio signals. Audio interconnect, or audio IC, is the cable that connects the CD player, cassette deck, turntable, tuner, and others with the receiver or the amplifier or the DVD player and speakers with home theatre processor.
Hi-fi interconnects may be of the analogue or digital type. The first generation of audio and video cables were manufactured to handle analogue signals. Analogue signals here refer to electric signals. Information carried by a physical variable such as sound is converted into analogue signals by a transducer and carried as a continuous waveform. These analogue electric signals are reconverted to drive speaker cones in the same pattern to recreate the original sounds. In digital signals, the physical variable is a series of encoded binary units of 1 (high voltage level) and 0 (low voltage level) bits, and ends as a series of rapid back-and-forth voltage fluctuations between the highs and lows that an electronic digital circuit responds to.
Several types of hi-fi interconnects with and without terminations are available at home electronic stores and online stores. Some basic guidance helps the shopper make an informed choice with regard to the kind of hi-fi interconnects needed. eBay offers all types of interconnects and shoppers can conveniently compare the different types available and select the right one.
Choosing the Right Unterminated Hi-Fi Interconnects
The right hi-fi interconnects tweak and fine-tune the audio output, giving a better finish to the end product. However, these cannot be considered as the solution for all audio incompatibilities, as there is only so much a good audio interconnect can do. Home hi-fi audio systems require several short interconnect pairs for connecting the various source components of the system such as the CD or DVD player, tuners, and the amplifier, depending on the type of one's hi-fi system. Interconnects are available in standard lengths of 1 metre, 1.5 metres and 2 metres, ideally used for establishing source to preamp connections. However, the connection between the preamplifier and power amp may need longer cables, as the power amp supplies the current required to drive loudspeakers. Unterminated hi-fi interconnects require RCA connectors or XLR plugs, both of which are easy to buy from brick and mortar stores and online stores such as eBay as well. Shoppers may also buy interconnects that have the RCA connectors or XLR plugs previously fixed on them.
Construction of Unterminated Hi-Fi Interconnects
Unterminated hi-fi interconnects comprise the signal conducting metal which is mostly pure copper, the dielectric which is the insulating material between conductors, and the jacket as outermost protective cover. Though this is the basic construction of interconnects, numerous brands exist with varied sizes, shapes, and geometries; and the terminations or connectors that the interconnect uses depends on its geometry. However, cables and interconnects with certain other design parameters such as braids and multi-filar wires have brought in newer features. Mechanical stability, balance, and symmetry have ensured low resonance and better capacitance, leading to optimised performance of interconnects with reduced noise.
Hi-Fi Interconnect Types
High-end audio systems use numerous types of interconnects with varied designs. While every design type has its own pros and cons, some interconnects with simple construction are known high performers. These include litz, stranded, solid core, Q, pure silver, and rhodium wires.
Litz Interconnect Wires
Litz wire is used for alternating currents. With litz wires, a number of insulated strands are interwoven, reducing the skin effect. Skin effect is when the concentration of alternating currents is at maximum on the outer surface of the conducting wire.
This is a highly flexible wire commonly used as lamp cords. These stranded wires are prone to corrosion, resonance, and noise, and thus not recommended as interconnects.
Solid Core Wires
Solid core interconnects have a single strand of wire and are less flexible than stranded wires.
Q interconnects are expensive as their construction is both labour-intensive and time-consuming. This design is flexible, almost corrosion-free, and has zero resonance, making it a very good choice for interconnects.
Pure Silver Interconnects
The opinion about the performance of pure silver interconnects is greatly divided, with many people finding the audio to be too harsh while other think it is crystal-clear. The cost of pure silver is often a deterrent as well, causing many people settle for good-quality copper interconnects rather than spending the extra money for silver. Reasonably priced, silver-coated copper interconnects are available mostly in coaxial cables.
Similar to silver in appearance, rhodium interconnects are resistant to corrosion, offer low resistance to electric conduction, and have stable contact resistance. Besides interconnects, rhodium also find application in the manufacture of terminations such as banana plugs and spade terminals.
Balanced and Unbalanced Interconnects
Balanced interconnects comprise a three-wire system of signal, return, and ground while the unbalanced one has two conductors, signal and ground. In a balanced cable, two wires carry non-inverted and inverted versions of the same signal and the receiving device ignores identical signals common to both wires, while responding to the difference in two signals. This causes noises to be cancelled out and hence results in clearer audio signals and sounds.
The unbalanced or single ended cable with two connectors for conducting the signal between two devices and one for the grounded return is generally used in consumer audio systems. This unbalanced interconnect terminates in an RCA phono plug that is inserted into the phono jack provided on the other device to establish connections.
Terminations for Hi-Fi Audio Interconnects
Unterminated balanced and unbalanced hi-fi interconnects must have suitable terminations crimped onto the ends of the cables to help establish safe connections. Balanced audio interconnects with three conductors are used by professionals to connect mixers, microphones, and other high-end gadgets and in home audio systems to the amplifier. Connections are established by terminating the interconnect with XLR connectors. Unbalanced single-ended interconnects have two conductors and have the RCA terminations.
Unterminated audio interconnects may be terminated with suitable XLR connectors or RCA phono plugs and can be done by the user using the right equipment. The bare wires of the interconnects are inserted into the plug posts and fastened securely using the locking mechanism provided on the terminations.
Popularly used with professional audio equipment, XLR connectors for audio interconnects usually have three pins in the male connector, while the female jack has three holes. The first pin that makes contact is for ground, after which the signal lines are inserted for connection.
RCA audio-video cables may have two or three colour-coded plugs: the red and white plugs are the right and left audio channels, respectively, and the yellow plug is for composite video. Also called phono plugs, these terminations on interconnects allow connection of numerous audio and video devices.
How to Buy Unterminated Hi-Fi Interconnects on eBay
Audio interconnects are expensive, and many people create these ancillary items after buying unterminated hi-fi cables along with the matching terminations. eBay offers on its site both the unterminated cables of various geometries and the appropriate connectors for terminating the audio interconnects. On the site, shoppers can browse through hundreds of listings in both categories and find suitable unterminated cables and various types of connectors at reasonable prices. Alternatively, one can type in keywords such as 'XLR cables' or 'rhodium interconnects' into the search bar and filter the results according to the specific item desired.
When buying on eBay, shoppers have the option to purchase from top-rated sellers, dealers who consistently receive high percentages of excellent, positive feedback for their transactions. The sellers' contact details, provided on the individual listing page, allow the shopper to correspond with the seller to clarify any issues about the displayed product. Numerous secure payment options are offered by eBay and shoppers can select their best mode of payment from among those.
A great-sounding home audio or home theatre system enhances listening and viewing pleasure and is a great way to relax at home. Interconnects for audio and video components allow the user to connect several devices to the preamplifier or the processor of the home cinema system, making operations easy. High-quality interconnects also enhance audio and video quality. Users can buy unterminated hi-fi interconnects of various types, such as litz, silver, or rhodium wires. Stranded wires or solid core wires other options. Each type has its own advantages, which the user can gauge according to the requirement and the equipment with which the wires will be used. Selecting balanced interconnects over unbalanced will ensure that the audio output is clear and noise-free.
The unterminated audio interconnects are terminated using either XLR connectors or RCA phono plugs, both easily available. With the terminations in place on the interconnects, the user can make the necessary connections between the components of the home audio or home theatre systems.