The Key Features to Look for in a Terminated Interconnect

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The Key Features to Look for in a Terminated Interconnect

Anyone who has ever taken the time to set up a home theatre or entertainment system has surely discovered the importance of terminated interconnects. They are the key to transforming a stack of independent components into a system that proves the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Even though the majority look like a simple metre-long piece of insulated wire, there are actually a number of features which every prospective buyer should consider, some of which may be more obvious than others. It is not enough to simply take any piece of wire and run it from one device to another in the hope they work together. Instead, it is important to consider both the devices that are being connected and the terminated interconnect that runs between the two. There is a reason why the word system is so common in the entertainment world; it is because the options have become so complex that there is no way that a single component can do everything well, it requires a system of different components working in unison.

Basics of the Terminated Interconnect

At base, a terminated interconnect is a cable designed to connect two pieces of equipment together so they can communicate. In most cases, it is designed to carry a signal, rather than power, although there are a few instances where a cable may carry power as well as a signal, such as with speakers. There are four main components that make up a terminated interconnect: the signal cable, the insulation, and the two terminal connectors. The connectors are counted separately because not all terminated interconnects use the same connectors on both ends. This is often the case, but there are circumstances where a terminated interconnect may be designed to bridge different components with different physical, if not electrical connectors, and so the interconnect needs to have different connectors at each end.

The Importance of Key Features of Terminated Interconnects

There are a number of important features to look for when buying a terminated interconnect, and the importance of the features depends on the needs of the prospective buyer. Some people may have relatively simple needs that can easily be met, while others may have more complex needs that may require a more complex solution. The first step to determining which features matter most to a given user is for that person to identify their specific needs; then once they know what they need, they can determine which are the key features to meet those particular needs.

Nature of the Interconnect

The first feature that should be considered is the nature of the interconnect; particularly whether it is designed to transmit fibre-optic or conventional electrical signals. For many buyers, the presence or absence of fibre-optic support is the single most important feature, as it is the one that determines whether it is possible to transmit a signal between the two components. Copper interconnects that rely on electronic signalling methods are most common, but fibre optics have been growing more and more common. Some electrical cables also require signal termination in order to ensure a clean signal.

Length of the Terminated Interconnect

One of the more important features of a terminated interconnect is the length. Many run between 1 and 1.5 metres in length, which works well for the majority of applications. This allows enough slack that the user does not need to worry about the cables putting stress on the connectors, which can damage the equipment, but not so much length that it could potentially lead to signal degradation. Those people with a very tall stack of components may find it helpful to buy longer terminated interconnects in order to ensure that the cables are long enough to reach from the top of the stack to the bottom. Others who are working in more confined spaces may find that shorter interconnects are more appropriate as they lend to easier cable management.

Terminals on the Interconnect

Many, though not all, terminated interconnects, use RCA connectors; particularly when designed for home theatre applications. Others may use different connectors ranging from coaxial, through XLR, and others. Choosing the right terminals, both for their physical and electronic properties is important as this is one of the things that determines the functionality of the terminated interconnect. Every buyer should pay particular attention to the terminals as those with the wrong terminals are physically unable to connect the particular components involved.

Locking Terminals

Some terminated interconnects are designed to work in such a way that the interconnect securely fastens to the terminal on the component with which it connects. The benefit of this feature is that it ensures a precise and secure connection between the interconnect and the component. This is particularly important when dealing with fibre optics which require a very precise alignment to ensure data transmission. Using a lock or other mechanism ensures that the terminated interconnect makes a solid connection. This is particularly important with analogue equipment as the quality of the signal degrades along with the quality of the connection so a loose fitting interconnect can have a noticeable effect on the quality of the output. Some interconnects are even designed to screw into the terminal so as to ensure a tight fit and secure connection.

Prioritising Key Features

One critical fact to consider when looking for terminated interconnects is which features are most important to the potential buyer so that they can prioritise them accordingly. As a general rule, the most significant features are those which ensure that the interconnect can pass a signal between the components it is designed to link. Physical incompatibilities can sometimes be resolved through the use of adapters, but if the interconnect is unable to carry the necessary signal then nothing else matters. Length is less important as it can be possible to move components in order to use a shorter cable than would otherwise be necessary.

How to Select the Right Terminated Interconnect

Selecting the right terminated interconnect is a simple matter which starts with the prospective purchaser determining their needs and priorities and it follows on from there. All buyers have to do is start at the top and work their way down the list.



Step One

Determine needs

Step Two

Check interfaces

Step Three

Determine distance

Step Four

Double-check connectors

After following the above steps, it becomes easy to select the right terminated interconnect for any application or situation. It all depends on knowledge. The person who understands what they need and why they need it is always in a better position to make an informed purchasing decision than one who does not.

Buying a Terminated Interconnect on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to buy terminated interconnects and any other form of audio cabling. They offer a huge variety of interconnects for all needs and budgets. The first step is to enter your terms in the search box, there is one on every eBay page, which makes searches quick and easy, and then watch your results appear. Once you have your results, the next step is to narrow your results down to just those which are suitable. This is where the filters in the sidebar come into play as you can use them to hide any results which do not meet your criteria, whether that be by budget, seller location, or some other factor. Once you have your results narrowed down, the next step is to sort them so the ones that best fit your needs are at the top of the list. eBay's sort functionality lets you arrange your results by anything from price to seller location.

Once you have your list narrowed down, the next step is to check out the seller. The best way to do that is to look at their seller page. Their profile is where you can see everything from their feedback to location, as well as any special policies they might have. Some sellers may offer several interconnects in a bundle, while others may allow purchasers to save on shipping by letting those who live close by pick up their interconnects in person.


There are several key features that any buyer should pay attention to before looking to buy a terminated interconnect. The most important of these features is connectivity. If the terminated interconnect cannot transmit the kind of signal the component is designed to connect, then there is no reason for anyone to purchase it. Other important features include the connectors, both locking and not, as well as the length. The key point for any purchaser to remember, is to be aware of their own needs first before they start looking for the right terminated interconnect. Not all terminated interconnects meet all needs, and not all needs are equally important to all purchasers. The buyer who understands their needs and their priorities is the one who is best able to make an informed purchasing decision. This is why knowledge is such a powerful tool when it comes to making any sort of important purchases. Those purchasers who know what to look for in a terminated interconnect are the ones who are ultimately, the most satisfied.

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