What Types of Devices Use Terminated Interconnects?

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What Types of Devices Use Terminated Interconnects?

Terminated interconnects are used to link electronic devices within a professional or home audio setup. They can be used with a variety of products, including record and CD players, amplifiers, and speakers. Terminated interconnects are produced in several different styles, and feature varying levels of performance to accommodate the needs of different users.

Buyers can begin shopping for interconnects by learning about the types of devices they are used with, and which ports are commonly found on certain products. For example, RCA cables are a common form of connection, and can be adapted from 3.5mm input jacks, such as those on MP3 players. Musical instruments are designed for use with 6.35mm jacks, and speaker wires can be found in varying gauges with several different types of terminations.

Terminated interconnects can be purchased from electronics stores, music shops, and commercial websites. Marketplaces like eBay have listings from a high number of sellers, including professional retailers and private owners. Be sure to read item listings and research sellers when buying online to ensure a positive buying experience. Compare prices, and research individual products to find the best connections for an audio system.

About Interconnects

A terminated interconnect refers to any cable used to link two electronic devices. Terminators are the plugs at the end of a cable that allow it to be inserted into a device. Although an interconnect can refer to almost any type of cable, the term is most commonly used in relation to audio connections, especially those relating to audiophile or professional equipment. High-end terminated interconnects offer the best possible fidelity for a sound system, and are used in club and concert venues to provide clarity in large-scale audio systems.

Devices that Use Interconnects

A high number of modern electronics can be linked with terminated interconnects. Learn about each of these products, along with the input and output ports they include, to begin choosing cables.

Receivers and Amplifiers

A receiver or amplifier reads audio signals from a device and amplifies them through a set of speakers. RCA ports are standard on most amplifiers, though modern units also have ports for HDMI cables that are capable of carrying multi-channel audio.

Video Game Consoles

Modern video game consoles use either RCA or HDMI connections to link with an amplifier or television. Older systems also feature a port for a coaxial cable.

Audio Players

MP3 players have ports for a 3.5mm stereo jack, which is standard on most headphones. These jacks can easily be converted to an RCA connection, and linked to an amplifier. CD players commonly have ports for RCA interconnects, and turntables use a type of RCA cable called phono.

Televisions

Modern televisions are designed with RCA inputs and at least one port for an HDMI cable. They also commonly have a port for a coaxial cable, especially on older, tube televisions.

Musical Instruments and Amplifiers

The most common form of connection to an amplifier from electric musical instruments, like guitars or keyboards, is a 6.35mm stereo cable.

Headphones

Headphones use a 3.5mm jack, which is similar in design and function to the 6.35mm version. The two can be easily converted from one to the other with the use of a converter.

Speakers

Speaker wire is used to connect amplifiers and receivers with a set of speakers. Different gauges of speaker wire are available, and there are a few types of terminations that can used. In addition to bare wire, buyers can also use banana plugs, pins, and spades. Of these, banana plugs offer a good balance of durability and ease of use. Spades are more difficult to pair with the terminals on a set of speakers, but are generally more secure than banana plugs.

Choosing Interconnect Cables

Interconnect cables are produced in a range of capabilities and lengths. Their terminations can also vary by the materials used. Keep these factors in mind while shopping to find the best terminated interconnects for an audio system.

Balanced vs. Unbalanced

Balanced and unbalanced cables can affect the amount of noise and distortion produced during use. In general, unbalanced cables are more than suitable for home use, though serious buyers may wish to explore balanced cables for enhanced audio quality. Each option can perform differently depending on the buyer's specific setup, however, so be familiar with both types to choose the best option.

Unbalanced

Unbalanced cables (RCA) are the standard form of terminated interconnects. They use only two wires, both of which transmit a signal. One wire sends the signal, while the second is responsible for both the audio return signal and the ground. Unbalanced cables are often ideal, as a fully-balanced system can be difficult to prepare and use properly. Even components like drivers and receivers that are designed for use in balanced systems may perform better with unbalanced, RCA interconnects.

Balanced

Balanced interconnects (XLR) use three wires within a cable. The additional cable is used solely for the ground, and is separate from the return audio wire used in RCA cables. Although XLR interconnects offer the highest performance possible, they can actually introduce new distortion and noise in a system that is not fully balanced. Ultimately, buyers should consider trying each type of interconnect to find products that offer the best performance for a particular setup.

Cable Length

Terminated interconnects can be purchased in a variety of lengths, though buyers may find the available products are too short or too long for their needs. In this case, it is possible to purchase cable by the metre. In some cases, buyers can even shop for bulk rolls, which is an inexpensive way to obtain large amounts of cable. Terminators must be purchased separately in this case, and fastened to the cable by the user.

Termination Materials

The materials used in the termination of an interconnect can affect its performance, durability, and price. The most expensive terminators are made from gold-plated copper, and can reduce the occurrence of noise or distortion. Nickel and gold-plated brass are less expensive options, and are still suitable for most common uses.

Buying Used Products

Buyers on a budget can choose to shop for used interconnect cables. These products are available from online sellers, and can potentially save buyers money on expensive and high-end cables, such as XLR products. 

How to Buy Terminated Interconnects on eBay

Terminated interconnects are available from a high number of sellers on eBay. It is possible to search for these items by using keywords, category links, or a combination of both. To begin, try using search terms. For example, to see listings for RCA interconnects, type "rca cable" into the search field on the home page. Search results can then be refined by adding new keywords, such as a particular length, or by clicking on any of the category links present on the page. Look for links that allow you to browse by condition, price, length, brand, and more.

Click on the name or image of an item in search results to see its full listing. There, you can find information about the price of the item, including shipping charges. Note the location of the item, shipping methods, and the forms of payment accepted by the seller. Take a moment to read the full description of the item, and compare it with available photos to be clear on the specific product being sold. Contact the seller for more information or photos of the item.

eBay provides information about the history and performance of its sellers. Positive feedback ratings reflect the satisfaction of buyers within the past 12 months, while average ratings on the seller's communication, item descriptions, and shipping speeds can also be found. Look for comments from previous buyers for detailed information on a seller's performance.

Conclusion

Terminated interconnects are audio cables used to link devices within home and professional electronics setups. There are several types of cables and terminators available, and they offer varying levels of performance. Buyers should familiarise themselves with the types of devices that use terminated interconnects in order to learn more about the cables available.

RCA and HDMI cables are the most common interconnects used with commercial electronics. They are found on Blu-ray players, televisions, and video game systems. RCA ports are also used on CD players. Headphones and MP3 players make use of a 3.5 mm stereo connection, which can easily be adapted to the larger, 6.35mm format. 6.35mm connections are also used on musical instruments and amplifiers. Buyers should consider whether a cable is balanced or unbalanced to find the best products for their needs. RCA cables and most other interconnects are unbalanced, and are more than adequate for most users of home electronics. Balanced cables are significantly more expensive, but are capable of reducing noise and distortion, especially in complex audio setups with a high number of cables.

Terminated interconnects can be purchased from electronics and department stores, as well as online retailers like those on eBay. Begin shopping to find the best prices and products available, and buy cable by the metre to find suitable lengths. Terminated interconnects can be used to link nearly every device in an audio setup, so consider the full range of products to build a quality personal setup.

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