When shopping for audio cables and cords for electronic devices, such as DVD and Blu-ray players, stereo systems, and televisions, the selection of options as well as the terminology can be a bit overwhelming. Some manufacturers and retailers use the term cable to refer to everything from speaker wires and RCA cables to HDMI cables and Ethernet cable, while other companies refer to many of these cables as interconnects. Really the main difference between these various types of cables and interconnects are the connectors on the ends of the cables.
Cables can be purchased in one of two ways: by the spool without connectors or in specific lengths with connectors on the ends. Cables with connectors already attached are often referred to as terminated interconnects, which means it is a cable that connects two or more devices. When shopping for terminated interconnect cables, shoppers should be sure to check out the selection on eBay. Using the popular site, buyers who consider the types of cables, cable length, and necessary connections for the devices can find the right cable at a great price.
Interconnect vs. Non-Interconnect Cables
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, the truth is that not all cables can be called interconnect cables. Audio cables that carry power, such as speaker wires, are usually referred to as wires or cables, whereas cables that do not carry significant levels of power are called interconnect cables. Examples of interconnect cables include microphone cables and RCA cables.
A great way to determine whether a cable is a speaker cable or interconnect is to examine the terminal connections on either end of the cable. Speaker cables have banana plugs, braided pins, spade lugs, or exposed ends. Interconnect cables can have a variety of terminal connectors including RCA, which are round connectors with a single pin; HDMI connectors; and XLR plugs, which consist of three pins (male) or three holes (female) and are used for microphones.
Types of Interconnect Cables
When discussing interconnect cables, it is important to remember that there are many different types of cables that can serve as interconnects, including stranded or solid copper cable, silver cable, optical cable, or coaxial cable. Which type of interconnect cable is needed for a specific application depends on the application, the types of connectors available on each device, and the properties of specific types of cables.
While there are many different types of interconnect cables, each with its own architecture, all interconnect cables feature some sort of shielding, electrical insulation, and the conductor itself. Interconnect cables are also encased in a protective jacket to protect the cable’s innards. The types and styles of each of these components varies based on the type of cable and the manufacturer; however, each of these components is present in all interconnect cables.
The outer jacket protects the conductor, insulation, and shielding from damage and provides an added layer of shielding and protection from interference from outside sources. Many protective jackets are black or grey, though they can come in any colour imaginable. In order to connect terminal connectors to an interconnect cable, a portion of the protective jacket on each end of the cable needs to be removed.
The next layer in most cables is some type of shielding. The type of material that is used for shielding depends on the type of cable and the cable manufacturer. The shielding, which is usually made of some type of metal mesh or sheet, protects the cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI). EMI can cause interference and disrupt the signal being transmitted along the conductor. Shielding the conductor from EMI helps preserve the integrity of the signal.
The shielding encases the electrical insulation. This section, often referred to as a dielectric, provides constant spacing between the shielding and the conductor and provides support to the cable so that it does not get easily damaged. This layer is typically made of some sort of plastic, such as polypropylene or polyolefin.
The conductor is at the heart of the cable and is responsible for transmitting the audio signal. Typically made from copper or silver, the conductor can be a single wire, a twisted pair, or multiple twisted pairs of wires. When more than one wire is present, each individual wire is coated with plastic insulation to keep the signal from getting crossed.
Terminal Interconnect Connectors
There are many different types of audio connectors that are used to terminate interconnect cables. The type of connector used depends on the application and the available ports on the devices being connected. For example, many electronics, including DVD and Blu-ray players, features an RCA audio port as do most televisions. This makes the RCA cable a great way to connect a DVD or Blu-ray player to a television.
In addition to RCA cables, coaxial and BNC cables are frequently used to connect devices that incorporate both audio and video. Connectors used to connect devices that are strictly audio include phone connectors, XLR, and DIN. Fibre optic connectors are also available for audio applications. The standard connector for fibre optic cables is known as a TOSLINK connector.
Terminated Interconnect Considerations
The price of a specific type of cable can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. While some shoppers are of the mindset that more expensive is always better, the truth is that most individuals cannot tell the difference in sound quality between a standard cable and the most expensive cable available. Though consumers should look for a high quality cable or make the cable themselves, there is no need to spend a fortune on any audio cables.
One factor prospective buyers should keep in mind is the desired length. While it may be tempting to purchase the longest possible cables so that the cord is long enough in the event the equipment is moved, the length of the cable can affect its transmission, so buyers should measure the distance between the two devices and purchase or make a cable that is slightly longer. Also, buyers need to measure around door frames and other obstacles to ensure that the cable is long enough to reach its destination once it is properly secured.
Shopping for Terminated Interconnects
Though individuals may find a limited selection of terminated interconnect cables at local retail stores, the prices are typically higher than those online and the quality may be lower than the cables available through the Internet. For the best selection of terminated interconnects at the lowest prices, prospective buyers should check out the selection offered through eBay. The popular site has thousands of individual sellers with each listing a wide variety of products, which means buyers can find virtually anything through the site.
Before making a purchasing decision, individuals should double-check which connectors are required on each end as well as measure the distance between the two devices to determine the ideal cable length. Buyers should also determine whether they want to purchase the cable on a spool and add the terminal connectors themselves or if they prefer to purchase premade cables. Once this information is known, the buyers can begin researching the various terminated interconnect cables that are available.
Buying Terminated Interconnects on eBay
If you want to see the types of terminated interconnects that are available on eBay, type interconnect into the search box. You could narrow down your search by entering the specific type of interconnect you are looking for, such as RCA cables, oryou can use the filter options available on the search results page, such as brand, type, and price.
Before making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers should browse through several listings to determine which type of cable is right for their needs. Before deciding on a cable, shoppers should read the listing carefully to determine the connector type, length, and cable quality. Though photos are not absolutely necessary when shopping for terminated interconnects, they may help the buyer choose the correct connectors, so shoppers should review photos if they are present. Prospective buyers should also read through the seller’s return policy so they know if they can return the cable if it is not the proper length or has the wrong connectors.
Although audio cables of any sort distort the original sound signal at least a little bit, they are necessary to connect devices to speakers, amplifiers, televisions, and other devices. The best option when shopping for terminated audio interconnects is to choose a well-made cable that is just long enough to connect the devices since the length of the cable affects the amount of distortion. While audiophiles may want to splurge on more expensive cables, most consumers cannot tell the difference between the top of the line cables and the standard cables available through eBay and other retailers.
Though many buyers consider buying audio cables a confusing process, the simplest way to select the ideal audio interconnects is to figure out which connectors the two devices have in common and look for interconnects that have these terminal interconnects. After that, it is a matter of finding the specific type of cable and determining what a reasonable price for the cable is. With a little bit of knowledge about the cables themselves and the terminal connectors, buyers can find the perfect terminated interconnect on eBay.