The Ultimate Guide to RCA Cables

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The Ultimate Guide to RCA Cables

A product that has been around since the 1940s, RCA cables still have many applications. Developed by the Radio Corporation of America, these cables were introduced as a way of connecting amplifiers to phonographs. An RCA cable is also called a 'phono connector', 'cinch connector', or 'lotus plug'. There is virtually no difference, and all of these cables follow the standards set by RCA.

Although an HDMI cable or an optical fibre are more modern ways of connecting devices, the use of RCA cables is still not redundant. Any household with a lot of electronics products can find at least one use for an RCA cable. Those set on purchasing a cable of this kind should become acquainted with the colour coding involved. It is also helpful to be aware of the factors that influence the quality of signal, such as the materials used and the cable length.

Color Coding and Types in RCA Cables

The component and the composite video cable are two types of RCA cables that are often encountered. The difference between these two types of cables is the type of signal they transport. A composite cable has three lines, one for video and two separate audio channels carrying a stereo sound. The component cables are a bit more sophisticated and are likely to be encountered on HD television sets. These cables have three separate video lines and two audio lines. The video signal is transmitted on red, blue, and green connectors, increasing image quality.


To avoid confusion during cable installation, each connector has been marked with a different colour. The signal output should match the input on the other end, and this is the reason for the colour coding. The standard colours used in each cable are shown in the chart below.

Cable Type

Signal Type






Left audio

White or black


Right audio



Video red



Video blue



Video green



Right audio



Left audio

White or black

The component cable has two red connectors, and in order for the two to be easily distinguishable, a second colour is introduced to each connector to separate the audio from the video lines. A component cable may also consist of three video lines, without audio lines. In that case, it should be combined with an audio RCA cable.

The Audio Cable

RCA cables are used to connect amplifiers to different types of devices. Sound quality often demands a cable of superior quality, so it is better if buyers do not opt for lower-end cables. RCA cables are sold separately for a single channel or in pairs as a stereo carrier. An audio cable of this kind can be combined with the component video cable if it only has three pins for the video.

Connector Material for RCA Cables

The quality of the signal is largely dependent on the connections on both ends, so it is important to pay close attention to the connectors. The shape of the connector is standardised, and there can absolutely be no difference there, but the materials often vary. Different materials have different conductive properties, and that can influence the signal at both ends. Commonly encountered materials in connectors are gold, silver, and copper. The chart below shows how these materials measure up against one another.





Electrical conductivity





Better than silver and copper

Good in the connector environment






Silver is a leader in electrical conductivity. If its conductivity is marked with a relative 100, then copper rates 97 and gold 76. This makes copper a close competitor in performance and leaves gold way behind the other two.

Influence of Oxidation

Gold is used because it does not oxidise, and it is highly resistant to corrosion. An oxidised connection can cause problems in signal transmission, which is why gold and silver are often used as plating. There are no solid gold or solid silver connectors, just copper connectors with silver or gold plating. Silver is also prone to oxidation, but in the connector environment, it usually performs better than copper.


If buyers examine the prices of these materials per gram, they can notice a huge difference. Though the market fluctuates, gold is a lot more expensive than the other two. However, the amount needed to plate a connector is quite small. In some cases, an RCA cable with gold-plated connectors is marketed at a price that is unreasonably high. Buyers should always consider alternative materials and be careful not to overpay for a cable.

Alternative Materials

Nickel, tin, and zinc are also good alternative choices for plating. All of them show better performance than copper and are commonly used in connectors. One can find a lot of zinc-plated connectors, as they provide similar results as those made from gold at a considerably lower price.

Consider the Other End of a Connection

There are two ends to any connection, and a buyer needs to be mindful of both. The properties of the plug where the connector goes can also influence the choice of the connector plating. Consider the material inside the plug when selecting a RCA cable. The connector and the plug should be made of materials that do not cause an electrolytic reaction. Same material combinations like tin and gold or silver and gold can cause problems. Having the same kind of plating on both ends is always ideal.

Shielding and Length of RCA Cables

It is important that consumers do not overlook shielding and length as factors in the cable quality. A well-shielded cable ensures better quality as it is less susceptible to outside interference. Also, cable length has a negative influence on the quality of signal. The longer a cable is, the worse the signal becomes, thus one should not buy a cable that is longer than needed.

How to Buy RCA Cables on eBay

RCA cables are easy to find anywhere, as they can be used in different types of electronics. Shopping on eBay gives buyers an advantage, as there is a larger selection to choose from. Finding listings of RCA cables on the website is quite simple. Start from eBay's home page, and navigate to the 'Electronics' category. Within this category, you are likely to find subsections in which different types of cables are listed. You can easily find the listings for RCA cables by using the 'Cable Type' filter.

Another good way to access the offers on RCA cables is through the eBay search bar. A broad search with a query like 'RCA cables' generates a set of relevant listings. If you have a more specific type of cable in mind, you can enter additional keywords in the search term to get a more relevant subset of listings. Is is also a good idea to look at the listings in the eBay Deals section, where you can find products at promotional prices.


RCA cables have been around for a long time, and they offer a variety of uses in electronics. When buying RCA cables, it is important to know about the different types of RCA cables and how they are colour coded. Though the connectors and the cable types are the same, consumers are well advised to purchase the right cable for the job. A great deal of the signal quality is dependent on choosing the right connectors. Additionally, consumers should pay close attention to the materials used in the connectors themselves. It is also important to bear in mind that the length and the shielding of cables play a role in their overall quality.

With its numerous sellers, eBay offers access to a wide range of RCA cables. Consumers can expect to find RCA cables at reasonable prices on the website.

RCA Cable|Connector|Video Cable|Composite|Component

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