Stereo Cables and Accessories to Complete Your Build
All the extras to wring out every last bit of musical performance from your high-end stereo system
Add the finishing touches to an amazing digital music stereo entertainment system by using high quality interconnecting cables, speaker wire and more.
Just like a wonderful Chef would never dream of cooking a fantastic 5 star meal and then serving it on paper plates. Using proper high quality cables when assembling your stereo system is equally as important.
That's not to say you need platinum tipped Monster cables that cost an arm and a leg. Investing in properly constructed high quality cables that will not choke, distort or audio signals is really cheap money. This will let your expensive digital audio player, amplifier and preamplifier all work together in perfect balance and harmony to play sweet and beautiful music back to your ears.
Fortunately as far as cables go for a digital, high definition stereo music system, there really are not that many cables you will need. We will cover each one and what they are used for.
If you are just joining us, this is Part 4 of our series on building a high quality, high end home stereo for playing high resolution HD music. To start at the beginning, please click here for "5 Best HD Digital Network Music Players".
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Optical Cable - for Digital Audio
While most TOSLINK cables that come with your components will work fine, they are often flimsy and have very thin jackets. One needs to be extra careful you don't kink or bend these type of cables. Upgrading to a premium optical cable will give you a heavier duty thicker braided jacket for extra protection and highly polished ends. Since only one audio TOSLINK cable is required per digital audio device, these cable will have a minimal impact on your budget. Less commonly you may find a RCA jack used to transmit digital data as well on a few mostly older receivers and will require a single Digital Coaxial Audio cable as shown below.
Balanced Audio XLR Cables - For Hooking Components to Amplifier
The XLR cable is a modern 3 pin replacement for an RCA cable. They are also often known as microphone cables and will be found on professional audio equipment. XLR cables offer much larger signal carrying electrical paths versus RCA and are built much stronger. They are typically used for hooking a preamplifier to an amplifier, or a Component Network Digital Audio Player to an Amplifier.
One brand that is extremely popular with Audiophiles is the Better Cables Silver Serpent II Balanced XLR cables. These cable have silver coated conductors for low loss and are in the premium category with a price to match. They come in a set of two, one for the left and right channel in stereo audio system. If your amplifier gives you the option between XLR or RCA cables, always choose XLR for best possible music quality.
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Digital Coaxial Audio Cable - For Connecting Digital Devices to Your Preamplifier or Amp
If this is your only option available for connecting Digital Audio components to your preamplifier, than choose a high quality Digital Coaxial audio cable that offers excellent noise isolation and shielding.
High quality cables will give your ears a treat by providing better sonic accuracy and more detailed, natural sound over less expensive RCA cables. For Data transmission only one cable is required per connected device.
RCA Stereo Audio Cables - For Analog Devices
RCA or component audio cables are still used for hooking analog devices like record players to a stereo receiver, integrated amplifier or preamplifier. They can also be used for connecting a preamp to a main amplifier.
Typically one will only need one pair of cables that are usually color coded for the left and right channel in a stereo system. Again this is one place one should not try and scrimp and get cheap on especially after spending a rather significant sum of money assembling a higher end stereo system.
Better Cables builds a high quality high-end heavy duty RCA component audio cables and will give your stereo an improved audio experience. Their Silver Serpent Anniversary Edition Audio Interconnect Cables will out-perform cables costing significantly more.
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Speaker Wires - The Fast Lane to your Music
When it comes to speaker wires, bigger is always better! Speaker wire is measured in gauge and with wire size it's really opposite of what you would think. For example, 12AWG wire is larger in diameter than 16AWG wire.
Cables to Go builds excellent speaker wires with gold plated banana plugs. They come in lengths from 10 to 20 feet.
For best performance, always use the shortest length wire from your amplifier to your speakers.
Their 12AWG wire offers precise sound quality with a wide dynamic range as your music flows over the oxygen-free pure copper stranded cable. G2G offers their premium speaker wire at a price that seems like a bargain.
Coming Up Next: In our quest to build the best affordable HD digital home stereo audio system, be sure to read: Top Rated Stereo Speakers - Providing Music to Your Ears.