Whether you are looking to set up a new stereo, a home entertainment system, a public address system, or you want to hook your MP3 player to your car, there is one very important tool you are going to need: An audio cable. More commonly referred to as an AUX cable, this device is crucial to connect your devices to speakers, allowing them to project sound. In other words, you can’t get sound to movie from your stereo to your speakers without an AUX cable.
While an AUX cable may seem like a rudimentary piece of equipment and you may think that buying one will be a simple process, it can actually be a bit challenging to purchase one. There are so many different types of AUX cables, which can make finding the best one for your specific needs a bit challenging. To help make the task of finding the best cable for your needs, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information that will help you make the best decision and will help make the process of buying the best AUX cable for your needs a bit easier.
Types of AUX Cables
There are six many types of cable connectors, which include:
- The ¼” Jack AUX Cable Connecter
- The ¼” Balanced Jack AUX Cable Connector (also known as a Stereo Jack connector)
- The Stereo Minijack AUX Cable Connector
- The RCA AUX Cable Connector
- The XLR AUX Cable Connector
- The Speakon AUX Cable Connector
Understanding the difference between each type of AUX cable is important, as it will help you choose the right type of cable for your specific needs.
The ¼” Jack Connector
This is probably the most common connection found on musical equipment. It is the type of connector that is used on both electric guitars and guitar amps. The plug itself is always a ¼” jack with a single black hoop, or an insulating ring, that extends toward the tip. It is used to create instrument and line level connections. This type of cable goes by many other names, including the phone jack, the 6.3 mm Jack, the Guitar Jack, the Jack Plug and just a plain old Jack.
The ¼” Balanced Jack Connector
Also referred to as a stereo jack connector, this cable is the same size as the previously mentioned cable; however, the difference between the two is that the connection of the balanced jack connector is capable of carrying two channels of audio – a stereo signal with a separate left and right channel, for example. This type of cable features a tip, a ring and a sleeve, and the plug itself is divided into two black hoops. The tip and the ring carry the left and right channel signals, and the sleeve serve as a common earth. Stereo jacks are most commonly used to create a connection with headphones, keyboards, pianos, mixing desks, recording equipment, guitar AMPS and hi-fi equipment.
The Stereo Minijack Connector
This is also one of the most commonly used audio connections. This is the plug that is used to connect an MP3 player to a car stereo or a home entertainment system. The connection of this AUX cable is smaller than the previously mentioned cable. It also boasts two insulation rings and the left and right channels are carried by the tip and ring with the sleeve used as a common ground.
The RCA AUX Cable Connector
This type of AUX cable is also frequently used, and it is most often used to connect hi-fi and home audio equipment. RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America, and this is the company that is responsible for the creation of this type of connector. The connector was originally created to connect phonographs to amplifiers in the 1940s, which is why this type of connection is also referred to as a Phono connection. The RCA AUX cable is an unbalanced mono connection and is commonly used on DJ mixers, hi-fi equipment, audio interfaces, as well as on tape in and tape out connections.
The XLR Connector
This is another type of balanced AUX cable connection. Utilized in several different pro audio applications, the design of this connector features a barrel of about 2 cm in diameter and 3 to 7 pins or holes; the most common of which is the 3 pin XLR. Generally, female XLR plugs usually receive output signals from the devices they are hooked up to, and male XLR plugs are usually used to plug into inputs.
The Speakon AUX Cable Connector
This is the most recently developed of all AUX cable connectors. It has the ability to take on high current signals. Usually, the female plug connects to the male panel sockets, which have a twist – lock mechanism that holds them into the socket. The Speakon Aux Cable Connector is ideal for connecting power amplifiers to loudspeakers.
Factors to Consider When Buying AUX Cable Connectors
There are several factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when you are buying AUX cable connectors. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be better able to find the best AUX cable for your specific needs. After we conducted a lot of research and really did an in-depth assessment of the different options, we have determined that the following factors are the most important to consider.
The Cable Format
The first factor that you should consider is the correct cable format for your needs. The options that are available include stereo, analog surround sound and digital surround sound. Stereo sound means that the sound is the simplest, as it consists of only two active channels. The surround sound systems have code designations, which are illustrated as a number, a period and another number. The first number illustrates the amount of channels that deliver sound and the second number illustrates the low frequency effects.
Of course, another important factor to consider is your use of the cable. What are you planning on connecting the AUX cable to? Different devices require different AUX cables, so you need to know what type of device you are going to be hooking up in order to buy the right cable for your needs.
How much power does the cable offer? You want to make sure that the cable is capable of providing enough power to actually connect your device and successfully transmit sound.
The Length of the Cord
You should also consider the length of the cord. Obviously, you want it to be long enough to connect between your devices; however, you may not want to have too much extra cord, either.
Everyone has a budget, and it is an important factor to consider when you are purchasing any product. AUX cable connectors can vary drastically in price, so you want to make sure that you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping.
AUX Cable Connector Features
While they may seem like basic pieces of equipment, believe it or not, AUX cable connectors can actually boast a few different features. These features are intended to enhance your experience with the cable and improve its functionality. Here is a look at some of the different features that you can find on AUX cable connectors.
AUX cables can come with interchangeable jacks. This makes the cable more user friendly and more versatile, as you can switch out the jack to adjust the connector so that it can be used in different sized ports, getting the perfect fit.
Gold Plated Contacts
The highest quality AUX cable connectors feature pure gold contacts. By offering contacts that are constructed of pure gold, the cable provides the cleanest and most crisp sound experience possible.
Tangle Free Wires
There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a messy clump of tangled wires. To prevent knots and tangles, some AUX cable connectors are constructed of tangle free materials, which actually prevent the cords from getting tangled together and making a huge mess.
Best AUX Cable Connector Brands
There are several companies that manufacture AUX cable connectors, which certainly gives you a lot of options, but it can also make the process of finding the best cable for your needs a bit challenging. In order to help you find the best manufacturers, we have sifted through all of the different producers, conducted extensive research, compared reviews and tested out the products ourselves. In the end, we have determined that the following AUX cable connectors are the best of the best.
What we really liked about the iXCC AUX cable connectors was that they were constructed of tangle free material. We found that this was really a huge help and made using the cables a whole lot easier and less frustrating. We also liked the power that these cables offered, and how easy they were to set up.
Sentey is a highly regarded name in the audio visual industry, and their AUX cable connectors are really high quality. They are constructed of top of the line materials and offer outstanding sound quality.
This is another well known name in the audio visual industry, and in regard to their AUX cable connectors, this company lives up to its name. Made of high quality materials and offering a variety of options in various price ranges, we were very impressed with the AUX cable connectors that Star Tech had to offer.
Belkin is another brand of AUX cable connectors that we were really impressed with. We liked their designs, how easy the cables were to use, and we also liked that they offered cables in different colors.