Where Do The RCA Cables Go In A Radio? – Car RCA Cables FAQ

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Here are some frequently asked questions on RCA cables. From audiophiles, both new and veteran.

General RCA Questions

What Does RCA Stand For?

RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America. It is an electronics company that originated in 1919. RCA cords continue to be an integral component for enhancing sound quality in-car stereo systems, home stereo systems, home or public theaters, and more. 

What do RCA cables do?

RCA cables carry video and/or audio signals depending on the type of device you are hooking up.

Where are RCA cables used?

RCA is used in an array of things, such as:

  • Gaming systems
  • Televisions
  • Car stereos
  • Public or home theaters
  • DVD players

Can you use regular RCA cables for car audio?

A standard RCA cable is permissible to use for car audio.

However, subwoofers can use RCA cables as well. A subwoofer RCA cable will enhance the sound’s overall quality because of its enhanced thickness versus a standard one.

Do RCA cables make a difference in car audio?

RCA cables do make a difference. If the cables are low quality they can create noise, that’s the difference. Quality RCA cables should be good enough that you don’t notice a difference.

How do I choose the right RCA cable?

To choose a perfect RCA cable, you need to think about two things quality and length. A way to find what you are looking for is by checking other people’s experiences and drawing a conclusion from that.

What are the best RCA cables to use in car audio?

Best RCA cables for car audio:

RCA Cable Differences

Difference between shielded vs twisted RCA cables?

Shielded cables are for single ended inputs or SE, twisted cables are for differential inputs or DI. Also, most amps use SE inputs or single-ended inputs.

Do cheap RCA cables affect sound quality?

If a cheap RCA cable is poorly constructed, it could pick up unforeseen noise. A badly made RCA cable will also not stay connected, higher-quality one will. However, quality and price are not the same thing.

Does the quality of RCA cable matter in car audio?

The quality of RCA cables matters a lot, low-quality RCA cables can create noise and have trouble with interference. Remember quality and price are not the same thing.

Do high end RCA cables make a difference?

High-end cables only make a difference if they are high-quality cables. Unfortunately, high-end doesn’t guarantee quality, short well shielded cables do.

Is it worth it to upgrade RCA cables?

If you are experiencing noise, invest in some better-shielded cables. If you are not getting any noise, there’s no point in changing cables.

What is the difference between RCA and AUX input on car stereos?

RCA has two terminals, a left channel and a right channel, the signal can be sent forwards and backwards.

AUX has one cable, left and a right channel, the signal can be sent backwards and forwards. If it’s a Y splitter the signal can be split into all positions forwards and backwards.

Are gold-plated RCA cables better?

Gold-plated RCA cables make no difference gold-plated connectors, on the other hand, don’t deteriorate or tarnish as regular connectors. Cable wise thicker cables are better at conducting signals. Sound-wise gold cables or gold connectors, all sound the same as a regular clean connection.


Does RCA cable length affect sound quality?

Cable length does affect an RCA cable’s sound quality. A longer cable usually means a weaker signal.

How long can an RCA cable be before it loses quality?

A composite RCA cable can be up to 100 feet long, if you add an extender it can go up to 250 feet. Analog signal loses quality the longer it is, under 100 feet there shouldn’t be a problem.

You can also go up to 300 feet with a regular cable, the quality at those lengths is more than questionable.

Are shorter RCA cables better?

Being analog, the longer you run a signal true a cable the more resistance there is, and the signal quality drops. A shorter cable is better, and the signal will be cleaner.

Are thicker RCA cables better?

Thicker cable means more shielding and sometimes a better conductor. Most often, yes, thicker cables are better.


How do you connect RCA cables to car speakers?

It is the amplifier that drives the speakers the RCA cables usually just deliver a signal to the amplifier. But if they’re powered speakers with built-in amps you can get a cable with the connectors type you need, or you can cut off the RCA connectors and put the ones you need on the wire.

Does the color of RCA matter?

Yes, the color RCA cable should match the corresponding color input. Red and white stand for the right and left audio channels. Yellow is the composite video of the device to which the cables connect.

What is the importance of plugging the right and left cables correctly of an RCA connector?

It makes no difference.

Can you use both speaker output and RCA output on a car stereo?

Yes, you can use that to add another amplifier and keep your stock speakers or add a subwoofer.

What does an RCA Y adapter do?

An RCA Y adapter connects two RCA cables into one RCA cable or splits one signal into two. There’s nothing more to it.

Head Unit

Where do RCA cables go in a head unit?

Some head units don’t have RCA connectors, those that do usually have them in the back of the head unit.

Do the RCA cables for your amplifier increase voltage as the head unit volume increases?

An amplifier increases the overall voltage and signal power. Gain is the term related to an amplifier’s amplification. The head unit volume will increase along with the boosted voltage.


What type of cable is used for subwoofer?

Subwoofers use a mono analog audio cable, the cable has strong shielding and is made to be less sensitive to lower-frequency noise.

Can any RCA cable be used for subwoofer?

Yes, a regular RCA cable can be used for a subwoofer, should it? While the subwoofer cable has an RCA connector the cable itself is thicker, which means the cable is better shielded (clearer sound). A Standard RCA might not be able to bring the same sound quality.

Does RCA cable matter for a subwoofer?

Yes, RCA cables matter. You want clean sound, so a cable with good shielding is a must. Any RCA cable will work some just work better than others.

Why do subwoofers have 2 RCA inputs?

Two RCA inputs make the subwoofer more responsive, 2 inputs double the sensitivity of the device.

How does a subwoofer run with one RCA cable?

It is most likely mono-out. If it was stereo and you had left and right connectors, one of the subwoofers would not work.

If speakers have a left and right RCA output but the subwoofer only has one RCA input, will the setup work?

It will work, but you have to pick the left or right side to plug into the subwoofer. Get a Y splitter to combine the signals into one so you don’t have to pick.

Frequent Problems

Is it ok to wind up extra RCA cable or will it cause interference?

Depends, older cables will cause static. New cables should be fine to be “coiled” especially if they’re twisted.

RCA phono cables humming how to stop it?

Two reasons are most likely the culprit for the hum. Bad shielding on the wire or car electrical system interferes with the signal, which is fixed with a cable with better shielding.

The second reason can be bad grounding, changing the ground wire or using a ground loop isolator should help.

Is it advised to use electrical tape for RCA connections?

In most cases, it’s not necessary to tape the connectors. However, if the connectors are touching metal taping them will stop any noise from happening.

Can taping an RCA cable connection prevent interference?

Electrical tape can stop interference if it comes from RCA connectors touching metal, other than that it doesn’t do much.

Can the power cable cross the RCAs?

Yes, there shouldn’t be any interference. That is a problem that comes with older tech.

To what extend does an RCA splitter affect sound quality in an audio setup?

You shouldn’t lose any quality and even if you do it should be barely noticeable.

How can I get an RCA audio cable pin that has snapped off and is stuck inside one of the audio inputs?

The inside of the pin is hollow, take a needle put some super glue on the tip and stick it in without touching the sides. Wait for the glue to harden and pull it straight out.

If you are trying to find the perfect RCA cable, check our list.