Coaxial Cable Vs. RCA: Which Audio Cable You Should Pick

About Coaxial Cable Vs. RCA, You may use different types of audio cables with different qualities and specifications to transmit signals in consumer electronics.

The two most common cables for transmitting audio are analog RCA and S/PDIF coaxial cables. 

This article compares two cable types to determine which is best for your application.       

What Is the S/PDIF Digital Audio Coaxial Cable?

Coaxial digital audio cables help transfer audio signals from a DVD player to any digital recording device or an audio player. It mainly comprises four main parts:

  • A center core of the copper wire
  • An electrically insulating dielectric insulator
  • A braided metal mesh for preventing electromagnetic interference
  • Lastly, an outer plastic covering for overall protection of the cable

On either side of a coaxial audio cable, you will find RCA jacks which are supposed to be rated at 75 ohms technically for a successful audio transfer.

However, in the real world, AV cables don’t need to be designed accurately to be 75 ohms, irrespective of whatever is mentioned on their packaging.

You can send S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) audio signals (digital) between two devices with the help of a digital coaxial audio connection.

Coaxial digital audio vs. optical digital audio

Generally speaking, you can send these signals with two types of connection; coaxial digital audio and optical digital audio connection.

It is possible to have both of these connections on the same device; any connection depends on the type of connection on the second device.

However, you must know that coaxial audio connections are more common and robust than optical ones.

Besides these, the difference between these two connections is not quite significant.

Coaxial cable showing detailed layers

Coaxial cable showing detailed layers

What are RCA cables?

RCA cables got their name after their developer Radio Corporation of America.

These cables transmit Audio/video signals from any device, such as an amplifier, monitor, or Tv, to any output device, such as X-box, Blu-ray, or DVD.

Their various colors, each representing a specific type of signal the cable will carry, help you know the corresponding cable to be inserted.

RCA cable types:

Let’s learn about the different types of RCA cables:

Composite + audio: 

You will find three cables of different colors; two carry left and right audio signals, while the third transmit video signals.

Black/white cables: Irrespective that RCA cable has black or white cable, it is definitely for carrying a left audio signal.

It would be best if you plugged this cable into the white input of the receiving device.

Both black and white cables send the same type of signals.

Red cables: These cables carry right-hand audio signals and are meant to be plugged into the TV’s or other devices’ read input.

Yellow cables transmit video signals or images to output devices like TV and component.

In the yellow video cable, chrominance and brightness combine in one connector.

Component Digital Video: 

This trio cable sends three analog video signals from a device to your TV, projector, or monitor.

It can transmit twice the resolution of composite videos and thus are very common on HD televisions.

The three colors of cables are:

Red-red chrominance

Blue-Blue chrominance

Green-Green Luminance

As the component video transmits only video signals, you must add cables to send audio and video signals and complete the connection.

So, ultimately, this cable will have five ends; three (red, green, blue) for video and two analog audio ends, as discussed in composite audio cables above.

Orange coaxial output: 

A digital audio coaxial cable that carries a 5.1 signal through which you can surround sound as you do with HDMI or fiber optic cables.

You can plug this digital orange coax cable into the black connection of your DVD or TV.

Some receivers may have a purple jack which may be a subwoofer jack. Irrespective of the cable color, you can insert an audio cable in this jack.

Three RCA cables and plug

Three RCA cables and plug

Coaxial cable vs. RCA: similarities

We know that S/PDIF Digital Audio Coaxial cables are the same as Orange Coaxial Cables, a type of RCA cable.

Thus, they share some similarities: both cables have an RCA jack (male) at either end meant for audio connections. 

Coaxial TV cables with connectors

Coaxial TV cables with connectors

Coaxial cable vs. RCA: differences

Apart from some similarities, there are a few differences between these two types of cables.

  • Mode of signal transmission: In coaxial cables, signals transmit as computer signals in 0 or 1. However, RCA cables transmit voltages representing audio/video. So, digital coax cables can handle different electrical frequencies efficiently, including that of standard coax and RCAs.
  • Audio signals: Digital coax cables can transmit audio/video signals, while RCA cables cannot transmit signals without an additional plug.
  • Shielding: Coaxial cables have better shielding than RCA cables, and thus they are more proficient in preventing EMI. Without better shielding, RCA cables become susceptible to different types of interferences.
  • Impedance and cable length: The digital cables have a constant impedance of 75 ohms, preventing signal attenuation over long cable lengths.
  • RCA cables having 50 or lesser impedance over long distances are susceptible to signal attenuation.

Coaxial cable vs. RCA: Which to Choose

You can use either of the two cables in your applications unless you have issues with the signal interference and long-length cables.

Digital coax cables over RCA cables 

  • Better shielding: the braided metallic shield helps the digital cable protect against electromagnetic interference resisting noise and static. As a result, you don’t feel a humming sound in your subwoofer.
  • 75-ohm impedance: whether you use a digital cable of 1 meter or 2 meters or more, the impedance remains 75 ohms. So, the total impendence remains the same in the cables and connectors over the intended bandwidth, and thus there is negligible signal attenuation. However, this fact does not apply to RCA cables, unlike digital cables used in telecoms with wide bandwidth; these cables are used in audio.
  • More durable: digital coax cables are more durable than RCA cables, made of thick solid copper conductors.
  • Apart from these, digital coax cables are easy to install and cost-effective.

RCA Cables Over Coaxial Cables

  • Lesser humming: Coaxial cables use the electrical connection, creating a buzzing sound.
  • Price: Compared to coaxial cables, RCA cables are more common and less expensive. You can find them in any audio store and get them at affordable prices.


Except for the better shielding and similar impedance (75 ohms) over the cable length in digital coax cables, both cables are more or less identical.

You use coaxial audio cables to transmit digital signals and RCA cables to transmit analog signals.

If you are looking for any of such cables, contact Cloom.

We are a leading manufacturer of superior-quality cable assemblies and wiring harnesses for various applications.

Our professional team of engineers will guide you in picking the best cables for your work.

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