Hi-Fi cables: the different types and their role

Hi-Fi cables: the different types and their role - banner

In analogue and digital, there are different audio cables. Indeed, each cable has its own functionality and use in a Hi-Fi system. It is therefore necessary to correctly place each cable in order to obtain the best sound restitution possible. Read about the different types of Hi-Fi cables and their role thanks to maPlatine.com.

1. Phono cables

2. Interconnect cables

3. Speaker cables

4. Power cables

5. Digital cables

6. Useful information

1. Phono cables

phono cable is essential if you want to add a turntable in your Hi-Fi system. Indeed, a phono cable connects the turntable to the phono preamplifier. It is far often mistaken for an interconnect cable.

Pro-Ject Connect it phono cable

In general, manufacturers deliver their turntables with a phono cable. When the phono cable is not captive (which means welded to the vinyl record player), it can thus be upgraded by using a phono cable of higher quality that provides a better transmission of the audio signal. This upgrade can significantly improve the sound restitution.

2. Interconnect cables

Far often mistaken for a phono cable, and vice versa, an interconnect cable is very different and does not have the same use in a Hi-Fi system.

Wireworld Equinox 7 interconnect cable

Indeed, an interconnect cable connects any high output Hi-Fi device to an amplifier.

If for example you have a CD player, you will need an interconnect cable to connect it to your amplifier.

Furthermore, in case you want to connect a turntable to an amplifier, through a separate phono preamplifier, you will need an interconnect cable to connect it to the amplifier.

3. Speaker cables

Sold in pairs or by the meter, speaker cables provide a connection between the amplifier and the Hi-Fi speakers. Speaker cables transmit the audio signal to the speakers which is where the sound comes out of.

Depending on the manufacturers, there are two speaker cable terminations: banana connectors or forks.

Tellurium Q Blue Speaker cables

In a Hi-Fi system, Hi-Fi speakers can be found far away from the amplifier. This is why the manufacturers of speaker cables provide several cable lengths.

4. Power cables

Power cables connect Hi-Fi devices to power outlets. They optimize the sound restitution of the Hi-Fi system.

Supra Lorad 2.5 10V power cable

The goal of a power cable is of course to let through the cleanest current possible (50 Hz or 60 Hz), by eliminating the high frequencies emitted. This avoids noise, distortion, and harmonics that can affect the sound.

5. Digital cables

To connect digital sources, a digital cable can also be used. There are different types of digital cables:

- A USB cable can be used for example to connect a Hi-Fi device that has a USB output, such as a USB phono preamp or a USB DAC, to a computer.

Audioquest Forest USB cable

- An optical digital cable can be used to connect any Hi-Fi device that has Toslink inputs or outputs. This type of cable needs to be the most transparent possible in order for the light to easily go through the cable.

Atlas Element Optical digital cable

- A coaxial digital cable (RCA or BNC connector) can be used to connect two Hi-fi devices that have RCA or BNC connectors. It has an impedance of 75 ohms.

Wireworld Starlight 7 coaxial cable

- An AES/UBU digital cable is quite often found in the professional field with XLR connector. Here again, it can be used to connect two Hi-Fi devices that have XLR connectors. It has an impedance of 110 ohms.

Audioquest Cinnamon AES/EBU digital cable

- An Ethernet cable can be used to connect your Hi-Fi system on a local network.

QED Performance Graphite Ethernet cable

6. Useful information

Each Hi-Fi cable provides a unique sound restitution. You thus have to take this into account based on your Hi-Fi system and the sound restitution you are looking for.

For example, you will need to avoid putting a very transparent cable, such as the Nordost Leif Blue Heaven interconnect cable, with a Hi-fi system that is already too transparent. And vice versa, if you already have a smooth sound restitution, you need to avoid using a cable that is too smooth, such as the Cardas Iridium phono cable. Like we often say, everything is a question of balance!

Cardas Iridium phono cable


We hope that this guide was useful in helping you understand the differences between each audio cable in a Hi-Fi system, and more particularly the role of each of these Hi-Fi cables. For more information, do not hesitate to contact our technicians by phone (+33 (0) 299 654 163) or by email (contact-inter@maplatine.com).