Coaxial speaker cable is a type of electrical cable that is commonly used to transmit electric signals from source devices to input/destination devices. Coaxial cable specifically, was first used in 1858, but it wasn’t until 1880 that it was patented. Since the beginning of the 20th century, and especially since the introduction of television, it’s one of the most common cables in every household.
Table of Contents
- What Does it Look Like ?
- What Are The Benefits Of Coaxial Speaker Cables?
- Can Coax Cable Be Used With Home Theater?
- What Are the Different Types of Coaxial Cables on the Market?
- What Kinds of Connectors Are Used for Coax Cables?
- What is Coaxial Cable Used For?
- What is Coaxial Digital Audio Cable?
- Digital Optical VS Coaxial Digital Audio Cable?
- Can Coaxial Cable Be Used as Speaker Cable?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Coaxial Speaker Cable
- Coaxial Speaker Cable Worth It?
What Does it Look Like ?
A coaxial cable is a cylindrical-shaped cable. Its thickness, color and structure can vary, but every coaxial cable has 4 key elements. Those elements are:
The coaxial cable has four key elements:
- An inner conductor that carries the signal. This is often copper-clad steel in audio cables and copper in video cables. The outside of the conductor is usually silver plated
- An insulator, often made of polyethylene (plastic)
- A dielectric, sometimes air but often a foam material, which prevents the electrical fields in the cable from collapsing
- A shield to block interference from getting through to the center conductor and spoiling the signal The center conductor is almost always solid wire.
Coaxial cable is available in many types of insulators and shields, but they all have the same construction—the center conductor surrounded by insulation, usually plastic or foam, then a foil or braid shield and an outer jacket of rubber or plastic or some other material that’s easier to handle than a stiff metal braid.
Coaxial speaker cable is mostly composed of copper wire. In some cases, it’s a silver-plated braid. Sometimes, there’re even four layers of shielding – two layers of aluminum foil and two layers of braided copper wire. When you buy coaxial speaker cable, make sure you find out if it’s called a “No-Shield” cable.
What Are The Benefits Of Coaxial Speaker Cables?
When you want to buy a coaxial cable, you should understand its benefits first. Well, there are many reasons why people prefer this type of cable. Here are some of the main benefits of coaxial cables:
Coaxial cables are usually durable in all weather conditions. This is because they have a solid insulation that protects them from the environment and extreme temperatures. If you compare the outer coating of this type of cable, it will be thick and solid compared to other types such as twisted pair cables.
Coaxial cables are more durable than twisted pair cables
Reliable performance even in short distance transmission
You can use this type of cable for high frequency signals like data, video or audio signals. The cable is not sensitive to interference or noise and this makes it reliable in short distances too.
The transmission loss is quite low compared to other types of cables. This means that the signal quality remains intact even when the distance is short. Less sensitivity to interference and noise with high bandwidth signal transmission
Coaxial cables have excellent durability, reliable performance even in short distance transmission and less sensitivity to interference or noise compared to twisted pair wires. They also support wide bandwidth signal transmissions and have increased tensile strength that can work well in various environments.
What Are the Cons of Using a Coaxial Speaker Cable?
When we talk about coaxial speaker cables, the first thing that comes to mind is the bulky size and construction of these cables. While a lot of concert lovers would still prefer to use them, it’s fair to say that they are not exactly the best option you have. This is particularly true if you need a fast connection for your sound system.
While coaxial cables are pure copper-based wires, they are thicker than other options available in the market. They are also stiffer and heavier, making it difficult to run them across long distances. Moreover, such a design makes it harder for you to conceal them.
One of the major drawbacks of using a coaxial cable is that it can result in signal loss when compared with other types of speakers cables. In addition, even if you manage to conceal the cable behind walls or ceilings, there is always a risk of signal leakage at the connection points. This causes degradation in audio signals and can ultimately reduce the quality of your sound system significantly.
Another major issue with these cables is their cost as well as installation time. Due to their heavy weight and thick wires, such cables take longer for installation purposes, especially when used for longer distances.
Can Coax Cable Be Used With Home Theater?
Most coaxial cables are used for transmitting video signals. When the need arises to connect a subwoofer to an audio receiver over long distances, then you can use a coaxial cable for a subwoofer. Digital coaxial cables, as well as all video cables, come with a standard impedance of 75 ohms. So, they are fully interchangeable. Some other cables having RCA connectors designed for audio transmission, including the subwoofer cable, might not have an impedance of 75 ohms.
So, in order to make sure that they can be used interchangeably without any problem, look out for the impedance rating on the cable or its packaging before purchase.
What Are the Different Types of Coaxial Cables on the Market?
There are essentially 5 types of coaxial cables based on construction.
Flexible coax is regarded as the common type of cable. It is also known as RG-6 cable. It contains a braided exterior conductor made up of fine wires. The braid offers adequate flexibility to the cable. However, it does not offer comprehensive shielding. Therefore, RF signals can leak through the shield from the tiny gaps within the braid. This kind of coaxial cable is used in most home installations and offers good performance.
This type of cable is more durable and reliable than other types of cables. It contains solid copper center conductor and foil or braided copper shielding on an insulator, usually made up of polyethylene or Teflon. The exterior jacket is made up of rubber or plastic material with flame retardant properties for safety reasons.
Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)
Used for telephone and data communications, STP cables are available in various gauges depending on their application. They contain four pairs of twisted wires which provide better protection against interference and electromagnetic noise than most other types.
Tight Coaxial Cables These are also known as RF or Radio frequency coaxial cables. These cables are more rigid than the other types of coaxial cables available in the market. They have a diameter ranging from 0.12-0.56 inches, and they can be used at high frequency applications (about 500 MHz). These types of cables have a solid center conductor, and they also offer excellent shielding properties.
Loose Coaxial Cables
These cables are also known as video or TV type coaxial cable and they have a larger diameter than the tight coax with a range of 0.48-0.85 inches. They have excellent shielding properties, and they are flexible enough to be bent into U-Shaped curves without any problems.
What Kinds of Connectors Are Used for Coax Cables?
Coaxial cables are used in a variety of applications, but most commonly they require specific connectors. The most common types of coaxial cables are BNC, N-type connectors, SMA connectors, F-type connectors, and RCA connectors.
- BNC connectors are used for radio and video applications. They are designed for frequencies up to 10 GHz (stable up to 4 GHz – after that it may radiate signal, and the losses increase).
- N-type connectors are used in the lower microwave frequencies (1-18GHz). They are often used in communications and broadcast equipment.
- SMA connectors are frequently used for RF applications. They were originally designed to work with frequencies 0 Hz to 12 GHz. Today’s SMA connectors can work with frequencies up to 24 GHz. They are used in mobile phones, wi-fi antennas, and other RF systems.
- F-type connectors are the most common connector for coaxial cables because they are used for TV and antenna cables. They can handle frequencies up to 1 GHz.
- RCA connectors are used with coaxial cables. Audio and video signals are also transmitted via these cables. They can handle frequencies up to 10MHz.
What is Coaxial Cable Used For?
Coaxial cables are used for many different kinds of communication systems. They are used for antennae, coaxial cable TV, cable internet and audio/video transmission. They are also used in HDTV, wi-fi, etc. The most popular cables and connectors are used for cable TV, high-speed cable internet, and satellite TV. 50Ω coax cables are used for radio applications.
What is Coaxial Digital Audio Cable?
One of the most common coax cable applications is related to audio signal transmission. To transmit audio, we use the so-called coaxial digital audio cable, which is a regular 75Ω coax cable with RCA connectors.
A digital coax cable looks exactly like the analog one, but it is designed to transmit the wider bandwidth of a digital signal. It needs only one cable to transmit the entire signal, unlike analog cables that require two (left and right). Also, digital coax cables have 75Ω impedance, as opposed to 50Ω for analog ones.
Coaxial audio cable supports 2ch PCM audio, as well as DTS and Dolby Digital up to 5.1. It doesn’t, however, support multichannel Dolby and DTS audio formats (Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, etc.). Uncompressed multichannel audio is not supported either.
Digital Optical VS Coaxial Digital Audio Cable?
Many devices have both optical and coaxial digital connectors. But what are the differences between the two?
Optical cables are different from normal cables in several ways. First of all, they are made of glass and not copper, so they can’t carry electrical signals. They use pulses of light to transmit between devices.
Besides the obvious, there’re some more important performance differences. The coaxial cable allows slightly greater bandwidth and higher-quality audio transmission (24bit/192kHz VS 96kHz). In theory, that should mean better listening experience, but realistically, most people won’t notice the difference.
Optical cables are a good choice for short distances, because they don’t last as long as coaxial cables. If you bend or break an optical cable, it’s done for. Optical cables are also not as strong as coaxial.
Can Coaxial Cable Be Used as Speaker Cable?
Coaxial cable has been widely used in the transmission of digital audio signals. But can you use it to send a signal from an amp to speakers? In other words, can you use it as a speaker wire? And are there some benefits? Is coax cable going to introduce less resistance between your amp and your speakers?
In order to avoid confusion, we must point out one thing. Most coaxial cables used in today’s subwoofers are RG6 cables. In this case, when you need to transmit line-level audio signals to the subwoofer, you can simply use a coaxial cable. There is no need for any other cables.
But what about speaker wires? Can you use them for your speakers?
Some manufacturers even sell speaker cables made from coaxial cable. A good example is WBC (World’s Best Cables) which sells coaxial speaker cable on Amazon. Their cables use Mogami W3082 coaxial speaker wire (AWG14) and gold-plated banana plugs by Eminence.
Another speaker cable DIYer is Jon Risch. He made a cross-connected coax cable for his speakers using Belden 89259 coax wire. It’s RG59/U. For each speaker, he used two cables. He cross-connected the shielding to the center conductor and vice versa. You’re going to need a coaxial cable if you want better sound. In fact, there’s no reason not to use one. If you’d like to know more, read on below.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Coaxial Speaker Cable
If you are using a coaxial cable to connect your speaker system, then you should be aware of some of its striking advantages. There is no doubt that a coaxial cable is the best wire for your speaker system. It is ideal for transferring power from an audio source, like an amplifier, to your speakers.
Advantages of using coax cables as speaker cables
Coaxial cables are used for many reasons and offer several advantages over other types of cables. Suitable impedance for speaker wire – The absence of any other metal makes it possible to design a frequency response curve which is smoother and more accurate than in any other type of wire. Thick conductor (almost 14AWG) – This is almost double the thickness used on most other speaker cables. Very low induction – This advantage means that there will be very little interference with the signal line by the cable itself, so the sound quality will not suffer.
Aesthetically, these wires have an appealing black sheath with either gold or copper connectors at each end. These connectors are designed specifically to provide better sound quality and additional protection against corrosion.
Disadvantages of using coax cables as speaker cables :
- Coaxial cables are also less susceptible to interference from outside sources because the signal is being transmitted via two different wires instead of just one. This makes them a good alternative for people who live in areas where electronic devices may cause disruptions with their normal speaker cables.
- They are more expensive than regular speaker wire
- They are heavier and less flexible than regular speaker wire
Coaxial Speaker Cable Worth It?
So, if you’re wondering whether coaxial speaker cable is worth the cost, we think it’s not. The difference between the two doesn’t really justify the price difference and all the hassle. So, we don’t think it’s worth it. There are always people who disagree with you. Some people believe Mogami cables actually improve their stereo systems. I think the best advice is to try them and see if they work for you.
Coaxial cables are designed to deliver signals in a better way. If you want to enjoy your home theater setup and audio system, you need to decide on the type of coaxial cables you can use. You can use them for various purposes, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to understand how to shop for the right one. It is very important that you know exactly what the manufacturer is offering, as well as what other consumers around the world think about it. There will be a lot of coaxial speaker cable reviews online to help you out.