First thing is high quality connectors. The connectors themselves are super critical. The length that you can run an RCA. Remember that we’re talking about relatively low voltages here. I would say on a practical basis I probably wouldn’t run an LFE that was an RCA based longer than about 30 feet.
After that, I would switch over to XLR. XLR connectors are wonderful. They, they are big stable locking connectors. These particular ones are from our friends at Cardas that were kind enough to loan us these to us. With an XLR, you get these things in everything clicks and locks in place, and they’re really good.
They also have two different hot conductors. So you’re able to send a more robust signal with a dedicated ground. It keeps everything very, very quiet. You know in studios, I run these things 2 to 300 feet without losses.
So if you’re in a really big theater, one of these things where you’re going to be having multiple theater seats and everything including a popcorn maker built in I would encourage you to switch over to XLRs.
It really is more appropriate. For most of us, 30 feet is a pretty good, long distance. These will work fine. One thing that this doesn’t have that I like to see on the cables we recommend is an additional outboard ground. Not because this doesn’t have a ground. Typically the shield, this outer barrel carries the ground and the hot goes through the center pin.
With an additional ground wire it just lets you get rid of potential ground loops. So what’s a ground loop? A ground loop is just when you have multiple grounds in the system. And believe me, if you’re talking about a typical audio video receiver, there might be two or 300 ground points that exist.They’re so complicated internally, and so it’s nice to have that extra little insurance policy. When you do a search for a wire look for one with an additional or external ground wire.
Not a big deal. If the cables that you already have don’t have it. You can absolutely go down to or just order online some inexpensive 16 or 18 gauge cable. A wire, not even a cable, just wire, and have a separate ground run just parallel to this. Heck, just take some, some blue painter’s tape and tape it around this thing, and it can just mimic the flow you already have. And that allows you to connect up to, for example, a chassis ground.
One of our favorite receivers the Marantz has all these beautiful copper clad screws on the back. The neat thing about those is they’re all grounding points. So if you have a little bit of noise, you’re going, gosh, how do I get rid of that hum? You can just tap to that. Tap to a screw on the back of your REL or just touch the, the LFE barrel, the ground barrel on the LFE input and potentially get rid of it. So those are just some of the basics.
I’m not going to get into the Sonics of trying to assess you know, some of the three or 400 different LFE cables out there sonically, but these are the things we look for. Good high-quality connectors, good shields. Shields tend to minimize the amount of noise and hum that can get into a cable, and then an external ground wire or drain wire.