RCA and MiniJack
Cables and RCA connectors or PIN and MiniJack are mostly used for the transport of analog audio signal consumer (- 10 dBV or 0.3 V) generally to send and receive signals from CD players, radio tuners, plates for vinyl LP.
Once in some cases it was also possible to find them as a power connector in hi-fi area.
The conductor section is a little thinner compared that of Jacks, (about 11 mm without shield and 13 mm with the shield).
The RCA or PIN are unbalanced cables and appear as a cable with male – male connectors (Fig. 1), while the connections are always female (Fig. 2).
At audio level they are recognized by the typology of color of the connectors and connections that is always red for right and white for left.
They are not professional connectors as Jack don’t have a solid connection, in facts just pull in opposite sense to the connection to remove them, in addition they are very fragile to handling and above all the most are not removable for replacing the connector or cable (fig. 1), while the typology of RCA more professional generally beside being shielded also provides for the possibility of disassembly for replacement (fig. 3) (fig. 4).
They are commonly called “pins” for the type of connection.
The signal cable is connected to the pin which comes out from the connector (Pin), while the mass is connected to the metal base.
The BNC connectors ( Bayonet Neill Concelman ) are coaxial connectors used mostly to transport radio frequency signal or digital audio and clock for the synchronization of digital equipment, while it is rarely used in the audio field for the analog signal transport.
In the radio frequency is used as a standard for the connection of the antennas in the wireless microphones.
There are 2 types of BNC cables that base are always shielded against external interference, those with an impedance of 75 Ω (poorer) and those with an impedance of 50 Ω (more qualitative).
The connectors are always male (Fig. 5) while the connections are always female (Fig. 6).
The connection of the conductors is equal to that of RCA, the cable that transport the signal is connected to the connector PIN while the mass to its base.
As the connection type is solid and robust therefore also it used at the professional level, by inserting the connector in the connection it will be necessary to rotate the outer ring to make the outlet and make sure that the connector does not unplug from the connection once released.
Also in this case there are less professional BNC connectors that do not allow to disconnect the connector for its replacement (Fig. 5) and more professional connectors that instead allow it (Fig. 7).
A BNC cable for signal transport radio does not have a length limit, but it is useful to know that for every doubling of its distance it has an attenuation of 6 dB signal, so always better to use short cables.
DIN or Midi
DIN connector is best known as the Midi because it is mostly used for MIDI connections (fig. 8).
The DIN5 connector is the most used in audio environment and presents 5 poles (from this the 5 after the din), but only 3 are actually wired:
1 = Signal 2 = Ground 3 = + 5 Volts.
This is because the other 2 poles predicted future cable extensions and midi devices.
In Figure 9, distributions of pins:
They are connectors male – male and provide female connections (Fig. 10).
There are variants of the DIN connector, Mini-DIN used mostly in the field of semi-professional, video and computer hardware.
Especially the mini-DIN also have variants in the number of pins used, there are in fact mini-DIN 4 and mini-DIN 6
These connections have had their biggest spread around the years 80 ‘- 90’.
They are used for the serial connection of Synth and Keyboards to expander and external samplers (today mostly replaced by internal software or computer), for the connection of equipment for remote control (to today mostly replaced by digital connectors such as USB, FireWire, Ethernet).
They do not have a solid connection, is type of that pin or Jack, and the transport of the signal is not efficient as that of digital connections that are replacing, despite the high control voltage of + 5 V, the main problem lies in the specific the protocol used. A Midi cable generally although not shielded runs over 10 m without introducing interference, a bit like in Jack and RCA.
The cables and Starquad connectors (fig. 11 – 12) or XLRLR, provide 5 poles generally 2 white and 2 blue or multicolored, always 4 poles more mass, used mostly in connectors and DMX connections (cable for sending the signal for the remote control of lights) or for sending power to hardware devices such as audio mixer or condenser microphones or valve (generally for the sending of phantom power and control voltage they are often not even used all and 5). Other times are used as multicore cable connectors to send two balanced signals plus the mass, or still use 1 or 2 pin beyond the 3 of the balance to handle remote control.
One variant of the Starquad is the 4-pin XLRL connectors (fig. 13 male – fig. 14 female ), which are mostly available in mini-versions for headphone, headset, in ear monitor and radio transmitters.
Fig. 13 Fig. 14
Also available with other types of sockets such as the socapex in figure 15, where connections are also represented.
Pin 4 is a further line used for different features, data transport for remote control, shipping a headset line along with the microphone as seen also for Jack TRRS, while return is common. Its main function in using headset and in ear monitor is to make the connector compatible with the input of different receivers of different brands that may have a different pin position (it is not universal but often compatible with a limited number of Brands and even more models of receivers).
The one in Figure 15 is an adapter, the input of which comes directly to the microphone line (interchangeable, so it is possible to connect to this adapter, for example all compatible headsets) and whose connector can be connected to different types of receiver (listed by the manufacturer In the technical specifications of the adapter).
Also known as ELCO, multi connector used for quick wiring used once in recording studios. Usually in this multi-connector are wired balanced cables. (Eg. 24 – 32 channels in a single connector).
On the other end of the cable are generally jack TRS connectors (fig. 16) that give the possibility to decide which input or output to be connected.
Generally, the connector EDAC must be connected to the input EDAC present in the audio mixer in which the inside everything is already pre-wired, while the other end in which there are the TRS jack should be connected to the Patchbay to manage the input and output lines at will.
The connector is female (Fig. 17) while the connections are male (Fig. 18).
For the connection simply plug the female connector into the male and screw the central pin connectors, are generally used for fixed installations given their solid fast connection but not as immediate both as connection that as disconnection.
Each pin as shown in Figure 13 is a line type, for example if it is a multi-connector for balanced signals the first 3 pins at the top from left to right will be pin 1 – 2 – 3 of the first balanced connection, as seen by XLR connection, the pin 4 – 5 – 6 of EDAC will be pin 1 – 2 – 3 of the second balanced connection, pin 7 -8 – 9 of EDAC will be pin 1 – 2 – 3 of the third balanced connection, and so on up to the number of connections balanced course, the same in the opposite direction will be the connections into the female connectors.
If a EDAC it’s composed of 24 balanced line will have 72 pins. In case of breakage or oxidation of a pin to which the signal is no longer functioning will be necessary to replace the pins or directly the connector.
Generally the cables are connected to the connector by inserting the copper filament into the hole and screwing a screw to grip.
The cables inside the EDAC connector remains protected from external interference.
We will see in subsequent arguments the functionality of multicables, of multi connectors and Patchbay.
The D-SUB (Fig. 19) or digital Sub is a connector invented and used for the transport of the first digital signals in multi-channel level, generally is able to carry 8 channels, much used in computer field for interfacing devices hardware, in audio level is exploited for the transport of analog audio signals, having regard to the multi-channel and the quick and efficient connection. It is found most often in analog Stage Box – Splitter – Adders. balanced signals generally leads to distances not over 10 meters.
Socapex or Amphenol
Even Socapex or Amphenol as EDAC, it’s a multi-connector generally more used to LIVE as in recording studio for quick connection (screwing) and solidity.
Amphenol from the name of its inventor and can also be of various types depending on the number of conductors leading into the cable (fig. 20).
Carrier balanced connections that in this case the other end will have most of the time as XLR or Stagebox XLR connectors.
The connector is female while the connection is male and follows the same principle of numerology seen for EDAC, XLR rather have male and female as they can be exploited both to manage inputs and outputs.
Generally they are used to interface inputs and outputs in audio mixer with those of Stagebox present on stage.
often they have a screwable cover on the connector used to repair once disconnected to protect it from dust, water and atmospheric agents which could oxidize the internal conduction pin.
For the connection it is necessary to solder the copper strands of the conductors to the conduction pin of the Amphenol connector (this ensures more quality of EDAC in terms of signal yield).
The cables inside the amphenol connector remains protected from external interference.
We will see in subsequent arguments the functionality and use of Stagebox.
The LEMO connector (Fig. 21) is the alternative to Socapex, which is also multipolar, but unlike Socapex, it is much more used in few-pin connectors (even 2 to 3 to 4 poles), where Socapex by structure and method Constructive more effort, you can still find it as a multipole connector such as Socapex.
The constructive and grafting principle is very similar to Socapex, which is only the most fragile and mostly used in recording, broadcast and hi-fi studios, large connectors also have a screwdriver screwdriver such as greater protection and grip (fig. 22) are mostly made of aluminum or light metallic alloys, at the edges of the connector there are a plurality of springs which are compressed during the coupling step in the connection and release when connected so as to obtain a connection cleaning during the connection Connection and disconnection phases (due to scrapping of these springs on the connection itself) and to provide a better grip as these springs tend to cling to the connection once inserted.
Used mostly as connectors in amplifiers for the connection of the amplifiers to the speakers in consumer field. While at the pro level are sometimes found as an alternative to speakon or for interfacing the Amplifier with an external signal processor such as an Active Crossover (Fig. 23) or to connect equipment in outborad bridge with other outboard equipment. These connections can be multipolar. However, it is a type of less reliable and qualitative connection compared to speakon or direct connection of devices with jack or XLR, balanced or unbalanced.
Seen use in audio environment the cable that leads euroblock connectors is generally euroblock one one side and Jack, XLR (Fig. 24), RCA, cable peeled the other, depending on the input or output connection to which you want to connect.
To connect cable to an Euroblock , unscrew the screw present in the housing, insert the copper filament and then screw to grip.
They are not professional as they do not shield the conductor from external interference, for which the copper filament discovered and inserted in the housing is uncovered and unprotected.
There are then numerous cables, connectors and proprietary connections of producers mostly in consumer audio environment still present or fallen into disuse.
Types of Adapters
Exists on the market any type of adapter you can think of, but it is easy to make one alone by yourself, from the XLR and Jack split, from XLR to Jack (balanced or unbalanced), from mini jack to jack or XLR, from RCA to Jack or XLR etc … etc … the important thing is to know that if it is not necessary is always better not to convert or split.
Here are some representations of adapters:
from XLR female to Jack male TRS
from mini Jack TRS to RCA Socket
from mini Jack TRS female to RCA female
from mini Jack TRS Male to XLR Male
from mini Jack TRS Male to Double Jack TS Male
from XLR female to dual XLR male
from Lemo female to Jack TRS male
extension for Speakon
(Some extension as additional protection they provide lock function for locking and sealing, so that the cable does not come out while turning or disconnect from its housing).
extension for RCA
extension T for BNC
More About Analog Audio Cables:
Analog Audio Cables – I (Technical Features, Shielding, Operating Environments)
Analog Audio Cables – II (Types of Connectors and Connections, Unbalanced Connectors and Connections)
Analog Audio Cables – III (Balanced Connectors and Connections, Passive Balancing)
Analog Audio Cables – IV (Active balancing)
Analog Audio Cables – V (Differences between Jack and XLR, Bantam, Speakon, Powercon)
Analog Audio Cables – VII (Connection Types, Ground Loop, Solder A Cable, Acoustic Pollution)
Buy Analog Audio Cables from the Major Store
Mini Jack Cables
Mini Jack Connectors
EDAC e D-SUB Cables
EDAC e D-SUB Connectors