I need help choosing an RCA cable

So here is my story: I was planning on buying a new headset and I didn’t know how much more complicated making an audio set up would be when compared to building a PC. Anyways, I ended up wanting to make a purchase of a mod mic and a good pair of audiophile headphones. I mainly planned on using my audio set up equally for music and gaming. After hours of research and complicating my life a lot, I ended up with this set up:

ModMic USB
A pair of HD58X Jubilee cans
JDS Labs Atom Headphone Amp

I came up with this because HD58X’s seemed like a no brainer choice. On the Reddit headphone guide of Zeos, Sennheiser HD660’s were a hi-fi tier headphones and he had several videos telling the Jubilee’s and 660’s were literally almost the same. That pretty much removes the whole entry and mid-tier category doesn’t it? Anyways, since this was my first ever open-back pair of headphones I don’t think I would mind the small sound stage.

Now you may be getting ready to write how much I need a DAC but no thanks I just can’t do that. I’m already so much over budget and I decided on using my onboard DAC’s for a while until I can save up enough to buy an actual DAC.

Currently, I will have trouble paying the rent for a couple of months and won’t be able to eat very well. The reason I created this topic was actually asking for help on how to connect my atom amp to my motherboard.

So as it looks like, I have two options:

1- Connect a 3.5mm auxiliary cable between the line out of my motherboard and the 3.5mm input on my Atom amp.
2- Connect a 3.5mm stereo jack - 2 RCA cable between my motherboard and amp.

Would the two options sound different? Seeing that there are “better” RCA cables physically hurt me. If possible, I would want to use a cheap-ass 1$ made in china 3.5mm to RCA cable. Would that hurt my sound quality a lot? I would also appreciate any tips you might give me about my set up since I’m still a very early beginner to all these concepts and stuff. Thanks in advance.

Since you are using your on-board motherboard I don’t think there will be that much of a difference.

So I vote for what is convenient for you, as both cables are good to have to be honest.

You should be able to pick any of those up locally for pretty cheap.

Monoprice makes really solid cables and RCAs should be sub-7 dollars or so.

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Unless they conductor is aluminium or has a break in it, no.

$6 for 3ft, $7 for 6ft

They’re usually cheaper on Monoprice

Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately the Monoprice cables are unavailable for me. Well they are but I would have to pay for shipping and also import fees at Turkey too so it costs about 15$ for me. Which is way too much for me. There are Philips cables like FBizzle showed however those are around 12$ which also make no sense. Is there any way I can check the quality for these 1 to 2 $ cables that are made in China? I’m not sure if it is specified so I don’t know how to check if their conductors are aluminium or check if they have a break in it.

I think you should be fairly safe buying one from AliExpress that has lots of previous orders and high seller rating.

For example:

I’ve purchased Ugreen products before, no problems.

Getting it from AliExpress seems like a good idea however it would take over a month for it to ship here. However I think I can find these brand if I search around hard enough. Mostly it’s brandless ones that are being sold here. Lastly I would like to ask this, how much would my set-up improve with a DAC? I don’t plan to buy it any time recently, but what would be a good DAC to pair this set-up with? Just asking for future reference for my upgrade path.

Ok, so to keep it brief, DACs tend to be better built than whatever is inside your PC.

They’re external so the PC won’t provide interference than if it was a Sound Card.

They have a seperate Power Supply from your PC meaning that there isn’t anything else besides your DAC that’s tapping that supply, so less noise and distortion.

The signal output voltage is usually ~2V if unbalanced (RCAs) or ~4V if balanced (XLR), with a balanced DAC in conjunction with a balanced Amp being louder and less noisy internally when amplifying the signal, so essentially a louder and cleaner amp in most cases, and the signal being outputted by the DAC being more constant compared to the PC.

Through Asynchronous USB, the DAC relies on it’s own clock when processing info instead of the PCs clock, which is usually worse, the benefit being it can process information on it’s own time by telling the PC when to send the info versus Synchronous USB where the PC is sending the Info when it wants and making performance worse since the DAC has to compensate (albeit not exactly that bad with today’s DACs).

Through Fiber Optic, while relying on the PC for it’s clock and slight processing of the signal, the signal is electrically isolated due to how Fiber Optic works, meaning that the PC can’t electrically interfere as with USB in case the motherboard has grounding issues making ports noisy.

Sorry I’m not exactly that knowledgeable about DACs when it comes to sound preferences, so if you do buy a DAC, maybe get a recommendation from M0N or someone with more experience with this type of stuff.

But yes, a DAC will greatly improve your setup versus not having a DAC at all.

Any normal stereo AUX cable would work. Like you said from line out/pc to line in/atom. Sure there must be shops around that sell those cables. Can easily pick them up for about $3

Hmm, thanks for your reply. I have started searching around for 3.5mm to RCA cables but they seem much more expensive than those standard aux cables you are talking about. In fact, I think I have those standard aux cables lying around that I don’t use that came with cheap headphones. Would the quality of that cable matter? Do you think I could hear a sound difference for let’s say a Philips RCA cable if I use it instead of an AUX cable or would the RCA cable be an unnecessary add on?

Try the cables you have and make sure they work. No, at this level you will hear no difference between a $15 cable and a $500 cable. Don’t stress this too much, you just need a good connection between your pc and your amp and a cable that isn’t broken or rusted out. Happy listening.

PS, i’ve been to Istanbul and i remember driving by a few stores thats sold electronics. Not sure what part of the country you are in but hopefully you can find something local for a few Lira that will work.

If the cable makes good contact and has no extra noise what you hear should be clean. Don’t spend money on RCA to 3.5mm 3.5mm-3.5mm is the same.

Thanks a lot for all the help! Lastly, I would like to ask how good you think is the JDS Labs Ol DAC as a future upgrade path.

Research the Khadas tone board for a dac, or the topping d10

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I second this. Just got my Khadas. And i’ve had the Ol dac and own the El dac as well… I prefer the Khadas. BUT this is what I like, doesnt mean you, @danch like the same :slight_smile:

Why do you prefer the khadas? Did you hear a noticable improvement or just a different sound

Also what case are you using with it?