Choosing the right subwoofer cable is essential for achieving optimal audio quality in your home theater system. First, we’ll mention that while many subwoofers offer multiple connection options (including wireless). Typically, the cabled connection options will be a 3.5mm jack and/or RCA ports, and our opinion is that the RCA port connection is the best option in most cases.
The best subwoofer cable connection to use is an RCA cable, and you should use a cable that’s double-shielded for better quality. That said, any RCA cable you have lying around will work to test your setup, and will very likely offer enough audio quality for the normal user.
But what about non-normal users? And even after you know what type of cable to use, what about actually picking one to purchase? Let’s start by looking at the best subwoofer cables we recommend, and then we’ll talk a little more about how much different the cable can make and what the components of a subwoofer cable are.
First: What’s the Best Subwoofer Cable (And Why)
So, as home theater experts, we believe that any double-shielded coax cable that is long enough for your setup is going to be just fine for most people. Upgrading to a higher-end double-shielded coax cable is an option, but we don’t think it’s necessary for most users.
The next natural question is, what is the best double-shielded coax cable? And we think the answer is simple: the best one is the one you already have laying around your house. There’s no rule that says you need fancy COAX cables for your subwoofer, so, if you ahve some spare RCA cables, just try to connect the Sub with those first. If this gets you to where you need to be, you’ve saved some time and effort here.
In case you need to purchase a new cable, consider a simple and affordable option like the Mediabridge Ultra Series Digital Audio Coax Cable (on Amazon). This cable comes with dual shielding and gold-plated connectors that ensure optimal signal transfer and longevity.
If you are absolutely keen on investing more, you might want to check out the higher-end option like the BETTERCABLES Silver Serpent RCA cables (on Amazon). These cables use extremely high-quality components for better performance.
We wouldn’t go as far as saying that this cable is “worth it” compared to cheaper coax options available, but if you are looking for the best, it does stand out. The fancy braided cord and shrink-wrapped tips on this model help it withstand years of use, setting it apart from the competition.
Will Your Subwoofer Cable Really Make A Difference?
One question you should be asking yourself is: will the subwoofer cable you use make a difference in sound quality that you will even notice in your setup.
As home theater experts first, we are audiophiles as a lower priority, and while an audiophile may claim to be able to sense the very vibrational shift between using a single or double-shielded cable for their sub, in the home theater game we just don’t think it’s that important.
Factors Affecting Subwoofer Cable Performance
- Materials: The materials used in a subwoofer cable can play a significant role in its performance. Some cables are made of oxygen-free copper, which is designed to minimize resistance and signal loss. Higher-quality materials typically result in better sound quality.
If the cable is very thin and flexible, all things equal that is worse: it means cheaper parts, less shielding, and that it’s only a matter of time before you see fraying at the connectors. And note that, in general, like any other component of your home theater, RCA cables do go bad over time.
- Shielding: Shielding is an essential feature of subwoofer cables as it protects the signals from interference and noise. Poorly shielded cables can degrade the audio signal, leading to a compromised sound experience. We will dive deeper into the anatomy of subwoofer cables in the following section. But try the cables you have on hand first. If you don’t hear an issue, you may not need to purchase a new more-shielded cable to address it.
- Connection: The connection between your subwoofer and your audio source is crucial for maintaining excellent sound quality. A loose or poorly-fitted connector can cause signal loss and impact the overall audio experience. Be sure to securely connect your subwoofer with a high-quality cable to prevent any issues. Gold connectors are great, but it’s more important that the connector not have corrosion or damage on it.
While it’s true that premium subwoofer cables can offer better performance, you should try not to fall prey to exaggerated marketing claims or overpriced products. In many cases, a well-built, adequately shielded cable made from decent materials will do the job just fine, and for a new install we would pay no more than $20 for this component.
Anatomy of a Subwoofer Cable
In case you want to know more about the interference and key components of a subwoofer cable, we’lll take just a moment here to highlight the actual parts and pieces for you.
Subwoofer cables are designed to transmit low-frequency audio signals from receivers or amplifiers to powered subwoofers. These cables often use RCA connectors, which are commonly used for analog audio signals. A good subwoofer cable will have high-quality conductors made of copper or gold, which ensure excellent signal transmission.
The shielding mentioned above is referred to more technically as “Dielectric Insulation.” This is what is reduces signal degradation. Dual shielding is achieved by using multiple methods of shielding, not stacking two shielding layers on top of each other. For example, when you cut into a COAX cable, you first must peel back an aluminum foil layer before cutting off a rubber insulation layer to access the actual copper wire in the center.
All things equal, shielding is more important for longer lengths of cable, which will experience more interference overall. If you’re using wire across long distances, you should note that, while you can extend speaker wire pretty easily in a DIY-way, it can effect the sound quality if you don’t get the details right.
Sound Off: The Final Note on Subwoofer Cables for Home Theaters
Remember, while many subwoofers offer multiple connection options, the cabled RCA connection often reigns supreme in terms of quality. But before you rush out to buy the most expensive cable on the market, take a moment to assess your needs.
For many, a double-shielded coax cable that fits your setup will do the trick. And remember: if you’re on a budget, the best cable might just be the one you already have at home.