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Best audio cables 2020: best RCA cables and interconnects

Best audio cables Buying Guide: welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best audio cables you can buy in 2020.

The analogue information coursing between your source and amplifier is complicated - and there's an awful lot of it. So connect them wisely – because, like every component in your audio chain, your audio cables can make a significant difference to the sound your system ultimately delivers.

We've rounded up the best audio cables currently out there, catering for all budgets. So whether you're watching the pennies or splashing the cash, these RCA interconnects can make the most of your hi-fi's potential.

See all our audio cable reviews

Best audio cables 2020: best budget to premium interconnects

1. Chord Company C-line

Few audio cables at this price can compare to this talented Chord pairing.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Analogue interconnect | Terminated: Yes | Length: 1m

Reasons to Buy

Helps tie instruments together
Aids dynamics and musicality

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

This is Chord displaying once again an understanding of what makes hi-fi great, with the best RCA cable we've heard at the budget end. It never loses sight of what matters; the musicality of your system and also helps enhance your system's detail levels, making for an entertaining and informative listen.

Read the full review: Chord Company C-Line

Best audio cables 2020: best budget to premium interconnects

2. QED Profile

A cheap yet extremely cheerful pair of RCA audio cables.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Analogue interconnect | Terminated: Yes | Length: 1m

Reasons to Buy

Tight sound
Good detail
Impressive dynamics

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

Despite its über-budget price tag, the Profile punches above its weight, helping to deliver a tight sound that’s uncluttered and airy. Detail levels are surprisingly good for the money too, and the well-made Profile also shows ability with its handling of dynamics.

Read the full review: QED Profile

Best audio cables 2020: best budget to premium interconnects

(Image credit: Future)

3. Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA

These audio cables help your system deliver the dynamism it's capable of.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Analogue interconnect | Terminated: Yes | Length: 1m

Reasons to Buy

Helps with detail and timing
Aids openness and dynamics
Work well with wide range of systems

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing

Having spent time using the Clearway, we found it really quite unsatisfying to listen to the same songs with anything else of a similar price. The price tag might weigh heavy on many listeners’ wallets – and the cheaper C-Line remains a class leader we can still get behind – but for those who can justify the outlay, the Clearway is brilliantly capable of letting you hear where your money has gone.

Read the full review: Chord Company Clearway Analogue RCA

Best audio cables 2020: best budget to premium interconnects

4. QED Performance Audio 40

A pair of interconnects that help deliver detail and agility.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Analogue interconnect | Terminated: Yes | Length: 1m

Reasons to Buy

Spacious, clean soundstage
Bags of detail

Reasons to Avoid

Tough competition

These QED audio cables promote a wide-open soundstage, both vertically and horizontally. They help vocals sound full-bodied and weighty, but with lots of breathing space above them, too. Put simply, if you covet space and detail with sure but nimble footwork and heaps of insight, consider your search for an RCA audio cable complete.

Read the full review: QED Performance Audio 40

Best audio cables 2020: best budget to premium interconnects

(Image credit: Future)

5. Atlas Element Integra

Ideal audio interconnects for a first upgrade, they encourage a glossy, subtle performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Analogue interconnect | Terminated: Yes | Length: 1m

Reasons to Buy

Transparent midrange
Supple bass

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing

There really isn't anything to dislike here: the Element Integra is one of the best audio cables for a first upgrade. The soundstage is pleasingly wide and precise and music displays excellent dynamics. Bass is supple and midrange is transparent, and the best part about this cable is it's also unfussy about the kit you use.

Read the full review: Atlas Element Integra

  • Squall Leonhart
    I would recommend Atlas Element Superior. I have been using it for almost a year and I havent had the urge to upgrade.
    Reply
  • MetAlbertR
    Some of the reasons to buy are hilarious:

    "Helps tie instruments together", "Helps with detail and timing" and "Spacious, clean soundstage".

    I notice you seem to no longer review digital cables. Why is that?
    Reply
  • abacus
    Before purchase always do a blind AB test between basic cable and any exotic cable, as I have yet to come across any of these special cables that make any difference to the sound. (A good quality cable should neither add or take anything away, so be wary of anybody that says their cable alters the sound)
    If you are really worried, get your cable from a Pro Music Store, (They will be a fraction of the price of these so called super cables) as then you will have the same quality as used in professional film & music production studios, whose equipment makes even Hi-End Hi-Fi sound mundane.

    Bill
    Reply
  • iMark
    They still write the same audio waffle.

    MetAlbertR's remark about digital cables is interesting. Have they finally worked out that there is no difference in digital cables?
    Reply
  • F8lee
    I get the sense that "exotic cables" are analogous to "UV filters to protect your front lens element" that camera stores often try to sell to unsuspecting customers.

    Basically, it's about the profit margins. Having worked in the photo retail industry years ago, I know that in order to keep competitive with the mail-order houses the profit we would make on a high end camera might amount to being $40. However, if we sold the customer on the idea that "you need a UV filter to protect that precious front element!" we would garner $20 profit out of the $40 sale of the filter.

    THe cable thing seems much the same - perhaps retailers cannot get much margin on the big gear that is always comparison shopped by potential customers; but once they decide they like that amp or speaker setup then pushing the "special" cables for "better sound" sounds like much the same strategy.
    Reply