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Does RCA switcher degrade audio quality?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by Heinstar, Mar 12, 2018.
  1. Heinstar
    I'm using this RCA switcher by Sescom: https://www.amazon.com/Sescom-SES-AUDIO-AB-Stereo-Audio-Switch/dp/B008BMLXAU.

    I switch between DarkVoice 336SE and Schiit Jotunheim. I've decided to use two amps because Rock, Rap and Vocal songs tend to sound better on DarkVoice while EDM tend to sound better on Jotunheim.

    I'm using my Sennheiser HD600 for the DarkVoice and HD650 with 4pin XLR for Jotunheim. HD600's clear mids seems to pair better with DarkVoice, while HD650's pronounced bass seems to pair better with Jotunheim.

    This is how they're set up:
    Mac mini > Tidal/Audirvana Plus > Audioquest Forest USB A to B > Schiit Elitr > BLJ Coaxial 6ft > Schiit Modi Multibit > 3ft BJC RCA > Sescom A/B switcher > 3ft BLJ RCA to Darkvoice 336SE & 6ft BLJ RCA to Jotunheim

    I've also done other things to maximise audio quality:

    So far, I haven't noticed any degradation in audio quality. But I prefer to not take any risk in potentially worsening audio quality by using RCA switches. But at the same time, prior to using RCA switches, I was disconnecting and reconnecting the RCA cables to switch amps which was eventually going to wear out the RCA cable and the RCA output of the amp over time.

    So my question is, are RCA switches known to degrade audio quality? Do audiophiles stay away from using them?
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  2. Roseval
    Not as far as I know. In fact we often have switches in our chain like an input selector on an amp, a muting relay, etc.

    Of course they do. Your are not going to combine your 2000$ interlink with a 30$ switchbox.
  3. Heinstar
    From what I'm researching so far, it seems like while it's unlikely for the RCA switcher to degrade the sound significantly, there's still a possibility for it to be degraded slightly. Especially with the cheap RCA switcher I'm using.

    Are there any high quality audiophile grade RCA switcher that's guaranteed to not cause ANY degradation in audio quality from cross-talk and adding of resistance?

    Alternatively, if not using the RCA switcher is the best way to avoid any potential degradation in audio quality, I don't mind dis/reconnecting the RCA cable to switch amps either. In fact, I prefer it that way if it means there will be zero risk of audio degradation.

    My main concern with that was the wear and tear to the end of the RCA cable and amp's RCA output from reconnecting constantly. Do they sell some type of replaceable shielding material that you can put at the end of RCA cable or the amp's RCA output to prevent wear and tear?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  4. Heinstar

    Anyone know of any aftermarket 'thing' you can put on at the end of the RCA cable or the amp's RCA output to prevent wear and tear from the constant dis/reconnect?

    If the wear and tear is inevitable, I'd be okay with replacing RCA cables now and then. But is it possible to replace the RCA output on amps and is it doable yourself?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  5. Linus1
    I'd be interested in answers/thoughts as well (wanting to use an HDMI switcher to isolate my CATV as it introduces hum to my system) and for the RCA situation. Almost thinking that getting a pair of those female-female connectors between RCA cables would help a lot. Yes, the connector might introduce or allow something not wanted into the signal stream.....but it might be better than possibly wearing out the RCA connectors on a component (maybe unlikely) and would allow for easier switching between other components.
  6. DamageInc77
    Schiit SYS might be worth looking at if you aren't happy with your sescom switch.

    If you want a buffer for the RCA connector to not wear out, you could get a pair of 90 degree RCA adapters and mount them.

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  7. 227qed
    Schiit SYS does two in, one out. OP needs one in two out.
  8. bixby
    you probably have more variance in the sound due to the SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT position of the headphones on your head each time you listen more than with the switch. I am of the opinion, though, that all connections degrade the signal to a very small degree.

    Thinking out loud for a moment, but wouldn't one amp at the cost of your two combined be better yet? Then again what fun would that be, haha.
  9. DamageInc77
    No, it does both. But the volume control doesn't work if you operate it in reverse.
  10. 227qed
    Well I’ll be...thanks for straightening me out! I still need a one in two out solution, but volume control sure would be swell...
  11. Rizlaw
    Look at this: http://www.decware.com/newsite/ZSB.html
    I own it. It's not cheap, but it is very, very good. No change in sound can be detected; at least by me.
    Redcarmoose likes this.
  12. JTori
    I'll step into these waters.

    I wanted the same flexibility as the OP in choice of amp. In my case, I'm going from an iMac Pro via USB to a Benchmark DAC3 DX to one of three amps: the Bottlehead Crack/Speedball, Bottlehead Mainline or Koss ESP-950. I've got a Sescom but found it a bit inconvenient and limited (though I heard no appreciable sound degradation). I researched and found offerings to be scarce. The best of what's available appeared to me to be from Decware and Goldpoint. Both of these are around $400.

    In the end, I decided to build my own and ordered a Hammond enclosure, DH Labs RCA jacks (4 pr.) and an Elma selector switch. The parts cost was roughly $260. For wiring, I used what was left of a 2M pair of solid silver balanced interconnect I repurposed to make three pair of single-ended interconnects. I have listened both with and without the switch box in the circuit and can detect no difference. What I gained was the ability to drive any one of my three amps with the turn of a dial.

    If you're comfortable doing a little soldering, you can build a box for a lot less than I spent by sourcing less expensive RCA jacks.

    For reference, I've attached a few images.

    34394516_1992253630849630_478431503911485440_n.jpg IMG_1824.jpg


    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    castleofargh likes this.
  13. Logistics
    Easiest way to answer this is dont worry about it. Any electrically measurable difference you could see due to your RCA switcher is going to be insignificant compared to changes you could hear by upgrading to better quality equipment or upgrading the electrical components inside your current equipment.

    That BLJ Coax cable is the most critical link in your chain as you want it to have proper impedance. If you want to be anal about interconnects, though just make sure the termination on your RCA are gold-plated copper or brass bodies, silver-plated copper is even better. But this doesnt mean you'll hear it. And it won't really matter if the manufacturers of your equipment used Nickel-plated Jack's, anyway.

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