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Need A Nice Pair Of RCA Interconnects That Won't Break The Bank!

  1. whirlwind
    I am looking for a nice pair of interconnects to go from dac to amp that wont break the bank......what is the best I can get for $75
  2. kenman345
    I am looking for Silver RCA to Mini plug.....so I'll be looking out for responses.
  3. Speedskater
    As always, Blue Jeans Cable is at the sweet spot in price and performance.
    bfreedma likes this.
  4. crazychile
    Signal Cable makes nice stuff that is very affordable.
  5. Jozurr
    I've been hearing really good things about ghentaudio.
  6. Lenni
  7. Noirkw91
    Emotiva RCAs?
  8. zilch0md
    A friend recently recommended I get the Audioquest Diamondback RCA interconnects ($70 for a 0.5m pair).


    When I went to Audioquest's web page, I couldn't find any mention of the Diamondback.

    I could find "Audioquest Diamondback" using Google - with a lot of hits at eBay and elsewhere, but I could not find any mention of the Diamondback at Audioquest's own web page for analog interconnects:


    Then I tried searching Google by specifying the site, as follows:

    "site:www.audioquest.com +diamondback"

    This is a very powerful way to filter out a lot of garbage, if you know the information you are seeking is at a specific site. I use it a lot just to search Head-Fi, for example - it works better than using Head-Fi's built-in Search tool.

    That search lead me to this page:


    It's in the "Archive" section of Audioquest's site - revealing that the Diamondback has apparently been discontinued.

    I also found this (old) PDF on the Diamondback:


    Studying and comparing the following September 30 2015 PDF to the older Diamondback PDF (above)...


    ... check out what I've learned:

    In their current line-up, the least expensive RCA interconnects (with prices for 0.6m lengths) are the Tower ($23), Evergreen($32), Golden Gate ($65), and Big Sur ($97), but the PDF makes it easy to compare their features.

    These first four interconnects all have Foamed Polyethylene as the dielectric insulator and Metal-Layer Noise Dissipation System (NDS).

    Going further up in price, we have the Sydney ($155) and Victoria ($265), which both have Polyethylene Air Tube dielectrics and Carbon-Based 3-Layer Noise-Dissipation System (NDS)

    All six of the above, currently produced interconnects, have this geometry: Asymmetrical Double-Balanced (Lower Impedance on Ground, Same Quality + & – Conductors)

    The Golden Gate ($65) and better cables have these conductors: Solid Perfect-Surface Copper (PSC)

    But again, only the Sydney ($155) and Victoria ($265) have Polyethylene Air Tube dielectrics and and Carbon-Based 3-Layer Noise-Dissipation System (NDS).

    And lastly, only the Sydney ($155) and Victoria ($265) have Cold-welded silver-plated connectors instead of Cold-welded gold-plated connectors, as seen in the less expensive cables.

    The only distinction between the the Sydney ($155) and Victoria ($265) is that the latter has Audioquest's 72V DBS feature.

    Guess what! The discontinued Diamondback ($70) is almost identical to the Sydney ($155). They both have the following features:

    Solid Perfect-Surface Copper (PSC)
    Polyethylene Air Tube dielectrics
    Asymmetrical Double-Balanced (Lower Impedance on Ground, Same Quality + & – Conductors)
    Cold-welded silver-plated connectors

    But the Sydney ($155) offers two improvements:

    1) It uses purple copper (better?) in its connectors instead of red copper.

    2) It uses the Carbon-Based 3-Layer Noise-Dissipation System (NDS) - Foil / Carbon-synthetic / Foil - instead of the Diamondback's Foil / Mylar / Foil shield.

    So, even though the 0.5m Diamondback appears to be discontinued - judging by its absence at their web site, it can still be purchased new at Amazon for $70.00 + $5.99 shipping:


    But the currently manufactured 0.6m Sydney sells for $154.75 at Amazon!:


    And that's the price I found for the Sydney, everywhere - which is full retail, per the 2015 PDF.

    Decisions, decisions....

    Should we pay $70.00 for a brand new Diamondback or $154.75 for the Sydney, which distinguishes itself with purple copper instead of red copper silver-plated connectors and foil / carbon / foil shields instead of foil / mylar / foil shields?

    Gee, this was really tough. I thought about it for awhile, like... maybe five seconds! [​IMG]

    I ordered the Diamondback and I'm really pleased with how it sounds relative to the following, equally affordable (or more so) RCA interconnects that are in my current inventory:

    Audioquest Golden Gate RCA
    Anti-Cables Level 1 RCA
    Emotiva RCA

    The Anti-Cables Level 1 ($100) was my favorite RCA interconnect prior to getting the Audioquest Diamondback.


    At this writing, they are currently available for 50% off their regular price of $100 for a 0.5m pair:


    Anti-Cables uses a very thin but hard coating on the two conductors to act as a dielectric (to prevent shorts), where the conductors of the Diamondback (and Sydney) are inside polyethylene "Air Tubes" - with a similar, perhaps less effective strategy for avoiding issues associated with using foam dielectrics, as do most cables. One has to wonder, though, if the hard coating used by Anti-Cables will eventually wear thin at points where the center conductor rubs against the outer helical conductor.

    Another difference is that the Anti-Cables Level 1 has no shielding whatsoever. Some people believe that foil shields can cause problems, even when not used as one of the signal conductors, so one could argue there is merit in not having either a substantial dielectric or a shield (a la Anti-Cables), but Audioquest combats this problem by shielding the shield, so to speak. Both the Diamondback ($70) and the very similar Sydney ($155) use 3-layer shielding, with Foil-Mylar-Foil or Foil-Carbon-Foil, respectively. Audioquest's more expensive cables include up to six-layer and even 8-layer alternating carbon and foil shields.

    Read more about the Audioquest NDS system here:


    I can't say for sure if it's the 3-Layer shielding offered by the Diamondback or some other aspect of its design that gives it a lower noise floor than the unshielded Anti-Cables Level 1, but it's a distinct improvement, allowing me to hear more of those low-level signals that lie closest to (and hopefully never beneath) the noise floor - providing lots of information that helps to define timbre, soundstage, and imaging - making good, clean recordings sound more natural and realistic.

    There's something else I'm hearing with the Diamondback vs. the Anti-Cables, but I'm unable to put my finger on it other than to say that listening to a lot of music with it, I just find it to be better overall, in many ways. Going back to the Anti-Cables after a few hours of listening to the Diamondback is all it takes to know I'm happier with the Diamondback. It might be expectation bias interfering with my already subjective objectivity (is there such a thing?), but the lowered noise floor is a distinction I can detect with certainty and I'd be very happy with the Diamondback for that alone.

    The Emotiva and Audioquest Golden Gate aren't even in the running, but I would put the Emotiva ahead of the Golden Gate.

    I tested the four RCA interconnects using my primary desktop rig:

    iPad 3 > CCK > Entreq Discovery USB cable (with drain wire connected to mains ground) > UpTone Audio USB Regen (powered by a 9V battery pack) > USB 3 module (Anamero designed) of a Metrum Acoustics Octave MkII NOS DAC > RCA Interconnect > Metrum Acoustics Aurix > HD 800.

    Only my DAC and amp are powered by 110V AC, with my source (iPad 3), USB Regen, and USB 3 module all running on battery power, but I've gone to considerable lengths to reduce any common-mode and normal-mode noise coming in on the mains, as well as preventing any "backwash" of noise from the DAC back onto the mains where the amp might pick it up - using a cascade of isolation transformers, as shown in this (generic) graphic I created:

    [This graphic was updated on 30 Sept 2017]


    My final configuration of affordable grounded-neutral and floating-neutral isolation transformers, fed by an equally affordable voltage regulator, is the result of several weeks of testing at my audio workbench dining table. I'm crazy about eliminating and or reducing noise, so that my HD800 can hear only what they're supposed to hear.

    The discontinued Audioquest Diamondback (replaced by the Sydney) has pushed my system a little closer to that ceiling it seems we can never reach.


    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
    GrussGott likes this.
  9. mrinspire
    That is a very detail one Mike. ​
    Me myself will just get the Diamondback or BlueJean.
  10. jcn3

    Agreed. This is here I buy my cables.
  11. jazzwave
  12. Dave Popovich
    I personally am a huge fan of any RCA interconnect built with Belden 1505F cable. The second I started using the stuff, I was in another world. If you are able to make your own cables, you'll save yourself some money, especially since the cable can usually be found for under a dollar a foot. Definitely give it a try. 
  13. zilch0md
    I should give it a try.
    Blue Jeans Cables will make a 1-foot pair of Belden 1505F RCA interconnects with Taversoe connectors for $35.75 (for those of us who don't have great soldering skill).
  14. Deftone
    fisual havana XL

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