Talk:RCA connector

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In Holland, we commonly refer to these connectors as 'Tulip connectors' ( ). Might be nice to add this somewhere. --Raboof (talk) 19:41, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

What does "RCA" stand for?[edit]

what does RCA stand for? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

It stands for Radio Corporation of America. --Abdull 14:25, 22 May 2005 (UTC)
someone took out the reference to RCA in the article, so I put it in a bit differently, BUT I don't know where to find a refernce to it! I will look in a few books in the next few days, but it has just sort of "been there" all my life..
I do have at least a few "5 Tube" radios with the connector on the back, linked with a capacitor to the grid of the 12SQ7, actually unlabeled on the radio. I recall reding somewhere that some makers even marked the Jack "televison" in the 30s figuring that TV sets would not duplicate the Powerful audio section and 12 inch speaker of a typical console radio.cmacd 13:24, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Standards for audio signals?[edit]

Today, RCA jacks and jack plugs are mostly found on audio/video consumer products. Does anyone know the standards for the audio signals it carries (i.e. lowest and highest voltage, dynamic range handling etc.)? - unfortunately i can't find any articles on the internet regarding analogue audio standards. Thanks, --Abdull 14:25, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

Audio signals on "RCA cables" are usually "line level" signals at about 1V (~0dbm) RMS or so. The source impedance is usually low (less than 1 Kohm or so) and the load impedance is usually high (100 Kohms or more).
"Magnetic phono" levels were also seen back in the days of vinyl records. These are usually about a millivolt or so at quite low impedance.
Digital data is also seen (on the connecton between DVD players and home theater multichannel decoders. These are TTL logic levels at a modest impedance.
Video (both composite and component) also travels on RCA cables; this is usually 1 V P-P at 75 ohms.
Generally, for short distances, any RCA cable can be pursuaded to carry any signal fairly well.
Atlant 13:32, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Could it be made a little more obvious that the cable type is the same regardless of whether the composite video or audio signal is sent through it (other that the sleeve colour)? That's what I came here to find out anyway, and didn't get a definate answer, even though I guess it's obvious. Oh, and I've got a few different RCA cables at the moment so I'll try take a better photo for the article. --Pepsi max2k 07:33, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
The cable isn't necessarily the same, especially for 75 ohm video. And it's not uncommon to see, in stereo+video cables, the video portion of the cable made of different cable than the two audio conductors.
Atlant 21:54, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Better pictures?[edit]

Hi, just wondering if anyone could possibly find some better quality pictures to use on this article - the ones there at the moment seem a bit substandard. 11:22, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Maximum length?[edit]

Anyone know the maximum length for one of these things?!! I have been looking for days....... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The maximum length for an RCA cable is limited by the cable capacitance, the source impedance, and the amount of induced noise. 12 feet is a common upper boundary for pre-made cables but I've built my own cables in the 20-some foot length.
Atlant 13:32, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

How many signals?[edit]

It says here that RCA's need two cable to carry one signal. This is, at least in my experiance, untrue. An RCA can handle one signal and one channel so you would need two RCA's for two channels (Right and Left) to get stereo sound . I have never seen an (audio) appliance connected to an amplifier with more than two RCA's. I don't belive that the "four cables" example is accurate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Reallybadtrip (talkcontribs)

One signal per connector (wire) unless it's digitally-encoded data. So you commonly see 1 conductor RCA cables, two-conductor stereo cables (Red+White), three-conductor stereo+video cables (Red+White+Yellow) or component video cables (Red+Blue+Green), and four conductor stereo "to/"from" cables.
Atlant 13:32, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
The article makes the mention of the four cables in the context of Bi-directional stereo connections, maybe a sentence or two requires clarification? — Mobius 10:04, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

The TERM 'RCA' is used in the EMU sound card manual as is Coaxial for the same connector. I presume the CA in RCA is a ref to CoAxil?.. However the most important point is that a single cable is used to carry TWO Audio signals or a stereo signal using digtal format and in this case is used by the S/PDIF interface on the EMU sound card.. S/PDIF offers coaxial and Toslink digital data transfer options —Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidjary (talkcontribs) 11:46, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Wrong link?[edit]

The link to the article "ST" at the end links to a disambig that doesn't link to the intended article. I'm removing the link for now 19:30, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Here's a site that has more details & specs on the RCA phono connectors thaty may answers some of your questions about standards. It was the only site that answered mine about what was signal & what was ground. Something that SHOULD have been on this site & most of the others I checked.,,sid7_gci786116,00.html —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Better Photo[edit]

The current photo of RCA jacks and plugs is very out of focus and has low contrast. Could it please be replaced with a better image? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Navstar (talkcontribs)

  • Ask the uploader. And please sign your comments! huntersquid 19:57, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

RYW vs RGB[edit]

is possible to use an RBG(M) cable in an RYW(F)? -- 15:47, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

see 'Color coding' below dhutch 17:53, 30 December 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dhutch (talkcontribs)

Connector specification[edit]

Could be more precise on cable and connector specification: how many wires, for example. A picture head-on with the connector wires identified (and easy one for RCA...but S-video cables etc will have more complexity) should be made available (This could be a consistent feature across connector entries)

Balanced vs. Unbalanced[edit]

While balanced/unbalanced audio signals should (and do) have their own wiki articles, this article should include a reference to the fact that using RCA connectors for audio implies that the connection will be unbalanced.

Snottywong 18:56, 27 March 2007 (UTC)


Video is normaly 75 ohms, Sync Positive 1.4 v Peak to Peak, no matter what sort of connector is used. .. In the good old days, it was carried on UHF or BNC connctors. I think the Apple ][ was the first place I saw an RCA used for Video, and the place I worked sold rca-BNC and RCA to F connctors the later as the RF modulator for the apple also put it's signal out on an RCA. If you wanted to mention the video impredence, it should probaly be in the terms of "standard Video". The 1.4 V BTW is 1 volt for the picture, and .4 volts for the sync. The old RCA radios connected the jack to the grid of the 12SQ7 with a 0.5MFD cap, so they were High impedence by default. Normaly low impedence is associated with ballanced circuts. cmacd 18:28, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

Color coding[edit]

If this isn't already in the article, someone should add it. When you have RCA cables that are red, green, and blue instead of red, white, and yellow, the conversion is this:

  • red » red
  • green » white
  • blue » yellow

Meaning, plug a green cord into the white input on your tv or device, plug blue into yellow, and red into red.

Source: [1]

actually it doesn't matter, the idea of a conversion is just silly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:18, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

the idea of an adopted standard for using miss-coloured cables isnt totaly stupid, partiuarly if there is more than one person working on a job or the cable run large, however other than its being common to adopt red-red i havnt noticed any patern in my place of work. That alone however isnt useless, at you would typicaly notice a mix up between video and audio (white/yellow) where a swap of audio channels (white/red) could go unnoticed for some time, while sounding poor, particualarly inconjuction with other audio (ie, rear channels, or room sound) dhutch 17:52, 30 December 2009 (UTC)


When wiring RCA cables, you typically use the terms "tip" and "sleve" to referr to the inner part, and the outer part. For audio uses, the tip is negative (-) while the sleve is positive/hot (+). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Huh? Audio typically means alternating current so the concepts of "+" and "-" aren't very meaningful. In any case, the tip (prong) carries the signal and the sleeve (ring) carries the reference voltage (~ground).Atlant (talk) 19:26, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes the concepts of "+" and "-" are perfectly meaningful in audio. Read more. (talk) 15:30, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
As rca/phono plugs are used for such a wide range of audio applicatoins its hard to know where you refering to but typically when wiring speakers the pin that when positive generates forward cone movement is labled as positive (+ve). However I would typicaly agree that it is the sleave that is -ve or ground and that applying a positive voltage/signal to the pin would lead to forwards cone movment. Ive just tested this on a pair of alteclansing2100 computer speakers and they conform to that understanding (postive voltage on the pin with the sleave grounded premotes forward cone movment)dhutch 17:47, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Outside the US[edit]

outside the US they're only know as Phono or Composite —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:17, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

The lead is also very confused, as it starts about the jack (female) connector, but then compares to phone plugs before introducing the plug (male) side. It needs a good rewrite. Dicklyon (talk) 05:29, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Not true. They are pretty consistently referred to as "RCA cables" or "stereo cables" (never as "phono" and rarely "composite") where I live. If you asked me for a "phono cable", I'd hand you a DIN-5 cable. I think the article should be untagged. (talk) 23:36, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm a professional live sound audio engineer who grew up and lives within California and I've heard both "RCA" and "Phono" but never "Composite" to refer to an RCA jack. To me, "Composite" means a video signal format that can appear on a connector which is sometimes a bayonet (BNC) style, rarely an 'F' connector and sometimes an RCA connector, especially if the gear is consumer or 'prosumer' level. Calling the video jack "Composite" is like calling the audio jack "Consumer line level"! Also, around here, "stereo patch cables" typically means a parallel pair of coaxial cables one to five meters long with male RCA connectors at the ends, four total. Asking for phono never results in a DIN-5 connector with anybody I've ever worked with. Just adding another data point... Binksternet (talk) 04:30, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

In the UK they are called Phono (i worked in an electronics shop, maplin electronics and thats what we labelled the boxes as). This term is also used in the hi-fi world (check the "Richer Sounds" chain website) Oddly, we are the opposite of the US insofar that in the professional sound world, asking for a phono lead CAN get you a DIN plug (i think because a lot of european gear back when hi-fi began used DIN plugs almost exclusively instead of Phono/RCA plugs (this was the trend until the late 80s) (talk) 03:45, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

In Germany, Switzerland and other continental european countries they are mostly referred to as Cinch, sometimes "chinch". If you'd ask a clerk for an RCA they'd just not understand. Not so for "Jack" vs "Klinkenstecker", they are both quite common. -- (talk) 21:29, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

In the Netherlands I have never heard RCA plug used. Cinch plug or tulip plug are both common. (talk) 19:32, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

Ive worked in venue sound and lighting rigging four about three years and never heard it called RCA, always phono. Or somtimes if talking about a set of them for AV occataionly as 'conponent'. Refering to both 2audio+video setups and multi component video setups with and without audio. Slightly confusing as 'component' is also a valid term for component av using BNC conectors. dhutch 17:39, 30 December 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dhutch (talkcontribs)

Should we even be listing a non-English name for this thing in the English wiki? Why? I don't think this helps comprehension, and should be left to the other language versions of the article. -- tooki (talk) 22:22, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
It's not a question of "non-English". "Cinch" here is not a foreign language word, it is simply the name of another company which which, in some places, there is strong association with these connectors. This name for these connectors is also not-unheard-of in the UK [2]. There would be no harm in including other, country-specific, valid terms for the connector (suh as "tulip connector") but calling it e..g a "phono" or "composite" connector is simply illiterate; those are signal types for which many different connectors can be and have been used. However "phono" should be included as a misleading, but common, name, because (among other reasons) we have a redirect here from that name (because it is very common). Jeh (talk) 22:50, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

Colour scheme in the UK[edit]

I live in the UK and am confused by the different standards which operate here.

One standard is for AV cables, which uses 3 cables. These use a yellow, white and red scheme. Yellow is video, white is left audio and red is right audio.

Another standard is solely for audio cables, which use two cables: a black and a red. Presumably one is for left audio and one is for right. I am, however, not sure which way round they are meant to go. Is the black left or right audio? (This article contains no reference to it and I have no idea which search terms to use on google - audio related terminology is not my strong point.) -- (talk) 02:03, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Sine the electrical characteristics are the same, regardless of color, it is only important that the each end of a given cable be plugged into the appropriate socket. It is easier to remember for me when red = right and black = left, but, again, as long as we are "only" talking about analog audio, it doesn't matter.

As for the absurd, ridiculous and annoying tag about the article not reflecting world language use, sigh, I have done audio work in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, US, UK, Malta, Canada and Finland. Sure, each area has a pet name, "Cinch" in Germany, "tulip" in Amsterdam...but every single solitary country knows and everybody everywhere calls them RCA cables. Remove the stupid tag or justify it. Honestly, the bloody things have been spreading lately like the plague. I think we should institute some sort of policy requiring the posting of concrete grounds for objecting with concrete proposals of solutions as prerequisite for all these labels. I do wish th purists in both the US and UK would finally accept that whoever writes the article first, chooses the dialect.

I feel much the same way and I've taken the tag off the page. Binksternet (talk) 05:58, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Cable usage[edit]

This page does not mention the usual cable connected to such a connector. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:06, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, i think it worth mentioned this ultimatly, one of the main point of rca (phono) conectors is that the inner pin remains shelded. Other than when used for wiring contections to speakers where 'bell wire' type cable is common i dont think ive ever seen other than shelded cable used. (though not high spec co-ax cable) dhutch 17:33, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Single female jack[edit]

One of my TVs only has a single white female jack, instead of a white and red female jacks. I'm not an expert, but shouldn't the article cover what the difference is? --Scandum (talk) 04:58, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

It already does. If it only has a white one, thats because it only has 1 audio channel (its mono, not stereo). This is the norm on smaller and/or older tvs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:48, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Better Date?[edit]

Article states 'by the 1940s'. I have old radios from the late 1930s that have an RCA jack - does anyone know an exact date they came out? (talk) 04:57, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

red = right mnemonic =[edit]

"in all three cases, red denotes right" presumably this is because they both start with the same letter so it's easy to remember? But I don't know how to reference that to put it in the article. (talk) 15:30, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

official sizes[edit]

Is there any official standard for the size of this RCA / Cinch connector? For the plug I do find e.g. 0.125" for the inner pin (3.175 mm) and 1/3" for the female outer size (8.467 mm). Others name 3.2 or 3.7 mm for the pin, 8.7 mm for the outer size, 0.415"/0.425" for the inner plug dimension (10.54 mm/10.8 mm) and 0.445" for the outer size of the contact (11.303 mm) - and that's just a first random selection. Isn't there an IEC, DIN, EU standard? --Traut (talk) 10:15, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Signal levels[edit]

I am reading that the RCA socket is expecting 1 Volt (RMS or peak to peak?), but I have HiFi gear that has 150mV sensitivity. What is the standard? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:30, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Current carrying capacity?[edit]

What kind of current can these connectors take using DC Voltages of around 12V? This would be in conjunction with decent cables made myself rather than the the pre-made ones which frequently have thin wiring which would limit the current carrying capability. User alan smith (talk) 13:15, 6 December 2015 (UTC) alan smith

RCA is not made for higher currents. There may be certain female plugs with higher quality, but the usual contacts are not for frequent changes and not for multiple conducting points or areas. Personally, I used it for 12 V, 2 A, but would not recommend much more. If you want higher currents, take e.g. plugs for battery powered model cars. --Traut (talk) 07:11, 25 May 2017 (UTC)