RCA connector caps

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RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:30 pm

I purchased some super cheap RCA caps to protect my connectors from oxidation/gathering dust. I know they sell some very expensive ones that "supposedly improve sound quality". Although I'm not really sure how they would work as non-source selected paths are not in the circuit? Well, these were just simple plastic ones but hopefully they keep the dust off of the connectors at the very least.
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by unclestu52 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:43 pm

All rca jacks, or for that matter all jacks serve as a conduit for potential RF'. Normally you want to shield the jacks to avoid any RFI from entering your component. although with digital gear the center conuctor will often emit RFI. You can make your own RFI blockers by simply taking those el cheapo IC which come with VCR's and like and simply cut off the ends and twist the center conductor awith the outer shield. Don't do this with Tape outs as it will partially short the output signal. In that case , the c]CArdas style caps work best and here again you can make your own by simply not hooking up the center pin to the outer shield and simply blocking the reqr opening of the RCA jack.

For digital outputs I normally solder on a tiny 75 ohm resister from the center pin to the ground shield. It works very well, although for video outs you may want to use a slightly higher value of resisters ( I used 110 ohm with no issues).

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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:44 am

So basically making your own RCA caps that connect the outer ground and inner pin are only worthwhile if you are having RFI issues. In other words, if the system is silent (on, but with no music playing) then it's probably not worth doing, correct? This would sound like an interesting DIY project but I have so many RCA connectors on all my electronics it would take me quite some time to do!
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by unclestu52 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:20 pm

Not at all: RFI can enter your system and cause issues which may not be audible in an in your face way. RFI contamination often manifests itself in an edginess and sometimes even a loss in deep bass. RFI entering your system may lie far above the range of human hearing, particularly if you're like me and getting along in age. RFI can create subharmonics which interfere in the audible bandwidth, normally in a subtractive manner.

Lowering the amount of RFI entering your components, yields increases in fine detail and resolution , giving greater dimensionality and better tonality.
For tube power amps, the output transformers naturally roll off much of the super sonic frequencies, not so with preamps.

Then consider the proliferation of cell phones and wi fi: the amount of RF pollution has grown significantly in the past decade. If anything, cap off your video and digital gear first. Cardas even made S video shorting caps at one time. All the video and digital outputs of all the associated components are broadcasting an RF signal ( very few players have the option to turn off the digital outputs). Since those components are likely to be closer to your audio gear, try to nip the sources at the bud, so to speak.

The RF environment has grown increasingly cluttered, and insidious these days. A peek i the internals of most digital gear and DACs shows that the manufacturers employ extensive filtering networks ( usually a simple resister and cap) to roll off the high frequencies of the analog output stages so counter the effects of RF present even internally in those devices. If you use phono, then the effect is truly insidious.

Of course YMMV,

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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:09 am

Ok, so now you have me considering to do this RCA cap project. :) I guess I have some questions first. Did you notice a significant improvement in the sound quality after you made these specialized caps? As I mentioned before I do not appreciate any obvious RFI, but from your statements above it seems that you don't necessarily have to hear "static" for there to be a problem. Also, do all the plugs need to be covered. In other words, is it an all or nothing kind of thing. The reason I ask is that in addition to the CJ preamp which has a number of inputs, I also have my Oppo player which has a good number of output (digital and analog). It sounds like I would need to make a pretty significant number of these so it's not a project I would want to spend my money/time on unless I can expect an improvement.
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by Ray » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:39 pm

There are lots of various types of RCA caps, some shorting, some not...I recall seeing some for around a buck a piece. Cardas makes some as well.
I fell into this a few years ago, and experimented with caps, no caps, shorting caps...yadda, yadda. Short of "Audiophile Imagination" now and then, they had zero affect on sound in my system.

I forgot what I paid for the ones have, but it wasn't crazy, and, if doing it today I'd probably just buy the buck-a-piece ones from ebay. At the time it seemed almost cheaper to buy then to try and make my own.

There are various types around, brass/gold, rhodium/copper, professional audio grade shorting caps...yadda yadda, I'm sure the rhodium sounds better than the gold, on Tuesdays during the summer months. :lol: In winter you'll need to switch to professional grade, but only between November 21st and January 3rd. :P

....so at this point, I still have the unused RCA jacks on my GAT covered with the non shorting Cardas caps...really only because I already bought them a couple years ago and they need to be "somewhere". At this point I consider them to be "dust covers" only.
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:26 am

Hmmm. This makes me really think about the entire situation. I don't want to spend a lot of money or time getting something that doesn't change anything... I wonder if this is one of those things that prehaps in the right system with a lot of RFI problems it does help, yet in most systems does nothing. Now that I have "dust covers" already, I'm wondering if making the investment into shorting caps would offer any benefit. I have things in my system that have improved the sound significantly such as better interconnects, but I also have some "voodoo" items like cable risers that I really don't hear any sonic difference with when listening to music.

I have to admit that it would be nice to get these sooner than later as November 21st is fast approaching! :)
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Re:non shoprting caps

Post by unclestu52 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:02 pm

Non shorting caps shield the center RCA pins without incurring any issues, primarily with tape outputs which are normally live. Shorting center pin caps should never be used with ANY tape output jacks as you will short out the output signal of your preamp reducing gain.

As previously stated, the first priority should be sources of RFI. Cover the RCA's and other outputs of your digital and video gear. The RFI can enter your component even through cooling slots in the chassis. There is a small but audible difference in that the sound becomes sweeter and there is more ambiance retrieval especially to the tonality of the various players. AS an experiment once I placed a piece of lead flashing in front of the faceplate of my CD player: the faceplate itself radiates a lot of RFI and you can hear the difference. I notice that some higher end DVD players and SACD players incorporate a metal plate between the internal main boards and the front panel display, apparently for the shielding effect (Marantz, Sony, and Esoteric).

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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:54 am

I got the plastic rca caps in the mail this week. It took a little longer than I expected as it was sent with a required signature and I wasn't home with the initial delivery attempt. I payed less than $5 for 60 of them sent from Hong Kong and they require a signature? Seemed a little weird, but ok.

I put these on some of my equipment and tried to take some pictures (sorry about the bad quality but it's hard to get light into the back of my rack). Acoustic wise these don't do anything, but hopefully they'll keep the rca jacks dust free and keep them clean when I'm changing cables.

Here are some before and after pics.
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by tzdvl » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:02 pm

If you're really interested in trying out some of the non-shorting RCA caps, might as well start with the best.

I'd go with "film-and-foil" caps, myself...

Wrap the RCA jack with a layer of aluminum foil, and secure with cellophane tape (or package-sealing tape, which is polypropylene-based, for the truly hard-core)! :mrgreen:
Last edited by tzdvl on Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by admin » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:49 am

tzdvl wrote:If you're really interested in trying out some of the non-shorting RCA caps, might as well start with the best.

I'd go with "film-and-foil", myself...

Wrap the RCA jack with a layer of aluminum foil, and secure with cellophane tape (or package-sealing tape, which is polypropylene-based, for the truly hard-core)! :mrgreen:
Well, the final results would have been the same, so I think your method would have worked just as well!
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Re: RCA connector caps

Post by alexwu21 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:03 am

Let me try to find some as well... thanks for the advice..

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