How many daisies before the sound goes rotten?
September 15, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

If I connect my computer to a set of speakers using several sound cables (1/8 inch) daisy-chained together, will the sound degrade?

After months of trouble with my Aiport Express, I'm ditching it and connecting my computer to the speakers manually. The speakers are in the other room, about 30 feet away, and I'm not sure if I can buy a cable that long that has 1/8 inch plug-ins. If I have to daisy-chain several shorter cables together using standard connectors (or "bit"), e.g. maybe 3 10-foot cables, should I anticipate a noticeable loss in sound quality?
posted by Beardman to Technology (7 answers total)
I tried it with a 25 ft cord but it picked up too much radio interference. Maybe somebody here can recommend a shielded cable with 1/8" jacks.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:51 PM on September 15, 2011

Hard to say -- each connector in the chain will provide some degradation, but some people will be a lot more sensitive to that than others. However, I'd recommend checking Monoprice first off for almost any standard cabling need.

Here's an example of a 50' shielded cable (might answer bonobothegreat's problems as well). For about $10 + shipping, it's worth trying this instead of kludging together smaller cables.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:55 PM on September 15, 2011

Can't you just get a long stereo RCA cable and then put an appropriate adaptor on each end?

Way back in the days before the Express, I actually used two 25-foot RCA cables, coupled in the middle and a 1/8 plug on one end (with the RCA jacks at the other). I ran the cable out my bedroom window and through the living room window to the stereo. This was in the late 1990s; I can't remember if there was buzz (but I don't think so).

Check out for whatever cables you need, if you don't know them already.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:56 PM on September 15, 2011

Assuming you have standard mini headphone connectors, try googling "shielded audio cable 3.5mm." I came up with a 50' cable for < $10 on the 1st page. You should do your own shopping, though.

If this is a normal computer speaker setup, i.e. if the amplification is in the speaker, then shielding is probably a good idea. You may have a little signal loss from the wire run but that can be compensated for by cranking the volume. At audio frequencies, I doubt that the inductance / capacitance of the wire will do much to sound quality, but if you care, there are always alternatives.
posted by mr vino at 2:04 PM on September 15, 2011

If you use HDMI (or some other digital output) with extenders, you can go to pretty much an arbitrary distance with 0 degradation.
posted by empath at 2:04 PM on September 15, 2011

You can also go to radioshack and get an adapter for any plug size for like a buck, so you don't really need to buy a 1/8 inch cable. You can get a 1/4inch cable and stick a 1/8 adapter on the end. (or RCA or whatever)
posted by empath at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2011

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