1/4 Inch or RCA

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by nathansmind, May 16, 2010.

  1. nathansmind

    nathansmind Active Member

    May 5, 2010
    I've been looking into getting some monitors for my home studio. I would be plugging them into a Tascam Interface. I had never really thought about how monitors were connected, but as I looked at the monitors we have at work I realized that the inputs can come in as XLR, 1/4 inch, or RCA. My interface has only RCA outputs. Will this affect the sound quality? As I've done a little research I have also realized not many Monitors have RCA inputs. Will I be limited if I choose to go in with RCA? Would it work to use a 1/4 inch to RCA Converter?


    Oh, and if you have any suggestions a simple set of monitors that I can mix my personal projects on let me know.

    Happy Recording
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    No point in using an rca to quarter inch converter. The signal is unbalanced and no connector in the world is going to change that. Is it limiting? Slightly. If you have to ask, you probably won't notice the difference anyway. Until you buy a better interface, live with what you have.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I would not choose monitors based on your interface. Buy the best you can afford and then worry about converting/adapting your interface. Many (most?) monitors accept unbalanced input - though usually quarter inch. In this case buy/make quarter inch / RCA MM cables or use adapters. If you get monitors that only accept balanced inputs you will have to buy some sort of DI/buffer.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Personally, I prefer inputs, when dealing with jacks & plugs, that have a greater tendency to lock in/click in. As opposed to a friction fit like the RCA, USB, FireWire, all junk, crap, unreliable. Unavoidable, generally unchangeable. So generally most professional products will include a 1/4 inch or XLR interface. RCA just tells me consumer stuff. Not that it's horrible but it's horrible. Not that it's unreliable but it's unreliable. Fine for the home stereo. Better in goldplating than in Chinese chrome.

    Pay your money. Take your chances.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Apart from sound quality, there are three electrical things to consider:

    (1) Signal levels: RCA outputs imply domestic (-10dBV) levels. Not all pro monitors that expect professional (+4dBu) levels can be fully driven by this, but most have enough adjustable gain to cope.

    (2) Balanced vs. unbalanced inputs: all monitors (balanced or unbalanced) can be connected to unbalanced outputs, although the potential for hum is greater when using unbalanced

    (3) Type of connector: if the monitors only have XLR or TRS jacks, you would need to buy or make up a pair of XLR/TRS to RCA leads.

    Apart from any induced hum, the sound quality will be limited by your Tascam and not by using RCA outputs.

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