How do I know which cables to use?

By: Dave Roos
Gold-plated RCA cable connectors
Gold-plated cable connectors are supposed to make your music sound better. But is it true?
© iStockphoto/alptraum

The cable selection at the electronics store could be renamed the "wall of confusion." Not only are there dozens of different kinds of audio/video cable -- some for stereos, some for home theaters, some for HDTVs and some for … who the heck knows? Even if you're lucky enough to find the cable you need, you still have to decide between super expensive and suspiciously cheap.

And then there's the salesman. "Have you heard of silver-plated connectors?" What? "If you're buying speaker wire, then you should also buy these stands that keep the wire from touching the floor." Why? "The more expensive the cable, the better the sound." Really?


­In this article, we're going to give it to you straight. We'll explain, in simple terms, what each type of audio/video cable does and where it should be used. Along the way, we'll debunk some cable myths, starting with the idea that the most expensive cable is the best.