RCA cable: how it works

While trying to connect your audio device to the computer or while trying to connect the speakers to the TV, you have noticed that the connection cable of the device is of a type that you have never seen and that you cannot operate. The cable in question, which features two or three different colored round connectors (usually red, white and yellow), you have found out is called an RCA cable and now you would like to know a little more.

How do you connect devices using this type of cable? How can an RCA cable be used in situations where adequate connectors are not available? If these are some of the questions you are asking yourself, know that you have come across the right guide! Today, in fact, I want to explain how the RCA cable works in detail.

Do not worry if you are not really an expert in audio and video cables: by reading carefully what I am about to tell you, you will surely be able to achieve your goal. So take a few minutes of free time, make yourself comfortable and I guarantee you will quickly learn everything you need to operate with the RCA cable! Enjoy the reading!


  • RCA cable: how it works
  • RCA cable: how to use it
    • How to connect an RCA cable to the microphone input
    • How to connect the audio output with the RCA cable
    • How to connect HDMI and RCA

RCA cable: how it works

Before explaining how to use RCA cables with your devices, let me tell you in detail how the RCA cable works and tell you briefly about it in relation to the other types of connections available.

You should know, in fact, that the RCA cable was one of the first cables to be used for the transport of audio and video streams and, as you will see in the next chapters, it allows the transport of analog signal , unlike most of today’s cables which instead carry the signal in digital form .

If you’ve been using technology for a long time, chances are you’ve already had experience with this type of cable. Older CRT televisions, for example, accepted an audio or video signal from instruments such as tape recorders or cassette players through this technology.

Over time, this cable has lost more and more popularity in favor of more modern technologies suitable for current devices and resolutions, primarily HDMI cables (which, in fact, carry the signal in digital format).

Despite everything, the RCA cable is still widely used. Due to its ability to transmit an analog signal in a very simple way and without the need for special technological implementations, you may also find RCA connectors on modern televisions, or for connecting speakers and amplifiers.

You can recognize these connectors by their typical shape: a small circle with a hole in the middle for the female connector and a circle with a small horizontal plug for the male connector.

RCA technology is very simple, which is why it is widely supported: each RCA cable can typically carry a single signal. To transmit stereo audio , for example, there are always two RCA cables corresponding to the right channel and the left channel. Furthermore, a video signal can also be transmitted via an RCA cable .

You can recognize the type of RCA cable you have available by the color. By convention, in fact, the color of the cable and the RCA connector dedicated to the video is usually yellow ; The red instead identifies the audio signal of the right channel; the left channel is in turn recognizable by the color white or, more rarely, black . A classic example is given by cables that often connect speakers and amplifiers: for each speaker, an RCA cable of the color corresponding to the channel is connected to the RCA input of the amplifier.

If you want more details on the technical side of the matter, I leave you to Wikipedia and its further links.

RCA cable: how to use it

Now that you have a little clearer about the characteristics of the RCA cable, I’d say it’s time to find out how to use it with your devices.

How to connect an RCA cable to the microphone input

Thanks to its very common use since the dawn of technology, the type of signal that the RCA cable transmits is easily usable in various areas.

If you are wondering how to connect your device with RCA output to the microphone input of your PC or any other recording instrument, then know that it is very simple to achieve this and convert the signal of the RCA cable.

All you have to do is get a cable that acts as an adapter between the 3.5mm jack input typical of microphones (the classic small round input, often pink, present on the back of PCs), and the RCA cable.

There are a lot of adapters of this type and it will be very easy for you to find one, for example on Amazon. Before buying it, however, remember to check your RCA cable to choose the correct adapter , with the right connectors.


AmazonBasics 3.5mm to 2 RCA Male Adapter Cable, 4.57 meters

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UGREEN Adapter Cable Jack RCA 3.5mm Male to 2 RCA Female Split …

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Once you have this adapter, all you have to do is connect your RCA device to the inputs of the adapter and connect its output to the microphone input.

The signal transmitted by these cables, in fact, is perfectly compatible and does not require any type of conversion or configuration: it is therefore a passive adaptation .

How to connect the audio output with the RCA cable

If your goal is to connect the audio output, such as the headphone output on your smartphone, to an RCA device such as an amplifier or a bluetooth transmitter , know that the operation is just as simple and does not present any type of problem or complication compared to the previous one.

Again, you can buy an adapter that carries the signal from the 3.5mm jack output of your headphones or device to the RCA input of the device you want to connect.

Furthermore, if you already have an adapter like those proposed in the previous chapter, you can simply buy an RCA cable and connect it to the connectors present in the adapter in question. Always remember to check carefully if you need to buy a cable with male or female connectors .


deleyCON Stereo RCA Audio to Jack Adapter – 3.5mm Jack Connector …

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CSL-Computer Primewire – 1m Stereo RCA Jack to Y Cable – 1 x 3.5mm Jack …

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AmazonBasics – 2 Male to 2 Male RCA Audio Cable, 1.2 meters

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As I explained earlier, the RCA signal does not need any conversions or additional work to be transmitted through these adapters.

All you have to do is connect the adapters taking into account the colors on them and that’s it: the signal is transmitted directly, without even needing an external power supply.

How to connect HDMI and RCA

As for the conversion of the video and audio signal from HDMI to RCA or vice versa, however, the operations to be done remain simple but the type of conversion changes considerably.

You must know, in fact, that the HDMI signal is a digital type signal that is very precisely defined by the HDMI standard. On the other hand, since the RCA signal is of the analog type , it is necessary a device capable of processing the two signals and transforming them into each other effectively.

Unlike the adapters I described to you in the previous chapters, when choosing an adapter for communication between HDMI and RCA, you have to pay attention to the direction of the signal : if you want to connect an RCA output device to an HDMI input, you must get an adapter RCA to HDMI ; if your intention, on the other hand, is to connect an HDMI output to an RCA input, you must get an HDMI to RCA adapter . Fortunately, there are many types at moderate prices.


ESYNiC HDMI to RCA Converter HDMI to AV Adapter Audio Converter …

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Tiancai 1080P AV Composite 3 RCA CVBS to HDMI Digital Signal Video Aud …

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Although the models are different from each other, their functioning is almost identical. Once you have your adapter, in fact, you simply need to connect the power socket to the device and turn it on following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once this is done, connect the RCA cable and the HDMI cable to the connectors on the device: the conversion will start automatically and the signal will be transmitted correctly. In any case, you can refer to the manufacturer’s website or contacts for further clarification. Simple, isn’t it?


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