High end RCA phono plugs can be expensive. Audiophiles who pay thousands of dollars for a pair of interconnects don't usually give a thought to the phono plugs used with their mega bucks signal cables. If they do, they will assume the plugs used should be of a quality befitting the cost of the cables. This is true but not all the time. Audiophiles who give more thought to the connector plugs would buy some expensive RCA plugs to re-terminate their cables using such exotic materials like rhodium, solid copper, solid brass or better still solid gold!
I offer an alternative that will outperform the best RCA phono plugs that money can buy. Its cost? Zero dollars or close to it anyway- like less than one Singapore dollar. I can imagine all the audio cheapskates out there paying attention now. This connector system came about not to save money on expensive phono plugs but to maximize transfer of the music signal and minimize the coloration caused by even the best of RCA phono plugs. This system allows music signal to be transferred directly via the cable conductor itself. It is simple and the parts required are cheap. Essentially it consists of 4 O-rings(6mm) plus 4 PVC tubing(2 cm length, 2.5mm diam). These are for one pair of interconnects.
I bought the 0-rings for 20 cents each and the PVC tubings were stripped from a cable. Do not use copper or metallic tubing as this were introduce another conductor to confuse matters. I used a pair of Lightning Audio interconnects to demonstrate how this works. This cable consists of two twisted pair in one cable. The positive cable is inserted through the PVC tubing leaving another 1 to 2 cm of wire on the other end. The exposed end is then stripped and folded back on the outside of the PVC tubing. The ground wire is cut so that it extends to about the middle of the PVC tubing. About 1 cm is stripped off the end. I twisted and tinned the end of these bare wires for easy handling. The O ring is then inserted over the live and ground wires. Do the same for the other three ends of the cable. The cable is now ready to be put into work.
The picture below would hopefully make it clear as to how this system works. Insert the live wire into the center of the RCA phono socket. A light resistance should be felt as this is pushed in. You can then be assured of a good contact. If it is too loose, you will need to increase the diameter of the PVC tubing slightly. The ground wire is then tied onto the outside of the socket with the O-ring. Ensure that there is metal to metal contact here, otherwise you will loose ground which can create a very loud humming sound through your system.
The picture below shows the Zero connecting system in action.
The Zero connecting system is called that not because it costs zero dollars but because there are no other metallic conductors being used in the connecting cable. This take away one variable in the audio system.
Being familiar with the performance with the cable used in this test, I was quite taken aback by the improvement in the sound I was able to achieve. The sound was definitely much more easy on the ear. Very musical and liquid. High frequencies were delicate and natural with so much more ambience in the sound.
I would have to conclude that the RCA connectors had a tremendous and negative impact on the sound. And I believe that this system is superior to any expensive and fancy RCA phono plugs on the market.
The only trade off is that doing AB comparison between interconnects become highly inconvenient. But once set up and appreciated, you would leave the cables in there and enjoy the music.
Some things in life can still be cheap and good.
Availability: Check out your local hardware store for the O-rings.