Ask LH: Do I Need To Spend A Fortune On Audio Cables For My Car?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to purchase an audio-to-audio cable to connect my phone to my car’s audio. I was wondering if quality is an important factor with these cables? Will I get better results by spending more money? Thanks, Cable Guy

Dear CG,

“Premium” 3.5mm stereo audio cables are usually a snake-oil rip off. You’re not going to notice the difference, especially in a car environment. That said, the cable needs to be able to match the quality of the signal being passed to it, otherwise sound quality can be affected. We’d therefore avoid no-name brands that only cost a few bucks and have cheap-looking insulation. In addition to causing possible audio issues, these cables are also easier to break.

You should be able to find plenty of lower mid-range cables on eBay and other online retail stores that strike a good balance between affordable cost and reliability. As a general rule of thumb, stay slightly north of “dirt cheap” and you should be fine.

Otherwise, your main concern is making sure the cable is long enough to connect to your phone so be sure to check the measurements when making an online purchase. You might also want to check out our guide to reducing cable clutter in your car.

If any audiophiles want to throw in their own two cents, tell CG how best to pimp his ride in the comments section below.


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