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November 14, 2011

Mini to RCA Cable with some ViaBlue Connector Bling

The mini to RCA cable is a great option when you want to plug a portable device like an iPod / MP3 player or portable CD player (anyone still have one of those? ) into your home stereo. Modern smartphones let you stream radio stations and services like Slacker Radio and Pandora, why not plug all those great options right into your stereo?  You may have seen my other Mini to RCA Cable blog post, but I will be putting a little twist on the basic cable design with some beautiful ViaBlue connector bling.

ViaBlue is a relative newcomer in the vast sea of audiophile boutique connectors from companies like Cardas, Kimber and Audioquest. Their connectors are designed in Germany and have a unique visual appeal with their gold plated tips and matte black shells. Building using their connectors requires a little bit more effort than other connectors, at least in my experience. The design makes use of allen head set-screws, which require one to build up a large amount of heatshrink so the screws have something to "bite into" as a strain-relief system. I personally prefer a crimp-around ground terminal or the system that Furutech and Neutrik uses with some of their connectors which compresses a plastic sleeve with plastic ridges that secures the cable, but some sacrifices must be made for good looks I suppose ;) 

My favorite connector that ViaBlue makes, the Y-split cover, specifically the SC-2 Splitter 44920 in this particular build, is great for covering up unsightly "Y" splits where the whole cable run enters and two runs exit. These splitters are perfect for headphone cables, mini-to-RCAs, speaker cables and a variety of other applications. 

The ViaBlue SC-2 Splitter
The other connectors that would be used for this build are the T6S RCA Plugs and the T6S 3.5mm Phono mini plug. All make use of the set screw strain relief system and have the same sleek logo printed on the barrel. 

A bevy of beauties

The wire that would be used for this build is military spec silver plated copper in PTFE dielectric. The cable is a hand-braid of four wires, two for ground (or return), one for left signal and one for right signal. The wire in braided as a four wire litz for about five of the six feet of this cable, the final foot being two twisted pairs. 

Hand braided litz of silver plated copper wire
Once the wire has been braided, it can be sleeved. Black nylon multifilament was chosen for this purpose as the matte black on the connectors will match nicely with the soft black nylon. 

Cable sleeved in black nylon
The first step once the cable is sleeved is to attach the SC2 Splitter where the cable splits. 6 or so layers of heatshrink (preferably adhesive) must be built up so the splitter can get a grip on the cable and not move around once it is completed. 

Heatshrink built up for ViaBlue Splitter

The heatshrink should be as large as possible but still be able to fit through the bottom of the splitter. The gold allen screws are scewed into the heatshrink tightly, but not so tightly that they strip. 

ViaBlue Splitter in place

Next comes the mounting of the RCA connectors. The two gold allen screws are removed to gain access to the solder tabs within the plug. 

Opened ViaBlue RCA

Heatshrink is built up at the ends so the screw can grab onto it, in this case it is 3 pieces of 1/4" heatshrink overtop of 1/8" black nylon multifilament.

Extra heatshrink added to ends of cable 

The black plastic spacer and barrel are slipped onto the wire before soldering.

Wires soldered to the ViaBlue RCA

Everything is lined back up and the screws are replaced in the unit. The other RCA is installed the same way.

ViaBlue RCA fully attached

Next comes the 3.5mm mini connector. 

Opened ViaBlue 3.5mm mini connector

Two layers of 1/4" heatshrink are placed on top of the 3/8" nylon sleeving on this side of the cable. The black plastic spacer and barrel are slipped onto the wire before soldering. The solder connection to the left and right are rather close, so I added a piece of heatshrink to keep them secure and isolated. 

Wires soldered to the ViaBlue mini

The barrel and plastic spacing piece are lined back up and the screws are replaced.

ViaBlue mini fully attached

With all connectors in place, the signal and resistance is checked with a multimeter to verify signal continuity and that there are no shorts. The cable is now complete.

Mini to RCA with ViaBlue connectors

A second angle

I hope you enjoyed this documented step-by-step process on creating a mini to RCA interconnect with ViaBlue connectors. This cable was a special request taken at Zynsonix, where you can purchase the same cable or one built completely around your specifications.

The Fine Print:
The above steps detailing the building of a cable are for entertainment purposes only, and not to be performed under any circumstances. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt the process posted and cause physical harm to yourself, your surroundings or your property. Please keep this in mind.

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