DIN or RCA phono plug--which is 'better'?

I'm wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages of each termination. To start, it looks like the DIN would be harder to clean. Is DIN inherently superior?
Psych -- from another thread:

The DIN either does or doesn't come with your tonearm, which is pretty much the only place you find them in audio these days (except certain specialty umbilical cords.)

So if your tonearm requires a DIN connector,it seems like it'd be hard to avoid using it. I like DIN because I believe they have better energy transfer than RCA and that becomes important where tiny phono cartridge signals are involved. The shielding is better too.

I wouldn't let it be a factor in choosing a tonearm though.

Clean the female side first by plugging/unplugging a cleaned male side with a little solution on it. Then wipe off the male side with a Q-tip before making the final connection.
The tonearm connector isn't a DIN, nor is it even a JIS. It is something which appears to have been designed as a tonearm-specific electrical connector. I believe that the company that designed it was called Denon Parts (no relation to the other more famous Denon).

You can find real DIN connectors and connectors used on products by Naim Audio, DNM, and probably others. If you look into these brands, you may find some reasons for why they prefer DINs over RCAs.

regards and hth, jonathan carr
One of my cable suppliers says DIN is superior to RCA in tonearm cable applications.

However, he prefers XLR to both of them.
Jonathan, if the TA connectors we're used to seeing on SME's for instance, aren't real DINs, then what does DIN stand for in that instance, or is it a misuse of the term?
There are many different DIN connectors.

The RCA connector is inherently flawed in that there is no standard i.e. there is no guarantee that a given male will mate snugly with a given female, always a bad thing. There are other connectors that are much better, such as DIN and XLR, but we seem to be stuck with the RCA for single ended equipment. Some manufacturers such as Naim tried to get away from them but it never really caught on. Now Naim equipment comes with DIN and RCA connections.
Thanks, guys. I am asking because KAB has finished DIN
& RCA terminal prototypes for the Technics 1200's tonearm. Can choose either one for my deck. Kevin is offering Cardas Litz for the tonearm rewire, seems the Creature is getting to where it should be...at last!

Next is choosing the phono cable. What a mess!!!!


I have not been able to find mention of any such connector in either the DIN or JIS standards. Ditto according to my manufacturing sources in Japan (who just call it "tonearm connector").

I believe that it is a misuse of the term. Probably one of those cases where someone calls an item by the wrong name, no qualified individual is available to contest the misinformation, and it spreads into general use. Not so uncommon on the internet.

regards and hth, jonathan carr
Jonathan whatever the cause, please don't blame the internet -- the SME factory has been calling them DIN plugs since 1990 (and probably before):

"The high quality linear crystal oxygen-free copper audio lead selected for its electrical and mechanical characteristics is terminated at one end with SME right-angle 5-pole DIN contra-plug and gold-plated phono plugs at the other."

One would think that in over 16 years, someone would have called them on it, no? Seems weird to me. Also (checking Google) there is no shortage of both manufacturers and distributors of this item who are gleefully referring to it the same way as SME. Surely the DIN people would have made them cease and desist by now, if it were untrue. Are we talking about the same thing?

I don't work within the EU, so I cannot claim to know the DIN data books inside and out. But I do work with a company who manufactures the actual tonearm connectors (and supplies various tonearm and cable manufacturers with same). Absolutely no mention of "DIN" from these guys. None. From the DIN connector books that I have looked at personally, the tonearm connector does not appear to be covered under DIN. Ditto also for the JIS books.

Now if anyone knows of the specification number for this connector under either the JIS or DIN system, I'd be happy to check it out and verify it.

There is a certain DIN connector specification which if modified, will give you something fairly close to the tonearm connector. I reckon that it is possible that the design of the tonearm connector was partly derived from this DIN connector. But if I recall correctly, although there were similarities, there were also non-trivial differences.

As far as I have seen, the tonearm connector has been in use in tonearms from at least the mid 70s, and may be even older. I have an original FR-64s (an Ikeda design) which has this connector.

BTW, SME does buy some of its componentry from Japan - I thought that they used Ito (who produced the Ittok for Linn). SME could be making the connector themselves, or sourcing it from somewhere in Europe, but it could also be from Japan.

As for challenging people on anything, one has to consider whether it is worth the effort, especially since if it is of no direct benefit to you. And in my case, given the same amount of time and effort, I could certainly be doing other, far more interesting and productive things, like design and development. Beyond a certain point, arguing is a waste of time and boring.

And pragmatically, as long as you're not involved in manufacturing the tonearm connectors or incorporating them into your own arm design, and you (and the people that you talk to) know what kind of thing the DIN / tonearm connector is, maybe that's sufficient.

regards, jonathan carr
Jonathan, thanks for your explanation. I know it's a drag to repeat things you've explained before; I do it when I have time, especially if I sense the person asking is really curious, whatever their reason. If you wanted to save time, you could have just referred me to your post on AA (which I found by myself;--) I wasn't arguing with you, just curious about something that I always assumed. And so have many others I bet, even including the person who posted this thread. So if you say those assumptions are untrue, I'm naturally curious.

Sorry to take you away from your other duties, but if you're going to post in these forums, you will find that there are many who wish to be informed beyond accepting simple pronouncements. Additionally, your remark held special interest for me beyond audio, as I'm otherwise concerned with tracking the increasing misuse (to put it mildly!) of intellectual property, international patents, copyrights, etc. So this seemed to me worth looking into for reasons other than idle curiosity, -- not that I think there need be any justification for the pursuit of knowledge.

BTW, I have made my own TA cable sets, using Tiffany "DIN" connectors (or whatever they are) and I'm pretty sure van den Hul makes up the TA sets for SME (at least the IV and the V arms) but vdH only refers to them in their catalog as "tonearm connectors", while Clearaudio and Cardas both call theirs DIN. My other experiences tell me the DIN organization DOES MIND the misuse of their mark (even if you don't) but as long as it doesn't expose them to liability, it's probably too limited an issue for them to try and fix.

On one hand, I'm sure Kimberly-Clark is delighted that most people refer to all facial tissue as "Kleenex." On the other hand, I'll bet that you (and a lot of other innovative cartridge designers) would be very angry if everyone referred to any MC cartridge as an "Ortophon" ;--)
I like the DIN because it is a 4-pin + shield. So you can run twisted pairs separately on each channel, not mix grounds, and run a separate shield.