Phono Cable, is it necessary?

Is there a benefit or advantage to have a "phono cable" labeled as and marketed as such? 

Or, will a well shielded interconnect serve the same purpose? If so, any suggestions for grounding?


Good quality phono cables are made for the extremely low voltage of the output from the turntable. The signal from the turntable to the Phonostage are really critical.

Now, on the other hand… it depends on the quality of your turntable and phonostage, as well as the rest of your system.

If you are talking about a $200 table into a $200 Phonostage, that is different than a $2K/$2K, versus a $20K turntable / $20K Phonostage.


The answer depends on your system.

MM cartridges are specified to work at a given capacitance and that includes the capacitance in the phono cable. Typically, you want that to be a low capacitance cable, because many MM phono preamps offer the option to increase capacitance. (Obviously, you can never reduce that at the preamp.)

Shielding is another issue and my advice is: Avoid shielded phono cables when you can. Of course, you may not have a choice if you have noise, hum, or  RFI. But if you're in a quieter environment, or able to take advantage of a phono cartridge's inherently floating output and run it into a truly balanced differential phono preamp, you might get better sound with an unshielded cable.

If you want to be REALLY cheap,

Go to your neighborhood electronics store(if you have one) get a set of component VCR cables(remember those?)

. They're sheilded, so they will be quiet, and actually decent SQ.

$5.99 or so. Spend the savings on LP's.

If you connect directly to tonearm, light for not transmitting any feedback and flexible and light if your turntable has a suspension. If connecting to rca on your turntable’s plinth most good interconnects would do. Keep distances reasonably short and check ones with lower capacity. Of course this cable is very important depending on the rest of your set up.

VPI Prime/ VPI Shyla cart and Manley Chinook...Should I just go with the VPI phono cable? 

@larseand - Many years ago I had a a Rega RB250 arm with the standard Rega cable offering.

I upgraded the cable to a Cardas one piece harness into the RB250 Arm and the improvement was most noticeable

I have since replaced that arm with an Audiomods Series III arm that came with a one piece harness and again, the improvements were very noticeable.

So, from my perspective, investing in a very good cable from the cartridge to the phono stage is well worth the expense.

It also allows you to hear any improvements in either cartridge or phono stage upgrades you might pursue in the future with ease.

From my perspective, cables are the arteries of the entire system and without great cables you might as well be listeining to the radio in your car

Regards - Steve


The VPI cable is probably equivalent to an Audioquest in the same price point.

Since you're willing to spend that much-

For a little more you could also look used for something like this for half of the original price msrp.

Nordost - Heimdall 2 1.25m Phono Cable Like New For Sale - US Audio Mart

Offer $500 WITH shipping- nothing wrong with negotiating an agreeable price. 

"VPI Prime/ VPI Shyla cart and Manley Chinook"

I know that table/phonostage combo well. Any of the name brands pricey/budget will get the job done. The SQ differences are so minute(subjective) it's not worth fussing over. Of course if you use something really cheap/inferior you may hear loss in SQ. 

Not until you have a $50K+ rig do you get neurotic about such things.