RCA to 3.5 mm ??

I would like to know your opinions on a particular subject which I know nothing about:
I’m interested in one integrated amp which has no headphone input, and has only analog outputs (RCA and XLR).
I’m also interested in one head-amp/DAC which has no standard analog inputs, only digital ones and 3.5 mm AUX.
If I use a 0.5 m cable to get a signal from integrated amp’s RCA to head-amp’s 3.5 mm port - how close or far would sound quality of such connection be compared to standard RCA-to-RCA?
If I go for such combination, there are some cables, like AudioQuest ("Tower", "Evergreen", "Golden Gate", "Big Sur"...), QED ("Reference Audio J2P"), Oehlbach ("MP3 100"), NorStone ("iRCK 280") and some others, but very few, overall. And the general idea behind them was for the signal to travel FROM 3.5 mm jack TO RCA, not the other way around how I would use it.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this very much. Thank you in advance.
I tried a BUNCH of different things. I found the greatest gratification when faced with a 3.5mm to RCA connection to use standard RCA interconnects and then the Mapleshade 3.5 to RCA pair adapter. It is cryo treated and looks ordinary but sounds noticeably better the any others I’ve tried including designer ones such as Audioquest.

Thank you ultra_fi!

But first I need to know about that type of connection - because if that’s a lousy connection compared to more standard ones, I could try other options. But if there’s nothing wrong in general with RCA-to-3.5mm, then I can go for it and then search for the best cable / adapter.
Based on my experience, the main concern I would have is that the contacts within 3.5mm jacks often (but not always) do not have enough tension to provide a connection that is reliable over time. Especially if there are frequent removals and insertions of the mating plug, or if the weight of the cable and/or adapter is such that significant pressure is exerted on the contacts, or if the cable happens to be yanked on occasion. In some cases I’ve found that simply jiggling a 3.5mm plug with light to moderate pressure can put a huge transient through whatever electronics is downstream, due to intermittency of the ground connection between the plug and jack.

That tends to more true on consumer equipment than on professional audio and video equipment, IME. (And, yes, 3.5 mm jacks are sometimes used on professional equipment, to allow connection of headphones for monitoring, or to provide outputs to recorders, or for other purposes).

The suggestion of using a quality adapter in conjunction with RCA cables strikes me as likely to be a good approach. The concern I would have with respect to the RCA-to-3.5mm cables you mentioned is that depending on their design they MIGHT incorporate an outer shield that is grounded at only one end, which if the cable is truly intended for connection of a 3.5mm output to an RCA input would be the wrong end to be optimal in terms of noise rejection. Whether or not that would make a perceptible difference in your application, though, is anyone’s guess. But you might want to ask some of the manufacturers you mentioned if their adapter cables are designed in that manner.

So to answer your question I don’t think going RCA-to-3.5mm will NECESSARILY compromise either sonics or reliability, but as is usually the case in audio it depends, and is hard to predict.

-- Al
I've already learned a great deal from your replies. Thank you very much for your effort!
Since most 3.5 to RCA interconnects are intended for the 3.5 to be used for the source component, I would use my choice of RCA cables from the source to the adaptor at the ’Sink’.  As Al described, this would allow for proper shielding with the appropriate RCA cables.


Thank you all, I will go with another option, I don’t want to risk with 3.5mm.

You could help me with that too, if you’re willing. I will need to connect a CD player and a Blu-ray player to integrated amp (with DAC) and to a head-amp (with DAC). They all have plenty of analog RCA, coaxial RCA and optical inputs/outputs, so I need to decide what to use. Which type of connection would you recommend for CD player, and which for audio of Blu-ray?
We’re talking about lenghts of 0.4 to 1 meter.
See your other current thread for my answer.

-- Al