The LOVECRAFT RCA

The LOVECRAFT RCA

When it comes to connector design, Chris Sommovigo is known for some interesting-if-not-iconic designs spanning back to 1992 when he introduced his first product to the world: the Illuminati Datastream Reference - an extraordinarily rigid digital cable that gained a global reputation as a giant-slayer. The design of the RCA connector on the Datastream Reference was created for the purpose of preserving the 75Ω impedance of the precision cable up to the very point that the connector was inserted into the component.

In 1999, Chris introduced a new cable brand to the world: Stereovox

With these analog cable design, Chris would introduce a new RCA connector design, manufactured under his new "Xhadow" brand name. This square-barreled connector was the envy of the industry, with many of his cable-making colleagues asking if they might be able to buy the connector from him. Though he politely refused to sell it, the reason wasn't what people thought it was (to protect the uniqueness of his products) - the reason was that the connector was built very specifically to fit his SEI-600 cable, and its complex 12-piece construction and press-fit assembly would mean that his colleagues would curse his name from sunrise to sunset after trying to use them.

A few years later, Chris came up with an updated design that would not only be much easier to use ... it would feature a unique design element that was included as a performance upgrade: a multi-ridged signal pin with an internal set-screw for best possible contact between the cable's conductor and the pin. Chris brought this design to his friend and industry colleague to be marketed under the brand he originally established, Xhadow. In the ensuing few years Chris designed a few more connectors for Xhadow, including the first truly audiophile XLR connector (so loved that it has been copied by another famous maker), a beautiful spade, and a banana plug. That was over a decade ago (as of this writing), and Chris has done much thinking about how to improve those designs.

For years little notebooks were filled with ideas, complicated and simple, as he indulged in his peculiar passion for connector design. As with all good designs, the complicated thoughts were thrown away and the simple ones were further simplified until something worthwhile emerged: the Lovecraft RCA

Much ink, virtual and actual, has been spilled on the mistaken notion that the ground plane is a critical feature of an RCA design, and that the traditional design-approach to an RCA's ground plane is responsible for the creation of eddy-currents in the ground plane (which, in turn, would theoretically cause the induction of unintentional currents in the ground plane). The "cure" for this was apparently a single-point of ground-contact on the RCA connector - a ground "pin" of sorts - which would reduce the profile of the ground plane on the connector and make inductive coupling nearly impossible.

Except not. The RCA must make contact with an RCA jack, all of which were designed and manufactured with a circumferential (coaxial) ground contact. Even if the original claim about the induction of eddy-currents were true (this has yet to be demonstrated), the mere fact of RCA jack construction would negate any possible benefit one might gain from this "single-point" ground contact design. Furthermore, if this eddy-current induction were an actual problem (vs. a theoretical one), every coaxial cable in the world would suffer from this issue ... including the ones that were terminated with these magic RCAs. Even twisted-pair cables and braided cables are theoretically susceptible to both inductive and capacitive coupling. It seemed that the claims made for this RCA were mere marketing words that had little to do with the way things work in the practical world.

All of the business of an RCA connector is concentrated at the signal pin, and here is where Chris concentrated his latest design efforts. After many iterations were drawn, what emerged were the following features:

  • Gold Plated Pure Copper: with the exception of pure silver, there is no better conductor in the world than pure copper - including every single alloy of copper (which means brass, bronze, beryllium copper, tellurium copper, and even unobtanium copper). If you're going to make a signal pin for an RCA or XLR, copper is certainly one of your two best choices - all the others are an extremely distant third choice.
  • Ridged Pin: the ridges make creating a fresh, clean contact with the signal receptacle inside the RCA jack very easy by simply slightly twisting the connector gently clockwise and then counterclockwise. The ridges gently scrape the films from the signal receptacle and allow for fresh metal-to-metal contact.
  • Set Screw: as with his prior designs, the set-screw makes possible the intimately stressed contact between the signal wire and the contact pin. This ensures that solder is at no point being used as a conductor, but only as a means of creating a gas-tight hermetic seal.
  • Hollow Pin: although some have attributed magical ideas to the construction of a hollow pin in order to sell their RCA designs, Chris makes no pretensions that a hollow pin will impart some magical property to the signal. The pin is hollow for one reason: to allow for the unrestricted flow of solder into the joint. In ordinary (solid) pin designs, the solder cup often causes bubbles to form inside the molten solder application. This is due to the expansion of gases emanating from the flux in the core of the solder. These micro-bubbles are potentially 'fossilized' inside the joint as the solder cools and turns solid because they are not able to overcome the mass of molten solder sitting in front of them. A hollow pin allows for the solder to flow more evenly into the joint, and for the gas bubble to escape before having a chance to be fossilized in the solder as it cools and solidifies.

LOVECRAFT RCAs are a feature on all of Chris' cable designs, and is also available for DIY enthusiasts and industry colleagues. Some customization is possible for industry accounts at a minimum quantity: please inquire via email.