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Audio Video Cables and Connections

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Audio Video Connection Types - Summary Chart
HDTV Cables


Signal TypeInformation carriedConnectorPhoto
Analog
or
Digital
Audio / Video
Audio and video information is combined and carried on a single wire.
RF coaxial
"F" Type
AnalogAudio
2-channel Stereo
Left channel (white) and right channel (red)
RCA
DigitalAudio
Multi-channel Bitstream
(Surround sound after decoding)
Typically color coded orange
RCA
DigitalAudio
Multi-channel Bitstream
(Surround sound after decoding)
An optical digital connection sends signals in the form of light, as opposed to electrically. Optical cables have the advantage of being immune to
EM (Electro-Magnetic) and RF interference.
Optical
AnalogAudio
Surround Sound (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Six channel sound, left, right, surround left, surround right, center channel and low frequency effects. Devices which do their own internal decoding send the analog audio via a RCA cable.
RCA
AnalogVideo
Composite
All video information is combined and carried on a single cable. Typically color coded yellow. Capable of 480i and 480p.
RCA
AnalogVideo
S-Video
brightness and color information is carried on separate wires giving better picture results than composite video. Capable of 480i and 480p.
4-pin
AnalogVideo
Component
Video information is carried on 3 separate cables allowing brightness and color information to be processed independently giving better picture quality than composite or S-video. High Definition capable. Breaks the video signal down into base components that include Y (Luminance), Cr(Red Chromanance), and Cb (Blue Chromanance), S-Video only breaks down the signal into Y & C. This further separation allows for the highest resolution analog signal pass through, with true color reproduction. Capable of 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.
RCA
DigitalAudio / Video
Firewire or i.Link
FireWire is a cross-platform implementation of the high-speed serial data bus -- defined by the IEEE 1394-1995, IEEE 1394a-2000, and IEEE 1394b standards -- that can move large amounts of data between computers and peripheral devices such as digital camcorders. It features simplified cabling, hot swapping, and transfer speeds of up to 800 megabits per second (on machines that support 1394b).
6-Pin or
4-Pin
IEEE-1394
DigitalVideo
VGA
Standard computer monitor connection. Also found on HDTVs for hookup to computer.
15-Pin
D-Sub
DigitalVideo
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) offers a high-bandwidth, digital-to-digital video connection. Capable of 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.
Multi-Pin
DVI
DigitalAudio / Video
HDMI
(High Definition Multimedia Interface) adds multi-channel digital audio transmission. It offers greater bandwidth than DVI, enabling it to transmit high-definition uncompressed digital video signals. Capable of 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.
Multi-Pin
HDMI

What is HDMI?
DigitalAudio / Video
USB Universal Serial Bus for high-speed digital data transfers. Competes with and shares some traits of Firewire.
Multi-Pin
USB
DigitalAudio / Video
CAT5, CAT6 Ethernet high-speed digital data transfers.
Multi-Pin
Ethernet


The following chart shows the various cable connection types which can be made between audio and video components. Starting at the top and progressing down, it shows the older, less sophisticated connection types down to the newer, digital connection types. These cables and connectors will connect analog TV, digital HDTV, DVD, Stereo, Home Theater, and other similar hardware.



 RS-170 Cable
RS-170 Cable; RG-59 and RG-6
RF (radio frequency) F-Type connector coaxial cable.

Standard audio/video TV/VCR/Cable-TV connection.

Analog audio and video is transmitted.





   

RF coaxial cable

EIA/TIA-170 Electrical Performance Standards - Monochrome Television.

EIA/TIA-170A NTSC standard used for color television.

Video standard for an Unbalanced, 75 ohm (+/- 10%), Point-to-Point, Coax (Cable) interface.

Standard interconnect for analog TV and VCR. Cable TV connection and satellite TV (RG-6) feed.


More...

AUDIO CONNECTIONS



Analog audio only is transmitted


VIDEO CONNECTIONS





Analog video only is transmitted
 

    RCA Audio cables

RCA connections are the standard means of passing analog line-level audio signals between components. RCA jacks are commonly found on most types of Audio/Video gear.

The audio inputs and A/V inputs found on receivers are RCA connections. Usually, RCA jacks, connectors and cables are grouped in stereo pairs, with one connection for the left audio channel (white) and one for the right audio channel (red). However, some components  use a single mono RCA jack (black) for audio input and/or output.



RCA Video cable

A composite video input or output uses a single standard RCA-style jack (yellow) to pass video signals. This type of connection combines chrominance and luminance information, sending it along a single cable. Though capable of delivering a high-quality picture, composite video is not as accurate as either S-video or component video, both of which provide separate paths for chrominance and luminance.

Commonly found on A/V components like DVD players, VCRs, TVs, DBS systems, etc., composite video jacks are often grouped with corresponding stereo audio jacks (the composite video jack is usually yellow). Though they use standard RCA-type connectors, composite video cables are specially designed to maximize video signal transfer.
       

Digital audio only is transmitted
    Digital Audio


RCA style coaxial cable or Optical (Toslink) cable transmits digital audio to decoder for eventual output. The TOSLINK connection is audibly indistinguishable from coaxial S/PDIF.

Coaxial RCA style cable

 
Optical cable
    Used on DVD players, recorders, digital cable/satellite boxes and Audio/Video receivers. (Dolby Digital and DTS audio surround sound bitstream). TOSLINK, or more properly EIAJ optical, signals have exactly the same format as the electrical S/PDIF signals except, instead of using high/low voltages on copper to represent the binary 1's and 0's of digital information, TOSLINK utilizes a series of on/off pulses of a red transmitting light. Contrary to popular belief, there are no lasers used in audio optical digital transmission. The light source is a simple and inexpensive LED.

 

     
 Composite Video Cable
Composite Video Cable
with stereo audio cables
   

Composite Video

Single "Yellow" (shielded) RCA jack, which is not to be confused with the Audio (Red and White) jacks of the three cable designs, or just a single black cable in the older (1960-1970) audio connections.

Composite Video because it's a composite of the black-and-white information (Y) and the color information (C) transmitted over one cable.

(S-Video is better than Composite Video, and Component Video is better than either of them.)

Found on all DVD players.

S-VIDEO

S-video cable
Analog Video only is transmitted

S-Video jack

   

S-Video

Alternative video connection to composite video, S-Video [Super-video] sends video signals over a multi-wire cable, dividing the video information into two separate [75 ohm coax or twisted pair cables] signals: one for luminance (Light) 'Y' and one for chrominance (Color) 'C'. 

Each signal is sent shielded, enclosed in a 4-pin Mini-DIN. 

S-video is used primarily with Hi8,  S-VHS, MiniDV camcorders, VCR, TV, audio/video receivers and DVD players/recorders.

 

 S-Video Connector

S-Video Pin Assignments

 S-Video Cable
S-Video Cable and Connector Pinout

 
  

COMPONENT VIDEO

Component video cable


Analog Video only is transmitted

   

Component Video

Component Video is also called YPbPr, or YCbCr and transmits the picture information in a luminance and phase-opposite chrominance pair over three coax cables [Red, Green, and Blue].

RGB [Red, Green, Blue] is sometimes also called Component Video, but combine the color, black and white signal.

YPbPr is 'sometimes' used when discussing the three-wire analog video component interface EIA-770 [EIA-770.2-a SMPTE-240M and others]. The luminance (Y) is represented separately from the color components (Pb and Pr).

In some cases The Y output is provided as a Green jack, the Pb is provided as a Blue jack, and the Pr is provided as a Red jack. The 'Y' signal carries the black and white information, The 'Pb' and 'Pr' signals carry the color difference signals.

YCbCr is used when discussing a digital component interface ITU-601 or ITU-656 digital interfaces (formerly CCIR-601, CCIR-656). Y is Luminance, Cb is Blue Chromanance, and Cr is Red Chromanance.

RGB is the component format in which the primary colors (red, green, and blue) are transmitted as three independent components. The color, black and white signals are combined within these three signals. Only using RGB inputs requires separate horizontal and vertical sync inputs. RGB presents a better [TV] signal than the other forms of Component video, S-Video, Composite Video, or RS-170. RGB sends each signal on a separate cable and does not mix the color signals.

 

 

     

DVI
Digital Video



DVI cable


DVI Jack

Found on HDTV, DVD players and computer video cards

   

DVI

DVI: Digital Visual Interface

Digital Visual Interface .. standard for high-speed, high-resolution digital displays. Developed by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG).

Digital Video Broadcasting/Digital Audio-Visual Council (DVB/DAVIC), developed by DAVIC and DVB and adopted by European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

DVI has a number of different types connectors:

DVI-D Digital only connector; 24 pins [modified D style];

DVI-I Digital and Analog [RGB]; 29 pins [modified D style]

DFP Digital only connector

Digital Visual Interface

A data transmission port which supports up to 5 Gigabits/sec speed. Bandwidth of 2.2 Gigabits/sec. is required to support uncompressed HD video transmission. With bandwidth of up to 5 Gbps for a single DVI link, compared to the 400 Megabits/sec. supported by IEEE 1394.

DVI also has the bandwidth to support higher audio fidelity, such as more channels of surround sound or 96 KHz sampling rates, as well as higher video resolution such as 1080p, ensuring less risk of long-term obsolescence. 

There are three different DVI configurations: DVI-A, designed for analog signals, DVI-D, designed for digital signals, and DVI-I (integrated), designed for both analog and digital signals. 

More...

 DVI Connector
DVI Connector

 
    
HDMI
Digital Video and Audio



HDMI CABLE
video and audio are transmitted.


HDMI JACK
    HDMI

H
igh-Definition Multimedia Interface™ Cable.

HDMI uses a smaller connector than the DVI connector. The specification handles high-bandwidth, uncompressed video and multi-channel digital audio as well, all in one cable. HDMI supports HDTV formats (720p, 1080i) with bandwidth to spare for future enhancements.
Found on HDTV, DVD players and home theater receivers.

more...
       
FIREWIRE
Digital Video and Audio


IEEE-1394 4-pin cable 
(iLink or Firewire)


IEEE-1394 jack (4-pin)

Increasingly found on digital cable TV converters and set-top-boxes, HDTV, DVD recorders and DVD-Audio/SACD Universal players and high-end audio/video receivers.

FireWire is a new feature on HDTVs, but it's been around for a number of years in the computer arena. FireWire connectors come in 4-pin and 6-pin configurations.

Unlike DVI, which was designed for one-way transmission of digital video, FireWire is a two-way connection that can be used to route both audio and video. FireWire establishes communication between multiple devices linked on a home network, and the compressed MPEG-2 signals that it carries can easily be recorded on digital videotape or hard-disk recorders.

FireWire connections on digital TVs and set-top boxes support a copy-protection scheme called DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) that's considerably more flexible than the HDCP scheme used for DVI. With DTCP, a movie transmitted in high-def over satellite or cable could be embedded with specific instructions that allow a digital VCR to make one, several, or unlimited copies of the program. But for premium content like pay-per-view movies where greater security is desired, codes could be used to block recording altogether.
    FireWire (Apple) or i.Link (Sony) is a high-speed serial bus that allows for the connection of up to 63 devices. It is widely used for downloading video from digital camcorders to a personal computer or DVD recorder. Also known as the IEEE 1394 standard, the i.Link connector and the High Performance Serial Bus (HPSB), the first version of FireWire supported 100, 200 and 400 Mbits/sec data transfer rates and a distance of 4.5 meters between devices.

IEEE 1394b provides 800, 1,600 and 3,200 Mbps speeds, increases cable distance to 100 meters and can use glass or plastic fiber and Cat 5 Ethernet cable. FireWire 800 was the first implementation of 1394b and became available in 2003. Backward compatible with FireWire 400, earlier devices run at the lower speed.

FireWire Connectors
The 6-pin socket is commonly found on desktop computers. A 4-pin version is used on laptops and audio/video devices. The faster FireWire 800 requires a 9-pin connector. Almost all modern digital camcorders have included this connection since 1995. FireWire is used on the Apple iPod music player.


6 pin Firewire jack

Sony's implementation of the IEEE-1394 is known as i.Link, and uses only the four signal pins, discarding the two pins that provide power to a device.


 
Computer Video



15 pin VGA jack found on some HDTV rear panels for hookup to a computer.
    Used on personal computers, this connection can carry video image data in a variety of formats and resolutions, and is often labeled according to these formats (VGA, SVGA and XGA are the most common 4:3 formats; WVGA, WSVGA and WXGA are their widescreen counterparts). RGB connectivity is becoming increasingly common on high-end TVs as well, facilitating what's commonly referred to as "digital convergence": the integration of formerly separate systems (such as your PC and your home entertainment system) via a single common display device. In other words, you can now compute using your TV as a monitor (and your home theater audio system instead of computer speakers).



Back panel of A/V device showing various connectors
from left to right-
PC audio miniplug, PC monitor input, headphones, S-Video, 
composite video (yellow), analog audio (white & red), 
component video (green, blue, red), analog audio (white & red), 
75 ohm RF coaxial cable input (silver), 12V DC

Audio connections

Home Theater Receiver Guide

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HDTV CablesHigh Definition - HDTVHDTV basic Setup
The cables you use to connect your HDTV depends on what devices you want to hookup to your TV. Use HDMI cable connections whenever possible.
Over-the-Air Antenna VHF/UHF
ATSC broadcasts
Requires ATSC tuner in HDTV
High Definition and Standard Definition programs
Component Video
High Definition and standard definition
Digital Cable TV set-top-box to HDTV
Satellite TV set-top-box to HDTV
DVD player to HDTV
Blu-ray Disc Player to HDTV
Video Game Console to HDTV
Requires Audio connection
HDMI
High Definition and standard definition
Video and up to 8 channel audio
Cable/Satellite set-top-box to HDTV
DVD player to HDTV
Blu-ray Disc player to HDTV


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