How to Choose Video and Audio Cable for VCR, DVD, TV, HDTV

There are different types of video connections for your VCR, DVD, TV and HDTV equipment. Ranking video cables from lowest to highest picture quality:

  1. Composite Video (RCA or F-pin)
  2. S-Video (Super-Video)
  3. Component Video
  4. DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
  5. HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)


Provided below are explanations of the different types of available video and audio cable connections:

  1. Composite Video (RCA jack plug, or F-pin)
    f-pin video cableComposite Video is the format of an analog television signal before it is modulated onto an RF carrier. Composite Video is video information transmitted as a single signal over one wire. Most older home video equipment (VCR and laserdisc) record a signal in Composite Video format and then give the user the option of outputting the raw signal, or mixing it with RF to appear on a selected TV channel. The composite video signal is typically connected using an RCA jack, normally yellow (often accompanied with red and white for right and left audio channels, respectively).

    The process of modulating RF with the original video signal, and then demodulating the original signal again in the TV, introduces several losses into the signal. RF is "noisy" because of all of the video and radio signals already being broadcast, so this conversion typically adds noise or interference to the signal. As the modulation and demodulation of RF loses quality, the mixing of the various signals into the original composite signal causes quality loss. This has led to new video cable systems such as S-Video and Component Video to separate out one or more of the mixed signals.

  3. S-Video (Super-Video)
    s-video cable S-Video is a technology for transmitting video signals over a cable by dividing the video information into two separate signals: one for color (chrominance), and the other for brightness (luminance). When sent to a television, this produces sharper images than Composite Video, where the video information is transmitted as a single signal over one wire. This is because televisions are designed to display separate Luminance (Y) and Chrominance (C) signals. (The terms Y/C video and S-Video are the same.)

    Computer monitors are designed for RGB (short for Red, Green, Blue monitor) signals. Most digital video devices such as digital cameras and game players produce video in RGB format. The images are clearer when displayed on a computer monitor. When displayed on a standard television, however, they look better in S-Video format than in Composite Video format.

    To use S-Video, the device sending the signals must support S-Video output and the device receiving the signals must have an S-Video input jack. Then you need an S-Video cable to connect the two devices.

    S-video cable is capable of running over 200 feet with little signal loss. S-Video cable doesn't always come standard with a TV, and usually must be purchased separately.

  5. Component Video
    Component video cable Component video uses three separate cables to send red, green and blue signals to provide the sharpest, clearest, best possible picture. Not all TVs have Component Video inputs. If your TV doesn't, then use an S-Video cable.
    While Component Video is a high-performance video connection for digital sources such as HDTV and DVD, it’s still an analog-based connection. In order to operate in the digital domain, component video must undergo multiple digital-to-analog conversions that degrade the signal quality. This signal loss can result in decreased resolution and detail, as well as other video problems. The picture quality after several digital-to-analog conversions is similar to looking at a copy of a photocopy - each new copy looks worse than the previous. It is not as sharp and true as the original.

  7. DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
    dvi cable DVI is a digital interface standard to convert analog signals into digital signals to accommodate both analog and digital monitors. The standard specifies a single plug and connector that encompass both the new digital and legacy VGA interfaces, as well as a digital-only plug connector. DVI handles bandwidths in excess of 160 MHz and thus supports UXGA and HDTV with a single set of links. Higher resolutions can be supported with a dual set of links.

    The DVI interface provides a pure digital video connection for a better picture.
    DVI is a pure digital-to-digital signal that delivers a sharp picture and maximum color saturation, maximizing the quality of flat-panel LCD monitors and high-end video graphics cards. Today, DVI is used to transfer the digital video signal from compatible source devices like high-end DVD players to HDTV's, EDTV's, plasma displays and other high-end video displays.

  9. HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
    hdmi cable HDMI is the next best level because HDMI combines Digital Video (DVI) AND Multi-Channel Audio, and more - all into one convenient cable.

    With the DVI video cable, you must hook up the audio using separate cables, since DVI transfers only digital video signals. DVI cables typically don’t exceed 16 feet since longer lengths may result in an unreliable signal.

    HDMI is the first interface to carry high-definition video (720p & 1080i or standard video formats) AND multi-channel surround sound audio. HDMI cables are available in runs of up to 40 feet while still maintaining optimum data transfer.

    Another key convenience feature is the HDMI ability to let components and displays “talk” to each other via the remote control channel (requiring only one remote control for an entire system). HDMI allows your components to automatically find and play back at each other’s highest resolution sound and format all automatically. HDMI is backwards-compatible with DVI, so you don’t have to immediately upgrade existing cables or components until you’re ready.

    HDMI sends uncompressed digital and audio signals across a highest-available-speed interface from source to display - up to 5 gigabytes per second, only half of which is needed for HDTV. The advantage is its ability to send lots of data across a long wire at a very high speed. Since high-definition, high-resolution video and audio is sampled at highest possible rates, the result is a sharper, clearer, more accurate reproduction of the source material than what analog signals and conversions from the digital signal can accommodate.

    HDMI Features:

    • High-resolution audio and video that’s superior to all other available formats.
    • HDMI is a digital signal, so a direct HDMI-to-HDMI connection bypasses performance-mitigating digital-to-analog conversions (or vice versa) for best-quality sound and picture.
    • All audio and video (and the control signal) passes through only one A/V cable, instead of the maze of cables currently needed to connect an entire system. This makes using HDMI far less messy, expensive and complicated than current hook-ups, enabling better wire management.
    • HDMI audio video cable has the ability to automatically find and set component compatibility, and play music and movies in your system’s optimum available formats.
    • Backward-compatibility with DVI, so you can connect new HDMI with existing DVI-compatible components and displays.
    • Works with all existing audio formats, including conventional CDs PCM-encoded data, DTS™ Surround and Dolby Digital®, all other S/PDIF-compatible audio formats. There is enough audio future-application room for up to 8 audio channels (raised from the current standard of 96/24 to 192 KHz/24-bit).
    • High-Definition TV uses less than half of the HDMI 5 Gbps available bandwidth, so HDMI can easily incorporate future new technology advancements and capabilities.
    • Automatic Format Intelligence (TV & A/V Receivers can adjust without consumer intervention) Entire home theater controlled from a single remote - enables high-level functions such as "one-touch play"

If you already have HDMI ready components, or plan on purchasing them in the future, you want the best possible picture and sound available. Maximize the performance of this extraordinary digital interface with the highest quality video cable connections.

Call if you have any questions concerning your Video Cable or Audio Cable needs.