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ROCKDALE EUROPE LIMITED

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Englands Lane, Gorleston,

Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR31 6NE

Tel: 01493 653484 Fax: 01493 667750

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VIDEO CABLES

Video Cables carry electronic signals from a video source, like a DVD player or cable box, to your TV. Selecting the right cable is an essential step in getting the most out of home theatre equipment. Even with a top-of-the-line TV and Blu-ray player, you won’t get optimal picture quality if the signal is travelling through the wrong type of cable. This buying guide explains the available video cable options, so you can feel confident you’re selecting the cable that meets your needs.

Factors to Consider

Signal Quality – Screen resolution, interlaced and progressive
Cable Types – Analogue video cables and digital video cables
Cable Construction – Materials and length

Signal Quality

The video jacks on TVs have evolved from a single cable/antenna jack to seven standard connection types, designed to transmit varying qualities of video signals. For each type of connection, there is a corresponding type of interconnect video cable—a cable that carries the signal from your video source or A/V receiver to your TV. For optimal video quality, select an interconnect cable that fits the best quality connection available on both your video source and your TV.

The chief measure of video quality is screen resolution, represented as the number of vertical scan lines displayed on the screen. A scan line is made up of thousands of individual dots of light, called pixels. A higher resolution, or greater number of scan lines stacked from the bottom of the screen to the top, includes more pixels of visual information, which provides a clearer picture.

Video quality also depends on whether the picture is interlaced or progressive:

• In an interlaced picture, the TV generates half of the scan lines in one pass, skipping every other line. Then it generates the other half of the scan lines. The resulting video has 30 full frames per second, broken into 60 interlaced fields.

• In a progressive picture, the TV generates all scan lines simultaneously. With 60 full frames of video a second, progressive video is clearer and smoother than interlaced video at the same resolution.

There are seven standard signal resolutions. An “i” indicates an interlaced signal and a “p” indicates a progressive-scan picture:

240i – The low-resolution signal used in standard VCRs
480i – The standard resolution for analogue TV signals and non-progressive DVD players
480p –The resolution of digital, non-HD TV signals and progressive-scan DVD players
720i – An HDTV signal resolution option
720p – An HDTV signal resolution option
1080i – An HDTV signal resolution option
1080p – The highest HDTV resolution

Cable Types

To produce a picture with a particular screen resolution, you need three things:
• A video source that generates a signal with that resolution
• A TV capable of displaying that resolution
• A video cable that can transmit that resolution between the video source and the TV

If you use a type of video cable with a lower maximum resolution, it will degrade the signal from the video source down to the cable’s maximum resolution.

Video interconnect cables fall into two basic categories: Analogue cables and digital cables.

Analogue Video Cables

The older of the two cable options, analogue video cables transmit video as a continually fluctuating electronic signal, similar to an undulating wave. An analogue signal is susceptible to interference in the form of electromagnetic and radio frequency waves. This interference can introduce static into a video signal on its way from the video source to the TV. The level of potential interference depends on the shielding materials used in the cable. If there are digital connections on your equipment, it’s best to use a digital cable. For equipment with only analogue connections, you will need to use analogue cables.

There are four basic types of analogue interconnecting cables:

 Coaxial RF cable – Also called coax or F-type, coaxial cable is the most basic interconnect option. When used as an interconnect cable, coax can carry video signals up to 350i, which is lower than an analogue TV signal. In other words, unless you’re connecting a VCR to a TV, coaxial cable will degrade the signal coming from your video source. Coax is also used as long-run cable, transmitting satellite or cable TV signals from your satellite box or connection to the cable company to your cable receiver, satellite receiver or built-in TV tuner. In this capacity, coax cable works very well. For optimal performance, use coax stamped “RG-6,” rather than “RG-59.” RG-6 coax cable includes better shielding, which reduces interference and signal loss.

 Composite – The next step up from coax, composite cable, can carry a 480i signal. This is adequate for analogue TV, but will degrade high-definition signals. Composite cables typically have a yellow connector, and are often combined with a pair of analogue audio cables, with red and white connectors.

 S-Video – Like composite cable, S-Video can carry video signals up to 480i. However, S-Video transmits brightness information and colour information separately, which delivers richer colours than composite cable. S-Video is a good option for digital TV and DVD players when higher-quality connections aren’t available, but it will degrade high-definition signals. S-Video doesn’t carry audio, so must be used in conjunction with separate audio cables.

 Component – The most advanced type of analogue interconnect, component cables can carry up to 1080p, which makes them a good choice for HDTV and other high-definition signals. Like composite cable, component cables are typically combined with red and white analogue audio cables.

Digital Video Cables

For the best possible picture, use digital cables, which transmit video as a series of 1's and 0's This binary signal, the language of computers, is much less susceptible to interference and degradation than an analogue signal. Digital cables can also carry far more data than analogue cables, making them the most advanced cable option available.

There are three types of digital cables in common use:

 HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) – Now the standard for digital cable, HDMI is the best connection option available today. The newest version of HDMI cables (HDMI 1.3) can carry a 1080p video signal and eight channels of audio, with bandwidth to spare. You’ll find HDMI connections on most new HDTV sets, HDTV cable and satellite boxes, and Blu-ray players. Some DVD players also include HDMI jacks.

 DVI (Digital Visual Interface) – Originally developed for computers, DVI was the leading HDTV connection technology before the introduction of HDMI. Unlike HDMI, DVI cables don’t transmit audio signals. HDMI is replacing DVI, but some TVs still include DVI inputs. If your computer and TV both have DVI ports, you can use your TV as a second computer display. With a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, you can run a DVI signal from your computer to an HDMI jack on your TV.

 FireWire – Also known as i.Link and IEEE 1394, FireWire is a connection technology designed to carry high volumes of data. FireWire is rarely used to transmit HDTV signals, but some TVs have FireWire jacks, which allow you to play video directly from some digital camcorders.

AUDIO CABLES

Audio Cables transmit sound signals between components in a home entertainment system. Selecting the right audio cables is an essential step in getting the most out of your equipment. Even with the most advanced home theatre gear and top-of-the-line speakers, you can’t get the full surround sound experience without the proper cables.

Audio cables fall into two basic categories. Interconnect audio cables transmit signals from an audio source, like a CD player or cable TV receiver box, to your A/V receiver or TV. Speaker cable, also known as speaker wire, transmits audio signals from an A/V receiver to separate speakers. This buying guide explains the available options for both types of cable, so you can feel confident you are selecting the cables that best meet your needs.

 Factors to Consider

Audio Formats - Stereo, analogue surround sound, digital surround sound
Interconnect Cable - Analogue cables, digital cables
Speaker Cable - Gauge, cable type, connector type

Audio Formats

The key difference between different interconnect cable options is what kind of audio formats they can carry. Different audio formats have varying numbers of audio channels:
• Most CDs are stereo, which means there are two audio channels encoded on the disc.
• Most DVDs are encoded with digital surround sound, which has six or more separate audio channels.

Surround sound formats include a number designation, like 2.0 or 5.1:
• The first number indicates the audio channels that correspond to directional speakers positioned around a room. For example, the “5” indicates there are 5 speaker channels in that system.
• The “.1” designation indicates an additional low-frequency effects (LFE) channel for the heavy bass sound, typically produced by a subwoofer speaker.
To access a particular sound format, you need three components:
• An audio source, such as a DVD player or cable receiver, that generates a signal in that format.
• The appropriate speaker set-up. For mono and stereo sound, the two speakers on a stereo TV are sufficient. For any surround sound formats, you need an A/V receiver that can read the format and the correct number of connected speakers.
• Interconnect audio cables designed to transmit the format between the audio source and the A/V receiver or TV. To use a particular type of audio cable, you’ll need jacks for that cable design on your audio source and on your A/V receiver or TV.
I
There are two basic categories of interconnect audio cables:

Analogue audio cables transmit sound as a continually fluctuating electronic signal. Analogue cable can’t handle the 6 audio channels in a digital 5.1 surround sound signal and are more susceptible to interference, in the form of electromagnetic and radio frequency waves, than digital cables.

Digital audio cables transmit sound signals as a series of 1's and 0's, the language of computers. These cables can carry the six or more audio channels used in surround sound. This binary signal is also much less susceptible to interference and degradation than an analogue signal.

It is best to use digital audio cables if you have digital connections on your equipment, since these cables will deliver the optimal sound experience. However, analogue cables will work as well, even with a digital TV or video source, such as a Blu-ray player.

Analogue Interconnect Audio Cables

There are four standard analogue interconnect audio cable designs and configurations used in home entertainment systems:
 Coaxial RF cable – Also known as coax or F-type, coaxial RF is the most basic audio/visual cable. Coax can transmit a dual-channel stereo signal, along with an analogue video signal. It is used to carry signals between home theatre components, like cable TV receivers and VCRs, but isn’t generally used with audio components, like CD players and tape decks.  

 Dual RCA cables – The standard analogue audio option, RCA cables typically come in a pair, with a red plug for a right speaker channel and a white plug for a left speaker channel. Dual RCA cables are often combined with a composite video cable with a yellow plug.  

 Multi channel RCA connections – Some home theatre components and A/V receivers have six or more RCA connections, which allow you to use RCA cables to transmit more than two audio channels. This is a standard approach to transmitting the multi channel music formats DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD). Multi channel RCA connections can also handle surround sound signals, but it’s much more common to use digital audio cables instead.

 XLR cables – A mainstay of professional audio equipment, XLR cable connections are a stereo option found on some high-end A/V receivers. In home entertainment systems, XLR is typically used to connect receivers to pre-amplifiers and power amplifiers.  

For optimal sound quality, look for analogue cables made from high-quality materials, which typically do a better job conducting an audio signal and filtering out interference.

Consider the material used in these three parts of the cable:
Conductors – The wires inside the cable that actually carry the audio signal. For optimal results, choose cables with oxygen-free copper cable.
Shielding – Material that filters electromagnetic and radio frequency interference that can degrade an audio signal. For optimal results,choose a cable with at least two shielding layers, such as a braided shield and a foil shield.
Connectors – The part of the cable that plugs into a jack. For optimal results, choose a cable with gold-plated connectors. These will transmit the signal to the audio jack with minimal degradation.

Digital Audio Interconnecting Cables

There are three standard types of digital audio cable:
 Coaxial digital cable – Not to be confused with coaxial RF cable, coaxial digital cable can carry up to six audio channels, making it a good choice for 5.1 digital surround sound. Coaxial digital jacks and plugs are the same size as analogue RCA jacks and plugs, but the cable itself is very different. Typically, a coaxial digital jack will be coloured orange, to distinguish it from the analogue RCA jacks.

 Optical cable – Like coaxial digital cable, optical cable, also called Toslink, can deliver 5.1 digital surround sound. Optical cables transmit the digital audio signal as pulses of light, which ensures a perfect signal. Coaxial digital cable and optical cable are roughly equivalent, and will deliver comparable results.  

 High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable – The best audio cable option available, HDMI can deliver eight separate audio channels, along with a video signal. HDMI is the only type of cable that can handle 6.1 and 7.1 surround sound formats encoded on some Blu-ray DVDs.

Since digital cables aren’t as susceptible to interference as analogue cables, there is less variance in performance between different cable models.

Speaker Cable

Standard speaker cable consists of a pair of wire conductors encased in plastic insulation. When selecting speaker cable, elements to consider are gauge, cable type and connection type.
Gauge and Cable Type

Speaker cable is rated by gauge or wire size, represented by an American Wire Gauge (AWG) number. Wire gauge is a measure of the diameter of the conducting wires inside the cord.
• Wires with a larger diameter can handle greater current than cords with a smaller diameter
• Lower AWG numbers indicate a thicker wire and a higher current capacity, so the lower the number, the higher the cord’s capacity to deliver power

Gauge requirements depend on the length of the speaker cable. Every extra foot of cable increases the electrical resistance, which degrades the signal the cable delivers to the speakers.

• For lengths less than 80-feet, use 16-gauge speaker cable or better
• For lengths between 80 to 200 feet, use 14-gauge cable or better
• For lengths greater than 200 feet, use 12-gauge cable or better
If you need to run speaker cable behind walls or under the floor board, be sure to select cable rated for this purpose. Check the label for an Underwriters Laboratories® listing specifying the cable meets CL2 or CL3 certification requirements.

Connector Type

There are four common types of speaker wire connectors:

To determine your speaker cable connection options, first see what types of speaker cable terminals you have on your A/V receiver and speakers. There are two common terminal designs:
 Spring clips use a simple clamping mechanism, designed to accept bare wire and pin connectors.  

 5-way binding posts use posts with screw-down connectors, designed to accept spade lugs, banana plugs, pin connectors and bare wire.  

For the most secure connection, use a 5-way binding post combined with pin connectors, spade lugs or banana plugs. Stripped bare wire will work well too, but it may become frayed over time, especially when used with spring connectors.

Whatever cable or connector you require

“WE WILL HAVE IT”

Tel: 01493 653484            email: sales@rockdale.co.uk

A brief introduction to Video & Audio Cables & Connectors

Audio connectors and video connectors are electrical connectors (or optical connectors) for carrying audio signal and video signal, of either analogue or digital format. Analogue A/V connectors often use shielded cables to inhibit radio frequency interference (RFI) and noise.

The existence of many different audio and video standards necessitates the definition of hardware interfaces, which define the physical characteristics of the connections between electrical equipment. This includes the types and numbers of wires required along with the strength and frequency of the signal. It also includes the physical design of the plugs and sockets.An interface may define a connector that is used only by that interface (e.g., DVI) or may define a connector that is also used by another interface; for example, RCA connectors are defined both by the composite video and component video interfaces.

Since both analogue and digital signals are used with some styles of connectors, knowledge of the interface used is necessary for a successful transfer of signals. Some interface types use only a distinctive connector or family of connectors, to ensure compatibility. Especially with analogue interfaces, physically interchangeable connectors may not carry compatible signals.

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