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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-
Factors to Consider
• Signal Quality – Screen resolution, interlaced and progressive
• Cable Types – Analogue video cables and digital video cables
• Cable Construction – Materials and length
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-
• 240i – The low-
• 480i – The standard resolution for analogue TV signals and non-
• 480p –The resolution of digital, non-
• 720i – An HDTV signal resolution option
• 720p – An HDTV signal resolution option
• 1080i – An HDTV signal resolution option
• 1080p – The highest HDTV resolution
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-
Composite – The next step up from coax, composite cable, can carry a 480i signal. This is adequate for analogue TV, but will degrade high-
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-
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:
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-
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 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-
Factors to Consider
• Audio Formats -
• Interconnect Cable -
• Speaker Cable -
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-
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-
• 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.
There are two basic categories of interconnect audio 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-
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-
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-
XLR cables – A mainstay of professional audio equipment, XLR cable connections are a stereo option found on some high-
For optimal sound quality, look for analogue cables made from high-
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-
• 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-
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.
Since digital cables aren’t as susceptible to interference as analogue cables, there is less variance in performance between different cable models.
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-
• For lengths between 80 to 200 feet, use 14-
• For lengths greater than 200 feet, use 12-
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.
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.
For the most secure connection, use a 5-
Whatever cable or connector you require
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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.