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Guide to Video Cable Assemblies

What are Composite Video Cable Assemblies, S-Video Cable Assemblies, Component Video Cable Assemblies, DVI Video Cable Assemblies, HDMI Video/Audio Cable Assemblies

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Currently there are 5 types of video cable assemblies that are used with home theater systems, computers, TV sets and other video entertainement devices:

  1. Composite Video Cable Assemblies
  2. S-Video Cable Assemblies
  3. Component Video Cable Assemblies
  4. DVI Video Cable Assemblies
  5. HDMI Video/Audio Cable Assemblies

The level of quality you will receive with each of the types is in this order with composite video cables giving you the lowest quality and DVI/HDMI video cables giving you the highest quality of the video signals.

1. Composite Video Cable Assemblies
Let's start at the bottom of the quality food chain: the Composite Video Cable.

Composite Video Cables are the cables that usually come with the DVD player or VCR you have just purchased. They are, what we call, triple RCA cables. There are two thin cables with red and white RCA connectors on them and one thicker yellow cable with RCA connectors. They are all male RCA plugs on all of the ends. The red and white cables are your right and left audio cables, respectively. The yellow is a composite video cable.

If a video system is to be received correctly, three elements of the video system are required. The active video is the picture that is to be displayed on the screen and its associated colors. The sync tells where to put each pixel. And the blanking tells the display when to turn off the electron beam so the viewer can't see the spot retrace across the screen. Each piece can be sent in parallel over three separate connections, though this is somewhat wasteful. Instead, the three pieces are combined together so that only one connection is need. This is composite video.

2. S-Video Cables Assemblies

S-Video cable is the next step up in quality for the video quality. This cable is usually a male/male cable that carries only video signals. This cable transmits chrominance and luminance information separately to minimize loss of picture quality. Although it only has one connector, the s-video cable is actually separating the color and brightness channels. If you were to tear away the outer cable of the s-video cable, you would in fact have two cables carrying the video signal. The common mistake in upgrading to an S-Video Cable is that most people think that it carries the audio signal as well as the video signal.

Helpful Hint: You can use the audio cable that came with the device even if it is a triple RCA cable (as described under Composite Video Cable). The Audio cable in the composite is not connected in any way to the yellow video.

3. Component Video Cable Assemblies

The component video cable goes one step better. It separates the color channel into three separate cables. As separate signals, they can directly drive a monitor without the need for the normal combining and later separation to avoid the signal degradation of that added processing. Component video comes a variety ways. Let's first discuss RCA to RCA cables. These cables are the most common component video cable. There are two different types:

  1. Component Video Cables: Contain three cables and only carries video signals
  2. Component Video/Audio Cables: Contain 5 cables and carries both component video (s cables) and right and left audio.

Although both of these cables have multiple cables in the bunch, they are all attached and in fact can be pulled apart. You would need them to be able to be pulled apart so you can plug the cables into different ports of the device.

Component Video Cables also come in a few other different configurations. They all accomplish the same task, but they are different due to the different connections that are available.

The two other common connections are:

  1. HD15 - HD15 is a 15 pin ( 3 rows of 5) computer connection. Usually used with computers and projectors
  2. BNC - The BNC connection is just a different connection than the RCA.

4 & 5. DVI & HDMI Cable Assemblies

These are the newest types of connections in the video market. The video portion of these cables are basically the same, however HDMI cables also carry audio signals.

These connections look very simple and they are. However, the setting and the knowledge of the help desks from the device manufacturers leaves something to be desired.

HDMI is much easier than DVI. HDMI comes in one main variety; DVI however comes in many different configurations.

DVI comes in a variety of options. The most common is single link DVI-D to DVI-D. DVI Dual link is used for computer to screen applications and the computer usually needs a specific card to make this all work.


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