Audio/video cable guide

Setting up a home theater? Our look at audio/video cables will help you identify every important connection available.

S-Video (aka Y/C)

193829-belkin_svideo_606_original

Use it for: Midrange video devices

If you have a choice, select it instead of: RCA composite, coaxial

It's similar in performance and use to: Composite video

It adapts to: Composite video (but it loses its quality advantages)

Add more ports by: Connecting a splitter, repeater, or receiver

Though this kind of connection is a clear boost over a composite RCA connection, S-Video is still far from the quality of HDTV-supporting cables such as component.

Coaxial Video (aka Cable TV Connection)

193829-coax_original

Use it for: Connecting antennas; wiring a VCR to an analog TV; linking from the wall to the TV for cable broadcasts

It's similar in performance and use to: Composite video

Add more ports by: Connecting a splitter

The lowly coaxial cable supplies both analog audio and video between devices. It's also the cable of choice for TV-tuner antennas. Cable companies use this cable, although they'll typically send a digital signal that a converter box at your TV decodes. Nearly any time you attach a coaxial cable directly to a TV (except for a digital antenna), you should expect merely basic quality.

Toslink (aka Optical Cable or S/PDIF)

193829-belkin_optical_toslink_606_original

Use it for: Connecting DVD players, game systems, cable boxes, and other devices to audio receivers

If you have a choice, select it instead of: Analog RCA audio; all other, common audio options

It's similar in performance and use to: Digital RCA audio over a single cable

It adapts to: Mini-Toslink

Add more ports by: Connecting a splitter or receiver

A digital connection, Toslink sends optical pulses that are decoded into audio. The commonly used S/PDIF signal carries surround details. ("S/PDIF" is sometimes used interchangeably as the cable name, although "Toslink" refers to the actual connector.) Mini-Toslink is occasionally used, especially with Apple computers; such jacks are often inside of the typical 3.5mm stereo mini-jack port.

Mini-Jack (aka TRS, 3.5mm Plug, 1/8-Inch Plug, Headphone Jack)

193829-belkin_ministereoadpt_606_original

Use it for: Nearly every portable audio device, computers, portable speakers, video cameras

If you have a choice, select it instead of: A mono mini-jack

It's similar in performance and use to: 1/4-inch plug, 2.5mm plug

It adapts to: 1/4-inch plug, 2.5mm plug, RCA plugs

Add more ports by: Connecting a splitter

This headphone connector is ubiquitous, available on nearly every audio device and offered as the basic plug on media players. You'll most often encounter a stereo connection, which has two rings around the end. (If the plug has only one ring, it sends mono audio.) The plug is also often used to send video along with audio, adapting from the mini-jack end on a device to RCA plugs. The audio-signal output on a mini-jack is louder than the signal typically carried on stereo RCA plugs, so if you use an adapter (if you plug an iPod into a receiver, for example), turn up the volume slowly.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World (US online)
Topics: home theatre
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?