TV Video/Audio Connectors

Composite, Component, and Svideo (Supervideo)

*** also see

RCA Jacks with Composite Video
 - the most common of all TV system Cable Connectors and Video Formats

(one yellow Composite Video jack, and 2 red/white Stereo Audio jacks)
NOTE:  many people use "monster cables" for the Yellow, or even all 3 cables
Monster cables/connectors are very high quality and resistant to interference.  They are also very expensive !!


Table of Connectors

RCA jacks are the most common cables, used to hook up your standard VCR and stereo equipment. Typically, they are color-coded: red, white, and yellow. Red is for right channel audio. White is for left channel audio. Yellow is for video. The entire video signal is transmitted by one cable. This is the lowest quality cable for a video source, but again, it is also the most common. Most new televisions, all video camcorders, all VCRs, and all videodisc players will have RCA jacks for these cables.

BNC connectors are actually just another form of an RCA/composite cable. The end of the cable looks different from an RCA cable, but can be changed to an RCA end with a simple adapter. Most professional video equipment will have a BNC jack instead of a RCA jack. The physical connection is more secure because BNC cables twist and lock in place.  BNC are more often used with professional equipment.

VGA are standard monitor cable. It is typically male-to-male with three rows, 15 pins. A VGA cable is used for computer to monitor, or computer to projector connections. Its only home theater application may be as a connection to an HDTV decoder, such as the current RCA model.

VGA is RGBHV !!  The signal is the way a computer connects to a projector. Five pins on a 15-pin VGA cable are RGBHV.

Svideo is used for TV-Out on video cards and with some TV systems.  This cable might also be referred to as a SVHS cable and can be found on most high-end televisions, all videodisc players, camcorders, digital cable and satellite set top boxes, and SVHS VCRs. S-video cables differ from composite cables in that they split video signal into two different components: luminance and chrominance. The S-video cable will offer marked improvement over a composite cable.

Digital Video Interface (DVI) cables look a little like a standard VGA cable, but they are slightly larger. Under ideal circumstances, the DVI cable creates a ‘digital to digital’ connection between video or data source and display device. There are, however, only limited situations when this ideal circumstance occurs.  DVI is still developing, so there is no universal standard for the DVI cable as of yet.

M1 -Display Interface System - for projectors.  M1 is rare - only InFocus and Sony use it  It is a multi-purpose interface that supports DVI, VGA, USB and IEEE 1394 (a.k.a. Fire Wire) signals. This single connector replaces the VGA, DVI and USB connectors found on other projectors. An M1 connector can also provide power to external devices. There are three primary variations of the M1 connector:

  1. M1-DA (Digital and Analog): The most common type. It supports VGA, USB, and DVI signals.

  2. M1-D (Digital): Supports DVI signals

  3. M1-A (Analog): Supports VGA signals.


HDMI cables are a smaller version of DVI cables. HDMI cables can also carry 16 bit, 8 channel, digital audio signals as well as video. HDMI is expected to hit the street in late 2003 on a limited number of projection televisions, plasma televisions, LCD TVs, DVD players, and other consumer electronics devices. HDMI looks to become a connectivity standard for HDTV in the following years.

HDMI connections will be made backwards compatible with DVI devices. Since the conversion will be a pin-to-pin connection, there should be no detectable signal loss when converted. However, the DVI to HDMI conversions will not be able to carry the 8 channel audio signal available on a pure HDMI connection. Since video projectors and computer monitors do not typically provide high quality audio, DVI is likely to remain strong in these areas.


Component cables look just like composite cables. The difference is that, where a composite cable carries the entire video signal on a single cable, component cables split the signal in three. This connection gives a superior image over composite or S-video connections. The signal itself is referred to as either Y,Cr,Cb, or Y,Pb,Pr. Most manufacturers make connecting these cables easy by color coordinating them. The tips of the cables and jacks will be red, green and blue. Unfortunately, this can be a bit confusing because computer RGB connections are colored the same way. A good rule of thumb is that, if the connections are RCA type, it is usually a component cable. Computer RGB cables will usually be BNC type. Most high-end DVD players and HDTV tuners will have component connections.

Component video is NOT RGB !!

RGBHV cables are a form of RGB.  The RGBHV cable splits the video signal into five streams. There are actually three different types of RGB cables, and RGBHV is one of them:

  1. RGBHV  is a five-cable system that splits the video signal for color into red, green, and blue, and then has two more cables to carry the sync for the signal (horizontal and vertical sync).

  2. RGB H/V is a four-cable system that splits the color the same way, but has the horizontal and vertical sync on a single fourth cable.

  3. RGB video cables again split the color signal in three, but carry the additional sync signal on one of the color cables, usually the green (called RGB sync on green).

VGA is RGBHV !!  The signal is the way a computer connects to a projector. Five pins on a 15-pin VGA cable are RGBHV. The projector recognizes the type of signal and projects accordingly.

RGBHV connectors are found on most high-end professional monitors and on the most popular HDTV decoder (by RCA). Note that RCA has chosen to send the HDTV signal via a 15-pin VGA cable instead of a component connection. This may become the standard connection for HDTV tuners in the future. We will have to wait and see



Component  vs  Svideo  vs  Composite

The highest quality is Component, followed by Svideo, and then Composite - however, few people can really notice much difference.

Most television Home Theater systems have a main "Receiver/Amplifier" that is a central hub for all the inputs (Cable box, DVD player, etc) - and it also is connected to the Television and speakers.  It sends video to the TV and Auido to the speakers (typically 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer).

Most receivers accept "composite" inputsm which is one video port and two audio ports.

Composite Video (YUV) - A video color format that combines all three YUV video signals into one channel. The first video signal to include color, composite video transmits brightness/luma (Y) and colors/chroma (U and V) over one cable. NTSC, PAL and SECAM television are composite video.

Component Video (Y-U-V or in some cases R-G-B)- a video color format that maintains the three YUV video signals in three separate channels. Component video provides a sharper image than composite video and S-video. See YUV, composite video and S-video.

Analog Component Video
Component video may refer to "analog" component video (YPbPr), especially with regard to the Y, Pb and Pr cable connectors on devices such as DVD players, set-top boxes, receivers and TVs. See YPbPr.

Digital Component Video
Component video may refer to "digital" component video (YCbCr), which is the norm for tape formats such as MiniDV, DV and Digital Betacam. Digital component video (YCbCr) is also natively supported by many nonlinear video editing programs (NLEs). See YCbCr and YCbCr sampling.

RGB: Digital or Analog
Sometimes, component video refers to RGB signals rather than YUV. It may refer to "digital" RGB, which is the native graphics format in the computer, and it is supported by all nonlinear video editing programs (NLEs).

Component video may also refer to "analog" RGB, especially with regard to a three-cable RGB attachment to a studio monitor or high-end video camera.


Svideo (Y/C  or  Y/UV) - (Super-video) - since you can directly convert Svideo to Composite via a simple wiring change, many people think yhat the only difference is the interface pinouts.  Actually, Svideo differs from composite video on the signals as well.  Svideo splits the video signal into two different components: luminance (Y) and chrominance (C  -  where C = UV combined), which is why there are 4 connectors (4 pins).  Composite video has only 2 connectors because the video is all in one combined stream.  An Svideo-to-Composite adapter simply combines the two signals from the Svideo pins into one.

Svideo is a video color format that combines the three YUV video signals into two channels. Brightness/luma (Y) is in one channel, and color/chroma (U and V) are in another. S-video provides a sharper image than composite video, but is not as good as component video.

HDCP over DVI is a recent development in the world of consumer electronics. The new HDCP content protection standard has expanded the use of DVI in high definition DVD players and HDTV set top boxes.

YUV Explained

The color encoding system used for analog television worldwide (NTSC, PAL and SECAM). The YUV color space (color model) differs from RGB, which is what the camera captures and what humans view. When color signals were developed in the 1950s, it was decided to allow black and white TVs to continue to receive and decode monochrome signals, while color sets would decode both monochrome and color signals.

Luma and Color Difference Signals
The Y in YUV stands for "luma," which is brightness, or lightness, and black and white TVs decode only the Y part of the signal. U and V provide color information and are "color difference" signals of blue minus luma (B-Y) and red minus luma (R-Y). Through a process called "color space conversion," the video camera converts the RGB data captured by its sensors into either composite analog signals (YUV) or component versions (analog YPbPr or digital YCbCr). For rendering on screen, all these color spaces must be converted back again to RGB by the TV or display system.

Mathematically Equivalent to RGB
YUV also saves transmission bandwidth compared to RGB, because the chroma channels (B-Y and R-Y) carry only half the resolution of the luma. YUV is not compressed RGB; rather, Y, B-Y and R-Y are the mathematical equivalent of RGB. See color space conversion and YUV/RGB conversion formulas.

Composite Video and S-video
The original TV standard combined luma (Y) and both color signals (B-Y, R-Y) into one channel, which uses one cable and is known as "composite video." An option known as "S-video" or "Y/C video" keeps the luma separate from the color signals, using one cable, but with separate wires internally. S-video is a bit sharper than composite video.

Component Video
When luma and each of the color signals (B-Y and R-Y) are maintained in separate channels, it is called "component video," designated as YPbPr when in the analog domain and YCbCr when it is digital. Component video is the sharpest of all.

The Term Is Generic
In practice, YUV refers to the color difference encoding system whether composite or component, and "YUV," "Y, B-Y, R-Y" and "YPbPr" are used interchangeably for analog signals. Sometimes, "YCbCr," which is digital, is used interchangeably as well, which does not help to clarify the subject. See YPbPr, YCbCr, luma, ITU-R BT.601 and YIQ.