this section is not propaganda for any particular type of
cable or connection. I just want to let you know what's
out there and some basic - and uncontestable - quality differences.
Firstly, you may be limited by the rest of your gear. If
you are building an HT rig around a 32-inch TV you bought
four years ago and don't plan to replace within the next
few years, then component video cables won't mean hudda
to you. Likewise, if you have a new WEGA, then you will
want to 86 those cheesy RCAs posthaste.
cables do matter. And yes, you can hear and see the difference.
Sometimes. Cable shopping is a perfect example of the law
of diminishing returns. You get smaller improvements as
you go higher up the chain.
is the most basic A/V link. They are also known as RCA cables.
In the audio world, they are usually red and white. There
are two because each carries one of the two tracks of the
stereo signal. When you add video, you obviously need a third
cable. This third composite cable is typically yellow.
These cables are
useful because they are pretty much universal. All audio gear
uses these cables and most video products use it as well.
They are analogue
cables. This means that it is fine to use them for almost
all of your gear. You will have to use them if you use a tape
deck, tuner, or turntable, and they are fine for CD players
Though they are basic,
they are available in many levels of quality. The hair-gauge
lengths that come stock should be discarded. Buy some decent
runs, especially if your components are far from one another.
use in an HT rig would be to connect audio components to each
other or video products to (most likely older) TVs.
the name states, S-video is a video only cable. It is one
step up from composite and a very worthwhile investment.
How is it different? Well, S-video cable routes the color
and brightness signals on separate lines within the same
cable. This separation makes for a better image, and one
that you will actually notice.
You will find S-video
outputs on just about everything these days: DVD players,
VCRs, videogames, digital cameras, etc. S-video inputs are
found on even entry level TVs and are standard on mid to
would be from video source X (DVD, videogame, etc.) to TV
or A/V receiver or from A/V receiver to TV.
Like S-video cable,
component cables carry video only signals. However, instead
of S-video's two lines within the cable, a component signal
is broken down into three parts. The result is - at least
technically - the best possible image from the source.
More and more DVD
player are being outfitted with component outputs. (PS2
has component out!) However, most TVs don't have inputs
for it yet. If you do have a TV with component inputs and
a good DVD player, and you want to run everything through
your receiver, then make sure to look for a receiver with
component switching. Most do not have this feature. Mine
does not, so I send the audio through the receiver, but
the video straight into the TV.
I know that composite
and component cables look very similar. Don't be fooled,
they are not the same!
would be from DVD to TV or from DVD to A/V receiver and
then to TV.
Digital optical is
the only really weird looking connection. In fact, if you
are just entering the world of A/V after spending a lot of
time in the analogue world, then you may not even recognize
these cables. Digital optical cables can carry multi-channel,
digital audio signals from component to component.
The one cable that
(some say) is superior to digital optical is digital coaxial cable looks like composite
cable. However, there is only one line of digital coaxial
needed, unlike the similar looking composite or component.
Typical use would
be from DVD to A/V receiver, though most digital audio devices
support this format.
A few basics about
speaker cable... Bigger is generally better. Try to keep runs
as short as possible. Make sure the contact point has sufficient
contact. And make sure that you can return cable if you are
shelling out a lot for it. I bought my runs at a local retailer
that makes custom cables. Even though they cut the lengths
to my specs, they still had a 100% guarantee. If I didn't
notice the improvement, they would take them back and fully
refund my money. Look for something like this so that you
don't get screwed out of a few hundred dollars.
And those are the
Cinema Interconnect Tips
For those just
starting their Home Cinema:
For TV to VCR
hookup, use one video and two audio interconnects, all with
PHONO connectors, for the best picture and sound. Do NOT
use the coaxial interconnect that uses the screw-on or slip-on
"F" connector that came with your VCR
To reduce him
and buzz that can leak into all the audio components in
a system, use shielded, twisted interconnect construction
interconnects, not coaxial, to connect the audio outputs
from your various components to your receiver.
gauge speaker wire (like zip cord) with the best quality,
highest technology speaker interconnect you can afford.
It will make a substantial and audible difference in your
system, especially as you upgrade audio components.
Put a combination
surge suppressor/power conditioner like Philex's XXXX between
your AC outlet and your components. The XXXX filters out
a tremendous amount of the sound and picture-robbing electronic
noise that routinely comes through AC outlets. It also protects
delicate electronic components from damage by power surges.
For more advanced
Home Cinema-specific speaker interconnects to simplify the
hook-up of all your speakers.
Use lengths of
video interconnect six feet or shorter for maximum picture
quality. If you need more distance between video components
and your receiver, make sure you're using high quality double
shielded interconnect like the Philex interconnects.
with 24k gold-plated connectors for maximum signal transfer,
corrosion resistance and reliability.