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Guide To Audio/video Cables


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#1 sparkac

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 09:12 PM

GUIDE TO AUDIO/VIDEO CABLES
Version 2.0

I've noticed that many people are confused about all the different types of cables out there and what advantages each type has
So i made this tutorial to explain them


SECTION 1
The different cables

1. RF cable (aka Coaxial Cable)
user posted image

This is the thick cable you use to connect to your antenna or cable service. This was the only type of cable back then and this is the only way to hook up your Xbox to older TV sets. The Xbox, if you haven’t noticed yet, has no output for this so you will need an RF modulator. The main advantage I can think of that it is simple, only one cable is needed to transmit video and sound, also it sends all the channels at the same time so you can use the tuner on your TV. Its disadvantages are low picture quality and mono sound (half of stereo). Also this is an analog signal, for anyone who wants to know.

2. Composite
user posted image
This is a step up from Coaxial, There are 3 separate cables. Yellow for video, white for the left channel audio, and red for the right channel audio. The advantages are that the picture quality is greatly enhanced and you have stereo sound. However there are some disadvantages, first of all not all TV sets support it (although most these days do), and you will need to have a separate tuner because this cable can only transmit one channel at a time. This isn't a big problem for the xbox. But you will need to carry a remote for your TV and digital cable (or satellite) receiver. Even with this disadvantage the picture quality is A LOT better then coaxial. This is also analog.

3. Svideo
user posted image
S-video carries only the video signal so you will still need the composite cables to send audio. The only advantage is better video quality, the video signal is broken up which gives a better picture. The only disadvantage is that it doesn’t carry audio. This is again analog.

4. Component
user posted image
This is the best consumer cable out there. Like the s-video it only carries video. This cable consists of 3 cables, red, blue and green (the green is for brightness). This separates the color even more then s-video which makes the picture quality very good. However a major disadvantage is that not many TVs have this input. This is analog

5. Optical (toslink)
user posted image
This cable is used for audio. This is a digital connection and this will give you surround sound. It works by sending light through a glass fiber. The major advantage is that this will give you surround sound whereas composite doesn’t. However it costs more then composite.

6. Audio coaxial
user posted image
This cable is actually a composite cable that can also send surround sound just as well as optical. It is a lot cheaper then optical so this is what I would recommend. And I have no idea why it’s called audio coaxial cable when it isn't coaxial cable. This, like optical, is also digital.


SECTION 2
Which cable should I use for my TV?

Well I made a couple of scenarios; you pick the one that best describes you. Also this is just my opinion, if you don’t agree with what I say, don’t do it.



Scenario 1
You have a small TV 25in or smaller
If it has a composite cable use it, if not, coaxial is your only hope
S-video will also work but you won’t see much of difference
If you have an expensive TV that has component, use it if you already have the cable BUT DON’T GO OUT AND BUY ONE, you won’t see any difference at all! ohmy.gif

Scenario 2
You have a peaty big TV, 25in to ~40in.
Use s-video or composite. Stay far away from coaxial
If your TV has component, you will see a change but not a big one. If you are a heavy gamer a component cable will help

Scenario 3
You have a large projection TV (non HDTV). 40 and up.
Use s-video, composite will work but it won’t look its best.
If you have component use it, you will see a difference

Scenario 4
You have an awesome HDTV projection TV
Use s-video at least, composite if you have no other choice
Go for component whenever you have the chance. Everything is very clear, beautiful, and sharp.


Some General Tips
1. the same cable is used for composite, componant and audio coaxial. So you don't have to buy a special component cable if you have a composite cable.
2. use audio coaxial instead of optical, because it is a lot cheaper
3. using a Monster Power platinum coated cable is no better then a cheap brandless cable when it comes to digital signals,

Also if you see anything wrong with this tutorial or if you would like to add something just send me a pm or email me, I will fix it ASAP.

Good Luck biggrin.gif

Edited by sparkac, 21 October 2003 - 11:59 PM.


#2 eazye

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 09:21 PM

Nice tutorial for the newbie to audio/video. One correction though, Component cable is not digitial, it remains analogue like the other cables you mentioned. The current digital format for video is DVI which is found on a limited number of TVs at this time. Even if you had a TV with a DVI input, the XBox does not have a DVI output to take advantage of this interface.

#3 sparkac

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 09:47 PM

thanks, i wasn't sure,

and i'll add dvi, i wasn't going to before because it is mainly used for external tv tuners, but it is a cable.

Edited by sparkac, 21 October 2003 - 09:56 PM.


#4 spillage

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 10:06 PM

You are right people don't really grasp cables that well.

Coaxial is the name given to the construction of the cable ONLY. It means nothing else. Most video and audio cable are of coaxial construction. That is to say the signal carrier is in the middle of and surrounded by the screen. The best cables in the world of video are Coaxial, often with triple screening and superb impedance characteristics.
I believe that what you were trying to say that a cable used to pass RF (radio frequency) is the worst.

The cheap and nasty Yellow, Red and White cables should be binned the moment to get home with your new purchase. They are thrown in by manufacturers to get you up and running. The cable construction is usually coaxial but often uses a nasty ‘spiral rap’ for the screen which is NOT 100% successful. This cable is marginally better than RF, but not because of the cable, but because of the video transmission format being used. I.e. composite.

The ‘S’ Video connection will still use coaxial cable but merits its use because of the separation of the video signal. Chrominance (colour) and Luminance (Brightness) This is a major step forward over composite.

Component cables will be coaxial just like the above. A good cable (£100 upwards) will use good quality cable and terminations. Component video is NOT the best but it generally considered the best for DVD playback, simply because DVDs are written in component video. The component video signals are generated by separating a luminance component and two chrominance components (Red and Blue) from RGB signals. Component video was introduced as a compressed version of real RGB to save space. I.e. video bandwidth. All TV and display devices are driven by real RGB. All Red, All Green and All Blue. This format is the best and uses the most bandwidth, or space. Component video in the domestic sense is Analogue but there is a digital variant the public don’t use.

Optical cables have nothing to do with video so to say it’s better than composite is meaningless. (Sorry). Optical versus coaxial digital cables are a hot debate in the Hi-Fi world as to which sounds better. Optical cables that are made of glass (not many are) and offer near infinite transmission capabilities. Coaxial cable offer complicated issues that can affect signal quality. Most people prefer Coaxial. Opticals are generally cheaper than coaxial. XBOX is not Hi-Fi so it does not really matter which you have or use.

You have a small TV 25in or smaller
If it has a composite cable use it, if not, coaxial is your only hope
S-video will also work but you won’t see much of difference
If you have an expensive TV that has component, use it if you already have the cable BUT DON’T GO OUT AND BUY ONE, you won’t see any difference at all!……………….etc etc

I have not included the other scenarios.

Sorry but this is not true, some of the best monitors in the world are small. Buy the best you can afford and the use the best output you have.

Why tell people to use optical cause it’s cheaper. You can use which ever is best for you or the equipment you have.

The better the cable the better the sound, period. Buy the right cable for the right job and buy the best you can afford. Why put up with crap just because it’s cheap.

I am not deliberately trying to show you up or embarrass you but some of the things you have written will be read by people who will believe straight away. I hope you take this as constructive critisism rather than pointing the finger at you and shouting you’re wrong. Good post anyhow.

If I sound like a teacher I am sorry.


#5 sparkac

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Posted 21 October 2003 - 11:57 PM

ok i fixed some stuff

QUOTE
Optical cables have nothing to do with video

i never said that

QUOTE
I believe that what you were trying to say that a cable used to pass RF (radio frequency) is the worst.

I often hear coaxial rather then RF so i opted for coaxial

QUOTE
Coaxial is the name given to the construction of the cable ONLY

i didn't know that thanks, i fixed that

QUOTE
some of the best monitors in the world are small

not consumer models, i work at a tv studio and the viewfinders on cameras and the ones in the control room are awsome, and see my comment at the bottom

QUOTE
Why tell people to use optical cause it’s cheaper

i said coax was cheaper

QUOTE
I am not deliberately trying to show you up or embarrass you

I know, i was hoping for comments like this to fix bugs, i wouldn't want to give people the wrong idea. smile.gif

EDIT: Also, this tutorial is geared towards the average user, so technical information is useless and my examples are about products sold at a general electronics store, not products sold at professional specialty stores that sell to televison studios.

Edited by sparkac, 22 October 2003 - 12:03 AM.


#6 Mr Ed

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 01:25 AM

spillage what country are you from? In the US a coaxal cable is used for RF transmissions. Of course other cables are made "coaxially" but a coax cable is always referrring to the 75ohm cable/antenna/RF cable.

Recently, they have started referring to a single RCA cable for digital audio as a coax as well. Just to help confuse the consumer. mad.gif

Also, I don't understand the debate regarding digital audio cables. If the connection is good you will get sound, if not you don't. Because it's digital there isn't a concept of signal degredation. The only issue with digital might be synchronization.

#7 spillage

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 09:04 AM

Sparkac,

I may be considered anal here, but to me the slang for RF is ‘Coax’ not coaxial. Coax seems to be the adopted name for a cable that is designed primarily for use with TV/SAT. I am used to giving the proper name for ‘coax’ cable to electricians/installers etc to make sure they don’t install the crappiest RF cable they had on the van. One ‘coax’ for RF TV is not the same as another. Anyone using the standard patch cable supplied with a VCR etc should chuck them cause they are generally of very poor quality with poor shielding a massive reflections. Since I have started- a reflection is a portion of the intended signal being bounced or reflected back up the cable. This causes all sorts of unwanted issues, ones you can see. Proper cable can eliminate this.

I cannot find my reference to optical/video, so I will retract the comment.
‘Coax is cheaper’ my correction, yes you did say that. I would disagree and say optical is cheaper. You can buy some really shite plastic OPTICAL cables for less the £3.00 ($4.86) here.

Mr Ed

I live in the UK and like you guys have coax cable for TV/SAT use. It’s called coax here as well. My problem with Sparkac using the term ‘coaxial’ was simply that some many cables are coaxial in construction. If a guy walks into a local shop to buy an expensive cable and sees on the box that it says it’s a coaxial cable, he may think, cause he has read it here, that its not good enough. That was my point. Maybe I could have worded my response a little better.

I don’t profess to have all the answers but I know, (fact) that different cables used for a coaxial digital connection make a big difference to the perceived sound quality. When I used to work in the audio sales industry, I only do bespoke HT and multiroom now, I had on loan from Nordost a £400.00 Moonglow. It was bloody amazing. I have since tried a number of cables mostly self built to experiment. I am using an 80cm piece of all silver 75 ohm high speed data cable. It too is better than any £100.00 cable I have used before. I believe the reason is ‘jitter’ or timing errors. A better cable is able to time better. 0’s and 1’s are unchangeable but I guess timing and sync are. Incidentally I have tried many optical cables too. I have to say that above £40.00 I could hear no difference.


#8 sparkac

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 02:37 PM

ok spilage, we are talking about consumers who have no idea about cable, NOT professional tv studio technicians. I appreciate your help but it isn't needed at this level smile.gif

QUOTE
(fact) that different cables used for a coaxial digital connection

I don't know about the CONSUMER tvs in the uk but the ones in the US don't have coaxial digital connections, again this is a tutoirial for consumers, don't go off topic

QUOTE
I may be considered anal here

yes... you definatly are

And thank you Mr ED biggrin.gif

Edited by sparkac, 22 October 2003 - 02:54 PM.


#9 kcarlen

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 03:12 PM

After reading the initial infomation, I was impressed to think that someone has taken the initiative to do extra work for free. Hats off Sparkac.
However after reading the replies I am almost embarrassed to think that you guys are acting like children...god knows...maybe you are this day and age. Give the guy a break man!! He has developed some constructive information that although is maybe not 100% accurate.....is damn good work.
I should further comment that I am an Electrical Engineer, and appreciate good information. I also appreciate constructive critisizm.

Spillage, you need to lighten up. Get off your A$$ and thank the people that help out others....don't try to make them look small with you somewhat "untechnical" responses.


#10 spillage

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 11:23 AM

Sparkac, looks like this posting has caused some concern. I hereby apologise if my reply in anyway made you feel insignificant or small. Your efforts have been well recieved by nearly 300 fellow owners. It was never my intention to cause any grief. My policy has always been say what you think not what they want you to say.

Kcarlen. I worked as a BMW technical diagnostic technician for 10 years, have 4 years of electronics schooling and 6 years as a Home Theatre Consultant. My methods don't f**k about. My approach may have been wrong, but my intentions were good.

I hope this apology settles the matter.

Good job Sparkac.

Edited by spillage, 30 October 2003 - 11:24 AM.


#11 sparkac

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 12:37 AM

thanks kclarlen, that was nice of you biggrin.gif

#12 Wiz

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 08:44 PM

This is a great idea, in a simple way lay out the basics of cables.

No pun intended, but some of the things I saw was somewhat confusing.

Coaxial - adj : "having a common axis" [syn: coaxal]
http://dictionary.re...earch?q=coaxial

Coaxial cable - this is ONLY the description of the physical design of a cable, saying it is a cable that have one axis (or "core" if you will). It has nothing to do with what signals the cable is being used for. (RF/Composite/Component etc)

This has been said allready, just not in much detail.
The fact is that all cables in the original post except the optical fibre cable ARE coaxial (ie "having a common axis")

So if you want to buy a cable made for transporting "RF" you ask for a "RF-cable". This way its easy to end up with a cable that is the right one.

As far as cable for digital audio goes, it doesn't really matter what cable you use as long as it is capable of transporting digital data (ones and zeroes as usual).
Optical is superior as far as being resistant to magnetic and electric interference and can also be used over very long distances.
In reality, digital data as slow as in this scenario is transported well by whatever cable you might have around the house. Simply put, if it works it works well smile.gif

Rgds!


#13 havocaose

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 05:25 AM

from what ive heard..

analog means a cable where the electricity is lowered or raised to create a wave patternt that the recieving unit interperated.. becuase its a wave pattern it can be distorted and usually offers decreased quality.

digital (like toslink) is where light or electricty is shot through in extremly short bursts.. when there is electricty or light its interperted as a 1.. when theres no electricy or light its a 0.. becuase its either there or not thier signal cannot be distorted.

#14 Wiz

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 08:55 AM

The principle is sort of like that yeah.
Or rather it "can" be, but its doesnt "have to"

_Very_ generally speaking.

Digital information is allways communicated in a predetermined fashion. What I mean by that is that the sender of the information knows what the reciever interprets as being a "1" or a "0". So it doesn't really matter what the actual "1" is, what matters it that it is pretedermined.

If that is the case, any information not representing a "1" or a "0" can simply be discarded or ignored.


In real life a good comparison would be your standard light switch compared to a dimmer.
Digital would be the switch turning it on or off, no other setting than that. Analog would be like the dimmer where you can choose any lightintensity from off to on.

The Xbox and its digital audio output used a protocol called "SP-DIF" (SONY-Philips Digital Interface Format) and that protocol is understood by both the xbox and your sound system. It is basically a standard that describes in detail how the information is to be communicated. The upshot of having the standard (which has been around for a long time in professional equipment) is that you can plug more or less any digital audio device into any other digital device and it will understand the data being communicated to it. Logically connecting a cable from say a CD player to another CD player is not going to make anything useful happen as both are output devices, connecting a CD player to a SP/DIF input on your computer on the other hand is more useful since it knows what to do with the information it gets. The sender can send a copy protection order also, so even though your computer might understand it, it might not let you record the data because of this.

SP/DIF as a format when it comes to xbox is a very very slow communication (compared to, say, a gigabit network fibre)
And it takes a lot of interference before the information will get corrupted. The SP/DIF on the xbox will transfer any kind of audio data, everything from mono sound to multichannel audio like AC3(called Dolby Digital nowdays) or DTS(Digital Theater Systems)
Ideally a 75ohm cable of coaxial design, or a fibre cable is used to transport the SP/DIF signals. But chances are that any old cable will do the trick really...

To sum the above up. The above is very general information, it is possible to deditace a lifetime or two to details about this kind of stuff. But if you know the above, you will still know more than most "normal" people you will ever meet smile.gif And hopefully you won't be fooled into buying "exotic" cables spending all your money (that you could instead use to rent some movies or something)

Hints about ready made cables.
Expensive cables - You ARE getting ripped off.
Exotic cables - (see above, as they usually happen to be expensive, and there are still people around who thing something is better if its also more expensive)
Exotic materials in cables - basically stay away from these, they cause more harm than good, and thats a scientific fact.
Cheap cables - IF you use them for what they were designed for you probably have the best option possible

DIY cables.
Exotic materials - Don't go there, waste of money.
Copper - If its electric this is the material of choice
"100% Oxygen free copper" - (see above) This has been around for a long time and is today more or less the only type of copper you can buy world wide. Some people will say thats not the case, what that tells you is that they have no idea what they are talking about smile.gif

Optical Fibre - There are two major materials here, the core is either some type of fiberglass fibre or made out of plastic. For the DIYer plastic is so easy to work with. Just cut off with a sidecutter and snap-on a connector. Takes about 1min or less to make a cable. Fiberglass fibre has better optical properties than plastic but requires special (expensive) tools to make the cut clean.

What type of cable to buy?
Visit a store that has a WIDE variety of cables, see your local tv/radio repairshop, they will probably know where to find a good store (as they likely buy their own cable from them)

Things you need to know (as a good sales person WILL ask you these question BEFORE he recommends a cable)

How long will the cable be
What kind of signal is it going to transport
Any specific color (trust me its not as stupid a question as it might seem actually smile.gif
What connectors do they offer, go for one that is easy to work with, preferrably a sturdy one too.


Hope this helps

#15 jamal

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 11:23 PM

I have a question about:

Scenario 2
You have a peaty big TV, 25in to ~40in.
Use s-video or composite. Stay far away from coaxial
If your TV has component, you will see a change but not a big one. If you are a heavy gamer a component cable will help

Now question...

I have a 27 inch Toshiba flat screen TV that has s-video, composite and component video in. This TV is NOT HD and only works in 480i rez.

In order to use the HD Pack, I have to go into the MS Dash turn off 480p, 720p, and 1080i which puts the HD Pack into what 480i?

Would this be better then the s-video? I know when I tried my friends HD Pack, I didnt visually notice a diffrence.

I'm trying to decide if I should buy the HD Pack, S-video pack or stick with the RCA's the XBox came with. I know you said the componet would be better but I didnt notice a diffrence so then I wouldnt notice a diffrence with the S-Video eather would I?




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