Component_video_jackYou’ve purchased the TV, got the receiver, the speakers, BluRay Player, Xbox 360, Apple TV and even put your old cassette player in your credenza. You’re ready to set up your home theater. But how? What is an S-Video or S/PDIF connection? What are Analog and Digital Signals? How do you make all of this stuff work in harmony? When you go into Best Buy, most Entertainment Associates try to dumb it down for you. But knowledge is power so let’s go through it:

Video: Below are video connections from lowest picture resolution to the highest.

  • Coaxial Connection: That cable you plug into the back of your TV when you only have basic cable. Today it’s been mandated that all channels be broadcast digitally, so the signal comes through as such.
  • Composite Video: This is the Yellow Connector. An older video standard connection.
  • S-Video: Better than Composite Video
  • Component Video: Green, Red, and Blue Connectors. Connection that is capable of High-Definition Picture Quality (1080i).
  • DVI: Used for Computer Resolutions
  • VGA: Computer Resolutions as well (Analog)
  • HDMI: Capable of picture resolutions of 720p, 1080p and higher (digital)

Audio

  • Speaker Cable: Used to connect speakers. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Analog RCA: Red and White connection, used to transmit analog stereo signals.
  • Digital Coax (S/PDIF): RCA connection used to transmit surround sound data (THX, Dolby, etc…)
  • Digital Optical (S/PDIF): Connection used to transmit surround sound data

Custom A/V Implications

This is where it get’s tricky and why companies like ours exist. Let’s say you don’t want to have a TV with all of your components visible. You want all of your components centralized in a closet or a rack but you still want to access to all of it. And let’s throw some security cameras in there. This means you will need to get creative:

  • Coaxial Cable (RG6, RG59 or MINI RGB 5X): Incredible versatile. Comes in many different gauges used with many different terminations and is used for a variety of applications. Applications include Cable TV, Mini-RGB 5 Conductor, VGA, Component Video, Digtial Audio and CCTV. This cable can also be paired with a 18×2 for security cameras (One cable for signal, the other for power – Siamese cables.)
  • Speaker Cable (18×2, 18×4, 18/6, 16×2 or 16×4): Not only used to send signal to speakers, A/V and Network installers use this cable for various purposes. The first number stands for the gauge, the second for conductor. Common uses for this cable are low voltage power and access control.
  • Cat5e or Cat6: Because of its capacity to transmit signals over a distance of up to 300ft, installers use this cable to run virtually anything. It is typically used to run voice and data connections. However, it can be used to transmit video signal such as HDMI from an Apple TV, audio signal and IR code to Display locations from closets and rack enclosures. It can even be used to transmit low-voltage power for touchscreen or wall installed iPad.

For the Custom Installation cabling you can get really creative and having your home wired with the cable above can help to future proof your home for many years to come when new technologies come out.