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-   -   Cable Types Explained (https://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/remotes-cables-accessories-tweaks/71763-cable-types-explained.html)

rab-byte 12-18-13 01:52 PM

Cable Types Explained
 

This is the start of a quick reference guide for Shacksters who are new to the world of HT and want a quick and dirty explanation of different cable types. Please add your input to this thread to try to make this an easy read for people who may not have quite as much experience with consumer electronics.

Cable Types

-----------
HDMI: This is the most common type of connector in home theater today. It carries both Audio and Video (sound and picture). See also HDMI Cables Help
------------------
Composite Cables: This is the typical RCA type cable used for years in the U.S. You'll typically find them color coded. This cable is used versions types of connections across the whole spectrum of A/V (this cable has an alternate fitting, tip, called BNC. This fitting locks into place and is typically found in professional gear)

Red/White: Stereo Audio (Left/Right)
Yellow: Video (Standard Definition, 480i)
Red/Blue/Green: Component Video (480p,720p,1080i)
Digital Coax/SPDIF (Color Varies - Typically Orange): Digital Audio Connection carried up to 5.1 Compressed Audio or 2.0 Uncompressed (LPCM)
Subwoofer (typically black): sends low frequency effects (LFE) to a subwoofer

It's important to remember that any composite cable can be used in any of these application regardless of the color on the cable's tip or jacket.
------------
Coax Cable (RG-6/F-Type Fitting): This is the cable that screws onto your TV, Cable Box, or Cable Modem. While this is one of the oldest types of connector it is still used to transport video/audio/data into your home. Coax cables can me modified to work like compost cables.
------------
Fiber-Optic/Toss-Link: Similar to digital coax this cable carries stereo or up to 5.1 compressed audio. Unlike composite type connections this cable used light to carry a signal. It is not effected my electromagnetic or radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI).
------------
DVI/VGA: These are computer connections that can carry video only. Some older HDTVs and Cable Boxes have a DVI connection on them. Supported resolutions very depending on the equipment.
-------------
Speaker Wire/Cable: Positive/Negative, typically stranded copper wire that delivers power to a pair of speakers from an amplifier. Speaker wire is rated in AWG (American Wire Gage). Lower numbers are thicker cable. 14-16 AWG is usually used in most home theaters.

86eldel68-deactivated 12-20-13 05:44 PM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

A couple of helpful suggestions:
Quote:

Toss-Link
It's Toslink.

Quote:

Subwoofer (typically black): sends low frequency effects (LFE) to a subwoofer
Sends LFE content plus all speaker-channel content below the crossover point to a subwoofer.

rab-byte 12-20-13 05:49 PM

Thanks.
I think I may need to edit this from home as I'm loosing all my return/page breaks when I try to edit from the mobile app.

gazoink 03-20-14 04:37 AM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

Quote:

rab-byte wrote: (Post 662486)
This is the start of a quick reference guide for Shacksters who are new to the world of HT and want a quick and dirty explanation of different cable types. Please add your input to this thread to try to make this an easy read for people who may not have quite as much experience with consumer electronics.

Cable Types

-----------
HDMI: This is the most common type of connector in home theater today. It carries both Audio and Video (sound and picture). See also HDMI Cables Help
------------------
Composite Cables: This is the typical RCA type cable used for years in the U.S. You'll typically find them color coded. This cable is used versions types of connections across the whole spectrum of A/V (this cable has an alternate fitting, tip, called BNC. This fitting locks into place and is typically found in professional gear)

Red/White: Stereo Audio (Left/Right)
Yellow: Video (Standard Definition, 480i)
Red/Blue/Green: Component Video (480p,720p,1080i)
Digital Coax/SPDIF (Color Varies - Typically Orange): Digital Audio Connection carried up to 5.1 Compressed Audio or 2.0 Uncompressed (LPCM)
Subwoofer (typically black): sends low frequency effects (LFE) to a subwoofer

It's important to remember that any composite cable can be used in any of these application regardless of the color on the cable's tip or jacket.
------------
Coax Cable (RG-6/F-Type Fitting): This is the cable that screws onto your TV, Cable Box, or Cable Modem. While this is one of the oldest types of connector it is still used to transport video/audio/data into your home. Coax cables can me modified to work like compost cables.
------------
Fiber-Optic/Toss-Link: Similar to digital coax this cable carries stereo or up to 5.1 compressed audio. Unlike composite type connections this cable used light to carry a signal. It is not effected my electromagnetic or radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI).
------------
DVI/VGA: These are computer connections that can carry video only. Some older HDTVs and Cable Boxes have a DVI connection on them. Supported resolutions very depending on the equipment.
-------------
Speaker Wire/Cable: Positive/Negative, typically stranded copper wire that delivers power to a pair of speakers from an amplifier. Speaker wire is rated in AWG (American Wire Gage). Lower numbers are thicker cable. 14-16 AWG is usually used in most home theaters.

Need to make some corrections here:

A "Composite" cable is one that carries "Composite Video". That would take one coaxial cable with one connector on each end. Composite video is a single channel method that carries all parts of a standard definition video signal on one coax. By contrast, Component Video, which is video broken into three component parts, either Red, Green, Blue, or YPbPr, and may be carried on a either three separate coax cables of identical length, or a Component Video Cable made up of a bundle of three coax cables. You will never find a Component Video Cable identified as a Composite cable.

A "Composite" cable carries composite video only, and may or may not be bundled with other cables for other functions such as audio. Composite video cables may be terminated with RCA, BNC, UHF (now mostly phased out) or manufacturer-specific applications of 1/8" mini connectors. Only the RCA and perhaps the special purpose 1/8" mini are usually color-coded yellow. Nothing else listed under the "Composite" cable section is correctly identified as a composite cable. For example, audio cables are never referred to as composite cables. A subwoofer cable is never a composite cable.

Coax Cable is a style of cable, and is not limited to the F connector, or carrying TV or cable TV signals . RG-6 Coax can be used, for example, for long runs of Component or Composite Video. Coax comes in many types, RG-6 being only one (i.e. RG-59, RG-58, RG-8 are common) and even RG-6 comes in many variations (single, double or quad shield to name a few). Coaxial cable has an inner conductor and an outer shield. The dimensions and construction result in the cable having a characteristic impedance, in the case of RG-6, 75 Ohms. Other types of coax may have 50, 51, or other impedances. 75 Ohms is standard for TV signals from antennas, satellite systems, composite and component video. Any type of coax can also be used for analog audio over short distances. While the F connector is fairly old, the RCA connector is at least 10 years older, possibly more.

Optical TOSLINK (from Toshiba Link) is not limited to stereo audio or 5.1 compressed audio, it has the capability of carrying far more than that including high-rate audio and multi-channel uncompressed audio. A modern TOSLINK cable has a bandwidth of 125Mbps, and could carry up to 24 channels of 192/24 audio. A Blue-Ray player with a TOSLINK connector may be configured to output all available audio bit streams via TOSLINK. Backtracking a bit, coax digital audio is similarly not limited to stereo or 5.1 compressed.

DVI and VGA are two radically different cables, no idea why they would be grouped together.

DVI means Digital Visual Interface, has 5 connector variants, one of which can actually pinch-hit and carry analog video (DVI-A). The digital flavors have two-way communication capability that let displays and video sources chat and negotiate standards with each other, among other things. The cable itself is fairly complex. DVI may be easily adapted to HDMI (except, of course, DVI-A).

VGA - Video Graphics Array - is the base specification for a computer monitor and computer video interconnection cable, with very low resolution, using a 15 pin high density D connector, of which many pins are unused. The connector is also used for S-VGA - Super Video Graphics Array - within which there are many more higher resolution standards. VGA and it's brethren are all analog, component video systems, and to some extent may be broken out to 3-coax RGB connections without additional electronics.

Speaker Wire - one correction, a speaker wire doesn't carry power to a pair of speakers from an amplifier, it carries power to a single speaker from a single amplifier output. It's typically one amplifier output to one paired speaker wire, to one speaker.

This may have been a case of oversimplification generating more confusion by becoming inaccurate. A little time spend with Google could have prevented this.

rab-byte 03-20-14 08:46 AM

You're corrections are duly noted.
I wrote up that breakdown as a cheat-sheet for newer people making a foray into AV. I wanted to avoid the complexity of some details as this is a primer, a survey/101, explanation of connections.

You are of course right that when we get more in depth with connections and devices some of the information gets more complex and specific.

I wanted to avoid this complexity and deliver a digestible bit of data for newer members. When you go into a store and ask a salesperson for cable 'X' I wanted there to be no ambiguity.

Optical, for instance, can do far more than listed here. It can even be used as 1080p/24/60 with uncompressed audio via the right Balun.

I lumped DVI and VGA together because those connections for our purposes are largely relegated to connecting computers now.

I should have written up mini connectors. That was a oversight.

What do you think would make more since with respect to terminology for composite/component/interconnect/LFE? When someone on the message boards reads coax it's assumed that unless identified as something else it is referring to a cable/sat wire. Yes there are more types of coax but I felt RG-6 was a safe one to list.

I need to add pictures also.

gazoink 03-20-14 11:51 AM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

To keep the thread clean, I thought to do this by PM rather than post, but the system, in it's infinite wisdom, won't let me send a PM to you. That's pretty lame, but whatever. So, sorry if any of this really shouldn't be in the thread. Maybe the tread could be deleted and restarted rather than us chaining up discussions of what it could be. For something intended to be simple, that's now confusing.

Any "Guide" for a novice should of course be simple, but also as accurate as possible. What a novice learns first will be what they remember longest.

Perhaps a table with photos, cable name or type, then the most common use. Put the photos in a place that makes it easy for someone to use as a reference. Mostly cable types are related to connector types.

We don't need to get into the extended applications like HDMI over Cat5 (probably should include RJ-45, there's an Ethernet port on every device now), or HDMI over optical. Extended applications could be on a separate table.

To simplify, it might help to condense cable variants into some generalized statement rather than explain them like I did. HDMI's variants alone would be several pages. Something like "RG-6 - several varieties (shield types, burial jackets, etc.)"

It's really important to get the terminology right though, even though the colloquial usage may be wrong. For example, you wouldn't use a "balun" to get HDMI over optical, though some may call an HDMI > Optical converter a "balun". That's an incorrect usage of the term. HDMI > Cat5 is also incorrectly referred to as a "balun" when that's not what it is. Manufacturers use the term "extender". A balun is a simple passive device that converts a balanced cable to an unbalanced interface. It's typically a transformer, or autotransformer, but can also be "faked" with resistors.

You might also include a column in the table that indicates potential issues a novice might run into. For example, using a component video connection eliminates any chance of HDCP, so a BDP might not play some discs via component, though those connections may be provided. Or on a cable box you might have composite and audio along with HDMI. But you aren't getting HD with composite.

You might do sections for cable types, like put everything with an RCA connector in the same section, DVI and VGA in the same section but separate line items. Where things like DVI cross over (DVI > HDMI for example) cross link them with a button like "related applications".

I don't think there's any way to make a handy wallet-card on this though. I've found that if it's to be accurate, simplification takes far more time than elaboration. Admirable idea, though.

Might also investigate what others have done, and borrow, build or steal some of it:
http://subwoofer-cable-review.topten...onnectors.html
http://www.diyaudioandvideo.com/TV/WireTypes/

...and my favorite so far, from none other than Dolby:
http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/...ons-guide.html

Let me know if you need more suggestions or a proof-reader.

rab-byte 03-20-14 12:08 PM

Sent PM
Let's make this better!

Anitadenny 05-29-14 02:56 AM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

HDMI is the undisputed preferred cable to use when connecting a Blu-ray disc player, gaming system or cable/satellite set-top box to your HDTV. That’s because HDMI delivers an uncompressed digital signal to the HDTV, which makes the whole viewing experience better.
So, it’s important to consider the number of HDMI inputs on a HDTV.
Answer: Only having one HDMI input limits your options. You can always buy a HDMI switcher. I own a HDTV with only one HDMI input and I use a switcher. Still, I’d prefer the TV to have multiple HDMI inputs.
The reason is because the switcher is another component that uses power. And, I wonder if it’s the cause of a slight sync issue with the video and audio. I’d prefer to have a direct connection when possible and not use a switcher.
So, if you can control the HDMI situation on your HDTV then why not go for broke. Get a HDTV that has three or more HDMI inputs.
Two HDMI inputs is fine, but two inputs will eventually put you in the same boat as one input -- either not using HDMI or buying a HDMI switcher.
So, that leaves us with three or more HDMI inputs. I like three or more because we really only connect three components to the HDTV with a HDMI cable -- a video game system, Blu-ray disc player and cable/satellite set-top box.
Chances are that you’ll never connect any more than three HDMI components to your HDTV anyway.
More information and products please check our website SITE REMOVED - SPAM.

gazoink 05-29-14 03:50 AM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

Quote:

Anitadenny wrote: (Post 767938)
HDMI is the undisputed preferred cable to use when connecting a Blu-ray disc player, gaming system or cable/satellite set-top box to your HDTV. Thatís because HDMI delivers an uncompressed digital signal to the HDTV, which makes the whole viewing experience better.

To be accurate, the transmission of uncompressed digital video from one device to another never makes it "better", it's just accurate and relatively error-free delivery of the digital video signal. It's only "better" when compared to analog methods. For some sources, it's not only the undisputed preferred cable, it's the only possible cable.
Quote:

Anitadenny wrote: (Post 767938)
So, itís important to consider the number of HDMI inputs on a HDTV.
Answer: Only having one HDMI input limits your options. You can always buy a HDMI switcher. I own a HDTV with only one HDMI input and I use a switcher. Still, Iíd prefer the TV to have multiple HDMI inputs.
The reason is because the switcher is another component that uses power.

Huh? Everything in the system uses power...nothing would work without it. Switchers are a great solution if you only have a single HDMI input and multiple sources. But every current TV model has minimum of 3 HDMI inputs, every AVR at least 4.
Quote:

Anitadenny wrote: (Post 767938)
And, I wonder if itís the cause of a slight sync issue with the video and audio.

Nope, it's not the HDMI switcher. Sync issues are caused by things that delay picture or sound, and typically the picture is delayed because of video processing causing a lip-synch issue. To compensate, AVRS have lip-synch compensation which usually delays the audio to match.

There's no delay component in an HDMI switcher, and no video processing either. Switchers don't cause lip-synch problems.
Quote:

Anitadenny wrote: (Post 767938)
Iíd prefer to have a direct connection when possible and not use a switcher.

Well, it's certainly neater, but there will always be a switcher somewhere if you have more than one HDMI device and one display. The HDMI switcher might be in a TV or AVR, but it will be there.
Quote:

Anitadenny wrote: (Post 767938)
So, if you can control the HDMI situation on your HDTV then why not go for broke. Get a HDTV that has three or more HDMI inputs.
Two HDMI inputs is fine, but two inputs will eventually put you in the same boat as one input -- either not using HDMI or buying a HDMI switcher.
So, that leaves us with three or more HDMI inputs. I like three or more because we really only connect three components to the HDTV with a HDMI cable -- a video game system, Blu-ray disc player and cable/satellite set-top box.
Chances are that youíll never connect any more than three HDMI components to your HDTV anyway.
More information and products please check our website www.wholesalehdmicable.com

A better arrangement is to have the AVR do all the source switching since it's going to handle all the source audio too. I doubt there's an AVR (or TV for that matter) on the market today that doesn't have at least 4 HDMI inputs.

HDMI source switching at the TV is only done if there's no audio system, kinda not what we talk about around here.

AU26 05-29-14 08:42 AM

Re: Cable Types Explained
 

Thanks rab-byte for starting this. Don't worry about being accurate as it makes other contributors to get on board and start clarifying it. And that's the point of being here, to get communication going and on the way learning a bit. Cheers from Australia.


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