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Home Entertainment Systems Connections

Updated on November 30, 2009

Learn about the types of home entertainment system connections for proper installation

When you buy a Plasma TV, LCD TV or any modern home entertainment systems, chances are behind them you will be presented with an array of connections. Furthermore manufacturers will continue to add new connections as higher-quality signals become available. At the same time, they left the other connections or inputs in place to work with older home entertainment equipment.

Different connection caters to different types of signals. It is important to use of the right video and audio connection to get the best picture and sound quality when you are connecting up your home theater installation.

Home entertainment system
Home entertainment system

What are the types of connection expected?

Most modern entertainment system be it TV, DVD players, satellite cable boxes will have connections like HDMI, component-video, composite-video, S-video and other types that the manufacturers deemed suitable.We shall look at them individually.

However before that, below is a list of common connections you expect to find in current entertainment systems.

The list is arrangement starting with the connection that produces the best picture quality.


1. High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
2. Digital Video Interface (DVI)
3. Video Graphics Adapter (VGA)
4. Component Video
5. Separated Video (S-Video)
6. Composite Video (RCA)
7. Radio Frequency (RF)

Now we will proceed with the connection details starting with HDMI.

HDMI Connection

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. This input provides a digital connection to devices such as DVD players, Blu-Ray players, digital-cable boxes, satellite receivers, audio/video receivers and some computers. HDMI carries the audio and video signals in one cable. Thus this simplifies the hookup process compared to using Component-video or Composite-video. HDMI connection is able to convey high quality video signal which results in pristine picture quality.

Component-Video Connection

These inputs made use of green, blue and red RCA connectors. Usually they are also labeled the following way:

•    Green connector: labeled as Y;
•    Blue connector: labeled as Pb or Cb or B-Y;
•    Red connector: labeled as Pr or Cr or R-Y.

Among the three cables, 2 are for video signals while the third one for luminance. The picture output quality can be as good as those from HDMI. Thus they can be used to connect to high definition signals from Blu-Ray and DVD players, satellite receivers, cable boxes, and video games consoles. No audio signals are carried by these cables and they will require separate cables known as RCA Audio cables.

RCA Audio Inputs/Outputs

As mentioned under component –video, the audio signals are carried by separate cables. These cables are actually the white and red colored RCA cables to provide quality stereo sounds for your home entertainment speakers. The audio input can be recognized by the two numbers of connections that are red and white too.

S-Video inputs

S-Video or Separated-Video, these are circular jacks, normally black in color and have a number of tiny holes in it. S-video cables carry video signals only. The video signal is split into only two parts namely color and luminance, thus picture quality is lower than component-video. This video connection is normally used with cables or satellite boxes. Again no audio signal is carried and like the above component-video, a separate audio cable is used.

Composite-Video inputs

This connection, the video signal is not split but combined into a single stream. Due to this the picture quality is lower. Compared to S-video, picture quality of composite-video is lowered. The cable is a combination of three cables which are yellow, red and white.  The yellow color is for video while the red and white for audio signals. Such connection is commonly used to connect to video disk players, VCR, cable boxes, game consoles or camcorder.

Antenna/cable or Radio Frequency (RF) connection

These connectors are sometimes called the F-type or 75-ohm coaxial inputs. They are the most basic connection types. They are able to carry both analog and digital signals. When carrying analogue signals, the picture quality will be the lowest among the other connectors. However with digital signals, including high-def, they can produce pictures of top quality.

Sometimes they are called UHF/VHF. These inputs are the only way to connect to a TV antenna or VCR players in the past. Such connectors are still included in modern Flat TV screens to allow connection to older VCR players. By the way RF cables are the only one that carries both video and audio signals in a single cable unlike the other connectors.

Other Miscellaneous Connectors

Nowadays a modern TV may include other connections. There may be an Ethernet jack to allow the TV connected to a home network and the Internet. They may also have connectors like a DVI or VGA inputs to allow the TV to be a monitor for computers. It is also very common to see USB inputs and memory card slots to accept memory cards and display their content in the TV. USB allows the connection of digital cameras or camcorder directly to the TV. Another similar input and function to USB connection is the FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394.

Thus now you will have an idea of what connections to use the next time you need to hook up your home entertainment system. Utilizing the best connection available for your system results in quality picture and audio produced and this leads to an enjoyable evening watching your favorite movies at home.

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