The Right A/V Cable For the Job

These days, if you want to catch a good movie, you don’t even have to leave your home. That’s because, of course, premium entertainment for the home has never been more affordable than it is now. In many ways, you might actually prefer home entertainment as you can get the same quality high-definition, digital sound and picture without having to leave your favorite chair; or while cuddling on the couch.  

Setting up your home entertainment equipment, though, requires a little bit of knowledge about cables, which connect audio and video devices and peripherals to each other.

HDMI Cables

HDMI stands for “high-definition multimedia interface.” it is the proprietary audio-video interface which transfers uncompressed digital video data and either compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from a source to another device. In most cases, you use an HDMI cable to run a signal from some sort of media output—a “source device”— to a monitor or television.  If you want the best home entertainment experience then you need a source which optimizes high-definition video and audio and transmits it through an HDMI cable to an HDMI capable device.


Composite cables are older than HDMI cables and, perhaps, are the next best quality.  They feature 3 video connectors and 2 audio connectors.  This provides better color and definition quality than composite cables (see below) by defining more colors.


For a very long time, composite cables were the standard.  Some HDTVs will accept them but the quality really is not that good, by comparison.  Composite cables consist of two audio channels (red and white) and one video channel (yellow).  The colors are somewhat arbitrary, though, because it doesn’t matter which one you use for which aspect as long as the input matches the output.

S-VIDEO Cables

In an S-Video Cable, the “S” stands for “Separate.” This type of video cable is old and outdated; you will probably not see it in use too much anymore. Still, some computers will run an S-video out to a monitor because it improves black and white shading separation, which makes S-Video actually better than Composite (and you won’t necessarily be dealing with the audio aspect).

(S)VGA Cables

Finally, we have the [Super]VGA Cables (video graphics array).  Similar to S-Video (but a bit older), these are the types of cables that connect a desktop computer to a monitor. Not really used much today in home entertainment, it might still be useful to you if you are planning to use computer monitors in your installation.