Video Signals & Cables: Summary

This is the summary of the previous five articles looking at the different video signals and connectors commonly used in Home AV. Previously we have discussed  Composite video, S-video, RGB video, Component video and HDMI.

So which cables, plugs and sockets should you use? It depends on what outputs your other devices have. Below is the basic hierarchy for cables and connectors when connecting devices to your flat screen TV or projector


1st ChoiceHDMIBest quality digital picture and digital audio in one cable
If no HDMIComponent Video + AudioBest quality analogue picture, plus analogue audio – requires five cables. Normally you would have all five cables joined into one, or use a 3 core red, green blue for the video and a separate red and white RCA (phono) cable for audio
If no Component VideoS-Video + AudioNot as good as Component Video but better than composite video, not available on all flat screen TVs. Also requires a RCA (phono) lead for the analogue audio
If no S-VideoComposite video + AudioThe most basic video connection, being phased out on newer equipment. Uses the common yellow, red and white connections. Use the yellow cables for composite video and the red and white cables for analogue audio

This is what I call the hierarchy table of video signal cable.

The best quality, and the simplest connection is HDMI. If you can connect all your devices using HDMI, then you probably don’t need to worry about all the other connections. It is also the simplest as it has the video and audio all in one cable.

The next best quality is to use Component video. You need three cables for the video (red, blue and green) and two for the audio (red and white). Simply connect the green socket from the DVD player to the green socket on the flat screen TV. Do likewise for the blue and red connectors. Then use the red and white audio connectors to connect the audio.

After HDMI and Component video, the next best video connection is S-video. It is not always available, but if it is available, it gives better quality video than Composite video. It may also be difficult to find a S-video cable, but it is worth it if you can. You also need to connect the red and white for the audio.

Finally, if no other connections are able to be used, you can use the basic Composite video. This is most common when connecting a VCR to your flat screen TV. This uses the yellow connection for the video, and the read and white connections for the audio.

All the above cables will work. However I suggest it is simpler (and you get better quality) to follow the above table when connecting your equipment.

If you need to purchase cables, here is a link to Amazon’s range of Audio and Video Cables.

In other articles we will use the hierarchy table of video signal cable as a reference when looking at connecting your AV equipment.


  1. Hi Geoff
    I have the following equipment.
    Loewe Xelos 5270 full digital 100 TV set (vintage 1990’s)
    Arcam Movie Solo 2.1 – DVD/CD + Amp
    Topfield 2460 PVR
    When the old panasonic PVR gave out, I bought a Topfield and the re-connections done at that time have always been poor – e.g. composite to TV via a SCART adapter. The connectors on each item of equipment are pretty mismatched to each other.
    Loewe has 2 x SCART: AV1, AV2/RGB, an S Video in and composite video in, audio in/out.
    Arcam has Composite, component, HDMI, digital audio, all in/out. [sound to 2 Dali external speakers].
    Topfield has composite, component, HDMI and S/PDIF optical – dolby audio all in/out
    [An old Toshiba DVD player SD-2600Y (hardly used) can be added in if the Arcam DVD tray can’t get fixed.
    Toshiba has S video, component, bitstream/PCM optical and co-ax – all out].
    I can experiment but don’t want to damage anything. I thought to use hdmi where it connects then final stage component to scart on the TV? Not sure if the optical is of any use in early stages of connection.

    • Hi John,

      The Loewe TV were the best og their kind in their day, but there are so unsuited to today’s digital connections – my how technologies marches on.

      Its connections are obviously the limiting factor for you. It would be best to use the RGB on SCART 1, but we need to check if this is true RGB or component video, as is the norm today. To do this, connect the green, blue and red from the Topfied to SCART 1 input of the TV, and see if this works. If so, this will be the best connection for the PVR.

      The coax audio from the PVR could also be connected to the DVD/Amp (STB in) for good sound.

      The DVD player is more problematic as I don;t see any analogue video output on the manuals. How have you connected this previously?


  2. Hi Geoff

    I have just purchased a ROKU 1 STREAMING DEVICE as I understood it work with older TV’s. I have a Panasonic Viera 39 inch Plasma TV which is 10 years old but stills looks very up to date. It has no HDMI PORT. The ROKU comes with an HDMI port and composite red white and yellow cable. On the back of my tv there are no composite red yellow and white ports but there are two ports a red and a white labelled av audio ports and next to three ports which are green blue and red. The top one which is green has a Y at the side of it. I have plugged the red and white composite leads into the two red and white audio ports and the yellow one into the green port. I have then switched the tv to av and it works if you select AV 4. It has found the roku device but the problem is the screen is in black and white. I have tried switching the leads but to no avail. I have another smart tv upstairs which does have an hdmi port and the roku device is working fine on that one with no problems at all. It appears I am not getting any audio either. Is there a fix for this or is my tv just to old? Many thanks for a brilliant site and the links to any accessories you might need on amazon or ebay. Its the most informative and helpful site I have seen.
    Many thanks

    • Hi Deb,
      I would say your Roku works fine, as plugging it into the green ‘Y’ socket should only give you a B & W picture as the colour info comes on the accompanying blue and red sockets – if it was component video, which it isn’t. What I’m saying poorly is that the green, red and blue sockets on the back of your TV are for a different type of signal (Component), not for the Yellow lead (composite video) – which has the b & W and colour info all in the one cable. Modern TVs are smart enough to know this will switch between to two types automatically. Yours doesn’t do that because it doesn’t have to as it has three composite video inputs anyway. The reason you got no sound is that the red and white sockets next to the green, red and blue sockets are for audio out, not audio in.

      So the solution: there are two ways
      1) simply connect the yellow, red and white leads from the Roku to the yellow, red and white sockets on the front of your TV and select AV3 on the TV
      2) if you don’t like having the leads come in the front of the TV, and you don’t use all the SCART sockets on the back, you could use an adapter like this to connect the composite video and audio into AV 2 via SCART

      hope this helps



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