Audio and Video cables are essential for home theater systems. It takes a great deal of effort to pick out each component to optimize the audio and video. If you don’t have optimal cables, it can prevent the system from performing to the best of its ability. Cables are essential for any audio and video system, like tires and brakes are necessary parts for a car. Most experts recommend setting aside 10% of your budget for cables and a power center.
What’s Available? Picking out cables for an audio/visual system can be a daunting experience. There are so many types that all perform different functions. Audio cables available are: HDMI, optical, or coaxial.
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Cables are a great one-cable alternative to using separate audio and video cables. Prior to HDMI cables, separate audio and video cables were necessary. HDMI cables have progressed from HDMI 1.0 through HDMI 1.4. Many HDMI cables in use are the latter versions, HDMI 1.3 and 1.4.
HDMI 1.4 is the HDMI cable to buy if you are planning on running a 3D television with a 3D Blu-ray, and or PS3. There is some discussion regarding HDMI 1.3 and whether it will work with new 3D technology. The higher-end HDMI 1.3 cables may work; the only way to know if your HDMI 1.3 cables will work is to try them out. You may need to purchase newer HDMI 1.4 cables. HDMI 1.4 cables provide the highest possible resolution and the picture is compared to that of a digital theatre image.
Coaxial When HDMI cables are not an option, choose coaxial cables, they are the next best option. They can transmit surround sound as well as 5.1 channels of DVD-quality audio.
Optical Optical cables transmit digital audio signals as pulses of light. Similar to coaxial, it's surround-sound-capable and can deliver 5.1-channels of audio. Unfortunately, it cannot carry the new high-resolution formats from Blu-ray. The sound quality of optical and coaxial cables is about the same, though optical connections are more commonly used.
Video Cables are used for providing a picture; options for video cable are HDMI, Component, S-Video, Composite and VGA.
Component delivers better detail than any other cable, outside of HDMI. If your electronics do not support HDMI, use a component cable. These work best with DVD players and HDTV tuners they can even provide a 1080p video signal.
S-Video cables feature round, 4-pin connectors, and they broadcast the color and brightness portion of a video signal along different paths. As a result, they more accurately present color and detail than either an RF or composite connection. S-Video can transfer video resolutions up to 480i.
Composite cables are most commonly found inside the packaging of your newly purchased electronic, but it should only be used with VCRs, older TVs, and other electronics when there are no other higher-quality options.
VGA or (Video Graphics Array) cable is used when connecting a computer monitor to a computer tower or laptop computer to your television. The cable allows only video to be transferred. While in use, a separate audio line is needed to be connected to speakers on your computer or television.
When purchasing cables, the best way to proceed is to buy the best cables that you can afford. When purchasing a high-end TV, high-end cables would be the logical option. If you are buying a mid-level TV, buy the best cables that you can, understanding that mid-range cables would be more appropriate. Rarely will a TV or home theater component come with cables that will give you the best audio and video.
There are the three components that determine the quality of the audio and video. As the quality of the cable increases, the conductor quality improves.
Conductors are wires that pass signals from one component to another.
Shielding insulates the conductor.
Connectors attach the cable to your equipment.
Conductors are made of metal. The quality of metal used in manufacturing determines how good the conductor will be is the. Low-grade copper or other metals will not produce a high-quality conductor. Solid core copper, stranded silver, and solid silver conductors are going to be far better. The width of the cable will also determine the quality of signal transmission. Skinny cables will not transmit a signal as well as a wider cable.
Shielding keeps AV signals travelling through the cable and the outside noise, otherwise known as interference, out. Wireless networks, power cords, phone lines, TV signals, radio signals, cell phones, baby monitors, and others interfere with A/V signals when they travel down an unshielded or poorly shielded cable. The more shielded a cable is the cleaner and less noisy the signal will be when it gets to your components. Noise occurs when unwanted signals invade the wanted A/V signal. Noise can lead to distortion of the picture.
Connectors are also important. Signals must flow through a cable freely—coming in and going out. Connectors can be attached to a cable many ways. Connectors made of high-quality metal and welded on are far better than connectors that are snapped, pressed or molded onto the cable.
Always use the best possible type of cable when connecting your equipment. In other words, if your components support HDMI or are high-definition, use an HDMI cable, it’s the best choice.