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Home Theater Connection Guide

With the recent explosion in digital and high-end analog entertainment devices such as HDTV, Digital Audio receivers, HD-DVD, Dolby Digital 5.1, 7.1, DTS etc there has also been an explosion in the ways to connect all the devices. This guide will show pictures and give a basic description of some of the various connectors seen in home theater systems. Please call 800 278 4002 or email if we can be of assistance.

Video Connectors:


HDMI is an audio/video interface which carries an uncompressed digital signal that contains both video and audio between a source, such as a set-top box, and a digital display, such as a plasma TV. HDMI can support all HDTV resolutions (720p, 1080i, 1080p), EDTV (480p, 576p) and SDTV and can be found on many HDTV and EDTV displays, DVD players, set top boxes and digital receivers. Shop for HDMI or, for more info see our HDMI FAQ.


DVI is an acronym for Digital Video Interface.  DVI connectors are used on graphics cards, LCD monitors, HDTV displays and projectors. The DVI port above can accept digital and analog signals, a DVI port which accepts digital only looks slightly different. DVI ports are found on some displays, set top boxes, DVD players, projectors, PCs and other devices. Shop for DVI or, for more info see our DVI FAQ.

Component Video

Component video (Y-Pr-Pb) is analog video sent as two or more signals. A common term for component is RGB and the typical component input connector consists of Red, Green and Blue colored RCA jacks. Component can carry high resolution signals but cannot comply with content protection such as HDCP, so is being phased out. Component connectors are seen on many displays, DVD players, set top boxes and receivers. Shop for Component Video.


S-Video is analog video sent as two signals in one package. Images can be displayed in standard-definition TV resolutions of 480i or 576i. S-Video can be found on almost all video equipment. Shop for S-Video.

Composite Video

Composite video is an analog video format. Composite can only display SDTV. In the US composite video connectors use RCA jacks and are usually yellow. Composite Video can be found on almost all video equipment. Shop for Composite Video.

4-pin    6-pin

FireWire is a high-speed serial bus interface for transfer of digital data. Almost every modern camcorder has a 4-pin FireWire port to transfer movies in DV format. Also, many PCs, displays and DVD players have FireWire. FireWire ports can be also be labeled as IEEE 1394, 1394, i.Link, DV or the FireWire logo, which can be seen in the upper right portion of the 4-pin image above. Shop for FireWire, or see our FireWire FAQ.


VGA type connectors carry analog signals. An older connector used on some PCs, some high end video equipment used the VGA port to display RGBHV. If you need to connect a digital signal to a VGA port you will typically need a converter. Shop for VGA.

Audio Connectors:

Digital Coaxial

Digital coaxial cable connects audio devices using the Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format, or S/PDIF. The digital coaxial input is and RCA jack and is often orange in color. Digital coax can provide extremely high quality digital audio. Shop for Digital Coaxial.


TOSLINK is a standardized fiber optical system which, like digital coaxial cable, transmits data via S/PDIF. The inputs are usually labeled ‘optical’ and have a distinctive protective cover, as seen on the left-hand port in the picture. The right-hand port is uncovered and ready to accept a cable. TOSLINK can provide extremely high quality digital audio. Shop for TOSLINK.

Analog Audio

Analog audio is a standard audio format on nearly every audio device. The picture is of the common stereo RCA jacks, typically a red jack for the right channel and a white jack for the left channel. Analog audio is also transmitted in mono, via 2.5mm, 3.5mm, ¼” and various MIDI plugs. Please see our A/V cables to shop for Analog Audio cables.

Please don't hesitate to call us at 800-278-4002 or email us at if you have any questions or need any assistance.

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