Home Entertainment Connections Guide

The Dolby® Home Entertainment Connections Guide provides comprehensive information about the most common audio and video connections used in modern home entertainment systems.

What you can do:

  • Click the Details link under each item to get an in-depth description of the connection type.
  • Find out at a glance in which components each connection type is typically found.
  • Filter by audio or video connection type using the drop-down menu.
  • Download a PDF for a side-by-side comparison view.
Quality

HDMI

HDMI™ is a compact multi-pin audio/video connector interface for transmitting uncompressed standard- and high-definition digital streams.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is quickly becoming the industry standard method of connecting all the devices in your home theater.

HDMI is capable of transmitting high-definition (HD) digital video, multichannel surround sound, and advanced control data through a single cable without compression. HDMI effectively replaces up to 11 older cables with a single connection, eliminating cable snarl.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc™ player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), Xbox 360™, PlayStation® 3, camcorder

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Audio & Video

DVI

DVI is a video interface standard designed for carrying uncompressed digital video data to a display.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface) is a popular video interface technology made to maximize the quality of flat-panel LCD monitors and modern video graphics cards.

It is a replacement for the VESA® Plug & Display standard, and a step up from the digital-only Digital Flat Panel format for older flat panels.

There are three types of DVI connections: DVI-digital (DVI-D); DVI-analog (DVI-A); and DVI-integrated (DVI-I), which handles digital and analog.

DVI-D cables are used for direct digital connections between source video and digital LCD monitors; DVI-A cables are used to carry a DVI signal to an analog display, such as a budget LCD; and DVI-I cables are capable of transmitting either a digital-to-digital signal or an analog-to-analog signal.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital video recorder (DVR)

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Video

Component Video

Component video is a three-cable connection that allows the color and brightness portions of a video signal to be processed via separate cables.

Component video connections allow the color and brightness portions of a video signal to be processed separately from a source, such as a DVD player, to a video display device, such as a TV.

The component video interface consists of three RCA or coaxial jacks—one green, one red, and one blue—requiring three cables. Component video carries visual data only, so audio cables are still required.

Component video connections are found on most DVD players and HDTV tuners, and on a growing number of TVs and A/V receivers. You can also get full HD video through component video, but the signal is carried across three analog wires, and audio is carried separately—sometimes attached to this cable as left- and right-channel analog RCA cables (which would then appear as a five-cable connection).

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, camcorder

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Video

Multichannel RCA

Multichannel RCA cables deliver multichannel audio through a color-coded set of six (or sometimes eight for 7.1-channel audio) cables.

Standard RCA (Radio Corporation of America) connections are the standard means of passing analog line-level (or preamp-level) audio signals between components. Because RCA simply refers to the plug type, some home theater receivers and speaker systems sport multiple color-coded RCA audio ports, which can handle multichannel audio signals. The signals remain analog throughout transmission, so they must stay distinct from the source to the speaker.

Multichannel RCA cables are typically used for a high-definition audio track such as Dolby TrueHD, which is decoded on a playback device such as a DVD player. Each audio channel is sent as a separate analog signal to an AVR that is not capable of decoding that HD audio track.

Commonly found on these components:
A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, CD player

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Audio

S-video

S-video is an analog video signal that carries the video data as two separate signals.

S-video, or super-video, is a technology for transmitting video signals over a cable by dividing the video information into two signals—one for color, and the other for brightness—which allows them to be processed separately.

When sent to a television, the separated signals produce sharper images than composite video, in which the video information is transmitted as a single signal over one wire.

S-video inputs and outputs use a round, 4-pin jack to pass video signals. S-video was originally created for standard-definition TV and does not support HD display.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, camcorder

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Video

Toslink Digital or Optical Cable

Toslink™ digital or optical cables carry multichannel digital audio signals over a single cable using pulses of light generated by an LED.

Toslink digital or optical cable enables 5.1-channel playback on standard-definition content (content encoded with Dolby Digital), but does not realize the full high-definition capabilities of HD soundtracks such as those encoded with Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus.

This type of jack is commonly used for the digital audio inputs and outputs on home A/V components.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), CD player, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

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Audio

Coaxial Digital Cable

Coaxial cable is the kind of copper cable used by cable TV companies between the community antenna and user homes and businesses.

Coaxial digital cable is a single-cable multichannel-capable audio interface that, in terms of sound quality, is very similar to optical audio. This type of jack is used for the digital audio inputs and/or outputs on A/V components. Coaxial digital jacks are also sometimes found on higher-end PC soundcards for digital audio input and output.

Coaxial digital cable enables 5.1-channel playback on standard-definition content (content encoded with Dolby Digital), but does not realize the full high-definition capabilities of HD soundtracks such as those encoded with Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), CD player

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Audio

Composite Video

A composite video input or output uses a single standard RCA-style jack to pass video signals.

Composite video is the format of an analog television (picture only) signal before it is combined with a sound signal and modulated onto an RF carrier. This type of connection combines color and brightness information, sending it along a single cable. Though capable of delivering a high-quality picture, composite video is not as accurate as either S-video or component video, both of which provide separate paths for color and brightness.

Composite video jacks are often grouped with corresponding stereo audio jacks (the composite video jack is usually yellow, and the audio jacks are red and white). Though they use standard RCA-type connectors, composite video cables are specially designed to maximize video signal transfer. This connection type was created for standard-definition TV and does not support HD display.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, camcorder, Wii™

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Video

Analog RCA

Analog RCA connections are the standard means of passing analog line-level (or preamp-level) audio signals between components.

Analog RCA (Radio Corporation of America) stereo connectors and cables generally refer to the red and white color-coded ports and plugs that handle stereo analog audio signals. RCA jacks, connectors, and cables are usually grouped in stereo pairs, with one connection for the left audio channel and one for the right. RCA jacks are commonly found on most types of A/V gear.

Commonly found on these components:
HDTV, TV, A/V receiver, DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, digital cable/satellite receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), CD player, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, camcorder

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Audio

1/8-Inch Mini-Jack

The 1/8-inch mini-jack plug is a common audio connecter that carries analog stereo signals between numerous devices on two separate audio channels.

The 1/8-inch mini-jack plug is found in numerous A/V devices, especially portable electronics. Most mini-jack connections are stereo; that is, they pass both a left and a right audio channel. However, some mini-jack connections (such as microphone inputs) pass a single mono audio channel. This coupler generally has an analog RCA plug on one end and 1/8-inch mini-jack connection on the other end.

Commonly found on these components:
A/V receiver, digital video recorder (DVR), CD player, portable MP3 player, camcorder

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Audio

To better understand whether to insert the cable end into the input port or output port of your components, think about the source of your audio or video feed.

Use the input port if the audio or video source signal is being sent into the device for use; conversely, use the output port if the audio or video source signal is being sent out of that device.

For example, if you are watching a movie from a disc in your DVD player, the audio and video signals are "outputs" from your DVD player and travel to your other components (your TV or A/V receiver) through that component's input jack.

If a cable contains the same connection type on both ends, it most likely can be plugged in from either side, but if there’s an arrow on your cable pointing in a particular direction, then the arrow should be pointing away from an output port and toward an input port.

For additional clarification, view the connection diagram.