Quantcast Which are the best cables to use? - digitalFAQ Forum
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04-18-2009, 09:48 AM
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Which are the best cables to use when connecting a VCR to a DVD recorder, a cable/satellite box etc.? S-Video, component, or composite? Just figured I'd ask to inform us all.

Last edited by DAN_D; 04-18-2009 at 10:07 AM.
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04-21-2009, 06:17 PM
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From best to worst...
  1. BEST: Component, as available. This connection separates luma (Y), chroma red (Cr), and chroma blue (Cb), and each signal is carried on its own wire. This method of signal carry allows for minimal crosstalk between the three signals. This signal allows for high resolution ("high definition"), and is often found on HDTV sets and connected components. It is the pre-cursor to HDMI and DVI, and is very similiar to SVGA used by computers.
  2. BETTER: S-video, available on most consumer equipment for about a decade now. This connection separates luminance (Y) and chroma/color (CrCb) on two separate wires, sometimes referred to as a "Y/C" signal. The chroma signals share a carrier wire, and there can be some crosstalk in the quality. In pre-HD terms, s-video allowed for "high resolution" (similar to the best image quality available from a DVD).
  3. GOOD: Composite, the "yellow wire" that most people are familiar with for about 20 years now. This merges the luma and chroma into a single signal, and is subject to crosstalk in the luma and chroma, yielding lower quality image than s-video alternatives. "Dot crawl" is a common noise, little hyperactive amoeba-like noise on the edges of images within the video picture, easily seen around text or bright colors. Resolution is limited, slightly above the image quality of VHS, but below higher-resolution video formats (DV, S-VHS, DVD, etc).
  4. BLAH: RF coax out, historically known as the "screw in" wire, as used for analog antennas and analog cable. NOTE: Digital signals (such as satellite, digital cable, or the new ATSC "digital converter boxes") are excluded, as the signal is digital and not analog.The entire signal, both audio and video, is crammed into the same carrier, and it is subject to FM noise and signal crosstalk, yielding the lowest quality image. This technology is more than 50 years old.
S-Video stands for "separated video", not "super video" or "S-VHS video". S-VHS and s-video have very little relationship, aside from their origins. S-video was developed to take advantage of the superior signal quality available from S-VHS (Super VHS) formats, as developed by JVC. In time, others adopted this superior-to-composite connection technology, especially in video games, DVD players and computer output devices.

VHS and S-VHS are natively "separated" with the luma and chroma signals stored separately on the video cassette. For the purpose of converting VHS to DVD (or other streaming formats), the best image quality will almost always be through the s-video connection, assuming the VCR is good and the tape is undamaged. While rare, note that some VHS tapes can have so much cross-talk in the signal that only a composite connection will yield the best quality image (something we've only seen maybe a dozen times in the past 10 years).

Exception! Laserdisc is natively a composite format, and the comb filters that allow for s-video output are often subpar. When converting Laserdisc material, it is suggested that you test your signal quality before making a decision on the connection type for making a transfer to digital formats (DVD, streaming, etc). In most cases, composite will yield the better image, with less dot-crawl or chroma/luma noise.

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04-22-2009, 03:15 AM
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As far as cables go, just quality shielded cables.

Gold is not necessarily the best conductor, so gold-plated wires are not necessarily better. Indeed many copper wires work much nicer, and can be far more costly.

Skip electronics stores, find your wires at Lowe's (yes, the hardware store), or Radio Shack.

Monster makes nice thick cables, but Philips tend to be just as good, and often at half the price. Philips can sometimes be found in Walmart or even Big Lots.

Use the shortest cables you can, too, not long cables where you lose your signal in the coil on the floor.

Audio is not as picky, you can use the free cables just fine. It's the video that is more subjective to wiring quality than is audio.

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