A component video cable provides a high-quality picture for your audio-visual devices.
But there are other ways to connect your devices.
So you may find that component video is not always the best choice.
Does a component cable send audio? What type of cable do you need?
In this article, I will take a look at component connections and discuss the pros and cons.
What Does the Component Connector Look Like?
The component video connection on the back of your device will look something like this:
It has three RCA connectors which are colored red, green and blue.
It may be in a similar layout like the one above. Or, the three connections may simply be in a single line. It doesn’t matter which.
The example here shows a component output. This may be on the back of a DVD or Blu-ray player, for example.
The component input, like on the rear of an AV receiver or TV, will look similar. However, it will be marked as a component input.
When connecting two devices together with a component video cable, the important thing is to make sure you connect red to red, green to green and blue to blue.
What Does the Component Video Cable Look Like?
The component cables that are used to connect two devices look like this:
At each end there will be red, green and blue RCA plugs. The color-coding is just there to make it easier for you to connect your devices correctly.
In reality, it doesn’t matter if you connect the red cable to the green output connector (for example) – just so long as you connect the other end of the red cable to the green input connector on the other device.
However, that will just get very confusing, so it’s best to just stick to the color conventions.
Red to red, green to green and blue to blue.
What Does a Component Video Connection Do?
A component video connection transmits a high-quality analog video signal between devices.
It can transmit standard and high-definition image resolutions – although high-definition images over this type of connection may be limited due to copyright restrictions.
It is a very common interface on all types of consumer audio-visual equipment.
It does not send any audio signals. You will need a separate audio connection if you are using this to send the image.
Or, failing that, a good old stereo analog connection.
When Should I use Component Video?
After the HDMI port and DVI connector, this is the next best video connection to use. Therefore, if you are unable to use HDMI or DVI on your device, then this will probably be your next option to try.
Having said that, you will find those who argue that they prefer the look of an image sent over an analog component video cable rather than digital HDMI.
In many cases, there probably isn’t much to choose either way if you have good equipment and cabling. Although, as display devices get ever-higher resolutions, you will probably notice the difference more and more.
As I said earlier, it’s usually better to use a digital connection these days. But, if you wish, try both and see which you prefer.
What Else Can You Tell Me About Component Video?
Component video is an analog video signal that is split into two or more separate signals. This splitting of the signal creates a better image than a composite video signal.
Using this definition for component video actually means there is more than one type of component video. This includes the signal sent by s-video connectors (which is split into two separate signals) and RGB (which has three).
However, in consumer audio-visual products, component video usually refers to a YPbPr signal. This type of signal splits an RGB signal into three parts:
- Y – which is brightness (luma)
- Pb – which is the difference between blue and luma
- Pr – which is the difference between red and luma
When these three signals are sent across component video cables it is possible to create all the necessary colors for a full image.
Can I Convert Component Video to HDMI?
What can you do if you have an older video source device that has a component video output – but you want to display it on a modern TV with an HDMI input?
This may include older game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS2 – or older VCR and DVD players.
The solution is to buy a component to HDMI converter, like this:
What you need to do is connect the component RBG video outputs from your device to the inputs on the converter. You can also take a stereo analog audio signal.
You can then connect an HDMI cable from the output of the converter to your TV.
Just be aware that this device only works in one direction – from analog YPbPr video to HDMI. You can’t use it for an HDMI to component connection.
About Home Cinema Guide
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.