S-Video connectors often provide a quick and easy way to connect audio-visual components. You will often recognise them as they are usually colour-coded yellow - although not always so don't rely on this.
So what is an S-Video connection exactly, and when should you use it?
An S-Video connection on the back of your device will look like this.
The most common type is this 4-pin mini-DIN connection pictured here - although you may come across some with 7 pins.
Even though the connection is circular, the plug will only fit one way due to the position of the holes for the pins. Don't push too hard until you have it lined up correctly as it is quite easy to damage s-video cables this way.
An s-video cable looks like this - a male 4-pin mini-DIN. You should be careful when inserting the plug as it is quite easy to bend the pins.
If the pins do get bent, you can often use a small screwdriver or pair of long nose pliers to straighten out the wonky pins. Be careful though, too much movement will result in the pins breaking off.
S-Video connectors transmit a medium quality analog video signal between devices. It can only transmit standard-definition images and it does not send audio. It is a fairly common interface on many types of consumer audio-visual equipment - especially things like video cameras and games consoles.
If you use this type of connection for the picture, then you will need a separate connection for the audio.
You would mainly use an s-video connector for things like linking your video camera or an old games console to your TV - or for other older devices with limited alternative connections. An s-video connection wouldn't normally be used to interconnect devices such as DVD players and Blu-ray players as these devices should have better options such an HDMI connector or by using a component video cable (and most of these devices wouldn't have an s-video out anyway).
However, you should get a better image using this type of video than with a composite video connection, and so if you have a choice between these two then try this one first.
S-Video is a type of component video - but don't confuse this with the standard component video connections you find on consumer AV devices.
It can be called component as the video signal is split into two separate signals - luminance (brightness) and chrominance (colour). This process of separating the signal produces a better image than we get with a composite signal.
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.