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S-Video Connectors and Cables Explained

S-Video Connectors and Cables Explained

S-Video connectors often provide a quick and easy way to connect audio-visual components.

You will often recognize them as they can be color-coded yellow.

However, not always, so don't rely on this (because a composite connection is often yellow too!).

So what is an S-Video connection exactly, and when should you use it?

What Do S-Video Connectors Look Like?

Video adapter with a 4-pin s-video connection

An S-Video connection on your device will look something like this.

The most common type is this 4-pin mini-DIN connection - although you may come across some with 7-pins like the one pictured below.

7-pin S-Video Connector on the side of a laptop

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.

What Does the S-Video Cable Look Like?

S-Video Cable

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. 

Been there, done that.

What Does S-Video Do?

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.

When Should I use an S-Video Connection?

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.

What Else Can You Tell Me About S-Video?

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.

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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.

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