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component vs. composite cables  

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I was at an electronics store looking for a set of component video cables. The prices are pretty outrageous.

What was interesting was that when I compared the cables inside the package with composite (audio and video) cables from same manufacturers, they look identical to me. The connectors are the same (RCA), the cable looks the same, and even the descriptions on the back of each box more or less read the same. Yet the composite cables cost considerably less!

I know that component video cables may have higher requirements, but to save manufacturing costs, wouldn't manufacturers build just one type of cables, and sell them in different packaging (at different costs)? If so, would the cheaper cables have worked just as well for me?
post #2 of 32
Believe what you want. Personally, if I could use component inputs, I wouldn't skimp on a few bucks for cables. Depending on the run length, you can get top quality cables for around $50-$100. Again, depending on your system, this may be a ton or a drop in the bucket.
post #3 of 32
If I was able to use component cables, I would just get regular composite A/V cabels from RS. My run would only be 3 feet so no worries there. WalMart seels the Philips Gold Series component cables, 6 feet is $30 or less.
post #4 of 32
Basically both composite or component use either standard RG59 or RG6 cable with standard RCA cables. the difference is that component video is separated and carried over 3 cables, whereas with composite video, it is squeezed into 1 cable - with the increase in bandwidth and separation available with component video comes the increase in image quality as well. You can get 3 composite video cables to form a component video cable if you want, it could be cheaper, but you'll end up with 3 cables instead of them attached together. Of course you could always attach them with cable ties, techflex and/or heatshrink.
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by bpape
Believe what you want. Personally, if I could use component inputs, I wouldn't skimp on a few bucks for cables. Depending on the run length, you can get top quality cables for around $50-$100. Again, depending on your system, this may be a ton or a drop in the bucket.
It's not a question of being cheap, but why over-pay if you don't have to?
If you knew that Monster (or substitute your favorite brand here) component cables are identical to Monster composite cables, would you still buy the more expensive ones?
post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Goi
the difference is that component video is separated and carried over 3 cables, whereas with composite video, it is squeezed into 1 cable
I've never seen composite cables squeezed into one cable. They may be "attached" to one another, but not "squeezed" into one. Most better composite cables come separate anyway.
post #7 of 32
The specs for a composite and a component cable are the same.

A cable of average quality will appear to have the same performance as a higher quality cable when showing a composite signal as the lower quality of the signal will tend to disguise this difference.

But there will be a noticeable difference when showing a component signal over 3 of each cable. So while a composite cable will work as one leg of a component set, you will see a difference with better cables.

How much better is up to you based on your feelings about cable costs and the quality of your equipment. I have 2 displays, a Toshiba 36" standard def TV with component inputs, and a front projector. I was originally watching my DVDs on the TV with RS Gold component cables (6 feet). I made a 10 foot set of component cables myself out of Belden's top of the line RG6 and Canare connectors. The improvement was noticeable. Not night and day, but plainly visible. And I would call RS cables fair to good quality (except for the stinking too-tight crappy poor tolerance RCA jacks they use).

On my PJ, The difference is much more marked.

If you really don't want to spend much (I don't) but want nice cables, make them yourself. But there is a difference.

BB
post #8 of 32
This is the industry's dirty little secret. Unless you are doing long cable runs and flirting with distance limits cables are cables. I bought circuit city's best component cable ($48) to make a run of 10 feet. Everything worked and looked fine. Then I made my own cable using half a lamp cable and soldered on my own RCA connectors. I COULD NOT TELL A DIFFERENCE. I was so stunned I asked my wife to try and fool me. I left the room and had her swap cables back and forth. Then I'd come back into the room and try to guess which cable was hooked up. Once again I nor she could tell a difference. Needless to say I took the circuit city cable back. Take that for what it's worth, but it's 100% true!
post #9 of 32
you must not have looking at the details of the picture. CCs best component (monster video 3) is not $48. 4m is over $100!
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by MikeBurke
you must not have looking at the details of the picture. CCs best component (monster video 3) is not $48. 4m is over $100!
I neglected to relay that this happened a couple of years ago. I'm sure CC has added more expensive cables since then. However I'm still running quite nicely from my home made cables.
post #11 of 32
Haven't used Monster's $48 cables. I'll buy that you didn't see a difference, but that to me suggests that these are not great cables.

I could clearly see an improvement with mine. About $50 in materials.

I don't think the broadcast industry is routinely paying $1/ft for good cable when 12 cent/ft lamp cord will work as well.

BB
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by palladia
I've never seen composite cables squeezed into one cable. They may be "attached" to one another, but not "squeezed" into one. Most better composite cables come separate anyway.
They are refering to the SIGNALS being combined into one cable. One composite cable carries a combined signal made up of the 3 signals which are carried seperately with component cables. The combined signals interfer with each other on the wire, and there are also compromises made when trying to reseperate them for use in the TV. That is why the color purity is so much better with component.
post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Brandon B
The specs for a composite and a component cable are the same.

BB
This is what I wanted to know!

Yes, the video signals carried by component cables will produce a better picture than composite cables (assuming the cables are of EQUAL quality).
Given that they look the same, and have the same specs, I suspect that a manufacturer's (Monsters, AR, etc.) component cables is same as its composite cables.

They don't cost the same though!!!
post #14 of 32
Yes, I would agree the mfr factors in a gotcha factor, knowing someone who is using component inputs has possibly nicer equipment and therefore likely more $ to spend.

But you are not often going to find a composite cable made out of "good" materials/parts. It is not necessary in most cases, nor will it likely be noticed.

"Look the same" is misleading. There is more to a quality cable than a thick black jacket and gold plated connectors. Monster's low end component is probably similar in quality to their composite cables. But the nicer ones are almost certainly not.

BB
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by Brandon B
Yes, I would agree the mfr factors in a gotcha factor, knowing someone who is using component inputs has possibly nicer equipment and therefore likely more $ to spend.

But you are not often going to find a composite cable made out of "good" materials/parts. It is not necessary in most cases, nor will it likely be noticed.

"Look the same" is misleading. There is more to a quality cable than a thick black jacket and gold plated connectors. Monster's low end component is probably similar in quality to their composite cables. But the nicer ones are almost certainly not.

BB
I agree 100%!
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Brandon B
Yes, I would agree the mfr factors in a gotcha factor, knowing someone who is using component inputs has possibly nicer equipment and therefore likely more $ to spend.

But you are not often going to find a composite cable made out of "good" materials/parts. It is not necessary in most cases, nor will it likely be noticed.

"Look the same" is misleading. There is more to a quality cable than a thick black jacket and gold plated connectors. Monster's low end component is probably similar in quality to their composite cables. But the nicer ones are almost certainly not.

BB
I'd tend to think that a manufacturer would make just one type of cables and label one set "composite" and one set "component". They do have the same requirements after all.

Yes, they could make a lesser quality composite cables that "look the same", but why bother? Cables are cheap to make, and it's not worth the extra costs to make yet another line of cables.

Monster's low-end componet cables are probably the same as their low-end composite cables. And my guess is that their high-end component cables is also the same as their high-end composite cables, even though they are priced differently.
post #17 of 32
A component-video connection is made with three cables of the same type used for composite video: 75-ohm coax.
post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by palladia
I've never seen composite cables squeezed into one cable. They may be "attached" to one another, but not "squeezed" into one. Most better composite cables come separate anyway.
I think you are confusing composite with component. Component video is carried via three cables (for luminance and two color-difference signals), composite by one.
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 
Composite cables usually consist of 3 cables - 2 audio and 1 video. Compoent cables is also 3 cables - all video. I agree that signals carried by the composite video cable is different than the signals carried by the component video cables. But if you compare the 3 composite cables (audio + video) that are sometimes sold as a package, with the 3 component video cables that are sold as a package from the same manufacturer, you will find that they look the same!

And the conclusion is that they are the same cable!

My focus of this discussion is on the cables themselves, not the payloads.
post #20 of 32
Get a multimeter and test composite vs. component (all three). Check the resisitence under a load. There is a difference between the "red/white" and all three component cables. Yellow may (should) be the same.

True cables can look the same! But so do Ford Mustangs! There is a difference 'under the hood'.

Don't compromise video quality for a few dollars savings.
post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by SDDI
"Composite cables usually consist of 3 cables - 2 audio and 1 video"

Once again, no, composite refers to the encoding done on the 3 primary video signals (RGB). The encoding results in a colour video signal that can be carried by one cable.
Left and right audio are not part of the composite video signal.

"Get a multimeter and test composite vs. component (all three). Check the resisitence under a load"

How do you 'check the resistance under load"? If you're talking about cable impedance, you can't measure impedance with a DC multimeter.
SDDI,

You are correct. I was hasty in my response. I am in agreement with you on all counts.

To All,

The point that I was trying to make is that the red/white cables (left/right "audio") are 50 Ohm impedence and the yellow (which is the 'composite video' cable) is 75 Ohm. All three component cables are 75 Ohm (each for a specific video signal).

Just because the outside of cables appear to be the same, they are not the same on the inside.

For example, telephone wiring can look the same a Cat 5e.
Single mode fiber cable looks the same as multimode fiber.
All DB-25 connectors/cable look the same, but pinouts can be different.
12/2 Romex looks the same as 14/2 Romex (on the outside).

They manufacture different types of cables for a specific reason. Use the proper cable for the requirement.

Now... you can begin a whole new arguement as to which is best: $15 Radio Shack component cables, $30 AR, $200 BrandX or "home made" component cables using RG6 and RCA connectors! Let the games begin!! ;)
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by Ratman
Get a multimeter and test composite vs. component (all three). Check the resisitence under a load. There is a difference between the "red/white" and all three component cables. Yellow may (should) be the same.
Does this mean that I can use 3 composite "yellow" video cables as component cables and wouldn't see a difference. I have a few of these single yellow video cables lying around and it would be great if I can use them.

Thanks



....
post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
I was in CC yesterday, and looked over the packaging of the Monster Cable composite cables (THX certified). While each of the 3 cables is color-coded, nowhere on the packaging does it say that you MUST connect yellow to the video.

I don't diagree with the fact that the audio cables (red and white) can be of inferior quality. I am just of the opinion that it's too much trouble for the manufacturer to do this kind of mixing into a package.

Have you ACTUALLY done measurements to verify that the red/white wires are inferior to the yellow one? While a few manufacturer might put in inferior wires for red/white, many probably wouldn't bother. They LOOK the same because they probably are the same.
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by palladia
I was in CC yesterday, and looked over the packaging of the Monster Cable composite cables (THX certified). While each of the 3 cables is color-coded, nowhere on the packaging does it say that you MUST connect yellow to the video.

The yellow color coding is an "industry standard" for 'composite' video.


I don't diagree with the fact that the audio cables (red and white) can be of inferior quality.

The red/white cables are not 'inferior' quality! It is that they are not manufactured to a specification that is designed to carry a video signal. They are spec'ed for analog audio.

I am just of the opinion that it's too much trouble for the manufacturer to do this kind of mixing into a package.

Why would a manufaturer go to the trouble/expense of producing/packaging the same cables with different colors? Also, Component cables do cost a little more than A/V cables.

Have you ACTUALLY done measurements to verify that the red/white wires are inferior to the yellow one?

No , I personally haven't. But I do know I like to stick to the recommended standards that are 'common knowledge'. I follow those recommendations in order to get the expected quaility from my equipment.

While a few manufacturer might put in inferior wires for red/white, many probably wouldn't bother.

You're missing the point! The red/white wires are analog audio with a 50 Ohm impedence. The yellow is a video coax cable with a 75 Ohm impedence. All three Component cables (red,green,blue) are 75 Ohm coax for video. Industry standards...


They LOOK the same because they probably are the same.

Believe what you want. Use any cables you like. We're just trying to help you with providing you the correct information so you can get the most out of your investment.
post #25 of 32
Quote:
The point that I was trying to make is that the red/white cables (left/right "audio") are 50 Ohm impedence and the yellow (which is the 'composite video' cable) is 75 Ohm.
Actually, analog audio cables do not have any specific requirement for characteristic impedance. Video and digital audio cables, on the other hand, should be 75-ohm.
post #26 of 32
Quote:
I was in CC yesterday, and looked over the packaging of the Monster Cable composite cables (THX certified). While each of the 3 cables is color-coded, nowhere on the packaging does it say that you MUST connect yellow to the video.
The yellow composite-video cable should have a 75-ohm characteristic impedance. There is no such requirement for the pair of analog audio cables in the package, and chances are they are not the same as the video cable. So although you could use the yellow video cable for audio, use of one of the other cables for video probably will not be ideal.
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally posted by sonnyc
Does this mean that I can use 3 composite "yellow" video cables as component cables and wouldn't see a difference. I have a few of these single yellow video cables lying around and it would be great if I can use them.
Right.
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Composite cables usually consist of 3 cables - 2 audio and 1 video. Compoent cables is also 3 cables - all video.
You're mixing the audio in with the video. If you buy a set of three cables labeled something like "Composite A/V," what that means is that you're getting a pair of audio cables and a single 75-ohm composite-video cable. If you buy just a composite-video cable, you're getting just a single cable.
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
Again, I don't disagree w ith what anyone has said here -- composite audio cables has different requirements than composite video cables, and they ought not be the same type of cable.

Still, my speculation (and it's only a speculation) is that since you can you use the yellow cable for audio (with no noticeable differences), there's nothing that prevents a manufacturer from putting 3 composite-video (yellow) cables into a package but color them red-white-yellow. Cables are cheap to make, and it might cost them less to do 3 identical cables than to do 1 video cable and 2 (cheaper) audio cables.

Again, it's just a theory here. Until someone has the necessary equipment to actually test various composite packages, I will keep on speculating...

Yes, in theory, the audio cables are not the same as the video cable inside the composite-cable package. But in practice, who knows?

And of course, assuming my assumption is correct for some manufacturers, then it's quite possible that you can substitute some composite cables (which are cheaper) for component video cables (which are more expensive).
post #30 of 32
Go for it!
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