Composite vs. Component

You ask yourself, what’s the difference? It’s simple. The easiest way to tell between a composite and a component cable is the tails. Composite RCA cables have three tails; red, white, and yellow, while component RCA cables only have two; red and white. The color coded tails distinguish the proper input or output jack on your electronics to properly distribute audio and video.

RGB (red, green, blue) Three cables, each with RCA plugs at both ends are used to carry YPBPR analog component video

Component video is split into two or more component channels. Color coded with green, blue, and red, each with RCA plugs at the end to correspond to the female jacks on your video equipment. This specific cable breaks the signal up into three spectrums, hence the three tails, to deliver more vibrant color than a composite video cable would over a single wire. Like composite, component-video cables don’t carry audio and are usually paired with additional audio cables.

RCA Plugs for composite video (yellow) and stereo audio (white and red)

Composite video on the other hand is a single channel analog video transmission which transfers standard definition video at a lower resolution. The color coding on a composite RCA cable is yellow for video, red for the right channel and usually white or black for the left channel for audio. Most electronics have these audio and video jacks on the backside, but also one usually in the front for easy access to use for video game consoles, cameras, etc.

The Gold Tip Myth?

It’s always been said gold is more superior to silver. While gold is non-corrosive and more flexible, it doesn’t conduct sound any better. The only reason silver tips would be an advantage is if the cables are often unplugged and plugged. Due to the pliability of the gold tips, they would easily wear away much quicker than a silver tipped cable. So you decide. You’ll more than likely not be staring at the RCA cables for too long but if you prefer a longer lasting RCA cable, silver tips are the way to go!

Improper Connections

You plug in your RCA’s and you hear a loud BUZZ. Now if you are a novice “electronic plugger” this may alarm you and cause you to think “Did I break it ?!” Worry not! This problem is with RCA connectors when the male is plugged into the female. The “hot” signal is made before the “cold” ground connection has been guaranteed. This noise could potentially harm your equipment if it has not been turned off before connecting. A common mistake, so be careful and don’t ruin your electronics!

Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.

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