How to Connect Audio Video Cables

by Jack Gorman

At the advent of cable, television was simple: one wire from your cable box to your television took care of everything. These days there are a variety of connections: HDMI, Component Video, Optical Digital Audio, S-Video and RCA cables. It's luckily not too difficult to learn which to choose, and how to hook them up once you've chosen them.

Search for an HDMI connection. This is a relatively long, flat and rectangular plug that is all-encompassing: it takes care of all your HD video and digital audio needs in one wire. To install it, simply insert an end of the wire into an HDMI port. If no HDMI port, move to the next step. No further connections will be necessary.

Look for a component video connection. These are three color-coded ports that always come closer together (red/green/blue). This is also the only HD video connection other than HDMI; all others are Standard Definition or SD. To install them, locate the Component Video port you are using and plug in each of the three connections into the corresponding color-coded port. Skip to Step 5 for audio. If no Component Video port, move on to the next step.

Find an S-Video connection. This is a single, round and black port with four pins inside of it and a small indent in the bottom. To install it, line up the indent in the wire with the indent in the port and gently insert the wire. Don't force it; you could bend the pins in the wire. Skip to Step 5 for audio. If no S-Video port, move on to the next step.

Locate an RCA, or composite, video connection. This will be a single round port that is usually yellow. To install, simply push the end of the cord in until snug. Move on to the next step for audio.

Search for an Optical Digital Audio connection. If working with a home theater receiver, you might have the option to use an Optical Digital Audio connection. This will be a roughly rectangular port with tiny indents on the sides. Insert gently into the port, though you may need to twist the end a couple of times, as these will only enter the port one way. Skip to Step 7. If no Optical Digital Audio connection, move on to the next step.

Look for a Digital Coaxial connection. It is possible to still have digital audio without an Optical port. These are round metal ports that look very similar to RCA ports (Steps 4 and 7), but are not color-coded. Insert the wire into the port until it is snug. Move on to the next step.

Search for an RCA Audio connection. Even if you have a digital audio connection, you still need to install RCA Audio wires, which are a pair of ends color-coded red and white. Like the wires described in Steps 4 and 6, insert these ends until they become snug.

About the Author

Jack Gorman has been involved in many different areas in his professional career. He resides in the Washington DC area, though he consults with organizations nationwide. His specialties include film and video production, sports management, writing, graphic web design, marketing, communications, operations, human resources and photography.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera jack audio-video image by Andrea Riva from