RCA Cables Explained

RCA CABLES

An RCA connector is a type of electrical connector commonly used to carry audio and video signals. The name "RCA" derives from the Radio Corporation of America, which introduced the design by the early 1940s to allow mono phonograph players to be connected to amplifiers.

They began to replace the older TRS connectors (also called jack plugs) for many other applications in the audio world when component high fidelity systems started becoming popular in the 1950s. However, mini TRS connectors (3.5 mm jacks) and sub-miniature (2.5 mm) jacks have been overtaking RCA connectors in some recent applications such as MP3 players.

Uses

As with many other connectors, the RCA has been adopted for other uses than originally intended, including as a power connector, an RF connector, and as a connector for loudspeaker cables. Its use as a connector for composite video signals is extremely common. RCA connectors and cable are also commonly used to carry S/PDIF-formatted digital audio, with plugs colored orange to differentiate them from other typical connections.

They are often color-coded, yellow for composite video, red for the right channel, and white or black for the left channel of stereo audio. This trio (or pair) of jacks can be found on the back of almost all audio and video equipment. At least one set is usually found on the front panel of modern TV sets, to facilitate connection of camcorders (through 3.5mm Jack to 3 RCA, also called Mini RCA or miniature jack plug leads), digital cameras, and video gaming consoles.

Component video is a video signal that has been split into two or more components. In popular use, it refers to a type of analog video information that is transmitted or stored as three separate signals. Component video can be contrasted with composite video in which all the video information is combined into a single line-level signal. Like composite, component-video cables do not carry audio and are often paired with audio cables.

The male plug has a center pin which is 3.175 mm (1/8 inch) in diameter, and is surrounded by an outer shell which is 8.25 mm (1/3 inch) in diameter.

In stereo audio applications there are combinations of either Black+Red or White+Red RCA connectors; in both cases, Red denotes Right. White or Purple may also be replaced by Black.

While these are the standard colors found on commercially made products, same-colored cables may also be used. For example, a red cable may be used instead of a yellow one, as there is no other difference between them.

Composite analog video

Composite

Yellow

  

Analog audio

Left/Mono

White

  

Right

Red

  

Center

Green

  

Left surround

Blue

  

Right surround

Gray

  

Left back surround

Brown

  

Right back surround

Tan

  

Subwoofer

Purple

  

Digital audio

S/PDIF

Orange

  

Component analog video (YPbPr)

Y

Green

  

PB

Blue

  

PR

Red

  

Component analog video/VGA (RGB/HV)

R

Red

  

G

Green

  

B

Blue

  

H(Horizontal sync)/S(Composite Sync)

Yellow

  

V(Vertical sync)

White