Visual Guide to Audio/Video Connectors and Cables


Connectors

Cables

Connectors
 

"F" Connector  "F" Connector, Front View "F" connector, Side View Combined
Audio/Video
A connector used heavily in audio/video connections, and particularly for 75-ohm coax connections.
Phono (RCA) Plug Phono Plug, Facing View phono-img.jpg (10509 bytes) Audio
or Video
This is the standard connector for audio/video signals. They are usually color-coded with Yellow for Video, Red for Right Audio and White for Left Audio. The image shows a four-slit plug.

RCA stands for "Radio Corporation of America", which set this connector as a standard.

Phono (RCA) Jack Phono Jack, Facing View rca-jk-img.jpg (3204 bytes) Audio
or Video
Phono Plug,
Right-angle
Phono Plug, Facing View phono-rtang.jpg (5335 bytes) Audio
or Video
This type of phono plug is used where space does not allow for easy connection with a standard phono plug.
Phono Plug,
Piggy-back
Phono Plug, Facing View phono-piggy2.jpg (6085 bytes) Audio
or Video
This phono plug is angled and has a phono jack in-line with the plug. It is used for specialized hookups where it is necessary to connect two phono plugs to the same jack.
IEEE-1394
or Firewire Plugs
Firewire Plugs, Front and Side View

Audio or
Video or
Computer

IEEE-1394 ("I triple-E 1394") is the technical name for what are more commonly called firewire cables. These cables end in two types of plugs, as shown at left.
Phone Plug, Mono
(1/4", 1/8", 3/32")
Mono Phone Plug, Side View Audio This is the standard connector for headphones, microphones and musical instrument cords.

The plugs come in two types (stereo and mono) and three sizes: 1/4" (6.35 mm), 1/8" (3.5 mm or mini) and 3/32" (2.5 mm or submini).

The difference between a stereo and mono phone plug is the number of bands. A stereo plug has two bands, and a mono plug only has one.

Phone Plug, Stereo
(1/4", 1/8", 3/32")
Stereo Phone Plug, Side View
Phone Plug, Right-angle
(1/4", 1/8", 3/32")
Right Angle Phone Plug (mono), Side View
XLR Plug XLR Plug, Facing and Side View Audio XLR connectors are used in custom "pro" audio hookups to connect microphones to PA amplifiers, mixers or extension cords. These hookups are balanced, which helps cut out noise and hum pickup.

These connectors are based on the 3-pin circular connectors invented by ITT Cannon. "XLR" is their series prefix. It is now used as a generic description.

XLR Jack XLR Jack, Facing and Side View Audio
DIN Plug DIN Plug, Facing and Side View Audio or
Computer
DIN plugs are used in computer systems and European tape decks, recorders and audio components.
Toslink Plug Toslink Plug, Side View

Audio

Toslink connectors are used to connect optical audio connections, such as on a DVD or CD player.
Speaker Terminals Speaker Terminals, Front View Audio Speaker terminals are used to connect bare wire or pin connectors to speakers, amplifiers or receivers. Connections are made by pressing down the lever, inserting the wire or pin, then releasing the lever.
Pin Connector Pin Connector, Side View Audio These two connectors are used to terminate the bare wire on either megacable or speaker wire in order to connect to speaker terminals.
Banana Plug

Banana Connector, Side View

Audio
Spade Connector

Spade Connector, Side View

Audio These two connectors are used to terminate the bare wire on either megacable or speaker wire in order to connect to screw terminals.
Ring Connector

Ring Terminal, Side View

Audio
S-video or
SVHS-video Plug

S-video Plug, Front View

S-video Plug, Side View Video S-video connectors are used for high-quality video connections.
S-video or
SVHS-video Jack

S-video Jack, Front View

Video
BNC Connector BNC Connector, Side View Video or
Communications
This connector is used in communications and some video applications. "BNC" stands for "Bayonet Neill Concelman" and is named after the inventors, Paul Neill and Carl Concelman.
 
Back to Top

Cables

Cable Terminology

Cables can be described based on the number and type of conductors, the gauge number and the usage description.

The conductor is the metal part of the wire of cable that carries electricity. "Multi-conductor" indicates that there is either two or more conductors within a single insulated sheath, or that two or more conductors with separate insulated sheaths are fused together. "Stranded-conductor" indicates that the conductor is made up of a number of small strands of wire twisted together and has the advantage of being highly flexible, making it very popular for speaker and audio hookups. "Solid-conductor" indicates that the conductor is a single wire.

The gauge number (such as 12-gauge, 12 ga. or AWG-12) indicates the size of the conductor. A lower gauge number means a larger conductor size. Just as a large pipe can carry more water than a small one, a large wire conductor can carry more electrical current. "AWG" stands for "American Wire Gauge".

The other consideration when looking at cables is where the cable will be used.

If the cable does not carry one of the designations above, then it is rated for indoor, non-in-wall use.

In addition, our top-end connectors (whether on a cable or sold separately) are gold-plated. The connector is gold-plated to provide better connectivity and corrosion-resistance. For coastal and other high-humidity areas, corrosion can be a serious problem.

 
Back to Top

Pre-made Cables

75-ohm Coax A/V Cables 75-ohm Coax A/V Cable Combined
Audio/Video
75-ohm coax A/V cables have an F connector on each end and are used to connect satellite and local broadcast antennas to receivers, monitors or televisions.
A/V Patch Cables
Stereo Patch Cables
A/V Patch Cable Audio or
Video
Audio/Video patch cables consist of standard cables with an RCA plug on each end. They are available as a single cable or as a bundle of two, three or four cables.
IEEE-1394 Cables
or Firewire Cables
Firewire Cable

Audio or
Video

IEEE-1394 ("I triple-E 1394") is the technical name for what are more commonly called firewire cables. These cables are used to carry audio/video signals with virtually no signal loss.
Digital Audio Cables
Digital Coax Cables
Digital Coax Cable Audio Digital audio cables are double-shielded, solid-conductor cables with gold-plated, 6-slit, high-performance phono plugs at each end.
Optical Cables Optical Cable Audio Optical cables have a Toslink connector on each end and are used to connect optical audio connections, such as on a DVD or CD player.
Component Video Cables Component Video Cable Video Component video cables have three RCA plugs on each end and are generally color-coded Red, Blue and Green.
S-video Cables S-video Cable Video S-video cables have an S-video plug on each end.
 
Back to Top

Bulk Cables

Some applications require a longer cable or one that has a connector configuration that is not available as a pre-made cable. RadioShack sells cables with a varying number of conductors, conductor types and gauges, allowing the consumer to construct a wide range of custom cables.

Coaxial Cable
Coax Cable:
Coax Cable

Combined
Audio/Video

This cable consists of a center wire surrounded by insulation and then a grounded shield of thin metal and braided wire to minimize electrical and radio frequency interference.

The maximum length before signal degradation is 100 feet.

Twin-lead Cable: 300-ohm Twinlead Cable

Combined
Audio/Video

Literally, "twin-lead" simply means a cable which has two conductors. It is commonly used to describe the 300-ohm flat cable (with the two conductors encased in flat insulation) that is used with older antennas and televisions to carry separate UHF and VHF signals.

The maximum length before signal degradation is 100 feet.

Speaker Cable,
Megacable:
Megacable Speaker Cable Audio These cables are used to connect the speaker terminals on receivers and speakers. Megacable is RadioShack's high-end speaker cable.
Speaker Cable,
Standard:
Standard Speaker Cable Audio
S-video Cable
SVHS-video Cable:
S-video Cable, Showing Conductors Video S-video cables can be combined with S-video Plugs to construct your own cable.

The maximum length before signal degradation is 60 feet.

Audio Cable, Shielded Single-conductor Audio Cable Audio Shielded audio cable is a single-conductor cable and is most often used with either phono plugs or mono phone plugs.

The maximum length before signal degradation is 150 feet.

 
Back to Top

Copyright RadioShack Corporation 2002. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy