Finding the Right Cables and Connectors for Your Videos

Stop. Before you go further, or do anything else. Anything. Go over to your video rack or reach into your video bag and toss those crappy video cables that came with your unit. ALL OF THEM. Seriously, do you really believe that video companies would give away descent a/v cables just because you dropped several hundred or even thousands of dollars on their video hardware? Of course not.

Now that you have those freebies in your hand – take a good, long look. Flimsy, aren’t they? Little to no shielding to prevent signal leakage, no additional metal plating to enhance the connectivity of the product. In fact, those little beauties probably cost less than a buck to produce. And the signal shows.

Naturally, you know that already, being a discerning video professional or videophile who makes it a point to know.

Video has evolved way past the tradition RF Coaxial connection or even the standard RCA component connectors. There is now a bevy of options such BNC, or RGB cabling and S-Video – which separate Red, Blue and Green video signals – and digital cousins High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), DVI dual link. All these variants are designed to raise the bar for video and audio performance.

That’s where higher end cables from MONSTER, BELKIN or even RCA give consumers more bang for the buck. Costly? Perhaps. But when one compares the results – richer color and sharper images – these are like night and day. And as such, are musts in any cable and connector toolbox. So, if one is planning to lay out money for cables – whether for audio/video, computer, or even game platforms, why not spend a little more for the high end cables – which are designed for maximum connectivity and signal – and get your money’s worth?

And with the advent of High Definition video from the prosumer to the consumer marketplace, the stakes are raised as a loss of signal at the connectors can cause potential of those expensive HD components to be lessened.

That’s why this issue has a cable and connector’s buyer’s guide: to acquaint consumers with the types of connectors available and who makes them.

The most visible, and as a result the most popular, maker of high-end cables is Monster Cable. They take the concept of connectivity very seriously. As such, Monster rewrote the book on improving performance by improving connectivity. Incorporating such techniques as full coverage braid plus bonded foil shielding are hallmarks for rejecting video “noise” and interference.

In addition, being that a cable is only as good as its connection, Monster ensures it with 24K gold plated precision connectors for high signal transfer and enhanced video performance that doesn’t degrade over time due to corrosion or fatigue. And that makes for sharper picture detail.

And merely looking at the freebies side by side with the much “beefier” Monster cable reveals heavier, more robust construction and design which also minimizes impedance of the signal.

The PureAV product line by Belkin is another stout offering which focuses on connective design and robust construction for high performance and versatility. PureAV relies on oxygen-free, solid-copper conductors, silver solder joints, and quad-shielded construction to isolate from outside noise, drastically reduce signal distortion for audio, and deliver optimal video clarity and resolution. That’s what the press release says, and the devil is in the components themselves. For high quality metal materials yield equally high quality connectivity with the proper shielding to avoid signal leakage.

Cost effective offerings, such as Velocity S-Video Interconnects from Cables to Go give maximum video quality for the price and use low-loss dual 75ohm oxygen-free copper wire and foam dielectric for optimized picture quality.

Other companies like RCA Accessories, Comprehensive, and even Radio Shack have followed suit with high end lines of cables and connectors to suit any audio, video, and computer need.

Computer cabling is equally critical. The cost of standard PC cables (about $6), versus their sale price (about $25-30) yields a high profit margin with little regard for quality. That is why the quality of your computer cables and connectors is just as crucial. With consumers and prosumer professionals relying on PCs to perform video editing and DVD Authoring, the quality of the signal is only as good as the quality of the PC Connections one uses to move that signal from camera to PC. Once digitized, edited, and encoded, it then must pass through the same computer connections to be outputted back out to a video source, or burned directly to DVD. To lose the battle at this stage by relying on standard PC connections would be a sad waste of signal and a lost opportunity.

With consumers and prosumers spending thousands of dollars on cameras, audio/video, and even computer equipment to keep pace with the HD revolution, or even to maintain the status quo of video entertainment, it doesn’t make sense to rely on those cheap freebies that come in the box. So much lost in leakage and signal impedance it’s like living in the 80s through the prism of the 21st century. It only makes sense, to spend a few dollars more for high quality cables and connectors.

The image, and the sound is everything. It’s the difference between watching a snowy picture or hearing a tinny sound and feeling like you’re actually there, getting caught up in the story, or witnessing that family event in person. Now more than ever, a home theatre with audio components, CD and DVD players, camcorders and even computers with high quality cables lets one experience, not just see and hear, the way audio and video were always meant to be.

Proper connections, allows loud and fiery explosions, enemy attacks, or the clear image of a bride saying “I Do” be as close to being there as the size of one’s own pocketbook.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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