RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (2023)

The opportunity to go out shopping for cables can make you super confident. However, getting the exact lines that suit your needs can be quite a daunting task. Luckily, we got you sorted, do not be discouraged as we are highly optimistic as we introduce RCA cables to you. Regardless of the nature of your business, either audio or video, RCA cables got you covered. Read on as we tell you more:

What is an RCA Cable?

This is a plug that has three distinct colors. Its primary use is the transfer of both video and audio signals within a device. The abbreviation for the cables stands for Radio Corporation of America. Usually, this plug connects with three separate outputs placed at the back of either a TV, radio, DVD player or projector.

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (1)

The RCA’s first use was during the 1940s. Its primary purpose was connecting phonographs to amplifiers. Thousands of home users liked how it functioned. This later one propelled its popularity from the ’50s to date.

How to Easily Identify RCA Cables

RCA cables come in three distinct colors of red, yellow, and white. These cables use phone connectors called RCA jacks or CINCH/AV. The plugs are primarily used to emit video and audio signals in an appliance.

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (2)

RCA cables split data into different streams depending on the type of signal. The cables then transmit the data to a specific jack.

In essence, the RCA allocates a cable for video display, one for the left-speaker audio and the other for right-speaker audio. Despite this system offering high-quality video and sound, you need to be keen on the setup. This is because a lousy structure will lead to low sound and poor video quality due to the entanglement of cables.

RCA Cables Color Scheme

Due to the involvement of various cables used in connecting, the RCA comes in several colors for aiding purposes. The most common RCA cable colors are red, yellow, and white.

The color scheme on RCAs is because most home appliances have three standard audio and video ports. Two of them are for the left and right audio analogs and one for composite analog video.

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RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (3)

In the color code, red and white indicates audio to the right and left parts of the appliance in use.

What RCA Ports Look Like

These ports are composed of tiny, round holes covered in a metal case. They come in different colors for indication and guidance purposes. Most of the time, you will find a device that has a color panel. This only indicates where a particular RCA jack fits and on which specific RCA port.

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (4)

Uses of RCA Cables

Although an HDMI cable is a more advanced way to link appliances, the RCA cable still has plenty of uses.

The RCA can connect appliances such as camcorders to TVs or even connecting stereos to speakers. Some of the most expensive camcorders mostly contain the three RCA jacks. This leads to the wave rolling in or out to be transmitted into three different ways. The routes include one video and two audios. This leads to an excellent transfer.

Low-priced camcorders mainly comprise a single jack, called a stereo jack. This jack mainly combines the three channels. This type of combination results in low-quality transfer due to compressed signals.

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (5)

Since RCA cables only transmit analog signals, they do not directly plug into a computer or any digital device whatsoever. However, RCAs come in handy when connecting an amplifier to any gadget.

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Several factors may affect the quality, performance, and price of the RCA cables. Some of these factors may include:

Material used

Connectors on RCAs are frequently made of gold, silver, or copper. The gold plated is usually the most expensive. Despite this, gold is superior to copper and silver connectors due to its ability to prevent oxidation.

However, silver conductors have the highest conductivity while copper comes in second and gold last. Other materials include zinc, nickel, and tin.


The cable length may affect the quality of the signal. For high quality, always purchase a cable that is long enough for a better experience.


Shielding of the cables plays a significant factor in its performance. This is because a cable that has proper shielding always offers a better signal than the one without.

Matching ends

It is always advisable to have the same types of materials at the end of the cable connectors. Never match tin and gold or even silver and gold. Poor combinations may lead to electrolysis hence damaging your device.

Types of RCA Cables

When using RCA cables, it is always advisable to fully comprehend the varieties available and effectively utilize them. The cable varieties are necessary, especially when connecting devices for video and audio transmissions.

There are two types of RCA cables i.e.

1. Composite video RCA cable

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (6)
(Video) Pro Audiovisual Signals & Cables

This represents an analog means of transmitting videos. It only channels its entire video data in a single signal. Unfortunately, the signals are of low quality. This is because analog video embodies three different signals, and when combined, the quality becomes poor.

RCA cable brands are distinct due to their different color combinations. The colors are mainly red, white, or black.

The cables are used for the left and right audio channels. The yellow color denotes the composite video.

This composite video has a 480i NTSC/576i PAL signal.

2. Component RCA cable

RCA Cable and Connector Guide: Everything You Need to Know - TVsGuides (7)

This cable is composed of red, blue, and green colored video lines. At times you can get it in red, black, or white audio cables. This is mainly for distinguishing purposes only.

Component RCA cables are of better quality compared to the composite RCAs. They are also proportionate to HD TV. In essence, these cable brands contain a better resolution capacity than most other cables. The capacity involves a 480p, 576p, 720p, and a 1080p quality.

Converting RCA to HDMI

There are so many different types of connectors for both audio and video appliances. However, all of them fall into two categories: analog and digital. The old electronics use analog signals, whereas the more recent ones use digital. Both the analog and digital have varying types of connectors.

This ensures that everything works perfectly. A perfect example is the home theatre. In this system, the analog signals usually use one connector from the two different connectors: component or composite.

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The composite usually has one yellow connector used for video display and the red and white for sound. On the other hand, component RCA cables use both red and white audio connectors, but they split the video into three parts: one is used for brightness, while the other two are for color.

Many HDTVs use HDMI cables that use digital signals. Digital signals have a better quality sound, high resolution, and a superior color compared to analog signals. However, this should not be a reason to purchase new devices for you to enjoy better picture quality and a much better sound.
All you need to do is simply use inexpensive converters. This can be the composite to HDMI converter or Component to HDMI converter whereby you can easily convert signals from your analog system to function well with your HDMI TV.

Most of the converters have the ability to upscale resolutions from 720p to a full 1080p HD.

Analog appliances

A converter is required for any video source that uses composite or component video to function well with an HDMI TV. The most common devices that use analog signals include:

  • Projectors.
  • DVD systems.
  • Old generation gaming consoles.
  • Video security systems.
  • Cameras.
  • Video cameras.

Make it a habit to check your connection ports. This results in a more comfortable and faster picking of the right converter that works well with your gadget.

  • The RCA composite ports are colored yellow, red, and white.
  • Component ports have green, blue and red colors—most of the time the red is used for video, whereas red and white are for sound.
  • Lastly, HDMI has a single 19-pin port connector.

Before deciding to buy a converter, you need to always check on certain key factors. First of all, examine the converter’s experience, the quality of sound, and resolution. All converters come with a maximum resolution.

However, choosing one with a maximum resolution of 1080p is always the best decision.


As we have seen in the article, RCAs still come in handy despite being in service for more than five decades. One needs to know their appliance well before deciding to buy the right cable that perfectly matches their needs.


What do each of the RCA cables do? ›

They are often color-coded, yellow for composite video, red for the right audio channel, and white or black for the left channel of stereo audio. This trio (or pair) of jacks can often be found on the back of audio and video equipment.

What are the different types of RCA connectors? ›

RCA Connector Types and Signals

Red, white and yellow RCA jacks have been the standard for carrying Composite video and dual-channel audio from your media source to your TV for many years. This format is also commonly seen as a Red (right channel) and White (left channel) audio cable.

How do you wire a RCA connector? ›

Connect the ground connector to the RCA end.

Find the long tab that extends out of the RCA end and has a hole in the center. Insert the tinned ground connector into the hole and apply the soldering iron to the conductor wire. This should be adequate enough to make a solid connection.

Why does my RCA cable have 3 wires? ›

It is important to note that some RCA wires also feature a third (yellow) end, which has the role of delivering composite video signals.

Do RCA cables have positive and negative? ›

A: RCA cables are signal wires. There is a positive and negative in each. They just signal to the amp.

What are the 3 main connector types of audio? ›

There are a variety of different audio connectors available. The most common types are 3-pin XLR, RCA, and 6.5mm TRS plugs (also known as ¼" jacks).

What are the 4 most commonly used analog connector types? ›

Connector Types:
  1. The RCA Plug and Jack: The RCA is the most common connector type on consumer gear for composite and component video, as well as for both digital and analog audio. ...
  2. The BNC Plug and Jack: ...
  3. F-Connectors: ...
  4. The 4-pin mini-DIN Plug: ...
  5. The HD15 / mini dSub 15 / VGA connector:

What cables do you need to set up a TV? ›

HDMI cables

Nearly everything you might want to connect to a TV these days uses the same connection: HDMI. HDMI cables carry high-resolution images and sound over one small cable.

How do I setup a wired connection to my TV? ›

How to connect TV to ethernet
  1. First, find the ethernet port on the back of your TV, and the password to your WiFi.
  2. Connect the ethernet port on the back of the TV and the port on the back of your router with an ethernet cable.
  3. Using the TV remote, select Menu, then Network Settings, and then Use Wired Internet.

How do I connect my TV to no signal? ›

Reconnect all cables at the back of the TV or box, making sure that the cables are all properly connected (you want to avoid loose cables that could cause signal loss) and if you have a signal booster connected, try removing that and plug the antenna cable straight into your receiver, recorder or TV.

What are the two wires for the audio in the RCA jack? ›

RCA audio cables come in pairs with two connectors on each end, a red one for right stereo and a white (or black) connector for left stereo.

What are the two wires in an RCA cable? ›

RCA audio cables come in pairs with two connectors on each end, a red one for the right stereo and a white (or black) connector for the left stereo. They are often bundled with video cables.

Do the RCAS go into input or output? ›

The red & white stereo RCA plug is a standard audio input and output port.

Can I use yellow RCA cable for audio? ›

Do you need Audio? Use the VGA video cable What connectors are on the back? Red/White/Yellow RCA S-Video White/Yellow RCA (This is mono audio. You can use the RCA cable, but not plug in the red.)

Do longer RCA cables make a difference? ›

Yes, cable length does matter when it comes to sound quality, and it is something you will need to consider. However, the extent to which this is true varies from situation to situation. The good news is the cables you already have are probably fine even if they are long.

Do longer RCA cables lose quality? ›

Composite RCA - 100 feet (regular); 250 feet (with extender)

Being analog, the image quality can degrade at longer lengths but the loss is not noticeable at 100' or shorter. It is possible to go up to 300' with a regular cable, but the quality level will vary.

How do you know if a cable is plus or minus? ›

In general, red wires are used to indicate positive voltage, while black wires are used to indicate negative voltage.

How do you tell which side of a cable is positive? ›

The positive wire, also commonly called the hot wire, will typically be black in color. It is the source of the electricity. The electrical current travels from the outlet or other power source on the positive wire, so if it is plugged in anywhere, it should be considered a live (and dangerous) wire.

Are RCA cables balanced or unbalanced? ›

RCA audio cables are unbalanced analog audio connections that send stereo audio over a right channel (red tip) and left channel (white or black tip). An RCA unbalanced signal typically shouldn't run over 25 feet.

What are 6 main types of connectors? ›

There are many connectors that are used in the English language.
Let's have a look at 6 common uses for connectors.
  • Sequence Connectors. ...
  • Addition Connectors. ...
  • Cause & Effect Connectors. ...
  • Contrast Connectors. ...
  • Emphasis Connectors. ...
  • Comparison Connectors.

What are the 5 types of connectors? ›

  • I/O Connectors.
  • IC Sockets.
  • Mil-Spec.
  • Modular Jacks & Plugs.
  • Other Connectors, Pins and Terminals.
  • Peripheral Connectors.
Mar 2, 2021

What are the 2 most common types of cable connectors? ›

Twisted pair cabling comes in two varieties: shielded and unshielded. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) is the most popular and is generally the best option for school networks (See fig.

What are the five common audio ports? ›

The most common audio connections you'll find are:
  • 3.5mm (also known as 1/8 inch or the small headphone size) ...
  • 6.3mm (also known as 1/4 inch or the large headphone size) ...
  • Digital Coaxial. ...
  • Digital Fiber Optic. ...
  • Stereo RCA (Red + White) ...
  • XLR.

What are the 4 main components of a sound system? ›

In brief, a basic sound system consists of these components:
  • Microphone (wired and/or wireless)
  • Mixer.
  • Power amplifier.
  • Loudspeaker.
  • All the necessary cabling.
Apr 8, 2022

What are the 6 sound formats? ›

Here are seven popular audio file types and some unique differences between them.
  • M4A audio file type. The M4A is an mpeg-4 audio file. ...
  • FLAC. The FLAC audio file is Free Lossless Audio Codec. ...
  • MP3. The MP3 audio file is an MPEG audio layer 3 file format. ...
  • MP4. ...
  • WAV. ...
  • WMA. ...
  • AAC.
Apr 30, 2020

What are the 3 primary levels of signal on analog audio cables? ›

There are 3 main signal types that our common types of audio cables and connectors carry. The common names for these signal types are "guitar level", "mic level" and "line level".

What are 3 examples of analog signals? ›

A human voice, analog phones, and thermometer are some of the examples of analog signals.

What are the two types of analog signals? ›

There are two basic kinds of analog transmission, which are both based on how they adapt data to combine an input signal with a carrier signal. The two techniques are amplitude modulation and frequency modulation.

What is the difference between RCA cables? ›

Video vs Audio Cables

In most cases there is really no difference between the cables as the only difference is the signal that they actually carry. A good example of this is the RCA cable. The RCA cable is typically composed of 3 cables that would carry 1 for video and 2 for audio (left and right channels).

What are red blue and green RCA cables for? ›

Component Video Cable

The green cable (also called Y) transmits the brightness information of the signal. The blue and red cables (called Pb and Pr, respectively) transmit the blue and red components of the picture's color.

Do different RCA cables make a difference? ›

RCA cables do make a difference due to them being high-level signal cables that are analog. Due to this, they are susceptible to noise and interference and the only way to overcome this is to use high-quality RCA cables, keep them short, and away from other audio equipment.

What is the yellow and black RCA cable for? ›

RCA cables are often used in media applications. You will typically use this cable to connect VCR, DVD etc, to your projector or speakers. Often this cable comes as part of a cable that also includes the yellow video connector. The video connector is often yellow or black.

Which is better RCA or HDMI? ›

Both RCA component and HDMI work well, but of the two, HDMI is the better choice. It's a single cable for both audio and video hook-up that delivers superior video quality, surround-sound audio quality, 3D support, and more, verses using many wires using RCA component connections.

Do high quality RCA cables matter? ›

Speaker and RCA interconnect cables should serve two key functions: to pass the audio signal with absolute purity at full fidelity and to reject interference that can add noise to the signal. A high quality cable lets your system perform its best, while remaining faithful to the source material.

Are RCA cables outdated? ›

Toss: RCA/Composite

RCA or composite cables -- the classic red, white and yellow cables you used to use to plug in your Nintendo to the television -- are still available on most televisions and some computer monitors. Toss. It's not the most popular or desirable way to push video or audio, as it's an analog connection.

What is the yellow plug for in an RCA plug? ›

The yellow, red and white cable is the cable for RCA or composite cables. The red cable carries audio data for the right audio channel while the white is for the left audio channel. The yellow cable carries the composite video.

Does it matter what color RCA cables are? ›

If the cable is the same, the colors don't matter. The standard meaning is Red - Right, White - Left (audio), and Yellow - Video.

What color RCA cable is positive? ›

The color codes for the four-conductor wire for speaker one are Red (positive), Black (negative), and White or Yellow (positive), Green (negative).

How do I choose the right RCA cable? ›

The RCA cable with gold material is the most expensive of all materials. They also possess the superior quality to silver and copper materials. The gold connectors also curb the effects of oxidation and cannot conduct electricity properly. Silver materials are suitable materials for electrical conductivity.

Do gold plated RCA make a difference? ›

Myth: Gold-plated connectors sound better than connectors made with tin or nickel. Fact: Gold does not tarnish, and tarnished connectors can cause problems, but there is nothing inherent in gold that makes it sound better than a clean connection using standard materials.

What are the 3 colored wires called? ›

Most electrical appliances are connected to the source of electricity by a three-core flexible cable containing live, neutral, and earth wire. To distinguish these wires, the insulation covering on each wire is colored differently. These colors have been accepted universally and this is called color code.

Is RCA analog or digital? ›

RCA and HDMI are two different ways of sending audio and video signals. HDMI is a digital connection for transmitting video and audio through a single cable, while RCA connections are mainly used for stereo analog audio or analog video signals. Although RCA is also used for a coaxial digital audio connection.

Where does the yellow RCA cable go? ›

The Green terminal is shared for both the COMPONENT and COMPOSITE (VIDEO IN) connection. When using COMPOSITE (VIDEO IN) connection, the Yellow connector (VIDEO) should be inserted into Green connection.


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