A SCART cable, also called a Euro Connector, was the first standard European physical and electrical interconnect between audio-visual devices. The SCART, which stands for "Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs", was developed by the French company Péritel, as the cable is still commonly called in France. A standard SCART cable features two male connectors that fit onto the 21-pin female connector interfaces located on each audio-visual component. SCART cables can be used to connect between televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and game consoles. They carry stereo and audio input and output signals, composite and RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) signals, S-video signals, and digital signalling.
A quality SCART cable can make a positive difference in picture and sound quality. Cables that come in-box with televisions and other components tend to be low quality, and lead to problems such as interference. Quality SCART cables can run from moderately-priced to quite expensive, but even a modest upgrade can produce excellent results. By researching different types of SCART cables, product specifications, materials, and accessories, buyers can make informed choices when shopping for a new SCART cable.
Types of SCART Cables
There are two basic types of SCART cables, optimised for specific uses. The choice depends on what kind of devices are meant to be connected by the cable.
SCART-to-SCART cables are standard, multipurpose cables featuring two male SCART connectors, one at either end. These cables are the most common, and can be used to connect any two devices that have a 21-pin SCART socket.
RGB SCART Cable
RGB, or Red, Green, and Blue signals, are sent by source components like DVD players, certain game consoles, computers, and Freeview or Sky boxes. Because RGB signals are sent separately, they produce a clearer, more vivid picture quality. RGB SCART cables are meant for those who want to connect between an RGB device and their television. Some feature one end with a SCART connector and the other with RCA plugs, or a proprietary connector for a particular game console, such as Sega.
Other Types of SCART Cables
There are still other types of SCART cables that are dedicated to carrying a certain type of signal.
SCART-to-component video cables connect between a SCART device, such as a DVD player, and a high-end component like a plasma television or projector. They feature three phono connectors at one end and a SCART connector at the other, and carry video signal only.
SCART-to-3x-Audio-and-Phono cables feature one composite video cable and a left and right audio cable. It is directional, and should be specified whether it goes into or out of the SCART connector, labelled as "to SCART" or "SCART to", respectively.
SCART-to-S-video cables carry standard-resolution S-video signals. They do not carry audio, although some may have additional cables for audio transmission. These are also directional cables.
SCART-to-6x-Phono-Video-and-Audio cables are similar to the 3x cables, only these have six phono connectors, allowing for signals to pass in both directions in the same cable.
SCART Cable Specifications
There are a few important specifications to verify when comparing SCART cables. Familiarity with some basic terms helps consumers understand the features of different models.
21-Pin Fully Wired
This is an indication that the SCART connector fits onto the standard 21-pin SCART female plugs on audio-visual devices. Since some SCART cables feature different connectors, it is an important feature to verify.
The 21st pin of every SCART connector is actually not a pin, but rather a grounding connector for the cable shield. This helps reduce noise and interference from external electrical sources.
The length of a SCART cable is an important specification. Cables are available in lengths starting from .75 m to 10 m and upwards.
The longer the cable, the more resistance it has to the electrical current flowing through it. The ideal cable has no resistance, allowing for full transmission of the signals. Before shopping for a SCART cable, consumers should use a piece of string to measure the distance between input and output plugs on their devices. They should also consider whether they want their cable to run along the ground, around furniture, etc. When shopping, they should look for the shortest length to fit their needs, keeping in mind that thick cables may be less flexible and require a bit more length to pass around corners.
Screening: Individual and Overall
Television interference is a common problem arising with low-quality SCART cables. This is caused by crosstalk between wires, which is when an unwanted signal passes from one wire to another. The result is a phenomenon known as ghosting, when faint images from another television channel appear on the channel being watched. Another result from this interference is poor picture quality when watching videos.
The best way to deal with this problem is to upgrade to a higher-quality cable whose wires are individually screened in foil. Individual screening prevents crosstalk between wires, and should eliminate ghosting. Cables labelled "overall screened" are not individually screened, and are less effective at preventing crosstalk.
Shielding on a cable protects it from interference with nearby electrical currents. Cable shielding can include braided copper or other metals, spirally-wound copper tape, or a conductive polymer such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Quality materials and triple or quadruple shielding ensure signal integrity.
SCART Cable Materials
Copper is by far the most common material for SCART cable wiring, in the conductor, shielding, and connector. It is highly conductive and has long been the standard in electrical wiring. High-end cables boast oxygen-free copper (OFC), which has has an oxygen content of 0.001 percent and at least 99.95-percent purity. The reduced amount of oxygen prevents oxidation, to which copper is prone. Oxidation causes corrosion and increased resistance in the wiring, so oxygen-free copper should be more durable.
Cables that incorporate PCOCC (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting) claim that this single-crystal copper is optimal for creating a clear signal path, resulting in the best-possible performance.
Silver, like copper, is highly conductive, though is less often used for wiring because it is costlier. It is an excellent material for shielding and soldering.
Gold is a conductive metal that resists oxidation. 22-karat and 24-karat gold are optimal.
PVC is the most common material for the jacket, the cable’s outside coating. The jacket protects against abrasion, and also serves as a protective layer against fire. PVC is flexible, strong, and has good abrasion resistance.
SCART Cable Design Options
There are several design and construction options that can make a difference in a SCART cable’s performance and durability.
SCART cables differ in the angle at which they enter the plug into the components’ input and output. Many fit at 90 degrees, others at 45 degrees, and still others are parallel to the SCART plug. Heavy cables that fit at 90 degrees may weigh slightly on the plug, or, if the cable is disturbed, may jostle the connection slightly. However, securing the cable easily solves this issue.
Cast Metal Plugs
Die-cast metal plugs screen the connector area, preventing interference for a clear connection.
While most cables are rounded, flat cables offer the advantage of higher screening, since the wires are spaced farther apart from each other. As discussed above, screening prevents crosstalk between wires.
Oxidation is a natural process to which copper and other metals are prone. Over time, it can lead to corrosion and reduce the cable’s transmissive capability. Gold resists oxidation, making it an ideal material for connectors. It protects the part of the cable exposed to air, preventing oxidation and ensuring a durable, high-quality connection.
If gold-plated connector bodies are too expensive, metal connector bodies are a good alternative. They are generally better quality than plastic connector bodies.
Some SCART cables feature moulded grips along the sides of the plug. These rubber grips make it easy to insert and disconnect the plug.
Soldering is a process that connects the wire to the connector by filling the space between them with a metal alloy, usually a combination of tin, copper, and silver. Silver soldering is the most conductive and used in high-end cables.
SCART Cable Accessories
For convenience and versatility, switches and converters allow more options when connecting SCART devices.
Since televisions may only have one or two SCART plugs, connecting several SCART components simultaneously requires the use of a SCART switch. There are a few different kinds of SCART switches, as outlined in the following chart.
Does not require external power supply; routes signals directly to plug; interference can occur even when only one device is powered on; not highly recommended
Does not require external power supply; allows user to select which device to route; good inexpensive option; avoid push-button models, as they do not fully isolate the sockets, which may result in interference
Auto with No Manual Override
Requires external power source; automatically routes signal; often includes options for smart switching; more reliable than passive auto switches
Auto with Manual Override
Most expensive switch type; often useful as more complex switching hub; quality models are very reliable
Consumers should also check that the switch is compatible with their particular equipment. This is especially true with game consoles.
SCART to HDMI Converters and HDMI to SCART Converters
With the onset of high-definition television, more and more components feature HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) plugs, rather than SCART. High-definition signals have a much higher resolution than SCART is capable of processing. When connecting between HDMI and SCART plugs, a converter is required, either to up-scale the signal (from SCART to HDMI), or down-scale it (from HDMI to SCART). Cables that advertise conversion from SCART to HDMI are making a false claim, since extra power is required for that conversion.
SCART-to-HDMI converters are used to connect source components with a SCART plug, such as older game consoles, DVD players, and VCRs, to a television with an HDMI input.
HDMI-to-SCART converters do the reverse: they can help connect newer source components that feature HDMI outputs to a television with a SCART input. These converters require an additional cable for audio signals; users should check that this cable is compatible with the converter.
Where to Buy SCART Cables
SCART cables are available at electronic supply shops, and also online through electronics retailers and at online auctions like eBay. Buyers are advised to research products carefully, read product reviews, and confirm that any models under consideration are compatible with their audio-visual devices.
How to Buy a SCART Cable on eBay
eBay has a wide selection of SCART cables, switches, and converters, all at competitive prices. Start your search on eBay’s home page by entering keywords like "3 m SCART cable" into the search bar. Keep in mind that some sellers may list their items as a "SCART lead", so you may want to check both terms. You can narrow your results by selecting price range, seller location, and more. To learn more about searching visit the Search Tips page.
Once you’ve found an item you’re interested in, read the product description carefully, checking for specifications about length, construction, materials, and more. Verify whether the seller accepts returns, and note shipping fees as well, since they are in addition to what you bid.
SCART cables have long been the standard connection between audio-visual devices in Europe. By streamlining analogue and digital signals into one cable, they simplified the connection process and reduced the possibility for error. High-quality SCART cables are preferable over their inexpensive counterparts, since crosstalk between unscreened wires leads to viewing interference. High quality cables also are made with better materials for improved durability and performance.
There are several different kinds of SCART cables, depending on the type of signal they are meant to carry, from S-video to RGB. Key specifications to look for in any SCART cable include individual screening to prevent crosstalk, shielding to reduce interference with other devices, and the proper length. Buyers can also opt for other options like gold-plated connectors and moulded grips. Finally, SCART switches and converters help connect between multiple SCART devices, and SCART and HDMI devices, respectively.
Knowing what to look for in a quality SCART cable can help consumers find one that provides an excellent connection between their home theatre devices.