How to Buy Composite Video Cables

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How to Buy Composite Video Cables

Composite video is a single channel analogue signal that is transmitted without audio for standard video definition. Typical resolutions are 480i or 576i. The different types of video connections include composite video, component video, S-video, DVI, and HDMI. In the case of composite video cables, the video information is encoded on a single channel, unlike dual channel S-video cables and three channel component video cables, both of which generally feature higher quality video.

Composite video cable is used to create what is known as an RCA connection. The universal standard is for yellow cables to be used for composite video cables, while the combination of red, green, and blue (RGB) cables is used for component video. As it only operates on a single channel, composite video is established using a single cable. Composite video is sometimes referred to as CVBS (colour, video, blanking, sync) video and is the type of video often found on less expensive or older systems, as compared to RGB component video, which is the standard on high-end systems.

Basic knowledge of the different types of cables, signals, video formats, connectors, styles, and their comparisons is important to making an informed buying decision. eBay and many other online and brick and mortar retailers feature a wide range of video cables in various price ranges, lengths, and brands to satisfy a diverse clientele.

Composite Video Signal

A television screen forms a picture by using millions of small pixels, and each pixel produces a colour of different intensity. Red, green, and blue are the three primary colours for light signals, and pixels produce a certain level of one of these primary colours to produce the desired colour blends. These signals can be combined and displayed on a screen as one composite signal, which is the common practice in more economical systems.

RGB Signal

In order to generate a clearer picture than the one generated by a composite video signal and avoid the process of mixing and unmixing the colour signals, the three primary colour signals are used as separate inputs to the screen. The cables are separate for each of the three colours, and the resulting signal has far better quality. For convenient distinction and easy installation, manufacturers colour the cables as red, green, and blue. RGB signals are used by professional studios instead of composite signals in order to achieve better results, but this comes with a higher price tag.

Composite Video Cables

Composite video cables are usually yellow in colour and have an RCA plug on both ends. Other names for RCA connectors include ‘phono connector’ or ‘cinch connector.’ The universal standard dictates that yellow connectors are used for the composite video signal, while red and white connectors are used for right and left audio signals, respectively.

Composite Video Formats

The three universally recognised composite video formats include NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. Different regions prefer different formats. The National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) format is commonly used in Japan, Canada, Central America, and the United States. Phase Alternating Line (PAL) format is commonly used in Australia, South America, some parts of the Middle East and Africa, and all of Europe, with the exception of France. Systeme Electronique Pour Couleur Avec Memoire (SECAM) is the common format used in France, Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the remaining parts of the Middle East.

Connecting Composite Video Cables

Composite video cables connect to electronic devices to transmit video data between them, such as transmitting video from a DVD player to a television screen. Connecting composite video cables to different components involves inserting the RCA plugs into video jacks. In the DVD player-to-television example, the male composite video cable is inserted into the Video Out jack of the source component, which is the DVD player, and the other end is inserted into the Video In jack of the receiving component, which is the television.

To increase the length of a composite video cable, the male plug on the cable can be inserted into the female plug on a second cable. Buyers should avoid connecting more than two composite cables together because this can diminish the signal quality. If the need for an even longer cable arises, buyers should try to find a longer cable or re-adjust the positions of the components so that the existing cable is long enough. Equipment should always be unplugged from power sources while connecting cables.

Using Component Video Cable for Composite Video

As noted for composite video, all picture information is sent through the single yellow cable, and component video divides the colour information and sends it through the three red, green, and blue cables. The three cables in a component video cable set can be used to make a composite video connection as long as the audio is added along with it. Care should be taken to match the connections by type, meaning that Video In should connect to Video Out and Audio In should connect to Audio Out, no matter which colour cable is chosen to make the connection.

Using Composite Video Cable for Component Video

RCA cables and component cables have the same wiring and ports and thus can be used interchangeably. Again, proper care should be taken to match the colours at both ends. When an RCA composite cable is used instead of a component cable, the video quality may be noticeably affected. The reason is that component cables are usually thicker and offer more shielding, as compared to the thinner RCA composite video cables.

Composite Video Cable Styles

Different brands of composite video cables offer varying levels of shielding, and higher levels of shielding mean less interference from external sources and better viewing performance. The price range also moves up for cables with increased shielding. Moreover, the greater the number of shielding layers, the greater the distance that can be covered without considerable signal attenuation. Some typical cable coverage lengths are shown in the following table:

Triple-Shielded Cables

Double-Shielded Cables

Shielded Cables

45.72 cm - 45.72 m

45.72 cm - 30.48 m

91.44 cm - 22.86 m

It is evident from the above table that triple-shielded cables offer more protection from outside interference and perform better at greater distances than double-shielded cables or basic cables. The same is true for the comparison between double-shielded cables and basic cables, with double-shielded composite video cables offering a much larger coverage range.

How to Buy Composite Video Cables on eBay

Thorough research should be done before buying video cables. Acquiring adequate knowledge of the different types of cables, signals, video formats, connectors, styles, their functions, and their analytical comparisons with one another is necessary in order to make an informed buying decision. One of the best ways to find a quality composite video cable on eBay is to use the search bar on the eBay homepage. You can enter your search query into the search bar to find the full range of composite video cables that eBay has to offer. For some queries, ‘related searches’ are also suggested on the results page, and this feature can often be used to guide you to the right product quickly.

By entering relevant query terms, such as ‘composite video cables’ or ‘RCA cables’, you can find listings for composite video cables in different brands, price ranges, buying formats, and types. Enter your postcode under the ‘Distance’ option on the results page to view local listings. If a local seller agrees to allow you to pick up the product, you can save the cost of postage.

As soon as the transaction is complete,  you should remember to leave feedback regarding the transaction in order to help future buyers.


Unlike S-video cables and component video cables, composite video cables process video information that is encoded on a single channel. Composite video cables are used for RCA connections, and as a universal standard, are yellow in colour. They are often paired with red and white connectors that are used for right audio and left audio, respectively. Cable combinations of red, green, and blue create what is known as component video.

Each of the millions of pixels on a television screen produces one of the three primary colours at a set intensity at a particular moment in time, and this collectively forms a complete picture. These signals can be combined into a single composite video signal for display on the screen. If three separate inputs are used to create the picture for the screen, the signal does not have to be mixed and unmixed, and this ultimately creates a better quality picture.

NTSC, PAL, and SECAM are the three universally recognised composite video formats. Composite video cables and component video cables can be used interchangeably, provided certain precautions are taken. Shielding on a cable is a very effective tool to reduce signal attenuation and outside interference.

Basic knowledge of the different types of cables, signals, and video formats helps buyers make an informed decision about the type of video connection they want to establish. Both traditional and online retailers like eBay offer a wide range of composite and other types of video cables in different price ranges, lengths, and brands to serve a diverse clientele.

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