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Coaxial digital cable vs. analog cable

Updated April 17, 2017

Coaxial digital cable and analogue cable are two types of cable used to transmit audio and video signals. There are some subtle differences between the two.

Analogue

An analogue signal is an electrical signal that alternates its voltage between positive and negative in a sine-wave pattern that represents the sound wave or video signal.

Digital

A digital signal records the digital or audio signal as a series of "1s" (ones) and "0s" (zeros) and transmits that information electrically.

Analogue Connections

The connections on an analogue cable come in two forms. One is a single, 1/8-inch miniplug at either end, and the other has two or three multicoloured plugs, which are called RCA connectors.

Digital Coaxial Connections

A digital coaxial cable connection looks much like an RCA connection, but it has only one connector.

Interchangeability

Analogue cables are designed for analogue signals, and digital coaxial cables are designed for digital signals. Digital coaxial cable, however, easily can be used for analogue devices with RCA connections. Analogue cable with an RCA connector sometimes can be used for digital signals, but older or cheaper cable could result in the signal degrading, causing poor or distorted reception.

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