VGA to TV S-Video & RCA AV Out Converter Adapter Cables

Written by richard asmus
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VGA to TV S-Video & RCA AV Out Converter Adapter Cables
Converting VGA signals to other formats can be confusing. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Many computers, game consoles, video signal-producing devices in home entertainment systems, and computer and television monitors have VGA ports to connect high-quality analogue video signals. If you want to convert VGA to a lower-quality format such as S-video or RCA, you need conversion hardware. Two types exist and both use the same two names: converters and adaptors. One type only makes physical connections to the cables and the other type electronically converts signals.


Video graphics array uses a 15-pin connector to carry five signals for the video information to a monitor and four control signals to send information from the monitor back to the signal source for various applications, depending on the equipment options. The five video signals include discreet signals for each or the video colours, red, blue and green, and two additional signals for horizontal and vertical synchronisation. VGA has the quality capacity to send high-resolution, high-definition analogue signals to the most modern television screens. VGA only carries video information and has no circuits or provisions for audio signals.

RCA and S-video

Composite video mixes all video signal elements together on a single cable with an RCA push-on connector. It provides the lowest quality of all video formats. Some users mistakenly call this format RCA because of the cable it uses. When using three RCA cables fused together to include two audio connections, users and providers refer to this as RCA AV for audio and video. S-video keeps colour information separate from brightness and synchronisation signals and delivers the information over two coaxial cables fused together with four-pin connectors on the ends. S-video makes no provisions for audio signals.

Physical Converter Adapter Cables

Some manufacturers produce adaptor or converter cables with a 15-pin VGA connector on one end and various cables connected to the pins with S-video or RCA connectors on the other ends. These adaptors only make physical connections from the pins on the VGA connector to mix signals together in an attempt to change them to component, S-video or other formats. Sometimes they actually create a picture of questionable quality, but usually they don't work at all. Having audio connectors on such devices raises particular questions because VGA has no audio provisions.

Electronic Converters and Adapters

Electronic converters and adaptors need external power to operate. They read the VGA signals and use the information to create authentic component and S-video signals. Since audio is important in many system interconnections, these converters provide audio input jacks to accommodate signals from computer speakers, headphone jacks or other audio sources, and relay them to RCA audio output jacks for connections to television sets, amplifiers or AV receivers. Electronic converters can also change VGA signals to the digital formats, DVI and HDMI. But proper signal conversion requires electronic signal processing, not just physical connections.

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