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Console Video Connections FAQ

This article answers some basic questions about the video signal formats used in consoles and computers.


Video Game Consoles will output either a PAL or NTSC Signal depending on the location for which it was built. For Example UK consoles use the PAL system while US or JAP consoles output the video signal in NTSC format. For a full list check our TV Systems & Power

Whats PAL?

TV standard used in Europe mainly stands for - Phase Alternating Lines, runs at 25 frames per second, with 625 lines on screen. The name describes something of how it works. The phase of the color carrier is alternated from line to line. It takes four full pictures for the color to horizontal phase relationship to return to the reference point. This alternation helps cancel out phase errors.

Whats NTSC?

TV standard used in USA and Japan Stands for - National Television Standards Comittee runs at 30 frames per second, with 525 lines on screen.Countries such as Canada and Mexico have also standardized on NTSC.

Video Console TV Connector Types

There are numerous ways to connect a console to your tv. Some of the more common ones are detailed below.

Composit or Component Video

Composit connectors typicaly come with 3 connectors, yellow (the video signal), red (left audio) and white (right audio). Composite Video is a single video signal that contains luminance, color, and synchronization information with a single 75 ohm coax cable, usually with RCA connector on the end. Audio signals are sent to the red and white leads.

SNES type Composite Video Lead (Yellow) with left and right audio in red and white.

The problem with a composite video signal is that the combined Y and C signals overlap in a frequency range starting at about 2.1 MHz and higher. When the composite video signal arrives at a monitor for display these overlapping signals must be separated again.


S-video is a separated connection that outputs the luminance and chrominance portions of the video signal individually to the television. Many of today's larger screen television sets offer an S-video input. (It's similar in appearance to the PS/2 type mouse port on the back of most personal computers). Using the S-video connector results in a noticeably improved picture. Colors seem crisper with a reduced amount of bleeding. Details appear sharper, with less softening around edges.

Cable is terminated at each end with a four-pin DIN connector. Although it may appear to be a single cable, internally it has two 75 ohm coax or twisted pair cables to carry the separate Y and C signals. LONGER CABLE will incur more signal degradation. Quality of the cable and connectors can also contribute to signal degradation


Most common connection type in the UK and the only option for many older consoles. An RF modulator on your game system combined the audio and video signals and sent them down a single cable terminated with RCA jacks which can be viewed with any TV which has antenna connector. This goes into the cable plug on the back of your TV.

The video quality is noticeably degraded due to a number of factors. The single cable leading from the game system was notoriously prone to interference from other nearby RF sources. These cables often break from repeated bending for storge. Replacements can be purchased from here for £3-5

SCART S-Video and RGB

One of the most common methods for newer consoles is a scart lead. Scart connectors come in two types, S-Video and RGB. If your TV has one scart socket then the chances are its a S-Video Scart Socket, if however you have two scart sockets then its likely that one is a S-video and the other a RGB Scart Connector. RGB sockets tend to give the best quality picture.