Fact Checked

What is an S Cable?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

An S cable is also known as a separate video or S video cable. This type of cable is used to carry video data for standard definition monitors. S cables are used for image reception at 480i or 576 resolution. It is important to note that this type of cable does not carry any audio signals.

S video is frequently used in consumer products, ranging from TV, DVD players, videocassette records and game consoles. Converter adaptors are available to convert composite signals to S video. A composite cable is made of three different cables that are combined into one. These are the traditional yellow, red, and green cables.

An S cable is used to connect a digital receiver to a television.
An S cable is used to connect a digital receiver to a television.

It is important to note that these converter cables do not have an impact on image quality. They are useful only to allow incompatible devices to be connected with an s video. The signal converts have built in comb filters that are used to separate the different video signals. S cable is not used for high definition video signals, as they require a greater amount of bandwidth than these cable can carry.

An S cable can be purchased from an electronic supply store or a computer supply store. When purchasing this type of cable, check for the length of the warranty. Cables come in three different lengths: five feet (1.5 m), ten feet (3.05 m), and 30 feet (6.1 m). Purchase a cable slightly longer than what you need to ensure that it does not pull on the connectors.

Investigate the different connector types available. Gold or platinum plating produces a better quality connection and will enhance the image quality. Review the different connection options available and select the type that best suits your needs.

When connecting an S cable, make sure that the pins are locked completely into place before securing the cable. Never force the connector in, but look to confirm that it is facing the correct way. Once the pins are broken, the cable is useless.

If you have any image quality issues, check the connection. Look at the pins and the connector to ensure that they are not bent or damaged. Take the time to clean the connectors on each side to reduce the chance of image signal interruption. S cables are widely used, but are being replaced with HDMI cables. This type of cable transmits both video and audio signals in one cable and can carry both high and standard definition signals.

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Discussion Comments


I haven't been in an electronics store in a long time, but they're readily available online, including at RadioShack's website, so I doubt you'll have any trouble.

I hope you're saving up for a new system, as S cable to HDMI connections are surprising expensive, meaning that if either your TV or your video player (VCR? first-generation DVD?) goes, you might just want to replace them both. But hey, I admire someone who doesn't treat major electronics as if they're disposable. Keep them out of the landfill as long as possible!


My TV needs an S cable. I'm sure they're getting hard to find these days as nearly everyone is going for the HDTVs, but I still have a big boxy TV of the cathode ray era. Do they still carry S cables in electronics stores? (At least I'm not using composite, right? At the time I set up my home theater, S video was an entirely respectable way to go.)

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    • An S cable is used to connect a digital receiver to a television.
      By: Birgit Reitz-Hofmann
      An S cable is used to connect a digital receiver to a television.