Analog Audio I/Os
XLR: A three-pin connector for balanced connections between microphones and mixing consoles/recorders, for example, or between system components at a nominal +4 dBu line operating level; capable of carrying phantom power to microphones; rugged connector format with cable-strain relief.
RCA/Phono: An unbalanced connector for consumer and semiprofessional audio equipment; levels normally referenced to a nominal -10 dBV operating level.
¼-inch Mono/Stereo: Used for various connections as plug-in links between system components; alternates are miniature 1?8-inch connectors.
Digital Audio I/Os
AES/EBU (AES3): Dual-channel digital interface capable of supporting 24-bit data transfers at variable sample frequencies; uses three-pin XLR or BNC connectors; self-synchronization feature eliminates the need for a separate word-clock connection.
MADI: A multichannel version of the AES/EBU format used in high-end studio systems.
S/PDIF: A consumer/semiprofessional version of the AES/EBU digital format; uses RCA/phono or optical links via short cable runs.
Toslink/Optical: For “Toshiba Link,” which carries digitized audio over an optical fiber using a rectangular connector at data rates up to 125 Mb/s.
Analog Video I/Os
Composite Video: Color and luminance signals are combined with audio and carried via RCA (short distances) or BNC connectors; modulated on a high-frequency carrier, such signals are carried via coaxial and similar cabling between antenna/cable/satellite outlets and set-top boxes, cable modems, receivers, etc.
Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr): Two separate color signals with a luminance/black-and-white signal carried via three RCA or BNC connectors.
S-Video (Y/C): Carries two video components, brightness and color, via multipin connectors; no audio channel.
VGA/Super VGA (Video Graphics Array/Super Video Graphics Array): A multipin format developed by IBM for PCs and similar devices with resolutions of 640×480 and 800×800 pixels, respectively; other formats up to QSXGA extend image size to 2560×2048 pixels.
Digital Video I/Os
DVI (Digital Visual Interface): Carries audio and video signals between a PC or workstation and displays; supports projectors and consumer receivers through DVI-to-HDMI converters; developed by Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) to replace analog VGA/S-VGA connections; partially compatible with HDMI in digital mode (DVI-D) and VGA in analog mode (DVI-A).
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface): For set-top boxes, DVD/Blu-ray players, camcorders, game consoles and PCs; carries compressed/uncompressed video, multichannel audio and auxiliary/control data.
SDI (Serial Digital Interface): A series of SDIs standardized by SMPTE to define digital-video interfaces for high-end broadcast-grade material; SD-SDI operates at uncompressed data rates between 143 and 360 Mb/s over coaxial and fiber-optic connections; HD-SDI or 1.5G SDI, standardized in SMPTE 292M, provides a data rate of 1.485 Gb/s; dual-link HD-SDI is used for digital cinema or HDTV 1080P; 3G-SDI comprises a single 2.970 Gb/s rate to replace dual-link HD-SDI.
Mel Lambert has been intimately involved with AV production industries on both sides of the Atlantic for more years than he cares to remember. He’s now principal of Content Creators, a Los Angeles-based editorial and photographic service. You can reach him at [email protected]