RCA vs. Component Cable – How Do These Cables Differ from Each Other

RCA vs Component Cable

How is RCA different from component cable? Well, let us find out by comparing RCA vs. component cable in this article. Check out the details below.

RCA vs. Component Cable

Truthfully, there is not much of a comparison between RCA and component cable. They do have some differences. For one, you use both wires in analog signal transmission. You can use both in transmitting audio and video signals from different audio/video devices. RCA and component cables are often used in TVs, media players, cable boxes, and other gadgets.

The fact they are both cables makes people easily confuse them. Since they are two different types of wires with distinct uses, it is useless to compare RCA and component cables. No point finding which one is better because, as stated, you use each one differently. So, what exactly are an RCA and a component cable?

Well, here goes – an RCA is a kind of cable-and-plug you can use for sending analog signals. On the other hand, a component is a cable you can use to split a video signal into two or more signals. Using this cable allows you to send video signals separately, a useless tool in various ways, such as when you need two monitors.

People initially get confused between RCA and component cable due to their use. You see, a component cable is actually three color-coded RCA cables. The colors are there to help in correctly identifying which wire is which. What’s more, you do not even need to follow the color coding when using the cable.

RCA vs Component Cable

All you need to do is make sure the cables are connected to identical endpoints. So, if it is a red cable, it should be connected to the red endpoint. That means – yellow wire to a yellow endpoint, white cable to a white endpoint, and so on. People also usually get confused between the two wires due to RCA cables also used in the composite cable, the primary competitor of the component.

When you compare a component and composite wire, you will realize that component only uses three cables instead of just one. So now, you know that there is no need to compare RCA cable vs. component cable since they are actually both RCA cables. Although primarily used for sending video signals, you can also use them for audio equipment.

While a component cable can be RCA, it is not limited to only these plugs. There are other component video connectors besides RCA, such as the old SCART. Even the VGA cables and connectors used in computer monitors are a component. Essentially, component and RCA cables are the same, as long as three wires are used to split the video signals.

Component cable new

Perhaps one of the reasons why people want to know the differences between these cables is the video quality. However, you do not really have to worry about – the quality of the video depends more on the material and how the cables were constructed. The type of cable you use does not have anything to do with how clear the videos are going to be.

On that note, you should carefully consider the construction and material of the cables, particularly for long distances. If you only need to send video or audio signals in short distances, cheap component or RCA cables are good enough. But for long distances, it is best to invest in pricier cables with better shielding and thicker conductor.

All in all, keep in mind that component cables usually include multiple RCA cables. While RCA is a plug type, a component is a configuration or a video signal. While RCA cable is often used in a component, you can utilize it in other configurations. Last but not least, other connectors can be used in component cables.

RCA Cables and the Meaning of Each Color

RCA cables or RCA connectors help you connect electronic devices. Initially, the acronym RCA means Radio Corporation of America. It stood for the name of the company that first designed and produced electrical connectors. RCA cables and the compatible devices are color-coded, allowing you to plug each wire in the correct socket.

You already know that RCA cables are explicitly used to connect audio and video components to various devices. It can be used for televisions, DVD players, gaming consoles, cable boxes, VCRs, and speakers. The connectors can transmit an analog audio signal as well as digital audio, composite analog video, and component analog video.

Common RCA Cable Colors

As you know, RCA cables are color-coded to help you identify the type of signal it transmits. The most common colors often found are red, yellow, and white. You will often see them in household settings, in devices such as TVs and gaming systems. These devices feature only the three basic video and audio ports.

RCA Cables

RCA Cables

Two of them are for analog audio, which corresponds to left and right. The last one is for the composite analog video. By composite video, it means the red, blue, and green video signals are sent through a single cable. The red and white RCA cables stand for the audio. Red is for the right, and white is for the left speaker. Yellow is for the composite video.

Other Colors Used

Besides the primary three colors, others are used when you have a more sophisticated sound system. For instance, if you have a surround sound, you are going to need more connector cables. Moreover, a different cable is necessary for digital audio. The color for digital audio cables is orange. If you have a surround sound system, you have six more wires to connect besides red and white.

The green cable is for the center speaker. Blue is for the left surround speaker and gray if for the right surround speaker. For the back speakers, the brown cable is for the left one, and the tan wire is for the right one. The last cable – purple – is for the subwoofer. Take note of these color codes, so it will be easier to determine which is which when connecting your devices.

Component vs. Composite Cables

You realize by now that RCA vs. composite cables is not exactly the right comparison. So, why do you think about comparing composite and component wires instead? Compared to composite, a component cable is a more advanced form of sending audio and video signals. It is superior in that it uses three cables instead of just one.

Signals become split into red, blue, and green cables, each responsible for sending specific information regarding the video signal. Red and blue transmit their respective data. It means the red wire sends red data, and the blue cable sends blue information. As for the green cable, it communicates information about video brightness.

With component cable, the connectors have specific names besides colors. Their names are:

  • Red Cable – Pr
  • Blue Cable – Pb
  • Green Cable – Y
Component cable

Component cable

As for the green information of the video, the three signals combined confer the data. There is a great advantage when using component cable in that the compression rate is not there as much since the signal is split in three. Also, it can support full HD resolution and progressive scan images, allowing for smoother, more defined images.

On the other hand, the composite cable is the type often found in a household setting. You will usually found a composite cable as a single yellow plug connector or an RCA cable. It is one of the oldest standards for transferring video signals. As old as it is, the composite cable cannot transfer HD data and does not have progressive scanning ability, unlike component.

Since it is only a single cable, the signal is also significantly compressed in a composite cable. As a result, the quality of the video is below average. It does not look as clear as an average resolution. Even the radio frequency interface suffers, and that makes the signal worse. It also affects the picture quality of the video.

Both component and composite cables have the same limitations since they are analog cables. Thus, they transmit signals the same way. It is only that component cables are slightly advanced with their HD picture quality and progressive scan. If you have an HD TV, this cable is your best choice for a connector.

RCA, composite, and component cables are cables that send audio and video signals. They only have some differences in the number of wires and how advanced they are. No wonder they are still used today. You can use them depending on your device, how you want the picture quality to be, and a lot of other factors.


After comparing  Component vs. RCA cable in this article, hopefully, you understood at least a little of what these cable connectors are. They are not that different, and knowing them is useful when connecting your devices for better audio and video quality. They are great and all, but of course, there are other types of connector cables making waves in the market today.

Author: James Core

I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right CABLE AND CONVERTER for your needs.

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