Modern innovation in the AV industry has made high definition (HD) the standard in homes and businesses. The development of cables that can transmit HD-quality video and sound between devices was critical to the technological development of HD video. High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables made older cables such as the RCA cable obsolete. You can still get use out of devices that rely on RCA cable technology by converting the RCA signal to HDMI.
What Is RCA?
RCA is a coaxial plug format introduced by and named after the Record Corporation of America. With an origin in phonographs, RCA cables are often found in pairs or threes connecting a wide range of older video and audio hardware from DVD systems to record players. RCA cables come in a variety of shapes and colors, with the most typical configuration for AV being a molded cable with three color-coded plugs on the end. Although RCA cables are universal and can be used on many modern TVs, projectors and AV receivers, the composite technology they rely on is limited as to how much data it can transmit. This lack of bandwidth is ultimately why RCA cable use declined over the last 10 years and will likely continue to decline in the future.
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What Is HDMI?
HDMI is a digital format introduced to the public in 2003 to replace old analog formats such as RCA and other early digital formats found both in homes and businesses. The HDMI cable provides high bandwidth that delivers improved picture quality of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, low-rate 4K, and up to eight channels of uncompressed audio that typically accommodates 7.1 surround sound – all on a single cable. HDMI cables are used to connect a variety of devices including TVs, gaming consoles, computers, DVD players and more.
Converting RCA to HDMI
To connect a device with RCA to a device with HDMI, such as a DVD Player and a TV, you use an adapter or an RCA-to-HDMI converter box. The three RCA plugs connect to the adaptor, which connects straight into your relevant HDMI display or device. The converter box requires an HDMI cable between the two. Converting RCA to HDMI involves a simple conversion process that scales the input from the RCA cable up to either a 720p or 1080p full-HD signal.
The converted RCA to HDMI signal won't be perfect. RCA is an analog format that is not capable of supporting true HD. As a result, the converted signal may be grainy visually and may not sound great either.