Types of Connector

In the broadcast world, there is a lot of cables. Though a majority cross over to day to day life, some of these might not be so familiar. So, when someone scream nonsense, usually in a stream, or even if you want to prepare for a stream or video shoot, this list might be of help.

Please note that this list might not contain all connectors, if for some reason a franken or ancient connector is of question, do not hesitate to consult your technical manager, head of live, head of training or any older members in general, sometimes they know things we don’t! That’s the beauty of having a community; or leave a comment!

The first thing to get your head around is that the signal being carried by a cable is not the same as the type of connector. For example the same cable with the same connector could carry an audio feed, a video feed, a lighting control feed or an internet connection; possibly all at the same time!

Video

>Industrial level<

Cable name:               BNC (Bayonet Neill–Concelman) connector

Common name:         SDI cable

Signal transmitted:   SDI (Serial digital interface), Video data only

About BNC cable:     Coaxial cable

                                    Secure

                                    Maintain signal integrity over long distance

About SDI signal:      Video signal

                                    Retain high video quality over long distance (200m)

                                    Up to 4K60p

                                    Recommended to be end signal for any video feed

Application:               Most used video feed cable in StagTV

                                    Staple camera to stream deck cable

 

>Consumer level<

Designed for shorter range, often have features that does not fit the industrial standard.

DisplayPort

Signal transmitted:             LVDS, passive Video and Audio data

About DisplayPort (DP):   Backwards compatible to HDMI and DVI

                                              Up to 4K60p video but only 5m

                                              Embedded audio

Mini DisplayPort

Signal transmitted:           Passive Video and Audio data

 

About Mini DisplayPort (mDP): Share connector with thunderbolt cable (Active), though transmit different signals

Up to 4K60p video

Special feature                   

for DisplayPorts:               “Handshake” – A check that make sure the devices at each end are valid and that they work. Often viewed as an inconvenient in broadcast set-up, as it is prone to error and delay precious set-up time.

Application:                        Cool before HDMI, some monitors still needs it

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable

Signal transmitted:         Video and Audio data

About HDMI:                    Most common version (v1.4) support up to                                                              1080p60 and 4k30p

                                             Reach up to 20m, though temperamental at that                                                      length

                                             Not the best with ATEMs

                                             “Handshake” mechanism

Application:                     Most common embedded video and audio cable                                                     in StagTV

                                             Use with monitors and cameras with convertors

Mini HDMI & Micro HDMI

Signal transmitted:             Video and Audio data

Application:                        Canon XA25 & Panasonic GH4

VGA (Video Graphics Array) Connector

Signal transmitted:           RGB video signal plus option H and V sync

About VGA:                         Old computer analogue video connector

                                                Signal tend to strip as the package size increase                                                    and output loss

                                               Commonly acknowledged limit is 1080p

Application:                       poppin’ in the boomer’s generation

                                                Some old monitor still needs it

DVI-D (Digital Visual Interface – Digital) Connector

Signal transmitted:           Video Only, single link or dual link

About DVI-D:                       Basically HDMI but no audio

                                                Single link max resolution is 1920 × 1200 at 60 Hz

                                                Dual link* max res is 2560 × 1600 at 60 Hz                                                                (Basically two single link but one cable)

                                               “Handshake” mechanism

DVI-I (Digital Visual Interface – Integrated) Connector

Signal transmitted:         Video and Analogue signal, single link or dual                                                      link

About DVI-I:                      Adaptable to VGA/HDMI output

 

There are a few other older types of video connectors that I haven’t mentioned but you can read up on them with following links: Component, Composite, SCART, S-Video and HML

Audio

Warning: Audio hardware could be overwhelming as there is an annoying amount of subtype under the same connector, which could cause detrimental result if used incorrectly. Not all details are listed below, so for any questions, please consult a Tonmeister as this is their profession. For further information about audio level, click here.

>XLRs<

XLR3 connector

Signal transmitted:             Analogue and Digital audio

About XLR3:                      Industry standard for balanced audio signals

                                             Carry AES/EBU audio

                                             Could be mono and stereo (Sometimes require two feed)

                                             Carry low-voltage power – Phantom powering

Application:                        Most common audio cable in StagTV

                                             Use for mics, stream audio in general

Also could be used to power lighting and related controlled equipment  (DMX512)

XLR4 connector

Signal transmitted:             Analogue and Digital audio

About XLR4:                      Two pins are used for mono signal and the other two is used for unbalanced mic signal

                                             Can carry DC power on the fourth pin

Application:                        COMs box headsets in collab streams

                                             DC for the JVC we often borrow         

                                             Scrollers (colour changing devices for stage lighting)

                                             AMX analogue lighting control (now obsolete)

                                             Some pyrotechnic equipment.

XLR5 connector

Signal transmitted:             Analogue and Digital audio

About XLR5:                      Two sets of pins carry balanced signal and a ground

                                             Carry stereo audio

                                             Can carry DC power

                                             Standard for DMX512 digital lighting control

Application:                        Stereo microphones

                                              Crew has them, we don’t use it that much

XLR6 connector

Signal transmitted:             Analogue and Digital audio

Pins function:                     1-mic high ; 2-mic low ; 3-common ; 4-left headphone ; 5- right headphone ; 6-ground*

Application:                        Stage lighting

                                             *Professional stereo headset with balanced microphone

XLR7 connector

Signal transmitted:             Analogue and Digital audio

Application:                        Connect valve (tube) condenser microphones to power supply

                                             Used by several models of Le Maitre and Ultratec fog machines

                                             Analogue lighting control signals

                                             Wired intercom in broadcast studios (Ward-Beck intercoms)

 

 

>Jacks<

Jack plug (6.35mm/ ¼”)

Signal transmitted:             Analogue audio

About

Jack plugs:                          Standard audio connector

Application:                        Instrument and amps

                                             Scarlet 2i2 USB audio interface in crew

Mini jack plug (3.5mm)

Signal transmitted:             Analogue audio

About

Jack plugs:                          Consumer version of the jack plug

                                             Only need one for stereo audio

Application:                        Phones – laptops – personal electronic device

Sub-mini jack plug (2.5mm)

Signal transmitted:             Analogue audio

Application:                        Remote control

                                             Zoom control on our Sony camera

                                             Not cool anymore

> AES/EBU <

Cable used:                         BNC/XLR cable

Signal transmitted:             Digital audio format

About AES/EBU:               Carry multiple feed in one signal

There’s also Toslink and MIDI but we have input interfaces for either at the time of writing.

 


Computer

Ethernet cable

Connector name:                RJ45 (8P8C)

Signal transmitted:             Internet

                                             Anything you can convert with the right adaptor

Revision:                              CAT5e, CAT5, 6, 7, 8

About Ethernet cables:      4 twisted pairs of copper wires

                                             Hard to repair

                                             Revision improve speed of signal

                                             CAT6 onwards contains a cross shaped plastic to aid high data throughput

Speed:                                  5e – 1Gbps; 5 – 100Mbs; 6 – 10Gbps (33m)/1Gbps (100m);

                                             7 – 10Gbps (100m, 4 channels); 8 – 25-40Gbps (30m, 2 channels)

USB (Universal Serial BUS)

Signal transmitted:             Power and data in general

About USBs:                       It is a data bus, google will help you with the rest

Application:                        Most computer peripherals

Thunderbolt

Connectors:                         1&2 – same with mini DP; 3 – same with USB C

Signal transmitted:             Majority of computer signals

About Thunderbolt:           Computer connection

About Thunderbolt 3:        Can carry and be split via adaptors

Display-port (so by extension HDMI, DVI and VGA), Ethernet, USB, 3.5mm Jack, PCIe and it can even power whatever it’s plugged into (Up to around 40W)

Application:                        Computer peripherals

 

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