RCA to S-video?

Joe Frederick

Mar 10, 2003
Hello, My equipment is older and has only rca or s-video outputs. I have an LCD projector setup and it has an RCA and an S-video input. Instead of switching cables like I have been, I have routed all my video through my receiver which only has rca video in and out. I am wondering if there would be any difference in picture quality by using an rca to svideo cable and plugging into s-video on projector or just using a rca cable and plugging into rca input in projector? Since the original quality is going to be from rca in the first place would it matter? I also thought I read that it might still be better to use rca to svideo since the svideo input may have a higher resolution which may clean up the rca output from the receiver? Anyone shed some light?

John Garcia

Senior HTF Member
Jun 24, 1999
Real Name
There will be no difference, like you initially thought. Changing connector type will not "clean up" anything, since you are still limited by the original signal.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
John is correct for 2 reasons: the original signal is mixed and the cheap "Composite-to-SVideo" adaptors do a really poor job.

But: you said:
If you have a DVD player or a Sat receiver that has it's source already separated - you will get a 20% better picture by trying to use SVideo for everything.

The single RCA cable carries "Composite" video - everything mixed together. Your TV/Projector has a "Comb" filter whos job is to convert composite to SVideo. These comb filters are the most expensive part in a television - and they are less than perfect.

But you totally by-pass the comb filter if you feed SVideo to your display. You will see a dramatic reduction in "dot-crawl" on straight lines and bright colors will look more solid.

I strongly suggest you upgrade your video cable to a SVideo cable for your higher-quality sources like your DVD player. Yes - it will mean a bit more complex switching, but for serious DVD watching, it should be worth it.

PS: You can keep everything hooked up with composite now to make the system easy to use for the family. But hook up a SVideo cable in parallel straight to the projector from the DVD player. Pause the display and toggle the projector back and forth and the picture quality difference should be visible.

Hope this helps.

Allan Jayne

Senior HTF Member
Nov 1, 1998
Note that if you must use a little dongle to convert composite video in order to get S-video to feed to your display bypassing the comb filter, you are likely to get worse results compared with sending the composite directly to the yellow RCA jack of the display. (You can get large powered dongles that extract good S-video but expect to spend more than $200. for one.)

There are still some older A/V receivers in use that have only yellow RCA jacks for their video switching. For audio they still work fine. For these you have to put up with selecting picture and sound separately on different remotes if you want the better picture quality of S-video or component video (connected directly to the display bypassing the receiver).

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