Home Theater A/V Connections – Disappearing Options

AV connection options whose days are numbered

In a home theater setup, you need to connect everything together to make it all work. That means a plethora of speaker wire and audio/video connections that can cause a lot of clutter.

On one hand, the cables and wires that cause the clutter provide multiple ways to connect old and new components together. One the other hand, with the accelerated pace of change from analog to digital, a trend has emerged that puts a "connection squeeze" on the ability to connect older components to new home theater components.

HDMI is now the most common home theater connection.

Consumer electronics manufacturers have eliminated, or are eliminating, several "legacy" connections from home theater components that have been used for years or even decades. This limits the practical use of older, but still functioning, devices that may use these connections exclusively.

Here are examples of connections that are being, or have been, eliminated. 

S-Video Connections

S-Video connections have been eliminated on almost all TVs and home theater receivers, as well as other video source components. Many legacy devices that may use this connection are S-VHS VCRs and camcorders, Hi8 camcorders, mini-DV camcorders, older DVD players, AV switchers, and most of any remaining LaserDisc players.

S-Video Connection and Cable Example

Component Video Connections

Pictured below is a set of component video connections. Due to regulations adopted regarding copy-protection, combined with the introduction and the rapid acceptance of HDMI as the standard for high-definition video transfer, a policy referred to as The Analog Sunset is being enforced.

This eliminates the practicality of component video connections. Custom installers that previously wired homes using component video connections for high-definition video connectivity, have to convert to HDMI, as newer components are installed.

Component Video Cables and Connection

The Composite – Component Video Input Dilemma

An additional development regarding the use of Component Video connections is a growing number of TVs combine both composite and component video inputs. What this means is that on most TVs going forward, you won't be able to connect both a composite and component video source to the TV at the same time.

This affects those that have more than one of the following: a VCR, older non-upscaling DVD player, or standard definition cable or satellite box.

Shared Composite/Component Video Connections on a TV

Multi-Channel 5.1/7.1 Channel Analog Audio Connections

Pictured below is a set of 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs. With the rapid adoption of HDMI, the need for these connections is rapidly fading, so many newer home theater receivers are eliminating the 5.1/7.1 channel analog connection option.

However, consumers that own older SACD or DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio players that may not have HDMI connections, must rely on these connections to access full multi-channel uncompressed audio from their player to a home theater receiver.

Eliminating this connection option effectively renders those older players almost useless when it comes to being able to access full audio capabilities when using many newer home theater receivers.

Yamaha RX-V667 7.2 Channel Home Theater Receiver - 5.1/7.1 Channel Analog Audio Inputs

On the opposite end of the connection flow, 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio connections are also being eliminated by manufacturers as an audio output option on Blu-ray Disc players. This is a problem as many older home theater receivers still in use have eliminated a corresponding set of analog audio inputs, as discussed above.

Only a limited number of high-end Blu-ray Disc players provide 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio outputs.

Blu-ray Disc Player with Multi-Channel Analog Audio Outputs

The Strange Case of Phono Turntable Connections

A phono input allows the connection of a turntable to a home theater receiver. 

When CDs were introduced home theater receiver makers began to eliminate this connection option on most home theater receivers, in some cases, even on high-end units. 

However, in recent years, as the result of the increasing popularity of vinyl records (even in the face of streaming), the phono input is making a comeback.  

Onkyo TX-NR696 Phono Input Connection
Onkyo USA

This means that depending on a home theater receiver's model or year, it may, or may not have a phono input. 

If you have an older turntable that is still good working order, and your receiver doesn't provide a phono connection, you may need spring some cash for an additional, external, phono preamp in order to match the voltage and equalization output of your turntable some home theater receivers.

Pro-Ject Phono Box MM – Phono Preamp

Another option is to purchase one of the growing numbers of new turntables that have both traditional and built-in phono preamp outputs.

Denon DP-400 Turntable Connection Options Spotlighted

What Changed in 2013

In 2013, all analog video outputs (Composite, S-video, Component) were eliminated on Blu-ray Disc players, leaving HDMI as the only way to connect Blu-ray Disc players made after 2013 to TVs (the HDMI-to-DVI adapter option is still possible). In addition, although not required, manufacturers began to eliminate analog audio connections on a growing number of players after 2013.

Below is an example of how AV outputs have changed on most Blu-ray Disc players.

Two Blu-ray Disc Player Connection Examples. Pre and Post-2013 Models