Home Theater A/V Connections – Disappearing Options

AV connection options whose days are numbered

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

The cables and wires provide multiple ways to connect old and new components. But with the accelerated pace of change from analog to digital, a trend has emerged that puts a "connection squeeze" on the ability to link older components to new ones.

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

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

S-Video Connections

Most TVs, home theater receivers, and other video source components no longer have S-Video connections. Legacy devices that use this connection are S-VHS VCRs and camcorders, Hi8 camcorders, mini-DV camcorders, older DVD players, AV switchers, and most remaining LaserDisc players.

S-Video Connection and Cable Example

Component Video Connections

Below is a set of component video connections. A policy referred to as the Analog Sunset eliminates the practicality of component video connections due to copy-protection regulations and the rapid acceptance of HDMI as the standard for high-definition video transfer. Custom installers that previously wired homes using component video connections for high-definition video connectivity have to convert to HDMI.

Component Video Cables and Connection

The Composite – Component Video Input Dilemma

An additional development regarding the use of Component Video connections is that a growing number of TVs combine both composite and component video inputs. Most TV will no longer connect to both a composite and component video source to the TV simultaneously, such as VCRs, older non-upscaling DVD players, or standard definition cable or satellite boxes.

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 HDMI's rapid adoption, the need for these connections is fading. Many newer home theater receivers are eliminating the 5.1/7.1 channel analog connection option.

However, consumers who own older SACD or DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio players without HDMI connections rely on these connections to access full multi-channel uncompressed audio from their players to a home theater receiver.

Eliminating this connection option effectively renders those older players useless when accessing full audio capabilities 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. 

With the introduction of CDs, home theater receiver makers began to eliminate this connection option on most home theater receivers, even on high-end units. 

Due to 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

Depending on a home theater receiver's model or year, it could have a phono input. 

For an older turntable that is still in good working order and a receiver without a phono connection, you might need an additional, external phono preamp to match the turntable's voltage and equalization output.

Pro-Ject Phono Box MM – Phono Preamp
Pro-Ject

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

Denon DP-400 Turntable Connection Options Spotlighted
Denon

What Changed in 2013

All analog video outputs (Composite, S-video, Component) were eliminated on Blu-ray Disc players made after 2013. HDMI is the only way to connect Blu-ray Disc players to TVs (the HDMI-to-DVI adapter option is still possible). 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