S-video vs. component

Newbie here...

What's your opinion on an older A/V receiver with only S-video outputs (no HDMI or component)?
The video inputs of a receiver serve no purpose other that the convenience of video switching. You don't really need component video or HDMI inputs or outputs on the receveir as long as your TV monitor has enough inputs for you to connect your video sources (cable/satellite/DVD player/vcr).

The only advice a can offer about an old receiver is that it likely does not have current processing capabilites such as Dolby Digital 5.1, DPLII, etc. For me, DPLII was a big improvement over the older Dolby Pro-logic for watching non-DD5.1 encoded TV programming.

I can see why folks would wire thru a reciever or Processor but to keep the signal short and optimum direct into your monitor would seem to be best (unless there is a really good upsample built in), most monitors these days will also do that feature so it may just boil down to ease of switching, I route all mine direct into HDTV and use a universal theater remote to switch via MACRO.
Doug - just so you know the basics. Composite video came first. This is the signal you get with one RCA, usually coded yellow. Chroma and luminance signals are combined. This is all there was for many years. In an antenna feed, it was also composite but the audio was present as well.

The next advance was S Video. S keeps the chroma and luminance signals separate until it hits the TV. The signal stays cleaner - very popular in 90s era pre DVD VHS decks. Never was a broadcast format. Doesn't carry audio.

The next advance was component video. This is three separate plugs, usually bundled together in techflex to keep things tidy. One each for R, G and B which are the three colors used in all projection/panel/CRT devices. (The other color standard is CMYK which is only used for print.) Again perceptibly cleaner. Once again this was not a broadcast standard, and once again it didn't carry audio. However on the new Direct TV HD box I just had installed, there is a choice of S, component and HDMI out.

(Not sure how it worked but on my Cal Audio DVD player you could build a special cable that took two of the component outs and brought them together into a S plug - looked fabulous because it had a much better S/N.)

At about this point in time - say 5-7 years ago, computer and television display technologies began converging. Also home theater was exploding with the flat screens and surround sound was making ever bigger cable harnesses.

The first evidence of this was DVI. This eliminated the chaos associated with the three component cables. Works slick on computers and apparently on home gear. Once again this did not carry audio. It also gave the home theater installers fits because they had to drill big holes to get the plugs through studs etc.

So now enter HDMI. And the ballgame changes big time. High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is an all-digital audio/video interface capable of transmitting uncompressed streams. HDMI provides an interface between any compatible digital audio/video source, such as a set-top box, a DVD player, a PC, a video game system, or an AV receiver and a compatible digital audio and/or video monitor, such as a digital television (DTV)

HDMI carries both audio and video signals in an uncompressed digital format in one cable with one connector at each end. Essentially 11 connections (component plus 7.1) in one small plug that left a lot more wood in the stud. Because it is digital, it offers new possibilities for digital rights management (DRM) of prerecorded media - something near and dear to the entertainment companies. Having HDMI is essential to getting high def off DVDs because of the DRM issue. You will not be able to play this discs any other way. (look it up in Wikipedia - some good stuff)

As Reubent suggests, until now, how you dealt with this was simply a matter of convenience and of working with what you had. Traditioally, the big advantage of routing everything through a receiver was that audio and video switches together - change the channel by pushing a button, but also change between devices (say cable and your DVD player) with a single input change. If you run sound to the receiver and picture to the TV (like I do) then you have to change both the sound input (receiver remote) and the picture input (tv remote).

In addition, there is most certainly the issue of which audio formats the receiver can deal with. And what kinds of connections it can take - for instance my older B&K stops at S Video - no component, no DVI, no HDMI, no progressive scan DVDs, no HD. Finally some of the better newer receivers also do upsampling which is handy if you have high def or 720 screen.

So your opinion about a receiver with S Video only has to be about what you are using it for. if you are building a SOTA room, or investing in a nice plasma and you want HD and progressive etc then its a bust. If you are running an older rig then it might be fine. Plenty of them sound great and have a ton of bells and whistles.

So look at what you want for sources (inputs) and what you want for a display. If you have the display look at what it has for inputs. In fact Reubent touched on another gotcha I just experienced. I just put in the new Sony 23" LCD HD in my wifes office - real SOTA stuff - 5 video inputs. But guess what, only one of them is HDMI - so now I have to choose between connecting the DVD player and the DirectTV box via HDMI (both of which have HDMI out). fortunately its a 1 meter run so it doesn't matter but I hope you get the point which is that HDMI is changing the game beyond connectivity to compatibility.
Thanks everyone.

For me, it comes down to the fact that the TV has component/S-video inputs (not HDMI), so I think I can live without HDMI outputs on the receiver. At least for now until we upgrade the TV (not likely soon).

The convinience of switching audio and video simultaneously is a factor to steamline everything, so I thought I should hold out for a receiver with component outputs which I thought provided a better picture than S-video.

I found two used receivers that I'm looking at today:

Yamaha RX-V657
Denon AVR 3803

I seem to prefer the Denon unit, but the Yamaha has the microphone / auto setup feature that might be nice. I was going to go with an Arcam AVR200, but it didn't have the component outputs.

Thanks for all of your advice, keep it coming if you have more!!!!

Home Theatre in the works....
NHT ST-4 tower speakers
B&W DM310s (oldies - maybe I'll use for the rear speakers?)
Receiver (not sure yet)
Center channel (not sure yet - prob an NHT to match the ST-4s)
Sub (not sure yet - maybe an HSU?)

If you want component video switching and/or upconversion, many recent HT receivers will do the trick. I'm currently using a Sony STR-DA5000ES and have a single component video cable connected from it to my Plasma TV. Coming into the receiver I have cable TV STB (component video), VCR (composite cable), DVD player (component video) and I have an additional s-video cable from the cable TV STB. The video switching and component video upconversion works perfectly.

If you have any interest, I'm currently planning to sell off nearly all of my stuff in an effort to downsize before moving. If you are interested in my Sony ES receiver, let me know. It is a killer IMHO. I've owned about 10 HT receivers in the last 5-6 years and this one lasted the longest in my system and was the first one that did perfect video switching without issues. It autoselects the appropriate video and audio connection every time.

Sorry for the unsolicited offer. Feel free to ignore.


Thanks, Reubent.

I picked up a used Denon AVR3803 that I found on craigslist here locally. I figure it's a good starter receiver for me and the price was right!

So, I get the receiver home, wire up everything and pop in a DVD. The TV picture is PINK! I then have this dread that the receiver has a problem with the component outputs. Further troubleshooting shows that the DVD player is trashed! Fwew. At least is was a cheapo DVD player and not my new (to me) receiver!

I'll bet your heart really sank when the picture came up pink! Glad the receiver is working out. The Denons are well respected in their price category and being able to pick one up locally is icing on the cake.


Ckorody, very nice explanation. If you need a HDMI 2-1 swithcher Accell has a nice one, here's a review:

Thnx KKM - some nice looking cables and the switcher is certainly priced right!