FireFold Blog

Difference Between Composite and Component Adapters

When it comes to audio-visual cables that are used for video products within the market, there are two types that exist: composite and component. Although both of them are similar in many ways, such that they both use RCA connectors, there are also some key differences to be mindful of that will affect the type of cables that you plan to use, and, hence, the adapters that you will purchase. The type of device you use will also affect your choice because they are better suited to work with one type of adapter over the other.

Number of Connectors & Their Color

A composite adapter will come with three connectors: one yellow cable that is entirely responsible for analog video transmission, and two cables (red and white) that are dedicated to carrying the audio signal; left channel for the red cable and the right channel for the white cable. The video that you see on the device is a linear combination of hue, saturation, and luminance. You will see these kinds of connections being used in older TVs.

A component adapter is different in that there are five connectors: three colored cables (usually red, blue, and green) that are responsible for transmitting the video signal, with the other two used to carry the audio signal (usually red and white). This type of connection is supported by modern electronic devices. For both adapters, there is not a drastic difference in sound quality.

Make sure to read the instructions when you are determining which cable corresponds to what function – some manufacturers will design the cables differently and use an unconventional coloring schematic. This might explain why the picture on your device is not displaying properly, and this assumes that neither the device or cables are damaged.

Image Transmission

As previously stated, the composite adapter will take in the image data that is encoded within a single channel. All of the video comes entirely from the single yellow cable. In the case of the component adapter, it takes in three separate signals from separate channels: Y (Brightness, or the luminance of the screen), PR (difference between red and luminance) and PB (difference between blue and luminance), which is known in consumer electronics as YPBPR.


In terms of the quality of the image on the screen, composite will only carry a resolution of 480i; 576i for the highest quality models. However, these are older standards and the component cables have since improved on the resolution of the picture, and they are able to optimally display high-definition images at 1080p or higher. The only real limitation on resolution comes down to the capabilities of the device presenting the video image.

Even though the differences may appear to be slight, people are opting for component adapters because the technology used for composite adapters is dying out. They were used for older devices that do not support component video technology.

The only real drawback with component video is that signals are transmitted through waveforms, in comparison to DVI and HDMI cables that transmit clearer signals for both audio and video through binary code. This means that they are susceptible to interference from nearby equipment.

That’s not to say that component adapters are not heavily used, but, eventually, they will be phased out in favor of adapters and cables that transmit all their signals digitally. At the same time, it will be a few years before they start being phased out, so there is no need to worry about using outdated technology. Plus, component video technology still provides high-quality footage!