Connecting Cables 101

The sound and pictures for satellite programming are sent along the cables to the VCR, stereo and TV.

Your receiver can send this information in different ways. Think of them like different languages.

Older Shaw Direct receivers generally speak three languages. Any of the high-definition models speak a fourth language and can communicate with your HD TV in an all-digital language.

Your receiver has to be able to talk to a 1980s-vintage TV as well as the latest and greatest HD home-theatre system. That's why most receivers have different kinds of jacks and the newest HD receivers have an additional fourth jack, either HDMI (Advanced HDPVR, Advanced HD Receiver ) or DVI (HDPVR 530, HDDSR 505)

The types of video cables, in order from newest to oldest, are HDMI, DVI, component video, S-Video, RCA and coaxial.

Most Shaw Direct receivers take stereo sound to the next level with optical digital audio output to take advantage of modern high-end stereo systems, including surround-sound systems that create theatre-like sound when fed Dolby Digital 5.1 signals.

Sound is essentially transmitted three ways. Digital is considered to be the most efficient, with its single optical cable, while RCA cables still offer excellent stereo quality compared to coaxial.


HDMI is currently the most common digital connection and carries both video and sound. It provides the best digital signal in a compact cable. Shaw Direct's Essential HD Receiver (600), Advanced HD Receiver (605), and Advanced HDPVR (630) all feature an HDMI output.


DVI, short for Digital Video Interface, is an older technology for video connections. This single-cable output is delivers a purely digital connection. Shaw Direct's  HDPVR 530 and HDDSR 505 receivers feature a DVI-D Dual Digital output for connecting to an HD-ready TV with a DVI input. The DVI connection is made with single cable with three rows of eight pins alongside a single pin. On newer TV's featuring only an HDMI interface, you can easy connect your HD receivers using an HDMI to DVI cable.

Component Video Outputs

Component video output is an analogue technology capable of delivering HD picture to older TVs that don't have an HDMI connector. The connection consists of three cables - red, green and does not carry sound.

How do these cables work? The television picture that you receive in HD is broken down into five different streams. The cables separate the three basic colour components - red, green and blue, plus the brightness and greys. These five streams are combined in the three connections that you will see as Y, PB, PR.

The component video output cables are designed to separate the five colour components. In previous technology, these five colour components were sent as a mix in one stream of cable, or perhaps three streams (in the case of S-Video, for example), which affect picture clarity. Separating all five creates a superior picture. Shaw Direct's HDDSR 505, HDPVR 530, Advanced HD Receiver and Advanced HDPVR receivers all feature Component Video outputs for high-definition TVs.



This cable has a round end with four metal pins that push on to a square receptacle. The four prongs carry image information on a range of frequencies that delivers great colour and picture. Next to HDMI, DVI and component video cables, this is your best choice for a superior video image.



These cables are named after the company that developed the technology in the 1970s. They are easy to recognize because these cables consist of three wires. Each wire has red, yellow and white ends. The red and white wires carry sound. White for the left speaker, red for the right. The yellow wire is for the picture.

For older home-theatre systems, there may be an extra RCA jack. It's orange and used to transport Dolby Digital 5.1 sound from the receiver to your stereo or Dolby Digital decoder.



Back in the 1980s, this was the standard for transmitting both audio and video. It is sometimes called RF cable, but coax, short for coaxial, is more common. It looks like what came out of the wall back when we had traditional cable. It's usually white, sometimes black, and is about as wide as a piece of licorice. It has a metal filament in the middle of it.

It’s designed to transmit information as radio frequencies. That’s why you need to have equipment on Channel 3 or 4 to receive the images. The channel is at the correct frequency.

It works, but is not as efficient as newer cables.

Connecting wires affect operation

Don’t forget that the cables you use to connect your components affect their operation.

Co-ax cables work on frequencies. The component that you’re going into with co-ax, needs to be on Channel 3 or 4, to get the information on the right frequency.

If you use HDMI, DVI, component video, S-Video or RCA cables, you’ll need to check the audio/visual mode or the line mode of the device you’re connecting to. Often, these components have more than one in jack. That means they have more than one source of information. You use the SOURCE or INPUT button to choose the right one.

Help troubleshoot

When you’re not getting an image, it’s often to do with the mode or the channel. That’s why we like you to know what and how things are connected to help troubleshoot picture problems.

Sound options

Sound gets pumped out of your satellite receiver in two formats, digital and analog. Digital is the most efficient and can be sent via HDMI or an optical cable. A pair of RCA cables can carry analogue sound to your stereo receiver or television. Older televisions receive sound with the co-ax cable, which is the least efficient.

The DSR 319, HDDSR 505, HDPVR 530, Essential HD Receiver (600), Advanced HD Receiver (605), and Advanced HDPVR receivers all feature digital audio connections to deliver crisp Dolby Digital 5.1 home-theatre sound.