Welcome to the Audio/Video Supply section. While most of us remember hooking up our old game systems with an RF Box back in the day, to do so now is doing a great dis-service to the TV and your System. Even though many of the old game systems cant go any higher than RCA / composite cables (Red, White & Yellow) it provides a much better picture. Lets review, shall we?
First, lets cover the basics of video connections.
Nintendo RF BOX
(connects to the TV Cable/Antenna: see diagram below)
Almost every game system you purchased before the mid 90’s came with one of these bad boy connections. You simply unscrewed your Cable TV from the back of your Television, screw this in, and then hook your Cable TV onto the RF box. Then just sit back and watch the worst picture you can get on your awesome game system.
RF is the worst connection you can use. Only use it if you have no other input available. If you have an RCA (Red, Yellow & White) Input, by all means, use that instead. The main reason these RF displays a crappy picture is that all the audio and video signals are squeezed into one cable, interfere with each other, and are then broken back apart again at your TV.
RCA or Composite Cable (Red, White & Yellow)
(connects to the Composite Video In: see diagram below)
This is the more common cable you see today. The REAL Name of these type of cables is COMPOSITE. RCA (Radio Corporation of America) is the company that invented these guys way back in the day.
Anyway, this is the standard connection method used by most console systems. This cable will give you better picture quality than an RF Switch Box as they keep the video and audio signals separated to their own wire. Yellow = Video, Red = Right Audio, White = Left Audio. While this is not the best cable available for every system, for many of the older systems it may be as good as it gets.
S-Video or Super Video or Y/C cable
(connects to the S-Video In: see diagram below)
Ahh the S-video cable. One of my favorite connections for the older systems. S-video (created by JVC) improves the picture quality of the yellow composite cable by breaking lumen (luminance) and chroma (color) into their own wires, reducing interference and providing a cleaner signal to the TV.
Now, many people may think the the picture looks “jaggy”, while other describe it as “sharper”. The reason for this is that game systems have a resolution (up to 512 x 224 for the SNES) that is basically little squares or pixels. So the SNES has 512 little squares across by 224 squares down. The newer the system the better the resolution, the better the picture.
NOTE: Nintendo never made an official S-Video cable. But third party cables are everywhere. I would reccommend you don’t go with the cheapest. Spend the extra cash and get the best quality you can find.
Component (Red, Blue, Green)
(connects to the Component Video In: see diagram below)
This cable can support up to 1080i HD graphics. These were the highest HD standard before HDMI became popular.
The Nintendo Gamecube is the only classic Nintendo system that can use these cables. And you need an early model of the Gamecube (DOL-001 which has a Digital AV Out port). These guys are so rare they have become VERY expensive. It's cheaper to buy a Nintendo Wii which has Gamecube backwards compatability and much cheaper cables.
However, if you have it, this bad boy will give you the absolute best picture you can get from the Nintendo Gamecube.
Standard TV AV Connections
While there are better video connections available (HDMI and such), you can almost forget about them when your talking about “Classic Game Systems”. Your goal should be to get every system you have to either RCA or S-Video and you’ll be in good shape.