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Scart

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SCART Basics

What is SCART ?

SCART is a European recognised standard for connectors for video and audio equipment. The SCART connector is a multi-pin connector that provides a multi-vendor standard when connecting all necessary analogue signals such as composite video and PAL. The standard was introduced in France in 1980 and spread quickly. Before the introduction of SCART, there was no uniform standard in Europe for transmitting video signals to devices. With the proliferation of graphical user interface and screen applications (BTX, teletext), a high quality standard for video signal transmission had to be created. A connection of individual cables for video, audio and RGB was very impractical and SCART made it much easier to wire TV sets, video recorders, set top boxes and game consoles.

The mechanical construction

The SCART plug, which is rather large by today's standards, has 20 flat contact tongues. Another contact is formed by the shielding plate of the plug, which is connected to the overall shielding of the cable. The shape of the plug is asymmetrical to prevent incorrect insertion into the SCART socket. There is no provision for securing the plug in the socket. The plug is only held in the socket by jamming. This feature, combined with a rather inflexible and thick cable, repeatedly led to the plug being pulled out of the socket unintentionally when the TV set or video recorder was moved. The result was a black screen and questioning faces.

SCART cable wiring

The SCART standard combines all analogue AV signals in one plug: composite video (FBAS), RGB, S-video (Y/C), RGB, stereo audio as well as switching signals and data lines. Depending on the selected operating mode of a connected device, there are different pinout configurations. This is why SCART cables are different. There are always differences both in the electrical wiring and in the mechanical quality. In high-quality cables, each individual signal line is surrounded by its own shielding against electromagnetic interference fields. Inferior cables have only one overall shield. With these cables, spillover into neighbouring signal lines can occur. The result is, for example, dulled sound enjoyment. Depending on the application, not all pins in a SCART cable have to be wired together. Pure video cables, for example, only need pins 17 to 20, pure audio cables need pins 14 and 21 and a pure data cable needs pins 10 and 12. So if you get your hands on an older SCART cable, you cannot assume that it is suitable for all applications. The SCART cables sold today are usually fully wired, since RGB operation and AV link have become a matter of course.

Scart to HDMI converter

In the past, almost all game consoles, DVD players and similar devices were equipped with a Scart output. The Scart connection was used to transmit all sound and picture signals from the playback device to the TV. Today, you can still connect old analogue devices to new televisions by converting SCART to HDMI. However, the conversion requires more than just a mechanical adapter, as an analogue signal must be converted into a digital one. This is exactly where converters come in, which are connected between the old Scart device and your new TV with HDMI connection. They convert the signal and ensure that the picture and sound signals of older Scart devices are displayed correctly. But beware: the output picture of the old device is extrapolated to the high resolution of the modern TV set. Otherwise, old Scart devices only offer a standard resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. Upscaling the picture makes it bigger, but not visually better. After all, the resolution of old films and games was never produced for Full HD. Many Scart-to-HDMI converters offer an extra output for the sound signal. You can connect this to an amplifier via a jack. This makes it possible to play the sound separately from the picture via another source.

HDMI to SCART converter

You want to connect your brand-new Blu-Ray player to an old TV that only has a Scart connection? This would be the rare case that you have to convert an HDMI signal into a Scart signal. But be careful: SCART is an analogue interface, whereas HDMI works digitally. This means that the digital signals of the HDMI output must be converted via the converter into analogue voltages and low screen resolution. The quality suffers as a result, which is why this downgrading never actually makes sense. For the best picture quality, an HDMI source always needs an HDMI playback device.

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