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Editor’s Note: My Fair Signal

To paraphrase Prof. Henry Higgins from 1964's film My Fair Lady, Why can't video be more like audio?

Editor’s Note: My Fair Signal

Dec 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
By Mark Johnson

To paraphrase Prof. Henry Higgins from 1964’s film My Fair Lady, “Why can’t video be more like audio?” The other day I was checking out a piece of gear that required audio and video connections. After a few minutes of rummaging through a box of audio cables, I was able to come up with the ones I needed, and in no time at all, I was passing signal and listening to Vince Gill. Next came the video part, and after about an hour of trying, I gave up.

For audio, you basically connect a cable to the “gazouta” of one unit to the “gazinta” of another, and you’re making sound. You’ve got three basic connectors — XLR, 1/4in., and RCA (of course, there are always bare wires and screw terminals). Even digital audio signals use existing connections (XLR and RCA). The 1/8in. connector is sneaking in via the consumer world, though I get the feeling audio pros would rather it not.

The next day, armed with a bunch of cables and adapters, I went back at it. The process took about another hour of trying this and that until I finally had an image on the monitor.

RGB, component, composite, DVI, S-Video, RF… It seems to me that whatever technology is required to translate the signal could be incorporated into the device, and one beefy, easy-to-connect/disconnect, positive-locking connector could be used. (Those little thumbscrews on the 9- and 15-pin connectors make me crazy!) And then, just send the ones and zeros down a wire or two. At the receiving end, it could be the same type of thing, something that senses what kind of signal is being sent and converts it to what is needed for that particular unit.

On a switcher we use at our church, there are no less than three different types of video inputs, just on the front panel. Maybe it’s just me, but connecting pieces of video or computer equipment always seems to be more involved than I think it should. I don’t believe anybody (at any level) really wants to care what kinds of cables or connectors are required as long as they function properly.

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