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Cables buying guide

Find out the top 5 things you need to know about those all-important cables that help you to get the most out of your audio and visual devices.

Once you’ve chosen your TV, soundbar, Blu-ray player or anything else for your home entertainment system, you’re going to need the right cables to enjoy your new stuff to the fullest. Whether they’re carrying high quality audio or video signals, this guide will help you find the cables you need so you can get plugged in straight away.

HDMI

Now the most commonly used cable, HDMI is an input that sends high definition audio and video from your HD equipment to your television. Both ends of the cable are identical, making it fuss-free to connect and to start viewing all that glorious HD content. If you’ve got a variety of boxes and devices that need linking up, you’ll need more than one cable and the correct amount of HDMI ports on your TV.

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Optical

Optical cables carry uncompressed digital audio signals from a variety of compatible devices to a soundbar or home cinema system. These clever cables are sometimes forgotten about but they allow you to enjoy high resolution sound in your home. For most entertainment setups, the sound you get from an optical cable is just as good as HDMI.

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3.5mm audio

A 3.5mm audio or auxiliary cable has all kinds of uses. Whether you’re plugging your smartphone into your car stereo or a portable speaker, these handy leads transfer high quality audio, so you’ll never miss a beat. Anything with a standard headphone or speaker socket should be compatible. And, to make things really simple, both ends are identical, allowing you to connect and listen straight away.

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Aerial cables

Doing exactly what is says on the tin, an aerial cable connects your aerial to your TV. Also, if you want to access a Freeview tuner on a compatible set top or Smart TV box, an aerial cable is the answer. The input on either end is the same, so connecting is quick and simple. They’re built with oxygen free copper that is a superb conductor and helps to minimise picture distortion.

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SCART

SCART leads aren’t used as much as they once were thanks to the HDMI revolution we looked at earlier. Most DVD players use SCART to link up to your TVs. New TVs and even some Blu-ray players still have a SCART input, so it might be worthwhile keeping one handy. Although, to enjoy high definition, you need a HDMI cable and we would still recommend using one over a SCART lead.