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What is a Coaxial Converter?

John Lister
Updated May 17, 2024
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A coaxial converter is a device which converts an audio-visual connector to a single-pin plug. Technically coaxial refers to a type of physical cable, but in this context it usually means a specific type of plug. It’s possible to use a coaxial converter in more than one setting, with different technology used in each. The most common are in converting RCA audio-visual leads, or in converting an optical audio lead.

Coaxial cables involve four components: a central copper cable, a plastic insulator around this, a copper shield around that, and a plastic sheath around the outside. This set-up allows the cable to transmit information through radio frequencies in the form of an electric current, while minimizing interference. The term coaxial comes from the fact that the two copper components travel in the same direction: that is, they share an axis.

In the context of a converter, coaxial has more than one possible meaning. The converter may simply be a physical converter which combines multiple signals into a single coaxial lead and socket. It may also refer to changing a signal from an optical pulse to an electrical signal.

One specific form of coaxial converter works with RCA cables. These are a set of three cables which carry the picture, left-channel audio and right-channel audio respectively. They are known in some countries as composite cable.

The converter used in this situation will take these three cables and combine the information into a single coaxial cable. This then plugs into a one-pin socket on a television. This socket is known as either an RF socket or simply an aerial socket. It’s worth noting that this is only a physical solution and won’t necessarily produce a suitable signal to display a picture. That will either require a separate device known as an RF modulator, or for the signal to be routed through something with a modulator built-in, such as a video recorder.

Another form of coaxial converter works in digital audio. It takes a signal from a device emitting an optical signal which works by sending light pulses down a fiber optic cable. The converter then takes the information from this optical signal and outputs it as an electrical signal which can be carried by a coaxial cable. Because this is changing the signal itself, rather than just making the cable physically fit a socket, this type of coaxial converter will normally require its own power supply.

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John Lister
By John Lister
John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With a relevant degree, John brings a keen eye for detail, a strong understanding of content strategy, and an ability to adapt to different writing styles and formats to ensure that his work meets the highest standards.
Discussion Comments
By titans62 — On Oct 03, 2011

@stl156 - I would say the cable box classifies as a coaxial converter. It is turning the cable signal into something that can be processed by the TV into color and sound. Along the same lines, a modem can turn the signal into internet signal. How it all works is far beyond me, though. I'm just glad we have it!

I haven't really jumped on the high definition TV bandwagon yet, but my friend has one, and I have noticed there is a second set of cords similar to the composite cable. I don't remember all of the colors, but I think one is blue. What do these do? I have read stuff about HDMI cables. Is that what these are?

By jmc88 — On Oct 02, 2011

@stl156 - I really don't know why some TVs are made without the RCA cable inputs, since the technology has been around for a long time. The reason some TVs only have the white and yellow connections is because they aren't set up for stereo sound.

Like the article says, one cable carries left audio and the other carries right. The third has picture. I don't remember which color is what, though. If a TV isn't set up to handle stereo sound, it has no reason for both audio cables to plug in and the single cable carries all of the sound.

This usually isn't a problem, but I have run into issues with game systems where it will try to send stereo sound, and you obviously lose one half of the track because the cable doesn't lead into the TV.

By stl156 — On Oct 01, 2011

@TreeMan - You brought up my biggest complaint with having things that use the RCA component cables. Not all TVs have all three of the inputs, and some don't have any connectors at all. Does anyone know why this is? Is there any way to get around it without a coaxial RCA converter?

As for things like a cable box where your cable connects from the wall, does this count as a coaxial converter, or does it fall into another category?

By TreeMan — On Sep 30, 2011

Thank goodness for coaxial converters. It seems like a lot of game systems and other TV based electronics you buy only come with the red, yellow, and white cables, but for some reason my TV set doesn't have those inputs. Also, I've noticed that some TVs don't have a red input for some reason.

With the coaxial converter, you can put all of the cables into one easy to connect cable.

John Lister
John Lister
John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With...
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