CEA Lends a Guiding Hand
New standards and guidelines for multi-room audio, connectivity and amplifiers
By Ron Goldberg
As CE products and technologies continue to grow more complex, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has been running at breakneck pace to maintain a semblance of order and unity. While its most visible information and training efforts have been aimed at the consumer side, vital technical standards and guidelines are being created for the industry's back end. Some of CEA's latest endeavors are of particular interest to custom installers and C-tailers, and another new initiative that's just getting off the ground will soon make its mark.
COLOR CODING STANDARD FOR HOME THEATER INSTALLATION
Designed primarily for consumers, standard CEA-863-A defines a color-coding system for home theater hookup. It defines standardized color codes for home theater systems with up to 12.2 audio channels as well as digital, composite and component video connections. A previous standard allowed for only 5.1 channels, which shows how quickly things move these days—a 5.1 definition is no longer sufficient for even general consumers. Of course, these guidelines will also make things simpler for professional installers and trainees.
Because the previous standard had already been adopted by many mainstream manufacturers (if not necessarily manufacturers from the custom side), the color coding for video and audio line connections will seem familiar to many. In addition to the obvious red, green and blue colors for component video and RGB, and the almost-commonplace orange for digital audio coaxial connections, a new color—white—is designated for a digital video connection.
Because a digital video connection can assume so many different shapes—DVI, HDMI, even IEEE 1394 on some devices—the standard does not make a color label mandatory here, though white is clearly suggested. It will be interesting to see how the standard evolves as new CE products just down the road start offering multiple digital video, audio and control connections.