The rear of most entertainment racks ain’t pretty, but knowing the cables that connect your gear will help you achieve the best sound and picture, writes Thomas Bartlett.

Your HD set-top box, DVD recorder, VCR, Blu-ray and HD DVD players have to deliver their sound and picture to your home theatre receiver. It, in turn, has to send its powerful sound to the loudspeakers and subwoofer, and the picture on to your plasma, LCD TV or projector. All this is done with cables.

The cables packaged with most electronic equipment are typically of low quality, and may be too short for your setup. You can do justice to your investment and achieve better quality pictures and sound by replacing these free ‘in-the-box’ cables with high quality interconnects.

So called because they join separate electronic devices, interconnects come in two main flavours: audio and video and, within these, analog and digital. The digital variety typically offers better quality in a more convenient cable and should be your first choice.

The day is not too far away when connecting all the components in your home theatre system together will be so simple, articles such as this will no longer be required.

But that day is not yet here.

Until then, there will be no less than six different kinds of audio connections, and six different kinds of video connections, with which you may have to contend. Let us sort out this mess, so that no matter what kind of equipment you have, you’ll be able to get the best out of it.