What Is a SCART Socket?

Paul Scott
Paul Scott
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A SCART socket is the female portion of a standardized analog audio visual connection system primarily used in Europe. They have been a compulsory standard on equipment such as TVs since 1980, particularly in their country of origin, France. The connectors are rectangular, 21-pin plugs and sockets with a slanted profile on one end to facilitate correct insertion. The connectors allowed the standardized interconnection of equipment such as TVs, VCRs, and pay-TV decoders at a time when connection incompatibility was rife. SCART connectors have largely been replaced on new appliances by modern digital HDMI equipment although they are still common on older units.

Prior to 1977, European users of audio visual (AV) equipment often experienced problems with connection compatibility between different system components. AV equipment from different origins may have featured DIN-, RCA-, or BNC-style connectors, creating a constant need for a plethora of adapters to set up any system. In an attempt to enforce a standard connection system the SCART (Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs) system was introduced in France in 1977. The system made interconnecting TVs, VCRs, DVD players and game consoles easy with all audio and video signal paths contained in a single cable. By 1980, all locally-sold television sets were required to be equipped with a SCART socket for signal inputs.

The SCART socket is a rectangular connector with a notched, angled profile on its one short side which acts as a key to ensure correct plug insertion. The connectors are of a 21-pin design with 2 staggered rows of 10 flat, vertically orientated pins. The 21st "pin" is a common ground connection formed by the metal plug case. SCART connectors allow for bi-directional stereo audio and S-video, composite, and RGB video signal transmission. Televisions equipped with SCART socket connections may also be signaled out of sleep mode or switched to video record mode via the SCART connections.

The advent of modern digital signal protocols such as HDMI has started to push the SCART connection into obsolescence. Many older appliances still feature SCART socket connections though, particularly in Europe. These connections are still well-supported with most manufacturers of audio/visual equipment supplying SCART adaptors with their products. Pin-out diagrams for SCART socket wiring are also easily accessible online or through equipment suppliers. Although dated by HDMI standards, these connectors remain an efficient and convenient method of interconnecting AV equipment with many useful features.

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