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Audio – Video


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Hookup diagrams VCR Connections SMART TV Flat screen TV


VCR to Smart TV

VCR - SONY VCR with stereo sound

Simple easy way to connect VCR to Smart TV

There are many ways to connect an old VCR to a modern TV.

1) Coaxial Cable Connection
2) Composite RCA Cables Connection
3) Composite/Component RCA Cables Connection
4) RCA to HDMI adapter connection

Single Coaxial Cable

Many TVs made after 2009 when the switch from analog to digital TV took place in the USA, and up until around 2015, were still made with the analog NTSC tuners built in. This means if your TV is one of these older models, you may be able to connect the VCR using a coaxial cable from the VCR OUT to the TV antenna IN. Switch the TV to analog channel 3 or 4 and play a tape on the VCR. Many newer TVs have both digital ATSC and analog NTSC tuners built-in. This means you can connect a VCR to the TV using only a single RG-6 coaxial cable from the VCR OUT (silver threaded antenna port) to the TV antenna input (silver threaded port).

Align the pin in the center of the coaxial cable with the hole in the port and insert. Next screw the cable housing clockwise onto the port until it is tightend all the way for a secure connection. Do this for both ends of the cable (VCR and TV).

The VCR outputs to analog channel 3 or 4 so if your TV can tune these channels, just select channel 3 (or 4) on the TV, press play on the VCR and enjoy VHS tapes on the big screen.

Channel Scan

If your VCR is not showing up on the TV, you may need to do a channel scan so the TV tunes in analog channel 3 or 4.

How to channel scan on digital TV

Make sure to do a channel scan on the TV and select AIR/ANTENNA and not CABLE while the VCR is connected and playing a tape to pick up the analog channel (3 or 4) if not already available.

TV brands and models will access the channel scan function differently but it is basically the same process. The TV will scan for signals from over-the-air broadcasts. The VCR is sending analog signals on NTSC channel 3 or 4 so if the TV can receive these signals, it will add channel 3 or 4 to the list of channels it can tune in. Then when the VCR plays a tape, it should be able to be viewed on the TV channel 3 or 4.

Some newer TVs may only have a digital ATSC tuner in which case you may not be able to use the RG-6 coaxial cable connection because the VCR is only capable of analog NTSC signals. However, there are alternative methods to connect VCR to digital TV.

RCA Composite AV cables connection

While the single coaxial cable combines video and audio over a single wire, the RCA composite connection uses 3 cables, one for video signals (yellow), one for mono audio signals (white) and one added for stereo audio signals (red). Many new TVs have discontinued RCA composite in favor of HDMI, however there are still newer TVs available which offer RCA composite inputs which you can use to connect a VCR. One 2022 model with RCA composite inputs is the VIZIO D-Series D43f-J04. This TV has the new features and functions but still retains the old RCA composite inputs so you can have both old and new functions, playing old VHS tapes and streaming internet content.

To connect the VCR to the TV using RCA composite cables, insert the yellow video cable into the yellow OUT port on the VCR and the other end into the yellow IN port on the TV. Next connect the white RCA cable into the white RCA OUT port on the VCR and the other end into the white IN port on the TV. If your VCR has a red OUT port for stereo sound, connect the red RCA cable into the red OUT port on the VCR and the other end into the red IN port on the TV. Switch the TV Source Input to the AV/RCA TV input using the TV remote.

VCR rear RCA ports

Connect VCR to TV using RCA cables

Many TVs have RCA inputs which allow a VCR to connect. Your TV may have yellow video and white and red audio inputs or you may see only green, blue, red video with white and red audio. Many TVs allow you to use the green video input to connect the yellow video cable from the VCR. Then for sound, connect white (and red) cables as shown in the diagram. Red is used for stereo sound but if your VCR only has white and no red output, then no need to connect red cable.

After connecting RCA cables from VCR to TV, power ON TV and go to MENU or press the INPUT or SOURCE button on TV remote to select the AV input. The AV input may be called Component on your TV. Once the correct input source is selected (the VCR) you should play a tape and view on the TV.

More Options - HDMI Adapters

Best Buy RCA to HDMI adapter $39.99

This device works well for most TVs and for the game consoles, VCRs and other devices with RCA outputs. You get the adapter and a power plug so you just need your RCA cables and an HDMI cable. Select on the TV, the correct input with the TV remote and you may need to go into TV settings to select audio options.

Connect the 3 RCA cables from the source device output (VCR) to the adapter RCA inputs. Connect HDMI cable from adapter HDMI output to TV HDMI input.

Best Buy RCA to HDMI adapter

Amazon adapters are less expensive but possibly lower quality

VCR RCA to HDMI output adapter

Adapter for TV with only HDMI inputs - alternate hookup for VCR

VCR to PC or laptop capture - digitize old VHS tapes

RCA to HDMI converter - VCR to digital TV

RCA to HDMI Converter:This RCA to HDMI can convert analog RCA composite input to HDMI 720P/1080P (60HZ) output, so you can watch old equipment sources like VHS on a smart TV.

Select correct source input on TV

Next, be sure to select the TV antenna input using the TV remote. This is done a few different ways depending on your TV brand and model but the procedure is basically the same.

Many TVs have a remote with a button to select source inputs such as SOURCE or INPUT. Press this button to select the proper input. Often the TV on-screen menu will show all the possible source inputs and you will scroll through the list and then select the one you want by pressing OK or ENTER.

Your TV may show AIR or ANTENNA or TV or DTV or the like for the coaxial input. For newer TVs, you may have to press the HOME or the SETTINGS button on the remote to enter the on-screen menu for selecting source inputs.

Use the arrow navigation buttons on the remote to move up or down and then select the correct input source. (OK/Enter)

If this coax cable connection does not work on your TV, see below for more connection options.

VCR connection to TV - Digital Cable TV set-top-box

If you have a Cable TV box, connect VCR to cable TV box RCA outputs and then to TV

If your TV has only HDMI inputs, you can use a RCA to HDMI adapter to connect to TV

RCA to HDMI adapter - Converts analog RCA composite (red, white, yellow) input to HDMI 720P/1080P (60HZ) output.

Connect VCR to TV with only RF antenna coax input - RF Modulator

If your TV only has a single RF antenna coaxial input, you can use an RF Modulator to connect. Hookup your DVD player and DTV tuner also.

Q: How can I use both my TV antenna and the VCR connection without changing cables?

A: One way is to get a switch called an A/B switch and connect both VCR and antenna. Then select A or B depending on which source you want to watch, VCR or TV antenna, all without changing cables.

A/B Switch for RF coax cables

VCR Connections

VCR rear panel
From left to right - set of RCA Inputs (red, white, yellow) , set of RCA Outputs (red, white, yellow), Antenna Input (coaxial) and RF Output (coaxial)

TV Connections

Your TV may have RCA inputs or it may have only HDMI inputs

Older TV rear panel - composite inputs for VCR (yellow, white, red)

Some new flat screen TV sets made after 2020 still offer RCA yellow, white, red connections. These are usually the less expensive TV sets. If your TV has these input connections, you can just hookup your VCR to the TV using these three cable connections as shown in the image below.

Always select the proper input source, the VCR, using the TV remote control.


Many smart TVs, even 50 inch displays, have an AV Input (yellow) 3.5mm which allows you to connect a VCR or set-top-box to the TV using RCA cables (yellow, white, red) for video and audio. You just need to use an adapter cable to connect and often the TV will come with this adapter cable. If not you can buy this cable online.

Plug the 3 RCA cables into the yellow, white and red ends matching the colors and then plug the 3.5mm end into the TV AV IN.

Adapter cable for VCR connection to smart TV AV Input

Many newer smart TVs have only HDMI inputs so to connect a VCR, you need an adapter device which goes from RCA yellow, white, red to HDMI which can then connect to the HDMI input on the TV.

You need the old RCA cables, one yellow for video, one white for audio (and red for stereo sound) and a HDMI cable.

Connect one end of the RCA cables to the VCR yellow, white and red outputs. If your VCR has only yellow and white, you do not need the red connection.

Make sure the cables are connected to the VCR OUT ports.

Connect the other ends of the RCA cables to the adapter, matching the colors, yellow to yellow, white to white etc.

Connect a HDMI cable to the adapter and connect the other end of the HDMI cable to an available HDMI input port on the TV.

Most of these adapters are RCA to HDMI but make sure you do not buy the HDMI to RCA adapter. This one is going the other way around.

Now connect the power for the adapter, usually a USB cable, to the wall outlet or to the TV USB port. Now power on the TV and VCR and select the TV HDMI input that the VCR is connected to.

Select the correct TV input source using the TV remote control

Play a VHS tape and you should see it on the TV.

VCR to TV connection with HDMI

RCA to HDMI Converter: Converts analog RCA composite (Yellow, White, Red) input to HDMI 720P/1080P (60HZ) output,displayed on HDTV, which can bring back your childhood memories.

VCR connection to Smart TV using RCA to HDMI adapter

RCA to HDMI Cable Converter

VCR rear panel - Mono audio

Older VCRs with mono audio use only the white RCA audio cable connection along with the yellow video connection.

VCR connection to TV with analog NTSC Tuner

Many HDTVs sold before 2020 have the older NTSC analog tuner as well as the newer ATSC digital tuner built-in to the TV.
All old style TVs sold before 2009 have the NTSC Tuner built in.
Your VCR can connect to these TVs one of two ways. Either use a RF coaxial cable or use RCA cables.
The single coaxial RG-6 cable carries both audio and video. The three RCA cables carry video on the yellow and audio on the white and red cables.

To connect a VCR to a HDTV, you can use the yellow, white and (red) RCA cables, or use a single coaxial cable or use an adapter to convert the RCA cables to HDMI since most HDTVs have HDMI inputs. 

The adapter takes the RCA cables from the VCR's output and sends to a HDMI cable connected from the adapter to the HDTV's HDMI input.
Then select the TV's HDMI input (VCR connection) and you can play the VCR tapes on the HDTV.

The single coaxial cable hookup uses channel 3 (or 4) on the TV. Set the TV to channel 3
(make sure to scan for channels on the TV to pickup channel 3 after VCR is powered on, connected and playing tape).
You may need to select the antenna input (source) on the TV using the TV's remote.

You may need to SETUP the VCR in MENU if not already done. Some VCRs need to be setup when first plugged in before they function properly.

Hookup Diagram - VCR to HDTV with NTSC Tuner

OK, so this setup will play VHS tapes on the TV when the TV is set to channel 3 (or 4)
but what about connecting my antenna to the TV?
I want to be able to watch TV as well as play tapes.


With the hookup above, you can record the TV channel tuned by the converter box or simply watch the TV channel tuned by the converter box. Use the converter box's remote to change channels. The TV is set to channel 3 (or 4) and channels are tuned on the converter box. You could also play a VHS tape to the HDTV. Since DTV converter boxes typically have worse tuners than your HDTV, you could power off the converter box and the VCR when you wanted to view TV channels in High Definition using the antenna pass-thru capability. This time you would use the HDTV's tuner, change channels with the TV remote. The TV source is still the Antenna (TV). Make sure to use TV remote to change to proper source input.

Most VCRs will simply PASSTHRU the antenna signal to the TV.
Turn the VCR off when watching TV and tune the TV to digital channels using the TV remote. It is like the VCR is not there.

Can I record TV with this setup?

You can record digital TV shows on the VCR if you use a digital to analog converter. Cost is $30 to $40.

The VCR single coax cable (OUT) to HDTV (IN) for both video and audio. Don't expect sharp video from this hookup as the old VHS tapes have much less video resolution than today's digital TV broadcasts.

If you have an antenna connected to the TV, you can use more complex connections (see below) or you can use the RCA (yellow, white) connections from the VCR to the TV. In this case, select the input (source) on the TV which matches the VCR connection.
RCA cables (yellow and white/red) can be bought at any electronics store or online. Cost should be about $7.00 or less.

Diagram VCR to HDTV using RCA cables

Antenna is connected to TV for High-Definition broadcasts using ATSC Tuner in TV
VCR can play VHS tapes to TV

RCA to HDMI adapter - 2 port

NextGen TV: ATSC 3.0 Free TV for 2020 and beyond

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VCR BASICS - How to record digital TV on VCR

Streaming TV and devices

Clean VCR heads

Old analog TV with only coaxial (antenna) input
Use RF modulator for other RCA hookup such as DVD

4K TV connection using Audio Video (AV) adapter cable

TV side panel ports for budget 4K TV

From top to bottom the ports are: USB, Ethernet, HDMI, HDMI, HDMI, Antenna, AV input, Headphone, Optical Audio output.

Some TVs do not have the three RCA input jacks but rather have a single 3.5mm AV jack. This requires the use of an adapter cable which is sometimes supplied with the TV.
Otherwise you can purchase them at retail outlets.

TV with limited RCA inputs Use a RCA Switch Box. Connect 8 input devices.

Q: Can I still buy a flat screen TV with RCA composite (Yellow, White, Red) inputs?
A: Yes, as of 2022 you can still buy a new TV with RCA composite inputs for around $100 with 720p video resolution and HDMI inputs. Look at Best Buy Insignia™ - 32" Class N10 Series LED HD TV Model:NS-32D310NA21 SKU:6395127

VCR and cable hookup diagrams

Direct Connection - VCR to HDTV

There are many ways to connect a VCR to HDTV.

1. Coaxial cable RF jack (VCR) to HDTV's RF antenna input jack.
2. VCR's RCA outputs (yellow, white, red) to HDTV's RCA inputs.
3. VCR RCA outputs to a converter or switch which outputs RCA or HDMI to HDTV inputs.
4. VCR RCA outputs to an Audio/Video Receiver which connects to HDTV.

HDTV inputs include composite (yellow, white, red) and component (green Y, blue Pb, red Pr) video.

HDTVs often use a hybrid video input which accepts either yellow video or the green (Y) cable video portion of the component video. So if you wanted to connect the VCR to HDTV using RCA cables, connect the yellow video cable to the yellow/green input on the TV and the white and red audio cables to the white and red audio inputs on the TV. The disadvantage here is you cannot use a component video connection to the TV once the yellow cable is connected. Of course HDMI could be used instead of component video.

Connect VCR yellow RCA video cable from VCR yellow output to HDTV's yellow video input and
next connect VCR white audio RCA cable from VCR white output to HDTV white audio input.
For stereo VCR, connect red RCA audio cable from VCR red output to HDTV red audio input.

Diagram - VCR to HDTV using hybrid video and audio connection

Switch the TV source to the AV input so the VCR is viewed on the TV. Use TV remote control.

What about connecting multiple composite devices to the TV such as video games, DVD and VCR?
Don't have enough inputs on the TV? Use a video switch box. This way you can connect many devices through the switch to the single input on the TV.

Can I record over the air local digital TV channels on my VCR?

I have a VCR and an HDTV. How can I record TV shows on my VCR?

The standard home VHS VCR has the older TV tuner built in, which only tunes in the old analog broadcast TV signals which are mostly gone today, replaced by digital TV broadcasts. If you want to record the new digital TV signals, you need to get a DTV converter box. This box (around $40) will convert the TV signals to analog so the VCR will be able to record them. You can view one show on the TV while recording another on the VCR if you connect a splitter.

Hookup Diagram for cable TV company DTA digital terminal adapter to VCR to TV

For any TV - DTA converts digital cable channels to analog and record on VCR.
Select channel 3 (or 4) on DTA box, VCR and TV

Recording one TV show while watching another

DIAGRAM hookup for viewing one show while recording another

Instructions for recording one show while watching another using VCR, HDTV and DTV converter box.

What you need to setup:
6 Cables - Coaxial RG-6 type
DTV converter box
Signal splitter
A/B switch
also your TV antenna, blank VHS tapes and remotes for TV and converter.

Very important - Your TV needs to be set on Antenna, TV, or whatever your TV calls the coaxial input. Also your TV will need to be set to channel 3 (or 4) in order to view the VCR or the DTV converter channels. Your TV is set to any other channel such as 12, 24, 36 in order to view TV channels over the air using the TV's tuner.

Your TV Antenna is connected to a signal splitter (input) using an RG-6 coaxial cable. It is important to use the proper splitter. Using a splitter not suited for this connection setup could result in poor signal strength and no picture. The splitter outputs to the TV coaxial input for straight over the air viewing and also to the DTV converter box input for the second channel (recording). The DTV box provides a channel 3 output to the VCR. Set VCR to record channel 3. The A/B switch allows you to select either the VCR/DTV box tuner or the HDTV tuner (all other channels).
You can have cable or satellite TV boxes connected to the HDTV as well, just select the HDMI input on the TV.

VCR and HDTV connections:

A VCR cannot record in high definition, only analog standard definition. If you have a cable TV or satellite TV receiver box and the box outputs standard definition over a yellow RCA composite video and white and red RCA audio ports, then you can record to the VCR. You can even record a high definition TV show but only in the standard definition conversion available through the yellow video and white/red audio outputs. 


Recording one TV channel on a VCR while watching another TV channel on an Analog TV

Analog TVs and VCRs can receive digital television (DTV) broadcast signals by using a Digital-to-Analog Converter Box.

You could use a signal splitter if you only want to use one antenna. Tune DTV 1 to the channel you want to watch and select the RF/VHF input on the TV channel 3 or 4. Tune DTV 2 to the channel you want to record on the VCR. Set the VCR to record channel 3 or 4. To play VHS tape of recorded TV show, select the TV video input and play tape on VCR.

Below are two options for hooking up your VCR with a Digital Cable High Definition Converter.


This hookup is the most basic way to add a VCR to an HD setup. Set your VCR to Channel 3. Your cable TV box must offer an RF output jack. 

Component video (red, green, blue) cables are used for HD video. HDMI cable connection can be used if HDMI ports are available on the TV and cable box.

This hookup allows the viewer to record any Analog or Digital channel off the converter box. For normal HDTV viewing the VCR can remain off. Select the ANTENNA input on the HDTV to view the VCR output.
The limitations of this setup are:

  1. When recording, the converter must stay on the channel being taped.
  2. You cannot watch one channel while recording another.
  3. Because the signal source is the RF coax connector, there is only monaural audio available. You cannot record stereo or surround sound.

A DVR (TIVO) unit can be substituted for the VCR. You can use an HDMI cable connection instead of the 3 cable component video connection. HDMI sends both video and audio all in one cable. Your TV must have an available HDMI input.

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Replacement for VCR:

Today's VCR replacement is the digital TV PVR box or personal video recorder. These units will convert the current digital TV broadcasts into the old analog TV signals for an older TV AND allow you to record the TV show to a solid state recorder or disk via the USB connection. The USB thumb drives or sticks only cost about $15 and have 32GB or more of storage for hours of TV saved on your USB device. No more tapes to rewind. No more tape jams and a lot less space to store TV shows. The boxes only cost $30 to $40, are small and have a remote control.

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This installation provides more flexibility, allowing the viewer to record any Analog or Digital program with stereo sound.

It also adds the ability to watch any Analog channel while recording any other Analog or Digital program.
Your pay TV provider has to offer analog TV signals for this setup to work. Some Cable TV providers still offer analog channels as well as digital channels. 

RCA audio/video cables

The various settings on the HDTV and VCR are listed below.
The “VCR / TV” switch will be found on the VCR itself and will select the signal source for the Antenna Out connection on the VCR. The only time it needs to be switched to “TV” is when you want to watch an Analog channel while recording a Digital channel.

This hookup diagram shows VCR and older TV set with a stereo sound system for richer audio than TV speakers can provide. The channels are changed on the cable TV converter box while the VCR is set to channel 3 or 4 and the TV is set to channel 3 or 4. When the VCR is not recording or needed, the VCR just passes thru the video and audio to the TV from the cable converter box. The TV is set to channel 3 or 4. This way you can get stereo sound even if your older TV does not have stereo capability. Adjust the volume on the stereo system. You can use any input on the stereo except PHONO.

VCR HDTV connection

The following diagram shows digital cable TV box and antenna connected to HDTV. Also connected to HDTV is a VCR through a splitter (reversed) to the antenna input on the HDTV. The VCR can record standard definition TV shows from the cable box. The VCR outputs on channel 3 or 4 analog so set the TV to channel 3 or 4 (OTA) when viewing the VCR.

The VCR can record one channel from the cable box while viewing an over-the-air (OTA) digital TV station on the TV. There are other options for connecting VCRs. A DVD player can be connected to the TV using the HDMI, component video or composite video inputs on the TV.

Diagram to hookup VCR, Cable box and antenna to HDTV (DVD player can be directly connected to TV)

How to connect VCR to TV with only HDMI inputs

Using a RCA to HDMI converter, you can connect the VCR RCA outputs to the converter's RCA inputs using the three RCA cables, yellow, white and red and then a HDMI cable from the converter's HDMI output to the TV HDMI input.

You will still get the same video resolution from a VHS tape of course, unless you use a much more expensive video converter and upscaler unit.

Converter - RCA to HDMI

How to connect to older TV sets from the 1970s and 1980s

Some older TV sets do not even have a RF coax cable connection. They may just have two screws where a VHF rabbit ears antenna connects and two screws where a UHF loop antenna connects. For these older TV sets, you need to use a video balun (balanced to unbalanced) to convert 75 ohm coax to 300 ohm twin lead. For a DVD player, you need a RF modulator box. For a VCR connect using the RF coaxial output.

What are baluns?
A video balun is a transmission line transformer for converting balanced input to unbalanced output or vice versa. An old typical usage of the balun was (and still is) with TV antennas.

An example of a video balun to convert 75 ohm coax cable signals to 300 ohm for connection to TV antenna terminals. The coax cable screws into the round end and the twin lead connects to the TV antenna terminals. Connect the RG-6 coax cable from the VCR RF OUTPUT to the round end of the balun and then connect the twin leads to your TV VHF antenna terminals.

VHF: 54 MHz-216 MHz (Channels 2-13)
UHF: 470 MHz-806 MHz (Channels 14-69)

• See over 100 hookup diagrams - Diagrams Index


Can I connect a VCR to a digital TV (HDTV)?

Answer: Yes. Connect using the RF antenna jack with RG-6 coaxial cable or connect using the yellow RCA video cable connection with white audio RCA cable connection.

My VCR has run out of years. The menu only goes up to 2003. How do I program for recordings now in 2012?

Answer: You can setup the VCR for a date (year/month) that is equivalent. The VCR won't know the difference. For example July 2012 is the same as December 2002. It starts on the same day of the week and has the same number of days. It is annoying to do this each month but it does work and if you want to continue to use your VCR for unattended recordings this is one solution. Check the website below for repeating dates. You can enter whatever year and month you want to get the info for. There are some entire years that repeat also so in these cases you only need to set the VCR once per year.

How can I record a show while I'm sleeping from my cable TV box to my VCR?

Answer: Set your VCR for timer recording. Setup the start time and end time, day and date. Insert blank tape. Next go into your cable TV box's MENU and go to SETTINGS. Most cable boxes have a power on setting which allows a predetermined time to power on. By combining this with a power on channel setting which most cable boxes have, you can have the cable box power on at that time of day and tune to the channel you want to record. There are favorite channels also but usually there is a power on channel, the channel tuned when the box powers on. Set this to your channel to record and both VCR and cable box should come on and you will record your show. Connect video and audio cables from cable box outputs to VCR inputs and make sure VCR is set to record from the LINE input.

I connected my VCR to my HDTV using coaxial cable but nothing shows up on the TV?

Connecting VCR to HDTV using coax cable means you need to tune to channel 3 (or 4) on the TV. Make sure to do a new channel search on the TV once VCR is connected, in PLAY mode and powered on so TV picks up channel 3 and also make sure to switch TV source to ANT/TV using TV remote so you get the correct input source.
Check for a bad cable by substituting another coax cable. Try another TV or another VCR if possible to eliminate points of problems.
Keep trying different solutions.


GENERAL GUIDE (TV brands are all slightly different)

1 – Press the MENU or HOME button on your TV or converter box remote.

2 – Navigate to SETUP or SETTINGS or PROGRAM using the UP/DOWN buttons.

3 – Navigate to ANTENNA or SYSTEM or CHANNELS or BROADCAST using the Left/Right buttons.


5 – Press ENTER, OK, or SELECT to start the channel scan.

The channel scan will take a few mins. to complete. Every channel that can be received will be saved when the scan is completed.

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