How do I connect a VCR to a Flat Screen TV

You may still have many video tapes that you like to play but find it hard to connect a VCR to your new flat screen TV. Often this is because you can’t find the right connections on the new TV. This article will explain the different options on how to connect a VCR to a flat screen TV, even if you can’t find the yellow socket.

Basically you need to connect from the “line out” of the VCR to “AV in” of the TV. This needs to be done for both the video and for the audio. Some VCRs have one audio out socket (mono) and some have two audio out sockets (stereo) – we will look at stereo first, and look at the differences for mono later in this article.

Connect a VCR with the Yellow, Red and White Leads

Connect a VCR with RCA leads

To connect a VCR to most flat screen TVs, you will need a cable with these yellow, red and white connectors. For non European VCRs, you will need a cable with these plugs at each end. For European VCRs, you may need a SCART plug at one end, and these yellow, red and white plugs at the other end to connect to the TV.

These plugs are often called RCA or Phono plugs. The yellow cable is used for the video signal, the red cable for the right audio, and the white cable for the left audio signal. Many VCRs come with these leads supplied. If you don’t have any, they should be available at most electronic or electrical stores.

The rear of the VCR

Connect a VCR Stereo out

This photo shows the standard connectors on most (stereo) VCRs. If you look closely, on the right hand side are the “line out” sockets (the left hand side is for “line in”, which we don’t use for connecting to a TV). The top right red socket is for the right audio out. The white middle right connector is the left audio out socket. The yellow socket at the bottom right is the video out socket.

The markings or labels on most VCRs are as hard to read as in this photo, so you may need to use a torch to see the markings clearly. Once you have found the line out sockets, it is a simple matter of connecting the yellow, red and white plugs of the connecting cable to the corresponding yellow, red and white line out sockets of the VCR.

The Rear of an Older Flat Screen TV

Connect a VCR LCD connectors

Older flat screen TVs are easy to connect a VCR to as they have at least one yellow “video in” socket. In this photo you can see it just below the centre of the photo, it is labelled “Video”. Below this yellow socket for video in is the corresponding white and red sockets for the left and right audio in.

Having found the yellow, red and white sockets, it is a simple matter of connecting the corresponding yellow, white and red plugs of the cable connected to the VCR to these sockets.

You may have noticed that in this photo, these sockets are in a section labelled “VIDEO 1 IN”. This normally would indicate that this is the input you need to select on the TV to watch the VCR. Most TVs require you to press “Source” or “Input” on the remote control to select the “Video 1” input signal.

Other TVs might label these inputs “AV” (short for Audio/Video).

Some older TVs might have several AV inputs, normally labelled AV 1, AV 2 etc. Many older flat screen TVs also have AV inputs on the side of the TV as well as on the rear of the TV.

My TV doesn’t have a Yellow Socket!

I get many questions from people saying they can’t find the yellow socket to connect a VCR into. Don’t worry, I have a solution. But first check the sides of your TV to make sure the designers aren’t trying to trick you by hiding the yellow, red and white sockets up one side.

Don’t worry if you can’t find a yellow socket to connect a VCR in to, as many new TVs don’t have one. Manufacturers think there is no need to supply TVs with the ability to connect a VCR through the standard (and old) yellow, red and white sockets. Instead they get you to connect to the green socket.

The Rear of a New Flat Screen TV

connect a VCR to new TVAt the rear of many new flat screen TVs there is no yellow socket for “Video In”. But as you can see in this picture, they say you can use the green socket instead. Notice on this TV, (and most others) there is only one of the green sockets nominated as “Video in” for you to connect a VCR to.

So for this TV, you would connect the yellow lead from the VCR to the nominated green “Video in” socket. The red and white audio leads from the VCR would connect to the corresponding red and white audio sockets below the blue and red.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of connecting the red audio cable, to the other red socket labelled “Pr” – the right audio will not work if you do this.

Note that not all TVs label the video in a clearly as in this photo. Some simply put a yellow circle around the appropriate green socket. Others label this socket as “Composite Video”.conenct a VCR with Composite Video

Composite Vs Component Video

You don’t need to understand this section – it is for those people who like to understand why it is possible to connect a VCR this way.

The green, blue and red sockets labelled Y, Pb and Pr in the photo above are for connecting a DVD player. These three video signals are called “Component Video”. It is the best way of connecting a DVD player if the DVD player doesn’t have HDMI. The green input from a DVD player is basically the black and white picture. The blue and red inputs are for the colour information of the picture. Then the other red and white sockets are for the right and left audio.

The video signal from a VCR has the black and white picture and the colour information all joined together – called composite video.

Modern TVs are clever enough to know when you only have one lead connected with all the information (composite video) or separate leads (component Video).  Hence they don’t need to provide a separate input for Composite only. For a more detailed explanation of component video see this article, or this article to learn more about composite video.

My VCR only has a white audio out

Many VCRs are not stereo, they are only mono. Connect a VCR mono audioThat is, they do not output a left and right audio channel. Instead they only output one single audio channel (mono audio). Therefore, they do not have a red and white audio output (for right and left audio). They only have a white output, for the mono audio. You may remember most old TVs only had one speaker, so the VCR only needed one audio channel (mono).

To connect a VCR with only mono audio to a flat screen TV, simply go from the “audio out” socket of the VCR.

That is the easy bit. How you connect to the TV will depend on the TV.

Connect a VCR - monoSome TVs will have sockets on the back like this picture. On the left hand side you should see the Audio right (red) and left (white) input sockets. The left socket is also labelled “MONO”. If your TV is like this, then simply connect the “mono out” from the VCR to the “mono in” of the TV. The TV should direct the sound to both (left and right) speakers of the TV.

If your TV does not have a Mono input, then you have two options:

  1. You can simply connect the “mono out” from the VCR to the “Left in” on the TV. This will send the sound to the left speaker only. While you might think this is not ideal, you may be surprised that it sounds fine when sitting some distance from the TV. The red cable is not used if connecting to the TV this way – it can just hang on its own behind the VCR and TV.
  2. You Connect a VCR Mono adapter leadcan use a cheap mono to stereo adapter cable. The single (black) plug is connected to the white audio out of the VCR. Then a normal red and white audio lead is connected from the adapter cable to the right (red) and left (white) audio in sockets of the TV. This will send the same mono audio to both the right and speakers of the TV.
  3. You can also use a mono to stereo adapter plug. This plugs straight into the ‘Audio Out”Connect a VCR RCA splitter on the back of the VCR. Then a normal red and white audio lead is connected from the two sockets of the adapter to the right (red) and left (white) “audio in” sockets of the TV. This works exactly the same as the lead above – use whichever one is available to you.

Whichever way you connect the mono audio, you will hear the sound through the TV. Keep in mind that many video recordings were probably recorded in mono, so you are not missing much.

Don’download articlet forget to also connect the yellow video lead from the VCR to the TV (as described above).

If you still have a problem to connect a VCR to your TV, list the details of the equipment and your problems in the comments box below, and together we can all learn other issues involved.

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62 COMMENTS

  1. Geoff,

    I have a Samsung series 56 smart tv connected to a vintage panasonic dvd/vcr PV D4742 /52. Before I upgraded our Dish receiver from SD to HD (Hopper) we were able to view tapes and dvds with sound and picture through the tv. After the upgrade, the composite/component three wire RCA setup is connected, but in component mode, the vcr produces sound/no video, and the dvd player produces video and sound, but sound only through my stereo system amp and external speakers. Should I try the converter box to cure the problem?

    Bob G

    • Hi Robert,

      From your description, it seems you have connected your VCR/DVD player to the TV via the component connections (green, red and blue) on the DVD and the TV.

      There are two problems with this. The main one being that only the DVD side of the DVD/VCR gives an output on the component sockets. You will never get the VCR to work with the component outputs. To get both to work on the one set of cables, you need to use the AV out (Yellow, red, white). This output has both the VCR and DVD.

      So normally the yellow lead from the VCR/DVD will go to the green input on the TV. You must leave the red and blue sockets on the TV empty. The red and white audio will go the red and white audio input sockets on the TV.

      If this doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t work, please spend me some pictures of your connections and I’ll try to work it out for you.

      Geoff

      • Worked as you diagrammed! As a bonus I used the audio out 2 to push sound through my stereo system and everything works as before. I guess the Dish installer didn’t know as much as he thought. Can’t thank you enough.
        One additional question: what causes the slight delay (echo) in the sound coming from the tv and stereo speakers when both systems are on?
        Again, many thanks.

        Bob Green

        • Hi Bob,

          I’m pleased you got it going – well done. The DVD picture would be better via the component inputs, but most TVs these days only allow one analogue input (if that), so to use the combined VCR/DVD output you need to use the composite (yellow), as you have done.

          The time delay likely to be in the TV. It can take a few milli-seconds for the TV to process to picture, so it delays the audio by the same mount to keep them in sync. For this reason I usually suggest you connect your sound system directly to the TV audio output, then it should be in sync, and you can listen to the better sound for any TV program, not just DVDs.

          Geoff

  2. I need to connect an old sharp vcr to my new samsung flat screen. I was told since I don’t have the hdmi port on the vcr I can’t. Isn’t there some kind of adapter I can purchase that will make it work? Thank you for your assistance.

    • Hi Martha,

      You are correct in that will need an adapter if your TV does not have any of the colored analgue inputs mentioned above. It seems like there a a number of TVs which only HDMI inputs now.

      In this case you will need a Composite (RCA) to HDMI converter, like one of these. Just make sure you get a RCA to HDMI and not a HDMI to RCA.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  3. We have an old VCR that we have been using to record TV and play pre-recorded tapes with our Samsung HD Smart TV and Sky box with no problems. We now have a MySky HDi box and the technician did not connect the VCR through the MySky box so we obviously can’t record off the TV any more, not really a problem as the MySky box will do that.

    BUT, despite the VCR still being connected to the TV exactly the same as it was (a coaxial cable from the out socket on the VCR to the in socket on the TV), the TV now does not recognise the VCR player in its “source” list and we can no longer view anything playing on the VCR. Why is this? The only change is that the TV is now connected to the MySky box and the VCR separately!
    Thank you.

    • Hi David,

      I want to make sure I have the same understanding of the terms you use. When you say the VCR is connected to the TV via a coaxial cable, I assume you mean it is just one cable going from the VCR to the TV antenna input. If this is case, then it wont turn up as a source on the TV. It will be a channel on the ATV (analogue TV).

      If however you mean the yellow, red and white leads, then I need to know what that is connected to on the TV. A picture of the connection on the TV and/or the model of the TV would be useful. Also what connection is between the MySky box and the TV? I assume it is a HDMI lead.

      thanks

      Geoff

      • Hi Geoff,

        Thanks very much. Yes, the coaxial is just the one cable (like an aerial cable) going from the VCR to the TV. The Sky box is connected to the TV by an HDMI lead.

        Looking at the other questions and answers, I obviously need to get a set of component leads. The VCR only has mono output, but that is covered in another question, so I’ll get the leads tomorrow and see how I go 🙂

        Many thanks, david

  4. Hi Geoff,

    I just bought a vcr but the vcr doesn’t have a spot for the red cable and therefore I don’t know where to plug it in. Where can I plug it in?

    • Hi Daniela,

      It sounds like the VCR is mono only, not stereo.

      This means you can forget about the red lead, or use one of the suggestions in the article above under the heading “My VCR only has a white audio out”.

      If your VCR is different to this, can you take a photo of the connections at the back and email it to me?

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  5. Hi Geoff-
    My Samsung tv only has HDMI ports, and I’m trying to connect a VCR and a DVD player to the tv. I have tried an RCA to HDMI cable wo success. Is there a converter box/cable you’d recommend in my case? Here’s what I’ve got:
    Samsung TV: UN55KS800 (only HDMI inputs)
    Sony DVD player: DVP-NS415 (R/Y/W, R/G/Blu, coax out)
    Panasonic VCR: PV-9660 (R/Y/W, coax out)

    Thanks in advance!
    Rich

    • Hi Rich,

      I don’t understand how a RCA to HDMI cable can work as they are two completely different types of signals, so need some smart electronics to convert one to the another.

      Having said that, there are many such converter boxes, and they are now not too expensive. You could start by looking at these. Although they all look the same, just different brands. For the price of them, you could possibly get two, and use one for the VCR and one for the DVD player.

      How times change so quickly, I remember seeing my first TV that had one HDMI input and many other sockets – not that long ago. Yours is the first I’ve seen with no Analogue inputs. I imagine this is going to be trend now, especially with 4 K TV.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

      • Hi Geoff,
        Thanks for the guidance. I just saw your post this evening and ordered one of the converter boxes. Hope to share a success story with you in a day or two.
        Yes, the world is changing quickly!

        All the best,
        Rich

  6. Hi Geoff,
    I have to decide whether to get my old 30-inch tube Toshiba repaired (love that TV) for a pincushioning problem or spring for a new LED. I do know of a repairman who will come to the house at a reasonable cost. At issue is hooking up an old VCR, DVD player and Xbox. While I’m sure I can rig up something for the DVD, I want to be able to record on the VCR as well. I do have converter boxes because I’m using them now with an antenna. Will that work?

    • Hi Ilene,

      Basically if your older TV works with your current set up, a new TV also should. You may have to get a video switch, but they don’t cost much.

      A VCR doesn’t record off a TV, rather, a TV displays what the VCR is recording. That is why you need a “Converter Box” to allow the VCR to record in your current setup.

      hope this helps some,

      Geoff

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