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 some TV’s let you connect to the green socket, and others require you to use a HDMI input. I discuss each way below.

If there is a Green Socket

connect a VCR to new TVAt the rear of many 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. Also ensure you don’t connect anything to the blue or red video inputs or your VCR picture will be in black and white only.

Note that not all TVs label the “video in” as clearly as in the photo above. Some simply put a yellow circle around the appropriate green socket. Some use a combination of yellow and green. 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.

Connect a VCR with HDMI only on the TV

Many new TVs do not have any analogue inputs. Therefore you need to use one of the HDMI inputs on the TV.  However you can’t connect your VCR directly to the TV, you need a converter box. Something like these offerings from Amazon:

This allows the yellow, red and white lead from the VCR to be plugged into the input of the converter box. The output of the converter box connects to a HDMI lead. The other end of this lead will plug into one of the HDMI inputs of the TV.

If you are going to buy a composite(RCA) to HDMI converter consider these tips:

  • Beware, many on-line searches return two types of converters: a RCA to HDMI converter and the reverse, a HDMI to RCA converter. To connect a VCR to a TV using HDMI, you need a RCA to HDMI converter.
  • You may also need to buy a short HDMI lead, if you don’t already have a spare one.

My VCR only has a white audio out

Many VCRs are not stereo, they are only mono. TConnect a VCR mono audiohat 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 or three 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.

135 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Geoff,

    I have a Philips DVP620VR DVD/VCR player that I am trying to hook in to a small RCA flatscreen TV (Full HD 1080P) with built in DVD player. I don’t need two DVD players, both pieces of equipment just happen to have them. At any rate, my specific goal is to be able to use the VCR.

    I purchased the RCA to HDMI convertor you recommended. I hooked the white, red, and yellow RCA cables into the DVD/VCR Audio Out/Video Out section of the DVD/VCR player. There is also a Component Video Out section with green, blue, and red, but I did not use that.

    I then put the RCA cables into the white, red, and yellow sockets of the convertor, and an HDMI cable from the convertor to the HDMI input on the TV.

    I hit “Input” on the TV remote, and selected HDMI on the onscreen menu. All I got was “No Signal”. I then went thru all the input options- TV, AV, Component, HDMI, PC, Media, DVD. Still no signal.

    I tried putting the TV on channels 2, 3, and 4. No signal. I tried putting the VCR on channels 2, 3, and 4. No signal. The convertor is switched to 1080P.

    I can’t imagine what else I need to be doing! Please help!

    Thanks!

    Annie 🙂

    • Hi Annie,

      It appears from your description that you have it connected correctly.

      There are a few basic things to check:

      1) did you plug in the USB lead to the converter? it requires this to get power from the TV’s USB to run the converter
      2) have you selected NTSC (USA) or PAL (rest of the world) on the side of the converter?
      3) there may be a problem with the VCR side of the player, try playing a DVD instead. Or try the VCR on a different TV
      4) if there is more than 1 HDMI input on the TV, make sure you select the correct one
      5) try a different yellow, red and white lead, it could be faulty.
      6) It could be that your TV is not happy with 1080p, try 1080i or 720.

      They are the basic things to check, let me know if any of these work or if we need to delve further.

      thanks

      Geoff

  2. Hi Geoff,
    What a lucky break to discover your website. Everything explained clearly, simply and knowledgeably (I think I spelt that right!). Greetings from the UK.
    One question arises re: connecting an old VCR to new HDTV. It’s this:
    My old Panasonic VCR [DMR EZ49V] has a socket labelled ‘HDMI AV OUT’ at the back. My Brand new JVC HDTV [LT-32C690] has a socket labelled ‘HDMI2 (ARC)’ at the back.
    Both the TV and VCR have the Yellow, Red and White RCA sockets but I’m wondering if I can link the two units with my existing HDMI to HDMI cable? Can’t find anything that says you can or anything that say you can’t. Could you help, please?
    Kind regards and thanks,
    Stuart (Gloucestershire UK)

    • Hi Stuart,

      It is not normal for a VCR/DVD player to have a HDMI output. But then your VCR/DVD player is not a normal unit. It seems it was made during the crossover from analogue to digital TV and has features from both camps. It is the first and only VCR I know of that can actually receive and record digital TV (although in Standard Def only, not HD). It is also the only unit I’ve now seen with HDMI output.

      Many VCR/DVD combo units have component out, but only for the DVD, not for the VCR. Your unit indicates that the HDMI can be used for VCR and DVD. Not only that, it up-scales the signal to HD (1080).

      So, according to the manual (pg 9), you should be able to use the HDMI output to the TV’s HDMI2 as you suggest.

      Enjoy,

      Geoff

  3. Well, I tried to connect a JVC VHS/DVD player to a Samsung flat screen. Looks fine for the hookups. I don’t have cable. Just wanted to view DVD’s and VHS tapes on the TV (anything else I watch on the laptop). The TV says “Weak or No Signal.” A VHS tape is playing, but the “Weak or No Signal” message is all that shows on the TV screen. Am I missing something??

    • Hi Dorothy,

      “Week or no signal” on the TV normally is a message when the tuner is not receiving a TV channel signal.

      If you have connected the VCR to the TV with the yellow, red and white cables then you don’t want to tune a channel in. Instead, use the TV remote control an press the “source” button. Then choose AV. AV is the input you have the VCR connected to.

      Does this help?

      Geoff

  4. Hi Geoff,
    Your instructions were very clear and helpful. I know nothing about hooking anything up and I hooked my vcr up without much trouble. I just wanted to add one thing that caused me some trouble.
    I didn’t know the difference between the remote for my TV and the remote for my Dish. I think it should be mentioned that the TV remote needs to be used when you want to use the VCR. There may be others out there that haven’t thought of this yet. Thanks a bunch for your help.

  5. Excellent instructions! After trying it on my own with a fairly new TV, your post came up on a search for “how to” and the VCR works. Thank you for this. The Tape that we wanted to view is precious and needed to be checked before converting to DVD. Many thanks.

  6. Thank you for your excellent article. I have red, white and yellow sockets on the side of my flatscreen TV but only red and white on the VCR. They show the sound is getting through. The only other connector on the VCR is a scart but I have an adapter plug for that with red white and yellow sockets. However, using that form of connection and nothing works not even the sound. Thanks.

    • Hi Stuart,

      The first thing I would check is if the SCART plug is directional. Some are made for inputs only, some for outputs only, and some have switch which lets you select input or output. You need an output one to use the Video and audio out. I suspect the one you are using is connecting to the input rather than the outputs.

      If this doesn’t help, let me know the model of your VCR and I’ll see if the manual helps us.
      Geoff

  7. Hi Geoff, still not finding what I need. I need to connect my RCA TV model # led40g45rq to a Philips/ Magn VCR model number vrz242at22. The VCR only has yellow and white connections, no red. TV has HDMI and to the left of that two connects for Pb and Pr. Do not know what to do. Please help. Thanks

    • Hi Erika,

      It looks like it should be a fairly standard connection. The yellow lead from the VCR plugs into the green connection labelled “Composite/Y” on the side of the TV. And then the white audio lead from the VCR will plug into the white audio in (also on the side of the TV).

      Then play a tape on the VCR. On the TV remote press the input button, then use the down arrow and select AV.

      That should now play your video on the TV.

      Let me know how you go,

      Geoff

  8. Hi. I’m trying to connect my Emerson 4-Head digital tracking VCR EV598 to my Vizio D55n-E2 flat screen. I plugged in the white & yellow outputs on the VCR and the white and yellow inputs on the TV. When I change the input to composite and turn the VCR on I get a blue screen. Push play on the VCR and it acts like it’s going to play then flashes to “no signal”. Help please!

    • Hi Kelsi,

      It seems like you have it all connected correctly. Especially if when you press the play button you are getting a reaction on the screen. When you do hit play, do you hear any sound at all? If so, then it is likely that you have dirty heads on the VCR. To check this try to press menu on the remote control the VCR and see if you get a picture of the menu on the TV. If you do, then you have connected correctly and you just have dirty heads.

      If the menu does not appear on the TV then we need to look at your connections again.

      Let me know if any of this helps,

      Geoff

  9. Hi Geoff,

    I have a Hitachi VCR that I have connected to a Vizio TV thru Component cables. I put a VHS tape into the Hitachi, powered it up and the small screen says it is playing.
    I have changed the input on the TV to “Component” but it returns a message of No Signal.

    I have a second Vizio TV that I have connected to a RCA VHS player in a similar fashion. The same thing occurs when I use the Comcast remote to change the input to Component.

    I haven’t used either in some time now but they both worked previously. Highly unlikely that both units failed since then. I pulled out the tapes because grandson will be visiting tomorrow.

    Is there some other setting besides changing the Input that I have forgotten?

    • Hi Robert,

      I’m wondering if you have confused component video with composite video.

      Most VCRs only have composite video. A VCR/DVD combo unit will have component (red, blue and green) but only for the DVD side, not for the VCR side.

      Composite is when all the video information is on the one yellow outlet.

      On Most TVs, this input is selected by choosing AV on the TV, not composite.

      Does this help?

      Geoff

  10. Concerning your detailed instructions to connect the VCR to flat screen TV. Question: Since VCR is Video Cassette Recorder, does your simple connections instructions allow the user to record other TV programs while watching different programs?

    Thanks,
    Harold G

    • Hi Harold,

      Most people use VCRs to play old recordings only. There are two main reasons for this.

      Firstly, VCRs were designed to record through their analogue Tuner. Most places in most parts of the world are now using digital transmissions, so the VCR tuners are useless.

      Secondly, even if you did record on the VCR, the quality would be poor compared to what we are used to with digital media – especially on a big screen – all the imperfections are exaggerated.

      It is still possible to record on your VCR through the composite video inputs on the back. They can be connected to your cable box or a digital set top box. Although the quality would be much better if you use a Hard Disk recorder as builtin to a PVR (personal video recorder) which is the digital equivalent of a VCR.

      Geoff

  11. Hi Geoff,

    I am trying to attach my old vcr to a Philips 40PFL5505D/F7 TV. The RCa cables did not work so I tried a RCR /HDMI cable in one of the out puts. Thats not working either . I know there is a way to make this happen, just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I don’t want to spend any more money on an HDMI converter if I don’t have to. I thought the RCA-HDMI cable would work. Thanks. Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      You don’t say how you have tried to connect your VCR to the TV, but it seems if you are using the yellow, red and white leads they need to connect to the video 2 inputs on the side of the TV not Video 1 on the back.

      Although there seems to something more fundamentally wrong if it doesn’t work with either direct connection or via a HDMI converter. There are two basic things I would suggest checking. Firstly the yellow cable could be faulty – I would try another one. The other common issue is the video heads are dirty on the VCR which doesn’t produce a picture. I often press the Menu button on the VCR to ensure there is something on the picture (the menu screen) even if the heads are not producing a picture.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  12. Hello Geoff, your article was very informative.
    I have a RCA flat screen tv with exactly the same connections you show in your RCA-connections picture. I am trying to connect my Emerson VCR & DVD player to the flat screen. I plugged my AV yellow cable into the green composite cable and the red and white cords into the corresponding audio ports. However, I am only getting a black and white picture- no color at all. What do I need to change?

    • Hi Janessa,

      It is difficult to be specific without knowing what model of VCR and TV you have. But I can suggest some general things to check.

      Make sure there is nothing plugged into the spare red and blue sockets, this is most common reason for B & W pictures.

      Make sure you are connected to the yellow video out socket of the VCR, not the green DVD output.

      Some TVs don’t automatically switch the green component input to being a composite input. If this is the case, you may need to go into the menu and tell it to use the input as a composite input.

      If this doesn’t help, email me the model numbers and photos of the connections and I’ll try to find the manuals and see what is happening.

      Geoff

      • Hi Geoff,
        Thanks for replying so quickly! After checking and re-checking, I verified that all my cords were plugged into the right ports, but after fiddling with the input options, I realized that when I used the red, white, and yellow AV cords my input needs to be set to “AV”; not “Composite” which I had it set to before. The “Composite” input option works great when I have the red, green, and blue composite cords plugged in for the DVD. So everything works great now and I appreciate your excellent article and helpful reply!

  13. Geoff, I am getting ready to purchase a new flat screen TV. So far I have been able to get by with my analog Panasonic. I still want to be able to record and view on my old VCRs. What sort of inputs should I be looking for on my new TV? I thought I would ask the question before instead of after I made the purchase! Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Hi Elaine,

      As outlined in the article above, it would be good if your new TV had a composite input (the yellow socket), but very few do these days. Next best would to use the green component input as the yellow input, but even these are vanishing off TVs. So you will probably need to purchase a little converter box as shown above.

      That will take care of playing your existing tapes back on the new TV.

      As for recording, it is important to realize that you have never been able to record off the TV. Rather, previously, the aerial or cable box was connected to the VCR and it recorded off that signal. The TV simply monitored what you were recording.

      If you have a cable box or a set-top box it may be possible to connect the output of that to your VCR to record a program. But I’m not sure that you would you want to? The quality of the recording is very poor by today’s standards, and this poor quality is only exacerbated by using large screens.

      Most people would buy a PVR (personal video recorder) but it will depend if you have cable and how it might work with it.

      Does this help?

      Geoff

  14. Have an old Samsung DVD/VCR player model-6800 and a new Samsung 4k TV. The TV does not have RCA input.. Would using the TV output on the player work if connected to the aerial input on the tv.

    • Hi Murray,

      Yes, connecting the VCR/DVD to your TV should work, as long as the new TV has an analogue tuner. By default the DVD will transmit to the TV on ch 36, so this will work if you don’t have any free-to-air channels on that channel. If so, there is a setting in the menu of the DVD to change this to a free channel.

      While it will work, it will look quite poor on a 4K TV, especially if it is a large TV. Getting a Composite to HDMI converter should make it look a bit better. But I appreciated they are not as cheap in Oz or NZ as they are in the States.

      Hope this helps,

      Geoff

  15. Hi Geoff- I just found your website in a search and read your article and folks messages- it has encouraged me to try to connect an old ( but mint-condition Sanyo beta VCR) to my tv rather than sell/ dump it!! Do I assume that it is not, however, possible to RECORD from tv to VCR with your described connections?

    • Hi Hamilton,

      You can certainly use your old Sanyo to play tapes on your TV.

      It is important to realise that you have never been able to record off the TV. Rather, in the old days, the aerial connected to the VCR and it recorded directly off the antenna. The TV simply monitored what you were recording.

      If you have a cable box or a set-top box it may be possible to connect the output of that to your VCR to record a program. But I’m not sure that you would you want to? The quality of the recording is very poor by today’s standards, and this poor quality is only exacerbated by using large screens.

      Does this help?

      Geoff

      • Thanks Geoff- I’ll be more than delighted to simply be able to view old tape collection! Thanks for help. I’ve yet to get down to putting it all together and looking out existing connections or leads. But I won’t be throwing out the VCR (not yet, anyhow!). I’ll let you know when I finally get round to the job.

    • Hi Tony,

      It will depend on what brand and model of TV you have, and how you have connected the VCR to your TV. Normally you would press the source or input button and select either video, composite video, or component video. If this doesn’t help me let me know your TV brand and model number and I’ll try and find the manual for it.

      Hope this helps,

      Geoff

  16. Hi Geoff,

    I have a RCA TV and I’ve been trying to connect my VCR to it. I put a movie in to see what would happen and if it would work, but when I do that nothing happens but the movie cuts in and out. Also when it cuts in and out anytime the movie appears on screen it is black and gray. I wonder if you have any suggestions as to how I can fix this after I followed all the steps.

    • Hi Raquel,

      I think there could be two things happening. If the picture is cutting in and out it is likely to be dirty heads in the VCR. To check this, press the menu button on the VCR so that you get a steady picture of just the menu.

      The second issue is the way you have connected to the TV. Presumably you have the yellow from the VCR connected to the green of the TV. Make sure you have nothing plugged into the adjacent red and green socket of the TV. If you don’t, and it is still Black and white, then you may also need to tell the TV that you using a composite signal rather than a component signal.

      Let me know how you go,

      Geoff

  17. Hi Geoff,

    Trying to connect up a VCR for my grandmother to enjoy her old videos. At the moment, we’ve got a SCART going from the VCR directly to the TV (a HD SHARP), but we’re only getting audio, no picture. Tried switching the end of the SCART around, because read somewhere that could be the issue, but no difference. In fact, I can’t even get the menu options for the VCR to come up, let alone play a video. The thing is, it’s a Samsung joint VCR/DVD player, and the DVD side is working perfectly. The TV is set to receive CVBS (and I cycled through the others just in case). It works perfectly on a different, albeit much older TV (shaped like a box), so it’s not dirty heads. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Lorraine,
      Without knowing the models involved, it seems you have generally connected them correctly.

      The comment that struck was “The thing is, it’s a Samsung joint VCR/DVD player, and the DVD side is working perfectly.”. This would indicate that you are connected to the DVD out only, and not the VCR/DVD side of the DVD/VCR.

      If this is not the issue, can you send me some photos of the connections showing how you have tried to connect it.

      Thanks

      Geoff

  18. Hi Geoff,
    I just wanted to drop you a line and THANK YOU for your excellent instructions and I’m happy to say my old DVD/VCR which I haven’t used in years has come to life again.

    Thanks again,
    B

  19. Hi Geoff

    I have a Panasonic TXP42S30B tv and a JVC HR-S5955 VCR. I have lots of reference tapes recorded in SVideo format but my TV scart does not accept SVideo signals over scart. My question is can I take an SVideo signal from the Scart of the VCR and use a component input on the TV to get the benefit of the higher resolution?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Keith,

      I think you would be better off using an S-Video to HDMI converter. This will also upscale the S-Video to 1080 or to 720. A converter like this should work well for you.

      Hope this helps,

      Geoff

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