How To Connect Old DVD/ VCR & SCART Devices To New Flat-screen TV
Picture the scenario, you have just pulled your new flat-screen TV out of the box, you set the TV up for TV viewing, go to connect your DVD player or VCR only to find that no matter how hard you try the interconnecting cables just won’t fit between each-other. Sure, you could just update your equipment for newer models but what if you have a large collection of old videos/ DVD's, or some old wedding footage or something similar. I’m sure as you are reading this article, you don’t have to imagine this scenario as this has happened to you, but rejoice! This is very common and relatively easy to overcome. In this blog I discuss some of the ways that you can overcome this situation which should hopefully see you up and running with your old DVD’s and video cassettes in no time, let’s begin.
Why Doesn’t My New TV Have A SCART Connection?
It’s helpful to first understand why your TV does not have a SCART connection to connect your old AV equipment, this blog is aimed at DVD/VCR’s but the same could be true for old satellite receivers like Sky boxes and games consoles etc., firstly let me get this off my chest. The SCART connection was a horrible connection, it was big, bulky and was forever falling out. You may find that if it fell out slightly to one side you would lose the picture and if it fell out the other, you would lose the sound. It was pretty much rejected in America where they refer to it as the Euro-connector. You may be wondering why we bothered with it, well it was good in the sense that it had multiple bases covered, it supported PAL, S-Video, RGB, Stereo Sound, Source-switching and multiple other things. It is purely an analogue connection which I’m sure that you will know has been superseded with digital type connections, most notably the High Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI for short which is a far superior type connection. You will find most new TV’s have at least one of these inputs, often as many as 4 which you can connect compatible equipment like Sky boxes, Xbox/ Playstation and other games consoles, AV receivers and so on. With new TV’s capable of HD/ 4k resolutions, it really doesn’t make sense adding a SCART/ analogue connection on the TV itself, the images will be nowhere near as good, this is especially true on larger screens where imperfections in the picture are more easily noticed. Also, lots of people are now wall mounting TV’s. A big SCART connection really doesn’t help in getting the TV close the wall.
Check The TV Packaging – SCART Adapter
You may find that your new TV can be connected to your new flat-screen TV, but this is done with an adapter included within the TV packaging. A lot of TV manufacturers have a SCART adapter in which a SCART lead would be inserted into and from there a smaller type lead connected into your TV. There may be many reasons for this, but I suspect it’s to do with wall mounting the TV and the SCART plug being so large that they provide a smaller adapter.
Use RCA Leads Instead
There is a very good chance, that although your TV may not have a SCART lead it most likely will have an RCA phono connectors. If you check the rear of your VCR/ DVR or other analogue type video connection you may find this supports this too. If this is the case, this is very simple. In place of your SCART connection you would simply purchase an RCA lead and away you go. The RCA itself connection is the yellow, red and white phono type connection. This provides for composite video over the yellow phono lead and stereo sound via the red and white connectors.
You may find that rather than your TV/ DVD/ VCR having three yellow, red and white phono connections, you instead have five phono connections, red, green, blue (RGB) and white and another red. The single red and white we already know from above are for stereo sound but the other three phono's are for component video otherwise known as RGB. Component Video separates the red, green and blue colour streams which helps improve the picture quality, it’s actually an improvement on composite video. If you TV only has component video and your DVD/ VCR has composite video, it often works if you connect the yellow composite connection into the green component connection on the TV, sometimes this is separated into half green, half yellow to indicate that this can be done. You may find that you get a black and white picture only in which case you may need to change the colour settings within your TV or AV equipment for this to work properly.
A Further Complication – TV Comes With RCA Adapter
I have tried to build this blog in a logical order. I started with the adapter than may come with you TV and then built onto the RCA connection. You may find that your TV doesn’t have either SCART or Phono type connections but instead comes with a RCA to AV adapter. If this is the case and your DVD/ VCR/ STB/ old Sat RX has phono connections you could connect these in-between AV equipment and adapter, which inserts into the TV. I myself had this when I wanted to connect my Wii console which I had purchased for my children to our TV, as you would expect I had long since thrown the adapter old but I was able to purchase one online which allowed me to connect the Wii to my Samsung TV.
SCART to PHONO (RCA) Adapters
If your TV doesn’t have a SCART connection but does have phono and your VCR/ DVD player only has a SCART connection, fear not this problem is easily solved. What you need is some sort of adapter lead or plug that extracts the composite video and stereo sound from the SCART connection and converts them onto a RCA lead. If you’re going to do this I recommend buy a SCART to phono adapter plug that has a switchable input/ output connection. This would allow you some flexibility with the set-up. The reason for this is that the SCART lead connection is not always bi-directional. It doesn’t matter which way around you install the cable if you inserting the SCART lead into two SCART connections on your Audio Visual Equipment but as the video/ sound input and outputs are separate pins on the SCART connection when you introduce an adapter it can mess this up. A switchable SCART/ phono adapter will ensure this doesn’t happen.
RF Coaxial Connection
If your VCR or DVR has coaxial aerial input and output connections, you may be able to use this. These are usually called ‘RF in’ and ‘RF out’ with a female connector for the input and a male connector for the output you may find that it also has it’s own in-built modulator meaning that it can be tuned into your TV providing your TV supports an analogue aerial connection. At the time of writing this, most still do but you may find increasingly going forward that some TV’s don’t. Also important to mention that most VCR’s supported this type of connection but most DVD players did not, although some DVD recorders did, nearly all old Sky boxes did prior to Sky Q via the RF1 and RF2 connections. To connect to your TV this way, you simply need an RF lead, these can be purchased or you can make your own with a piece of coax cable and a male plug on one end and a female plug o the other (or another male plug with a coupler). Once connected, you perform a tune on the analogue side of the TV making sure that the equipment you wish to tune is powered on when you do this. This can be done on an auto-tune or a manual tune if you know the frequency/ output channel of the AV equipment. I find it best to store the equipment on channel 0 where possible (it’s not always possible)so that if you have a TV aerial connected these begin at 1 and you VCR/ DVD/STB is on 0. If have an aerial connected which you wish to retain this must first be connected into the AV equipment so that it loops back up to the TV with the modulated AV channel. If you notice a poor picture on the DVD/ VCR or poor aerial reception when you connect this way, you may need to change the RF output channel of your DVD/ VCR, there are usually a couple of ways in which this can be done depending on what equipment you have, either within the settings menu or via an adjustable screw on the rear of the equipment. For Sky boxes it is changed from inside the installer menu. As soon as you change this, if you’re connected via an RF connection the screen with go snowy and you will retune the TV again. Repeat this process until trying new output channels until you get a clear picture, UHF channel 38 is usually a good one to try.
Connecting Separate DVD/ VCR Over RF Coaxial
If you have both a VCR and DVD player that you wish to connect to your TV, this can be done. If they both have in-built modulators you could set both to separate UHF channel outputs, loop between the two and up to the TV with RF cables and tune in to two separate analogue channels. If your VCR has a built in modulator, but the DVD or other piece of AV equipment you wish to connect doesn’t. You may still be able to connect thing both with the equipment you have. Some VCR’s have two SCART connections, if this is the case. You could SCART from the output of the DVD/AV equipment into the SCART input of your VCR and from the VCR up to your TV. Both would be tuned into your TV on the same analogue channel and you would switch between inputs on your VCR which would allow you to view either your VCR or other connected AV equipment. I admit this gets a little complicated and rare to do it this way, but this used to be quite a common way of connecting multiple pieces of equipment to a TV which may have no or only one SCART connection.
If for whatever reason you cannot interconnect your equipment via SCART/ phono or adapters and it doesn’t have an in-built modulator. You could install an external one, they come in various types but a common analogue one would accept either a SCART or phono type input connection and have a programmable UHF output which can be tuned into your TV and connected via an RF coaxial cable.
This is a similar concept but it accepts a HDMI cable input instead of a SCART or phono connection and it outputs a digital TV channel via a programmable output. This allows for a high-quality digital TV picture that can be connected to modern TVs. It could even be entered to an aerial distribution system and fed to multiple TV’s. One concept you will need to familiarise yourself with is the Logical Channel Number (LCN) setting, this is the information that the TV reads which tells the TV what channel to to put the modulated channel on the TV. If you’re connecting this with a TV aerial in must be looped into the modulator first and the LCN setting must be set to channel that is not used by digital TV/ Freeview/ Soarview etc. This big downside of using a digital modulator would be the costs involved, most cost a couple of hundred pounds and it would probably be a bit of an extravagance to connect an old DVD or VCR player to a TV.
It is possible to connect your SCART device to one of your HDMI TV inputs using a HDMI Upscaler. There are many types of these on the market but you need one that accepts a SCART or RCA input and then converts this to a HDMI signal which allows you to turn your analogue AV source to a digital one that your TV will understand. Although technically this could convert your VCR/ DVD technically to a 1080p quality video signal. You will not necessarily see any improvement in the quality of the picture as the imperfections brought in by the VCR/ DVD picture to begin with will also be digitised.
DVD/ VCR Connection Questions – In The Blog Comments Section Only Please
I hope you liked this blog, if you have any comments or questions, please do feel free to post them within the Blog Comments section below and I will get back to you. Please be patient for a response and be aware that following up will not speed things up.
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All that being said, I help where I can. Until next time.
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