DVD Recorder Connection Options (Antenna, Cable, Etc)

DVD recorders supported a wide range of different audio and video signals

LG RC897T DVD Recorder VCR Combo - Rear View

Lifewire / Robert Silva

DVD recorders offer several types of connections that allow you to record TV programs and copy home video content, but there are some limitations.

DVD recorders were popular in the mid-to-late 2000s but are increasingly difficult to find.

Connecting an Antenna, Cable, or Satellite Box

If your DVD recorder has a built-in digital tuner (2007 model year or later), connect an antenna for receiving over-the-air TV programs so you can record them onto DVD. By the same token, if your cable or satellite box provides an RF output, connect it to the RF input of a DVD recorder that provides this option.

However, if your DVD recorder is tunerless, you cannot connect an antenna, cable, or satellite box to it in the above fashion as no antenna connections are provided. If you receive TV programs through an antenna, and you have a DVD recorder that doesn't have a built-in tuner, you need to connect the antenna to a DTV converter box and then connect that box to your DVD recorder using a composite or S-video connection.

Even if your DVD recorder connects to cable and satellite boxes, not all DVD recorders offer cable or satellite box control. On many DVD recorders, when you set the timer on the DVD recorder to record a cable or satellite program, you may also need to leave your cable or satellite box tuned to the correct channel ahead of time or set the cable or satellite box's timer to go to the correct channel to be recorded to match the time you have set on your DVD recorder.

Connecting Other Sources

In addition to the options and restrictions of connecting an antenna, cable, or satellite box to a DVD recorder, you can connect other external devices. For example, attach a DVD player, VCR, or analog camcorder to a DVD recorder through composite or S-Video connections (S-Video is not always offered). In addition, most DVD recorders also provide a DV (IEEE-1394/Firewire) input so that you can transfer video and audio digitally from a camcorder to DVD.

Connections to Your TV

Getting a video signal to the DVD recorder so you can make a DVD is one thing, but you also want to be able to play the video back.

One option is to take your recorded DVD and play it in another DVD player, but DVD recorders also have the needed connections that allow you to view your DVD recordings on most TVs.
If your TV has composite, S-video, component, or HDMI inputs, DVD recorders provide one or more of those connection options as well.

There are also additional things to take into consideration. On many DVD recorders that include an RF in/out connection loop, the loop may be a pass-through connection only for antenna signals.To view your DVD recording on your TV, you must use the AV connection options discussed above. If your TV only has an antenna connection, then you may have to place an RF modulator between the composite video outputs of the DVD recorder and the RF/antenna connection on the TV to watch your disc, whether commercially made or home-recorded.

Other Connection Options

If you have an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV, it is best to connect the DVD recorder to that TV using an HDMI connection if that option is provided. This approach ensures the best picture quality. Even though DVD is not a high-definition format, a DVD recorder with HDMI outputs and HD and 4K Ultra HD TVs provide video upscaling that can make both commercial and home-recorded DVDs look better.

HDMI sends both video and audio from the DVD recorder to the TV. Connect the HDMI output from the DVD recorder to the compatible home theater receiver or sound bar from those devices to the TV. This way you can see the video portion of your DVD on your TV and hear the audio portion through home theater receiver or sound bar.

If your TV, home theater receiver, or sound bar does not have HDMI, send the video signal to your TV using composite or component video connections (most TVs don't have S-video connections anymore) and connect the audio to your home theater receiver or sound bar using analog stereo, digital optical, or digital coaxial connections if one or more of these options are provided in the connection path.