RF Modulator With a DVD Player and TV

Get some use out of that old analog TV

Many have several DVD players scattered around the house. In addition to an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV, you may also still have an older analog TV that only has an antenna/cable (RF) connection.

Since DVD players don't have an RF output, you can't connect them directly to an analog TV that only has an antenna/cable RF input.

However, you can place an RF modulator between your DVD player (or other source components) that has composite and RCA style analog audio outputs, and a TV that may only have an antenna/cable (RF) input.

RF Modulator Example - GE 33621
RF Modulator Example - GE 33621. Image courtesy of Amazon

The RF modulator will convert the DVD player signal to a channel 3 or 4 signal that the TV can receive.

Here's how to do it.

01
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Disconnect the Current RF Cable Connection From TV

Disconnecting RF Cable from Television

Make sure that your TV is turned off and unplugged from AC power. This is a safety precaution.

After isolating the TV from power, unplug your current cable/antenna connection from your TV — if you have such a cable connected currently.

02
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Connect RF Coaxial Cable to RF Modulator Ant/Cable In

RF connection to RF Modulator

Take the RF connection cable you just disconnected to the TV (or use a new one if you didn't have one connected to the TV) and plug it into the cable/antenna Input on the RF Modulator.

03
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Connect AV Cables to DVD Player

AV connections to DVD Player

After you have an RF cable connected to RF input on the RF modulator, plug in a set of AV Connections (Yellow, Red, White) to the AV Outputs of the DVD Player.

Before making any connections to the DVD player unplug it from power.

04
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Connect AV Cables From DVD Player to RF Modulator

AV connections from DVD player to RF Modulator

Take the other end of the AV cables you plugged into the DVD player and connect them to the corresponding inputs on the RF modulator.

05
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Check DVD Player and RF Modulator Connection Setup

DVD Player and RF modulator connection setup

Before proceeding further, take a look at the completed AV Connections from the DVD Player to the RF Modulator and make sure everything is correct.

06
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Connect the RF (TV) Output of the RF Modulator to the TV

RF Cable To RF Modulator and TV

Lifewire / Robert Silva​

If steps 1 through 5 check out, plug in an RF coaxial cable from the RF modulator's TV output to your TV's RF cable/antenna input.

07
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Power Everything Up

RF Modulator - Front View

With everything connected, plug your TV and DVD player back into AC power, and also plug in the RF modulator to AC power as well, using its power adapter.

After plugging in the RF modulator to power, take a look at the front of the RF Modulator the RF indicator light is on. RF modulators typically don't have an on/off switch — once plugged in they should always be on.

 

08
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Insert DVD Into DVD Player

Insert DVD into DVD Player

Turn on your TV and DVD player, and place a DVD into the DVD Player.

 

09
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Tune TV to Channel 3 or 4 — Must Match RF Modulator Channel Output Selection

Television Set to Channel 3

After loading your DVD, tune your TV to Channel 3 or 4. It needs to match the RF modulator channel output selection. If you are not getting a picture, check the Channel 3/4 switch on the back of the RF modulator.

The RF modulator connection option will not provide the full DVD quality you would get if the DVD player was connected to a TV with AV, component, or HDMI inputs.

Your TV, DVD player, RF modulator setup is now complete.

The RF modulator will automatically detect your cable input for the TV. When you want to watch your DVD player, just put the TV on channel 3 or 4, turn the DVD on and the RF modulator will automatically detect the DVD player and will display your movie.

You should also be able to see and operate your DVD player's setting menus and other features.

When you turn the DVD Player off, the RF modulator will automatically return to normal TV viewing from the connected antenna or cable source.

Now that the DTV transition is in effect, your old analog TV may also require a DTV converter box that would have to go in-between your antenna and the RF modulator, instead of to the TV directly. However, if you are only using the TV for watching DVDs, you don't need to connect an RF cable to the RF modulator's ant/cable input.