How To Connect A DVD Player, VCR, And Digital Cable Box

Photo of connectors

You have a DVD player, a digital cable box and an old, but sturdy, VCR. Aside from the fact that they can all connect to your TV, these three machines are quite different from each other and present certain difficulties when trying to connect them to each other. The purpose for doing so is to be able to record DVD movies or videos and cable TV shows on the VCR. The following guidelines outlined below assume that all three machines have coaxial cable connectors.

  1. Acquire an A-B switch and Y-connector. Simple DVD players have no recording features. Thus there is the need to connect them to the VCR. The A-B switch and Y-connector will allow both digital cable box and DVD player to connect to the VCR at the same time and display the output of whatever machine is active on the TV screen.
  2. Connect the DVD player and digital cable box to the VCR. The A-B switch allows you to transfer and activate one connection at a time. If for example the DVD player goes into the A input on the A-B switch, the A output should be linked to the coaxial “In” on the VCR. The same thing goes for the digital cable box. Pressing the A or B button will allow you to switch between the DVD and cable box machines. With the use of another coaxial cable, fasten the second “Out” from the Y-connector to the coaxial “In” on the TV set. 

The above is for a simple TV and player set up. With a home theater system things can get a little more complicated. It can also happen that the TV has a connection setup such as 1 video jack and 2 audio jacks.
In this case the DVD player can have a dedicated A-B switch, with the outputs leading to the first A-B switch, to the TV set, or the home theatre receiver. The VCR and digital cable box, on the other hand, can be attached to the home theatre receiver. If digital connections are available (S-Video, DVI and HDMI), you can maximize your home theater receiver by making it the hub the three machines can connect to. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Attach the S-Video Output from the DVD player towards the S-Video Input on the home theatre receiver. Subsequently, attach the Out from the receiver to the TV set for the video and audio. S-Video connections give much better picture quality than analog RCA cables. Generally, home theatre receivers have at least 1 to 2 S-Video Inputs, and one Output.
  2. Attach the S-Video “Out” of the digital cable box to the “In” of the TV. Attach the red RCA wire to the red connections, and the white RCA wire to the white connections on both the TV and the digital cable box. But if it’s via the A-B switch, attach the digital cable box to the B Input on the A-B switch.

The important things that need to be taken into consideration when making such a set up is (1) the presence of coaxial jacks in both the DVD player and VCR, (2) the media system set up - home theater or simple TV and player, and finally (3) the type of TV you have - an old standard, a plasma set or a brand new LCD. All these things will determine what cables and input/output jacks are available.


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