What Are the Red, White, and Yellow Cables Called?

By John Adebimitan

So you want to take a trip down memory lane by watching old family videos on your VCR or playing an old PlayStation. The problem is that your VCR uses three color-coded wires (red, white, and yellow), and your modern TV doesn’t have any of these connectors.

How do you connect an old media device to a new TV or monitor, and why are the cables color-coded? What does each cable do, and why does the device need three separate cables for connection?

So, what are the red, white, and yellow cables called? This article will go into detail to discuss that. Additionally, I’ll explain how the red, white, and yellow cables work, what they do, and how you can use them to connect to modern devices.

What Are the Red, White, and Yellow Cables Called?

Red, white, and yellow cables are called RCA cables or composite cables. They’ve always been color-coded to indicate what they signify.

The RCA connector, named after the company that introduced it to the Radio Corporation of America in 1940, is an old connector with three wires, each with a different color, white and red for audio and yellow for video.

Yellow represents the video. Red is for the right audio channel, and white is for the left stereo channel.

However, you need to know a few things before learning to convert RCA cables to HDMI.

The RCA cable is the wiring par excellence used in analog television, that is, old televisions. This cable is responsible for sending the information from a player to the television, projector, or other devices.

However, today’s video playback devices and digital signals contain much more information to transmit to televisions.

Devices today have high-quality resolutions ranging from UHD to HD, 1080p, 4K, and 8K. To transmit the amount of information needed by these resolutions, an HDMI transmission/reception cabling system is necessary.

The point is that we are currently in what could be considered a transition period between old and new devices. But the old appliances, as long as they’re still functioning, can’t simply be abandoned cold turkey.

Converting Red, White, and Yellow Cables to HDMI

Converting RCA to HDMI cables is quite simple nowadays with RCA-to-HDMI converters.

It is important to point out that it is possible to carry out the conversion if the playback device transmits in RCA and the receiver, that is, the television, is the one that works via HDMI.

Otherwise, it is impossible since you cannot convert the signal from HD to RCA.

Types of RCA to HDMI Converters

1. RCA to HDMI cable

RCA to HDMI cables are quite popular, so getting one shouldn’t be a problem. They are cables with an HDMI end on one side and red, white, and yellow RCA cables on each end.

A typical example of a good ready-to-order RCA to HDMI cable is the SNLLMZI HDMI to RCA Cable.

Not all cables have the same specifications, so you should pay close attention to the materials and the length of the cable.

When purchasing the cable, pay close attention to the material and the termination right at the base where both the emitter and the receiver are attached to the equipment. Usually, this is where cable damage of this type usually occurs.

2. RCA to HDMI Converter Box

RCA to HDMI converter boxes are useful for generating compatibility between different devices. They’re more expensive but more durable. They’re easily found online and in local TV accessory stores.

Best RCA to HDMI adapters (converter boxes)

Tengchi RCA to HDMI converter adapter

One of the bestselling RCA to HDMI adapters online is the Tengchi RCA to HDMI converter adapter. It is a composite-to-HDMI adapter compatible with Blu-Ray DVD players, VHS, VCR, STB, Xbox, PS 1, PS2, PS3, and Blu-Ray DVDs.

GANA RCA to HDMI Adapter

However, if you want to watch videos or play games from new devices on your old TV, the GANA RCA to HDMI Adapter has clear, lag-free transmission. Plus, it’s very small and portable. So it won’t take up much room in your home theatre console.

Neoteck RCA to HDMI adapter

This Neoteck product offers a user-friendly plug-and-play setup and comes with a USB cable for charging.

The output mode is easily selectable via a switch on the device. It doesn’t render the annoying hum many models do. This converter adapter is designed for use on TVs, PCs, PS3, STB, VCR, VHS, Blu-Ray DVD players, and projectors.

AMANKA RCA to HDMI adapter

The AMANKA adapter has a black exterior that will blend in with many game consoles. In addition, it’s a great option for movie buffs as it converts old VHS tapes with a 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9.

How to Connect My Red, White, and Yellow Cable to My Smart TV?

Today, some smart TVs like Samsung and LG come with AV inputs. So I’ll show you how to connect your red, white, and yellow RCA cables to your smart TV via the AV input:

Step 1: Get a set of AV cables

These three white, yellow, and red cables connect old audio video equipment to televisions.

You may buy them on the Internet or at an electronics store. Their price is relatively affordable.

Look for the AV inputs on your television. Typically, the composite cable ports are at the back of your TV, but on older models, they are at the front.

Tips: Before beginning, turn OFF your TV and unplug it from the socket so you don’t damage or hurt yourself when connecting the VCR or any other transmitting device you want.

Step 2: Connect the end of the cables to the transmitting device

Plug your AV white, red, and yellow cable into the white, red, and yellow ports at the back of the transmitting device.

Note that some transmitting devices only allow mono sound. This means they may only feature white and red ports on the back. Leave the unused cable unplugged.

Step 3: Connect the other end of your AV cable to the TV

Look for the red, yellow, and white input ports and connect the wires to the corresponding ports.

Step 4: Connect your transmitting device to the power source

Insert the power cord of that device into the electrical outlet. A wall outlet or surge protector will do.

Step 5: Turn ON and set the devices

Plug in and turn on your TV. If your transmitting device turns on simultaneously with the TV, skip the next step.

Press the power button to turn on your device. If your television is not already set up to use the AV input, press the “Input” or “Source” button until you open the AV setting.

You should now be able to use your VCR or other device and transmit it to the TV.

What If Your TV Doesn’t Have a Yellow Input?

To connect an RCA cable to a television that doesn’t have an RCA yellow video input (but still has a component video input), you have to plug the yellow video cable into the green input or the one marked with the letter “Y.”

The white and red audio cables are also connected to the corresponding audio input.

However, the reality is this:

A large majority of new televisions no longer offer the RCA input. Still, they have the component video input, which is made up of three inputs, either marked by the colors green, blue and red, or by the letters “Y,” “Pb,” and “Pr.”

Read also: Do Acer Monitors Have Built-In Speakers?


Like most people, you probably still have some older equipment alongside your more modern AV equipment. But there’s no need to throw them away just yet. For example, if your TV has no yellow, red, or white inputs, you can get one of those RCA to HDMI converters.

They can let you watch VHS tapes on your computer, connect your Playstation or Xbox to TV, send video from today’s streaming devices to your old TV, and more.

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