How to Connect a TV to a Receiver without HDMI – Easy Guide

Updated on by Ross McLeod | There may be affiliate links on this page.

HDMI has emerged as the most common method for connecting a TV to a receiver. However, some devices don’t facilitate this, and alternative methods are required.

If your TV or receiver doesn’t have HDMI inputs or outputs, there are several other methods you can use. In this simple guide, you’ll learn the best ways to connect the two devices without an HDMI cable.

RCA Connectors

The easiest alternative method of using HDMI for connecting your TV to a receiver involves using RCA cables. Unlike HDMIs which come in a single format, RCAs include several types of cables for different purposes.

The most common type of RCA cable that is likely to be compatible with both your TV and receiver is the basic variety. These cables have two distinctive connectors: one which is colored red, and the other which is white.

This variety of RCA cable is made for the sole purpose of transmitting audio signals. Therefore, it can be successfully used to connect your receiver to a TV using the dedicated RCA jack inputs/outputs.

Connecting via basic RCA is very simple – all you have to do is ensure that the colors on the connector match up with those on the inputs and outputs of the TV and receiver. If, for example, the white connector is plugged into the red jack, the cable won’t work.

Basic RCA cables are relatively inexpensive, and the majority of TVs and receivers will facilitate this type of connection. If HDMI isn’t a possibility, then using RCA for your audio connection is the next best option.

Composite Video RCA Cables

Before the emergence of HDMI cables, the industry standard for connecting audio and video devices was composite video cables. Another variety of RCAs, have additional connectors compared to the basic version.

Composite RCA cables feature a red, white and yellow connector. The yellow cable carries the video signal, while the red and white perform the same audio-exclusive function that they do on a basic RCA connector.

The advantage of using composite RCA cables is that like HDMI, they take care of both the video and audio signals. This means you require fewer cables, and the connection process is simplified.

Component RCA Video Cables

Another alternative to HDMI for connecting a TV to a receiver is the component variety of RCA cables. Using several cable channels to transmit a video signal, they are considered to be better suited to high-resolution visuals.

Component RCA video cables come in two forms: with the standard three cables that are red, yellow, and white, or with five RCA connectors, which have additional red and white audio connectors.

HDMI Converters

If either your TV or receiver caters for HDMI connectivity but the other device doesn’t, using an HDMI converter is your best option. This smartly-designed device allows you to convert an RCA signal into HDMI.

A good-quality HDMI converter will provide five RCA connectors and input for standard HDMI. You can then simply hook up your TV or receiver to the relevant connectors and play the audio and video through the HDMI channel on your TV.

Step By Step Guide

The first thing you need to do when connecting a TV to a receiver without using HDMI is to identify which connectivity options you have available. It’s a good idea to check both devices and write down the inputs/outputs they offer.

Once you’ve determined which connections are available, you can then choose the best option to take. As I previously mentioned, RCA connectors are the easiest and most simple alternative to HDMI, so these are a great option if possible.

Before connecting the cables to their desired inputs, it’s important to check the settings on your TV to ensure that the audio signal is being sent through the correct output. You can then check the receiver settings to make sure they are sending the audio through the correct channel, also.

If you are using an HDMI converter, the process is no different from using RCA cables. You still need to ensure that the converter is plugged into the correct inputs, which are usually labeled as “Audio”, “Composite” or “Component.”

Once you’re satisfied that the RCA cable or the HDMI converter is plugged into the correct inputs, and that the colors of the connectors match up with the TV and the receiver, you’re ready to test the setup.

With the receiver now connected to the TV either via RCA cable or the HDMI converter, turn up the volume of both devices and check that you can hear the audio. It should be perfectly in sync with the visuals on the screen.

Choosing Good Quality Cables

A general rule to follow when purchasing audio or video cables is to avoid cheap, poorly made varieties. It’s usually worth spending a little extra for the added reliability and quality that they provide.

Although HDMI cables are considered to be the best when it comes to connecting a TV to a receiver, the varieties of RCA cables listed earlier in this guide come very close to the HDMI’s quality.

Another useful tip to ensure the best quality when connecting your TV to a receiver is to avoid positioning your audio cables closely to the power cables. If they are positioned close to one another, this can cause electronic hum to be produced which diminishes the overall quality.

Provided you follow these basic rules, there’s no reason that you can’t achieve high-quality audio and video using alternatives to HDMI cables.


HDMI connections are featured on almost all modern TVs and receivers, but if either of your devices is a little outdated, the methods I’ve outlined in this guide will be of great value to you.

The good news is, it’s very simple to connect a TV to a receiver without using an HDMI cable. Now that you’re equipped with the relevant knowledge, you can get your system hooked up and enjoy pristine audio and video right away!

About Ross McLeod

Ross McLeod is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket, and he is the frontman and bassist of the garage rock band The Blue Dawns with whom he has released 4 EPs and toured extensively.

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