Connectors & Adapters

Why Won’t My Old Game Console Work With My AV Receiver?

Everything these days is HDMI. It’s everywhere. But you are old school (or skool if you are cool). You are still rocking a PS1 (which you call a PSX because, again, you are cool), an N64, and a 3DO. These old game consoles can’t connect to your AV receiver with HDMI because…well, they don’t have HDMI. Most just have the red, white, and yellow RCA connectors or, at best, S-Video. How can you get your old game console to work with your AV receiver?

Why It Doesn’t Work

There are a number of reasons your AV receiver and old game console aren’t playing nice together. You may find that your AV receiver doesn’t have the right inputs on the back. That will certainly be true if you are looking for S-Video or component video inputs on a modern AV receiver. They are all but completely extinct at this point. But even if you do find the requisite inputs, you may run into problems. Or, more accurately, A problem. That problem? Upconversion.

In short, upconversion is when a signal comes into your AV receiver down one type of cable and leaves via another, different type of cable. With your older game console, it will probably arrive via RCA (the yellow video cable and red and white audio cables). The audio usually isn’t an issue. The AV receiver can take that stereo input and pair it with the video. But sending the video is an issue. Your AV receiver has to upconvert that RCA video to HDMI (which is almost certainly how you have your receiver connected to your display). Upconversion isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require more complexity in your AV receiver. More complexity means more cost. And you didn’t buy the most expensive AV receiver, did you?

How To Fix It

The easiest and cheapest fix is to run a yellow RCA video cable from the output of your AV receiver to the input on the TV. Since your AV receiver can’t do upconversion, RCA cablesis fine as long as you send it out via RCA. This will allow your AV receiver and older game console to work together perfectly.

Of course, you’d need an RCA out on your AV receiver and an RCA input on your TV. Neither of these are common these days.

The easiest solution for more modern AV receivers is an RCA to HDMI converter. You’d put this between your game console and your AV receiver. This will upconvert your RCA output to HDMI. From there, your AV receiver can decode the audio and send the video up to your display without a problem. As you’d expect, there are tons of these devices out there and they mostly get middling reviews. We’d suggest you check out the RuiPuo RCA to HDMI Converter. It seems to get relatively good reviews and isn’t too expensive (~$15 at the time of writing). While it won’t necessarily make everything look that much better on your 4k display, it will give you a picture. And that’s something.

2 Comments on Why Won’t My Old Game Console Work With My AV Receiver?

  1. Jack

    Love this article, thanks Tom!

    Is there a “premium” option that does a “better” job in any way that would be worth considering? I’ve seen options that indicate they help “preserve” that vintage game look/feel, or process the signals faster though I doubt that’s an issue?


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