Hooking up a DVD Player

You've come to the right place for all your home theater how-to needs.

In this How-To, I'll show you the best (and worst) ways to hook up your DVD player.

First things first: This How-To is for connecting a DVD player to a TV. Nothing fancy. No receiver, no VCR, no combo DVD/VCR, just a DVD player.

For stuff like that, check out How to Hook up Home Theater Receivers.

I'll also cover upconverting DVD players since there's very little difference in hookup (an upconverting DVD player requires a high definition TV and certain connections to digitally enhance the DVD image).

The Basic Outputs of a DVD Player

If you have an older DVD player or a relatively inexpensive one, you're going to be restricted in your choices for connectivity. Getting the best picture and sound out of your components isn't always possible because of different inputs and outputs.

So if your dvd player only has this on the back of it:

Composite cables allow you to connect analog audio and video, but composite is the lowest quality available

...Than you will be getting the lowest quality DVD output available; composite video. That's what the yellow plug is for. Its usually accompanied by a red and white cable of the same nature (all three are composite and you could even use the composite audio cables for video and vice versa). Composite is one of the oldest and lowest quality connections in the realm of home theare. You would simply need to connect the red, white, and yellow cables on the DVD player to a set of composite inputs (again, usually red, white and yellow) on the TV to connect your DVD player. That's it. Note that with most TVs, you need to change the input to watch your DVD player. This is sometimes labeled input or TV/Video. You need to change to the input you're using on the back of the TV, which should be labelled something like "Video 1". On the TV, switch the input to "Video 1" to watch your DVDs.

Now let's say you've got a little more going on with the back of your DVD player. Almost all DVD players still have composite on them, so you can safely ignore it if you see component video:

Component video is the best analog connection for your DVD player. It can handle high definition resolution and provide superior image quality to composite and s-videoComponent video is a fantastic connection for any DVD player. It is capable of up to 1080p resolution, which means it can actually handle high definition content. Of course, this won't make a difference for your DVD player (since it isn't a high definition DVD player, like HD DVD or Blu-Ray) unless it is an upconverting DVD player. In that case, you'll need component video (or better) to get the full effect (upconverting means the regular DVD signal of 480p is digitally enhanced to more closely resemble 720i or better resolution).

Keep in mind, if you choose to use component video, you still need to plug something in for audio. There are three component video cables, but they are just that - video, not audio. Most likely, you will use the red and white composite connections for audio. The only other choice would be a digital connection, like fiber optic or digital coaxial, but don't worry about that just yet. We'll get to that on the next page of this How-To.

You may have noticed another familiar connection on the back of your DVD player (and you may have not, depending on how old it is). That would be s-video, as pictured below.

S-Video is an alternative to composite video. It is analog and only slightly better in quality than composite videoS-video is really similar to composite video (but looks different, of course). For ease of connections and using less cables, stick to composite audio and video if your choice is between composite video and s-video. There won't be any noticeable difference in video quality.

That pretty much wraps it up for the basics. Most TVs will have either composite, s-video, or component connections, if not all three. Component is the best out of the three and a must for upconverting DVD players. When all else fails, use composite. Just remember: you'll almost always end up using the red and white composite audio cables for audio.

Note that with upconverting DVD players you might have to use DVI or HDMI for the "upconversion" to work. Refer to your DVD player's manual to find out (if you own an upconverter of course).

>>Next: Advanced DVD Player Outputs (2)

Related Home Theater

Hook up a 5.1 sound system
How to Hook Up a DVD Player
Running Speaker Wire