Best RF modulator

Audio & Video Accessories

RF modulators are an increasingly obscure method of signal conversion, but they can come in handy for those who have VHS tape collections or play games on retro consoles.

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Which RF modulators are best?

RF modulators can help to connect old-school technology in an era where many classic devices are being forgotten. VHS players and older gaming consoles are increasingly harder to connect to a modern TV. By the same token, it is not easy to connect newer devices to your older TV screens that you do not want to throw away.

If you want the best RF modulator for converting various inputs into an RF signal for your TV’s coaxial cable port, the top choice is the RF Modulator — RCA Composite to RF Coaxial. It comes with an AV cable and power adapter to quickly connect your device.

What to know before you buy an RF modulator

Do you need an RF modulator?

These devices are used to convert audio and video signals from an input source into a form that can transmit to your TV receiver. Depending on the device you are trying to connect and the TV screen you are connecting to, you may not need an RF modulator. It can be useful for accessing cable via the input cord attached to your wall. It can also be useful for connecting DVD players, VHS players and gaming consoles that do not have inputs you can directly connect to your TV. If you do not need to connect an RF cable to the coaxial sockets on an older TV or another device, you do not need an RF modulator.

What kind of signal are you trying to convert?

RCA to HDMI adapter

If you are looking to convert a signal from one type of output to a different type, there are multiple solutions, depending on the circumstances. For converting RCA AV signals to a coaxial port, you need an RF modulator. If you have one device with RCA ports and another device with HDMI ports, an RCA to HDMI adapter could be an easy solution. In other situations, you might need converter devices for USB and VGA ports.

Does your TV screen have a coaxial port?

Many newer TVs lack a coaxial digital port. Unfortunately, lots of new technology is not being made with the intention of connecting older devices. This is mainly because new technology and streaming services are such popular ways to consume content and entertainment that most people will not find the need for such connections. If you like retro electronics and gaming systems, you may need a compatible TV before you buy an RF modulator.

What to look for in a quality RF modulator

Reliability

Some RF modulators are touchy and unable to provide steady signals. Even among the best options, it may take some time to configure your setup to get the signal converted correctly and looking crisp. 

Durability

Many RF modulators are not built to last. If you only need a temporary solution, it is nothing to worry about. But if you want a modulator that will hold up to constant use, you may consider getting either a higher-quality converter or other electronics that can create a better setup overall (like a TV with the inputs you need).

Inputs

The best RF modulators allow for different types of input cables to convert a signal into something a coaxial cable can deliver to a TV’s port. Depending on what kinds of cables you need to connect, you may need to find a specialized RF modulator capable of working with your inputs.

How much you can expect to spend on an RF modulator

RF modulators can be found for under $20. Depending on the cables you already have, you may not need to buy additional cords for connecting your devices.

RF modulator FAQ

What does an RF modulator do?

A. Basically, they alter signal output from a VCR, DVD player or other device into a format that can be transferred via RF input. A TV will sometimes have a port that is intended for inputting cable or antenna signals. An RF modulator can convert other signals into the radio frequency (RF) format to plug into the TV. 

RF modulator or HDMI converter?

A. When converting an RCA AV input to an RF or HDMI output, there is a pretty simple decision to consider. A coaxial cable is generally a sturdier connection than HDMI, but in terms of the signal itself, HDMI is usually the highest-quality option. If your TV has both RF and HDMI ports, you could choose either. Depending on what you plan to view on the TV screen, the method you choose for converting the signal may not matter very much anyway.

What are the best RF modulators to buy?

Top RF modulator

RF Modulator — RCA Composite to RF Coaxial

RF Modulator — RCA Composite to RF Coaxial

What you need to know: This useful kit includes an RF modulator and an AV cable for converting standard-definition signals and sending them to a coaxial port.

What you’ll love: The included AV cable has three prongs. It can help you record with a VCR or DVD recorder. The RF modulator itself is compact and plugs into the wall via an included power adapter.

What you should consider: Users have had varying levels of success with this modulator. Some customers reported receiving a defective item that would not play both video and audio, or that it only produced black-and-white video.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top RF modulator for the money

NA RF modulator

NA RF modulator

What you need to know: This affordable RF modulator switches your signal from AV to a coaxial output cable that can plug into the TV.

What you’ll love: It is a simple and streamlined device that converts one type of signal. It creates a clear picture and can be used for satellite receivers in addition to older gaming consoles, CCD cameras, VCRs and more.

What you should consider: It does not include instructions that explain how to adjust the audio quality or set up the device.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Universal RF modulator

Universal RF modulator

What you need to know: This RF modulator converts RCA-type output into a coaxial cable signal for TVs without AV ports.

What you’ll love: It can quickly connect to media players and older game consoles for immediate use. The signal provided by this RF modulator is accessible on channel 3 or 4 of the TV. 

What you should consider: Some users have had trouble getting it to work with their system. It is also a bit large for a simple converter device.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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