Depending on the device you’re using, you might be stuck using RCA cables–the red, white and yellow (sometimes blue and green) cables of yesteryear. TVs, VCRs, DVD players, and older generations of consoles are a few examples of hardware that sport RCA ports. These colored cables then run to a TV, displaying the information that the hardware is putting out–a video game if it’s a console or your favorite movie.

Can You Splice RCA and USB Together?

It’s entirely possible and might be a nice project for someone who has knowledge in the fields of circuit boards and electronics, specifically on RCA and USB. But for the Average Joe? It would be tedious, time consuming, costly, and quite frankly, not really worth your time.

If you choose to splice wires yourself, the end result would be a portion of the device converting the data coming from the RCA cables and converting them to USB. Even though RCA and USB are forms of data transfer, they do not work in the same way. In other words, you would be creating an adapter of sorts.

And that’s all well and good, but for someone who doesn’t have the slightest idea how to splice wires and provide an environment for two forms of data to talk to one another, you can look into pre-built adapters. You know, something that doesn’t have you cutting wires and soldering circuit boards.

Converting RCA to USB with an Adapter

Believe it or not, you can find adapters for just about any combination of wires. For example, your smartphone has a microUSB, maybe Lighting or USB-C. The other end is much larger, which goes into a charger or computer. Wouldn’t it be nice to use your smartphone or tablet on, say, your TV? It can be done with an adapter.

The same can be said with RCA cables. Adapters exist that will take the data coming from RCA cables, convert them so the USB can read them and then transfer it to whatever device you’re using it with. And the best part? No splicing necessary. The work has already been done.

These adapters range in price from $10 (plus shipping) to $20 and more. Do note that pricing can matter. If you opt for a cheaper adapter, you’re more likely to run into latency issues. Adapters such as these take time to convert the data, regardless of how fast it’s being done, there can still be a noticeable lag. For example, audio might be out of sync or your video game might be a frame behind, making play sessions difficult to endure or, in some cases, unplayable.

Regardless of the RCA to USB adapter you purchase, it’s going to have these common traits:

  • Female RCA ports. These ports accept male RCA cables. They range from having red and while ports, to having red, white and yellow or even S-Video in. It will depend largely on what you need and buy.
  • The other end is, obviously, the USB.

Once you have your RCA to USB adapter, you can move onto the following steps.

1. Start by plugging in all the necessary power cables needed for your setup.

2. Next, plug the USB end of your adapter into the device of your choice.

3. With the RCA cables in hand, plug them into their matching counterparts, the female RCA ports. Failing to match them will result in no signal or no audio.

And that’s it. Believe it or not, it’s really that easy.

Bottom Line

RCA to USB adapters can be really handy for a lot of ventures. For example, it’s really useful for video capturing purposes, whether that’s recording a DVD, VHS or your favorite video game. Some adapters are solely audio-based, only capturing sound–like an external stereo sound card.

On the other hand, you may also have use for adapters designed the other way around. For example, A/V camcorder adapters. Those adapters are designed with the intent of plugging a USB into it, while the other end has male RCA cables, the ends that have metal rods sticking out of them.