NICE AND EASY: Can you hook a DIRECTV HD Receiver or DVR to an old SD TV?

Quick answer: Yes DIRECTV receivers work on SD televisions just fine. Here’s what you need to know:

Outputting SD
All DIRECTV receivers except the 4K Genie Mini will output SD and all except the tiny Genie Client have connectors on the back for SD output. For the Genie client, you’ll need the Composite Dongle.

For Really Old TVs
For older TVs that don’t have separate inputs for video and audio, add an RF modulator. This will let you output your HD Receiver’s content to channel 3 on your TV.

If the menus don’t work:

If you see this message, press and hold EXIT on the DIRECTV remote for a few seconds until your receiver is set for SD. It must be the DIRECTV remote, it can’t be a universal remote.

If everything is “smushed”
Follow these steps:

  • Press {MENU}
  • Arrow to Settings&Help, press {SELECT}
  • Arrow to Settings, press {SELECT}
  • Arrow to Display, press {SELECT}
  • Arrow to TV Ratio, press {SELECT}
  • Change the ratio to Standard 4:3

If everything is still smushed, press the {INFO} button and arrow over to Audio and Video, and with Change Resolution and Format highlighed, press {SELECT} until the problem goes away.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.