The Sony PlayStation 1 remains a classic retro gaming console even over 25 years since its release. However, connecting it to modern HDTVs can be a challenge due to the shift from analog to digital HDMI connections. This guide will examine multiple methods for hooking up your PS1 to an HDMI television so you can keep enjoying those classic PlayStation games.
Table of Contents
Why Connect a PS1 to HDMI?
There are a few key reasons you might want to connect a PlayStation 1 to an HDTV’s HDMI input:
- HD TVs no longer have analog AV inputs, only HDMI.
- HDMI allows displaying the native 240p resolution rather than degrading to 480i.
- HDMI provides a sharper image and text compared to analog connections.
- HDMI can output stereo or Pro Logic surround sound (if supported by the game).
- Upscalers can enhance the image with scanlines or CRT effects for authenticity.
While analog AV to HDMI conversion reduces some image quality from digital sources, for lower resolution retro consoles the difference is negligible and worthwhile for the advantages HDMI provides on modern TVs.
Can I Just Plug My PS1 into HDMI?
Unfortunately, no. The PS1 natively outputs:
- 240p video resolution
- Stereo analog audio
- Composite video and stereo audio ports
Modern HDTVs require:
- HD video over HDMI at 720p/1080p
- Digital audio over HDMI
Due to these different signals and connectors, some kind of conversion is necessary in between the PS1 and HDTV.
There are several solutions available to bridge this gap and convert the PS1’s analog outputs to digital HDMI as we’ll explore.
Option 1: Composite to HDMI Converter
The most affordable and readily available solution is using a composite to HDMI converter:
- Very inexpensive starting around $10.
- Simple plug and play use.
- Includes stereo audio extraction.
- Provides noticeably sharper image over direct composite input on HDTVs.
- Image quality is not as good as RGB options.
- Additional cabling without scaler benefits.
- Limited control of video settings.
How to Connect:
- Plug the PS1 A/V output cable into the 3.5mm and yellow RCA ports on the converter.
- HDMI output from converter to HDMI port on the HDTV.
- Plug in USB power cable for converter.
- Set TV input to match HDMI port used.
It’s quick, cheap and effective making it a good entry point for PS1 to HDMI connectivity.
Option 2: Component/RGB to HDMI Converter
For improved image quality, a component or RGB to HDMI converter is preferable:
- Enables sharper RGB signal from the PS1 instead of composite.
- Advanced scalers and video processing options.
- Low latency gaming performance.
- Better HDMI image quality and authentic scanlines.
- More expensive than composite solutions.
- Requires RGB capable display and cables for PS1.
How to Connect:
- Connect PS1 RGB output to SCART or component input ports on converter.
- HDMI output from converter to TV.
- If available, connect optical/RCA PS1 audio outputs directly to TV. Otherwise, enable audio over HDMI.
- Power on converter and select appropriate input mode.
- Configure video settings like scanlines for optimal image quality.
For PS1 owners already utilizing RGB video, the jump to HDMI via a converter like this delivers excellent results on modern displays.
Option 3: Retrotink 2X Multi Format
The Retrotink 2X Multi Format is a popular dedicated retro gaming HDMI converter:
- Top quality low latency upscaling and scanlines.
- Specifically designed for retro consoles.
- Advanced control options via remote.
- Also works with SNES, Genesis, N64 and more.
- More expensive but provides great value for money.
How to Connect:
- Connect PS1 via composite, S-Video or component cables to Retrotink inputs.
- HDMI output to TV from Retrotink.
- Direct audio wire from PS1 stereo audio outputs to TV if available.
- Power on and configure optimal video output settings via remote.
For the best PS1 to HDMI results, the Retrotink 2X Multi Format is hard to beat with its robust upscaling and low lag performance. It’s an investment but worth it for retro gaming fans.
Option 4: Pound HD Link Cable
The Pound HD Link Cable is a plug and play PS1 to HDMI solution:
- Direct PS1 connector, no other cables needed.
- Preconfigured optimal settings for PS1.
- Low latency performance.
- Sharp image and authentic scanlines.
- Only works with PS1 and PS2 consoles.
How to Connect:
- Plug the Pound connector directly into the rear AV port of the PS1.
- HDMI output plugs directly into TV.
- USB power cable for the Pound adapter.
- Can also output sound directly to TV over HDMI if desired.
For dedicated PS1 HDMI conversion, the Pound HD Link Cable delivers excellent hassle-free results. But lacks flexibility for other retro consoles.
Option 5: Internal HDMI Mod
For the ultimate native digital output from a PS1, an internal HDMI mod can be installed:
- 100% digital native HDMI output from the PS1 GPU.
- Extremely sharp pixel perfect image and vibrant colors.
- Reduces input lag.
- Uses original PS1 power, no external power bricks.
- Requires soldering directly to the mainboard.
- Installation is complex, only for experienced modders.
How to Install:
- Open up the PS1 case and locate the CXA2075 GPU chip.
- Solder wires from the HDMI board pins to specific points on the CXA2075 chip.
- Install the HDMI port in the rear of the case.
- Close up the PS1 case and connect HDMI cable to TV.
For PS1 connoisseurs wanting ultimate quality and zero lag, the internal HDMI mod is worth the effort and provides phenomenal results.
Choosing Your PS1 to HDMI Method
When selecting how to connect your PS1 to an HDTV, consider the following:
- Composite to HDMI converters start under $10.
- Dedicated upscalers cost $100-$250.
- Internal HDMI mods cost over $150 with installation.
- Composite only converters produce acceptable results.
- RGB with upscaler provides sharp pixel accurate image.
- Native HDMI mod gives best possible quality.
- Most solutions provide good low lag performance.
- HDMI mod has least possible lag.
Ease of Use
- Simple composite converters just plug and play.
- Advanced upscalers require configuration for best results.
- Internal mods require soldering skill and risk damage if done improperly.
Choosing the solution that best matches your budget, image needs, lag tolerance, and skill level is key for a great PS1 experience on modern displays.
Troubleshooting PS1 to HDMI Issues
If you experience issues getting your PS1 working properly over HDMI, try these troubleshooting steps:
- Ensure cables are fully plugged in between each step. Loose connections cause problems.
- Try an alternate HDMI cable in case of cable damage or compatibility problems.
- If using an upscaler, check TV mode matches the input resolution from the PS1.
- Adjust settings on converter like disabling noise filters if causing lag or image issues.
- Factory reset the converter box and reconfigure if incorrectly set up.
- For internal HDMI mods, check all solder points match installation guide. Reflow any questionable joints.
- Attempt connection to another TV to determine if issue is from the console, cables or display.
- Inspect all connectors for dust, debris or damage preventing proper contact.
Thoroughly checking connections and settings will resolve most HDMI difficulties with your PS1.
Achieving Optimal HDMI Image Quality
To get the sharpest HDMI image from your PlayStation 1, consider these tips:
- Utilize RGB SCART cables from the PS1 if possible instead of composite.
- Connect directly via quality component cables as an alternative to RGB.
- Select a linedouble or advanced upscaling mode on converters to properly display 240p.
- Enable scanlines on upscalers for an authentic retro CRT-like appearance.
- Adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness and other settings to refine the image.
- Game in 480p mode on supported titles for enhanced clarity, avoiding 480i.
- On internal HDMI mods, tweak RGB contrast boost potentiometers as needed.
- Match the converter’s output resolution to the recommended resolution your TV handles best.
Dialing in the right settings and connections gives your classic PS1 games that perfect playable nostalgic look on modern screens.
Hooking up the original PlayStation to an HDTV with HDMI doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Solutions ranging from simple composite converters to internal HDMI mods help you get your PS1 working for both nostalgic gaming sessions and introduce newer generations to the games that started the PlayStation legacy. Whichever connectivity method you choose, taking the time to properly configure and optimize the settings guarantees you’ll be enjoying lavish 32-bit graphics on your HD display for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my PS1 have to be modded to output RGB?
No mods are required – all PS1 consoles can natively output RGB. You just need the proper SCART or component cables designed for PS1 RGB output.
What resolution does the PS1 output over HDMI?
It will output the native 240p signal over HDMI. This gets upscaled to 720p or 1080p by the converters or display.
Is there much input lag when using HDMI converters?
Most dedicated retro gaming upscalers have very low lag, almost imperceptible. Poor quality composite converters can have noticeable lag though.
Will PS1 games fill the screen on HD TVs over HDMI?
Yes, the upscalers will enlarge and stretch the 4:3 240p image to fill widescreen. Some devices let you add pillarbox borders if preferred.
Do I need to mod my PS1 for S-Video output?
S-Video is natively supported on early PS1 models. The later PU-7 board revision removed S-Video so modding is needed to enable it.
Can I damage my PS1 using HDMI converters?
Quality converters are safe and won’t damage consoles. Poor or defective devices can potentially output voltage spikes so buy reputable brands.
Does HDMI from PS1 allow light gun games to work?
Unfortunately light guns require a CRT’s scanning nature to operate. They will not work over HDMI on LCD/LED displays.
Which has better image quality – composite or S-Video to HDMI?
S-Video maintains clearer image detail over composite, avoiding dot crawl. So S-Video converted HDMI will look noticeably sharper.
Can I connect my PS1 slim model over HDMI?
Yes, the slim PSOne unit works great with HDMI solutions since it has the same A/V output as the original gray model. Enjoy your mini PS1 on a giant HDTV!