How to connect a Sega Mega Drive 2 (Genesis 2/3) console to a TV?

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This guide will look at some of the different ways to hook up a Sega Megadrive 2 II (Genesis 2 /3) home games console to a Television including RF, RCA composite, and HDMI cable. Learn about the different options and find the best methods to connect a retro Sega console of any region to both older and newer HDTV sets.

Connecting a Sega Megadrive 2 (Genesis 2/3) with RF cable.

An RF modulator unit is the original type of connection supplied by Sega to connect the Megadrive 2, (known as the Genesis 2 in the US). It was also provided with Genesis 3, a budget console made under license in the USA. The only exception was in Japan where an RCA style cable was provided (RCA is covered below).

RF units connect the console via RF (radio frequency) input, which works as an analog TV ariel signal, tuning to the frequency that displays the picture and audio.

Most TVs have auto-tuning and will be able to find the signal from a powered-on Sega console, however, the latest TVs are mostly digital or digital-only, making it more difficult or impossible to use this type of connection.

Start by plugging the mains plug into the Megadrive and the RF cable into the ariel port on the TV, insert a game, and turn the console on. Run the tuning program on the TV from the settings menu, once completed the console should be saved to a channel preset and ready to play.

If the tv supports an analog mode you may be able to tune in the TV to the Sega console, but over time this is an option will become less and less supported, this begs the question:

How do you set up a Sega Mega Drive 2 on a modern TV?

A better option to original RF unit for a number of reasons is an RCA composite cable, it offers easier setup, a better picture quality, and is much more widely supported by newer televisions.

Connecting a Sega Megadrive 2 (Genesis 2/3) with an RCA composite AV cable.

An RCA style composite cable was and still is a commonly used method of carrying audio and video (AV) signals between devices, such as a games console and television.

RCA style AV inputs on TVs are superior to RF in that they separate the video and audio, and avoid the possible interference that analog RF can suffer from, they also do not require tuning and typically just work, they are an on-off signal.

Modern televisions normally provide between one and three AV input ports, and are found on the back of the side of most TVs as colour coded sockets. The yellow socket is for Video, the white for the left audio and red for the right audio.

On most TVs the input button on the remote is used to switch between the various signal inputs the particular television offers, and are normally presented something like this:

TV, AV1, AV2, AV3, Scart 1, Scart 2, HDMI 1, HDMI 2 etc.

On most TVs you will press the input button, again and again, to move through options similar to the above, so if you connect your Megadrive to AV1 using a composite cable, and cycle through the inputs until you get to AV1, the picture from the console should instantly display, assuming it is powered on, no tuning or saving is needed.

Another method of using a composite AV cable is via a scart adapter, this can useful if your TV has scart and not composite, or if you are using the composite for something else.

Using a scart adapter the three coloured connectors are plugged into a scart socket on the tv, then using the same input menu on the tv the game picture will be located by scrolling through to the correct scart port in the tv system menu.

Connecting a Sega Megadrive 2 (Genesis 2/3) via HDMI

The very latest televisions are providing less of the older types of AV input as HDMI takes over and replaces scart, composite and component, the next generations of TV will likely only offer HDMI, some like this will already exist.

Generic HDMI converters exist to allow older types of cable such as RCA or scart to connect via HDMI, but these can have disappointing results, issues can be found with picture quality, aspect ration, and flickering to name a few things.

Console specific HDMI converters have been released by a couple of different brands and these are configured specifically to work with the console rather than being a general HDMI converter that might not be compatible.

Some versions of Sega HDMI adapter will give better results than others but non are particularly cheap in price, so it would be a good idea to check on the return policy of the store before ordering one.

Here at ZedLabz we are working on our own range of HDMI adapter that should hopefully be available in early 2021. 


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