HDMI modulators are an easy way to stay connected to the latest technology without changing your whole system. Home entertainment technology, especially for televisions and other visual devices, has been improving at breakneck speed for years now. Many consumers find it hard to keep up with the pace, and cost, of new technology. If you’ve ever invested in a piece of new technology, such as a recently released phone or portable projector, only to discover that it’s suddenly out of date within a year or two of your purchase, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Plus, the fact that the cost of at-home entertainment, especially televisions, is increasing year over year only exacerbates the challenge of keeping up. Thankfully, it’s possible to continue to use your old televisions, even with new accessories, such as an Xbox, without having to completely overhaul your existing setup. From no-frills modulators that are simple and effective to complex options that promise to expand and improve your current viewing experience, these are the best HDMI modulators.

— Best Overall: Thor Broadcast HDMI Modulator
— Best Budget: Fosa Digital RF Modulator
— Best Value: AoeSpy RF Modulator
— Best for Dual HDMI Input: ProVideoInstruments VeCoax Ultra-2-Channel HDMI Modulator
— Best Long-Distance Transmission: ProVideoInstruments VeCoax Miniblade-2 Expandable HDMI Modulator

How We Picked the Best HDMI Modulators

One of the most common obstacles consumers with older televisions face is the fact that new accessories, whether it be gaming consoles or surround-sound systems, only offer HDMI connection ports. Gone are the days of the red, white and yellow AV cables that many of us initially learned how to use. Thankfully, an HDMI modulator, which is a neat little piece of equipment that translates a cabled signal into an RF (radio frequency) signal that doesn’t require any cables, can be used to keep your old televisions from becoming obsolete and improve your current system. In short, a modulator allows you to wirelessly bypass any obstacles to connection, such as if your gaming console only has HDMI output but your TV only has an AV input.

However, there are dozens upon dozens of different HDMI modulators to choose from and finding the right one for your budget and needs can be a challenge, especially since the modulator market is rife with tech jargon. To help you sift through all the options we’ve selected and tested the best HDMI modulators for every budget and home-entertainment situation.

We investigated a variety of HDMI modulators with a range of different specifications, specialty functions, and price points to ensure that we only selected those modulators that provided the best value and quality. Whether it’s a plug-and-play modulator or a versatile, ultra-high-definition option that will take your television’s picture quality to the next level, the products on this list are the result of in-depth research, professional product testing, and numerous verified customer reviews. When selecting the best HDMI modulators we paid particular attention to the following criteria:

Output Quality: Like televisions, not all HDMI modulators are created equal. Some only offer basic 1080p high definition, while others offer 4K ultra high definition (UHD). Some modulators don’t offer high definition at all. Surprisingly, output quality isn’t always correlated to price, and there are ample high definition modulators that don’t break the bank. Good HDMI modulators will meet or exceed your current cabled connection video quality.

Connectivity Options: The last thing you want to do is go through the hassle of getting a modulator only to discover that it doesn’t have the necessary connections to support your needs. To help ease the burden of having to know the connectivity options your TV provides, we made sure to include RCA-HDMI modulators wherever possible, as these are the most versatile and offer a wider range of connectivity options. If you’re willing to splurge you may even be able to get a modulator that expands your current connectivity options.

Ease of Use: The whole point of getting an HDMI modulator is that it saves time and/or money. Upgrading your television system can be complex, especially if you’ve already invested in ancillary systems such as surround sound or a projector-based home theater. Good-quality HDMI modulators are easy to use and simplify the process of improving your entertainment setup.

Value: Home entertainment equipment runs the gamut in terms of price. The fact that there are budget options that provide excellent value as well as premium options that fall short in nearly every category makes the process of finding a good modulator for your needs that much more challenging. We made sure to measure the performance, features, and versatility of each modulator on our list against its price to determine its relative value.

Best HDMI Modulators: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Thor Broadcast HDMI Modulator

Small But Mighty. Thor Broadcast

Why They Made The Cut: This HDMI modulator is durable, technologically advanced, and thoughtfully designed to have a small footprint despite being chalk full of technology.

Specs:
— Output Definition: 1080p
— Cables Included: None
— Dimensions: 4.06 inches L x 2.52 inches D x 0.94 inches H

Pros:
— Numerous output formats make this unit highly versatile
— Tiny footprint allows it be hidden easily
— Includes encoding features for both audio and video
— Able to accept and translate HD audio, making it ideal for surround sound systems

Cons:
— Requires computer with WiFi connection to properly configure
— Expensive

Although the Thor Broadcast HDMI Modulator doesn’t include any of the necessary cables, other than a power cable of course, it does offer a bundle of technology that makes it both more versatile and capable than most modulators. For example, in addition to RF output, it’s also equipped with DVB-C, ATSC, and even AC3 Dolby Audio, which allows you to maximize your sound system. This modulator even has an HDMI encoder with loop capabilities, so you can simultaneously encode, and therefore, protect your signal whilst watching something.

One of the more unique features of this all-in-one modulator and encoder is the fact that it’s networked. In other words, it connects to your internet and has the ability to send and receive HDMI signals through HDMI-enabled ethernet cables. This means that you can reliably send encoded audio and video information over long distances without losing any quality. This is ideal if you have a large home or any other space, and you want to send signals from one HDMI device to many other devices.

Best Budget: Fosa Digital RF Modulator

Simple Ease of Use. fosa

Why It Made The Cut: Although this modulator is the cheapest one we selected, it has great reviews and is easy to use.

Specs:
— Output Definition: 1080p
— Cables Included: None
— Dimensions: 6.5 inches L x 3.94 inches D x 2.56 inches H

Pros:
— Low price
— Capable of adjusting audio levels as well as selecting specific speakers for output
— Digital display makes it easy to set channel preferences

Cons:
— Requires extra adapters to convert HDMI to RF

For the price, it’s hard to beat the Fosa Digital RF Modulator. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have a direct HDMI input, which means that you will need to purchase an HDMI to AV converter to convert HDMI signals to RF. However, once you’ve done that, you can take advantage of the fact that this is a true plug and play modulator, and you’ll be converting signals before you know it. Plus, the little digital display on the exterior of the modulator allows you to choose which channel you are broadcasting to in real time, which is a nice convenience feature that makes broadcasting to multiple devices much easier, especially since this modulator doesn’t offer encoding. Lastly, a number of verified customer reviews noted how this modulator exceeded their expectations, especially in terms of transmission speed, which is an essential aspect of being able to use it for transmitting entertainment. No one wants to watch a choppy movie.

Best Value: AoeSpy RF Modulator

Easy to Use. AoeSpy

Why It Made The Cut: This modulator provides great functionality for quite a low price.

Specs:
— Output Definition: 1080p
— Cables Included: None
— Dimensions: 11.93 inches L x 4.37 inches D x 2.05 inches H

Pros:
— Lots of technology for a low price
— Small footprint allows it to be hidden easily
— Includes a zoom feature, which is rare for a modulator at this price

Cons:
— Only has four RF formats for output
— Some RF formats had worse video quality than others

The AoeSpy RF Modulator is a great entry-level option that’s ideal for anyone who wants a simple fix to a simple problem. While the AoeSpy offers more technology than you may expect at this price point, it takes more of a no-frills approach. Setting it up is as simple as plugging in your output device and your cable wire; no additional software or work is needed.

Another standout feature of this modulator, aside from its price and ease of use, is the fact that its footprint is rather small. Not only can you take this modulator on work trips, you can also use it to connect HDMI devices to something like the backseat entertainment system in your car. If you’ve got kids that are constantly asking what time the road trip is going to end, this feature alone can make this modulator worth it.

Best for Dual HDMI Input: ProVideoInstruments VeCoax Ultra-2-Channel HDMI Modulator

Double the Input. ProVideoInstruments

Why It Made The Cut: Simply put, this is a top-tier modulator that promises to take your at-home entertainment experience up a notch.

Specs:
— Output Definition: 1080p
— Cables Included: None
— Dimensions: 19 inches L x 12.5 inches D x 1.7 inches H

Pros:
— Accepts two HDMI inputs
— Included encoder
— Built-in amplifier for improved audio
— Capable of supporting eight separate audio channels

Cons:
— Very expensive
— Large footprint makes it difficult to conceal

The ProVideoInstruments VeCoax Ultra-2-Channel HDMI Modulator does a lot more than allow you to maximize your old TVs. In fact, you may want to get this modulator purely for its ability to send two HDMI outputs to an unlimited number of TVs. For example, you could hook up two different gaming consoles, and have them sent to the same TV at the same time without having to use a single HDMI port on the TV itself. The ability to translate two HDMI signals at the same time to two different channels is what makes this modulator unique, and it’s also one of the reasons it’s much more expensive than the other options on this list.

In general, this modulator is designed to enhance your existing technology, even if it is brand new. The fact that it has a built-in eight channel amplifier means that you can run an entire home theater system through it. It even has an internal power source for the audio amplifier, so there’s no need to purchase an additional active receiver if you don’t want to. In short, although this modulator is expensive, it does it all and does it well.

Best Long-Distance Transmission: ProVideoInstruments VeCoax Miniblade-2 Expandable HDMI Modulator

Go the Distance. ProVideo Instruments

Why It Made The Cut: This modulator is professional-grade yet incredibly easy to use and install.

Specs:
— Output Definition: 1080p
— Cables Included: None
— Dimensions: 11.5 inches L x 6.4 inches D x 3.8 inches H

Pros:
— 5 year warranty
— 1,500+ feet of transmission range
— Ultra low latency encoding ensures seamless, secure transmissions
— Unlimited online technical support and a five year warranty

Cons:
— Expensive

The Miniblade-2 modulator is ideal for anyone that doesn’t want to compromise on quality or has some serious transmission distance to travel, or both. The built-in amplifier is powerful enough to transmit encoded audio and video over a quarter of a mile. In addition, it has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a modulator of this price, such as the ability to accept two HDMI outputs and a full color digital display that allows you to name your channels.  The Miniblade-2 is packed with convenience features you don’t usually find on professional-grade modulators.

For example, you don’t need any software to install this modulator, which can be stored in quite literally any dry, room-temperature environment thanks to the fact that it has a fanless cooling system. This also makes it nearly silent, which is a major plus since it runs 24/7. Plus, it comes with an optional web-based software that allows you to completely control your Miniblade-2 from anywhere in the world. You can do everything from scan for channels to switch transmission modes directly from your laptop.

Things to Consider Before Buying an HDMI Modulator

Current Setup

As with all home entertainment products, the first step in making an upgrade is taking stock of what you currently have. This is especially important when shopping for an HDMI modulator because it’s an ancillary product by nature, which means that its function relies on its ability to integrate with what you already own. Make sure to check what connectivity options your TV or projector has and also what type of output the device that’s currently incompatible with your TV has. If the modulator doesn’t match these connections on both ends, it won’t work. If you’re going to get a budget modulator, make sure that whatever RF format it uses as the output is compatible with your TV’s input. High-end modulators are often compatible with all types of RF inputs.

Size and Design

While this may seem silly, pay close attention to the dimensions of your preferred modulator, and what it looks like. The dimensions are important because you may want to hide it, along with the wires it requires. Some modulators, especially those that are closer to professional grade, can be quite bulky, which can ruin the aesthetic of a clean home-theater. Also, while HDMI modulators are never designed to look nice, some are easier to integrate or conceal than others. If you can, we recommend finding the smallest, thinnest modulator possible that fits your needs.

Intended Use

Consider what you want to get out of your modulator before investing in one. This can help you save a lot of time and money because the more sophisticated modulators tend to be harder to set up and use. For instance, if you’re looking to make a single connection to a single TV that doesn’t offer high definition (HD) video, there’s no use in shelling out the cash for a sophisticated ultra high definition (UHD) modulator. On the other hand, if you’re investing in a modulator to make multiple connections and to improve your current picture quality, it’s wise to start looking at the mid-level and high-end options.

Included Accessories

Unlike most other home entertainment technology, setting up an HDMI modulator should be quite easy. When shopping for one, keep an eye out for modulators that bundle together all of the necessary cords and cables for setup. This way you don’t have to worry about finding the right cables on your own, and you can get started as soon as the modulator package arrives.

FAQs

Q. How much do HDMI modulators cost?

There’s a wide range of price points for HDMI modulators. Budget, at-home options usually cost between $30, on the extreme low end, and $100 on the high end, while mid-tier at-home modulators tend to cost between $100 to $250. Expect to spend at least $300 on a high-end at-home modulator, and potentially upwards of $1,000 if you want to go all out and get a professional-level device.

Q. How do HDMI modulators work?

HDMI modulators are fairly simple in terms of entertainment technology. In essence, they accept an HDMI output and translate it into an RF frequency, or other similar type of wireless signal that can be  accepted by your TV. Nearly every TV made after the early 2000s has the ability to accept RF signals, and you can rest assured that any TV made after 2015 certainly accepts RF signals. Once the modulator has translated the HDMI input into an RF signal, it basically appears as another TV channel. Once it’s translated, there’s no need to switch inputs to get to your desired HDMI destination. Plus, you can send the RF signal from your modulator to any TV in your home, allowing you to wirelessly connect your HDMI device to multiple inputs. HDMI matrixes, which are the main alternative to HDMI modulators, are not only more expensive but also limited to a fixed number of input devices.

Q. How do I set up and install my HDMI modulator?

Thankfully, setting up and using an at-home HDMI modulator is not difficult. However, keep in mind that more sophisticated options that perform functions beyond translating HDMI signals will be more difficult to install. Because you do not need to connect the modulator to your TV, you only need to connect it to the HDMI output device, the actual location of the modulator doesn’t matter that much. Also, since most modulators rely on a continuous stream from the HDMI output, you only need to control the TV and the HDMI output device to use the modulator in real time. However, this doesn’t mean you can simply place your modulator anywhere in your home because you still need to be within wireless range of the HDMI output device, which must be connected to the modulator itself. To get it set up, just plug it into your output device, power it on, and flip to the channel to which it directs you.

Q. Do I need cable to use an HDMI modulator?

Yes and no. You do not need to have an active cable subscription from a provider, but do you need to have access to coaxial cables, which is the wire that transmits traditional cable TV signals. This wire is usually built into the structure of your space and may look like a small nub protruding from the wall. If you’re having trouble finding a coaxial cable connection in your home, look in spots where you may logically place a TV, such as the corner of your living room.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a high-quality, reliable, and easy-to-use HDMI modulator, you can’t go wrong with the Thor Broadcast HDMI Modulator because of its favorable performance to cost ratio. The ability to have your HDMI audio and video signals encoded at such a low latency for less than $500 is unique. On the other hand, you may not want to spend more than $400 on your modulator, especially if the reason you’re continuing to use an older TV is to save money. If that’s the case, we recommend checking out the Fosa Digital RF Modulator.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.

 



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