What Is a Cable Box RF Bypass?

By Darrin Meyer

Set-top receiver boxes supplied by cable television providers are designed to enable connections with different audio/video components in a variety of different manners. One such connection method utilizes a feature known as RF Bypass.


The RF Bypass feature puts the receiver box into a bypass mode, allowing the user to record one channel on a VCR while viewing a different channel directly on the TV, provided the TV and VCR are both equipped with cable-ready tuners. In choosing this set-up method, the need for a cable splitter with A/B switch to perform the same function is eliminated.


To utilize the RF Bypass feature, connect the coaxial cable from the wall outlet to the "Cable In" jack on the receiver box, and another from the "Out to TV/VCR" jack to the "Cable In" jack on the VCR. Connect additional cables from the "Cable Out" jack of the VCR to the "Conv. In" jack on the receiver box and from the "RF Out" jack on the receiver to the "Cable/Ant. In" jack on the TV. The feature is generally activated by pressing the "Bypass" button on the cable remote control and tuning the TV to its designated viewing channel (3 or 4).


RF Bypass is an optional feature not available with every cable box and provider, and generally not found with newer digital cable receivers/DVRs, as only the basic cable channels would be able to be viewed without being routed through the receiver box because of the encryption software involved. Plus, the shift away from VCRs and the ability of DVRs to record two (or more) channels simultaneously has made the bypass feature unnecessary.