System Setup Are we having fun yet? Well, almost. You have to get the receiver's first-time setup out of the way first. (Don't worry. You won't have to do it again unless you decide to make changes.)
Grab the remote control and turn the receiver on with the volume all the way down. Then turn on the TV. Press the button labeled System Setup, Main Menu, or something similar (check the manual to see what it's called), which will bring up some onscreen menus. (A bare-bones receiver may not have onscreen menus, relying on the front-panel display instead.)
Input assignment For each source you connected to a digital audio input, you may have to assign the same digital input in the setup menu. The receiver doesn't "know," for example, that you plugged the digital audio output from your DVD player into the Digital 1 input. You usually don't have to assign analog inputs - just connect each output to the corresponding input.
Speaker setup This menu lets you select "large," "small," or "none" for each of the main channels in your system - that is, all but the ".1" subwoofer channel. You'd select "none" for some channels if you're not using a full complement of speakers and "off" or "none" for the subwoofer if you're not using one. The "size" settings indicate the speaker's ability to handle bass, not its actual dimensions. "Large" speakers can handle a full frequency range, while "small" speakers can't, so their bass is redirected to the subwoofer instead. In most cases, you'd select "small" for the main speakers and "on" for the subwoofer. Many receivers have additional bass-management capabilities so you can fine-tune bass performance.
To recreate a recording's placement of voices, instruments, and sound effects accurately, the sounds from all the speakers in your system need to arrive at your listening position at the same time. Since speakers tend to be at different distances, receivers delay signals to the nearer speakers to give the farthest ones time to catch up. But you have to enter the various distances so the receiver can calculate the proper delays, unless it has an auto setup routine for this.
Speaker balancing All of your main speakers must be operating at the same volume so that if one sounds louder than another when you're watching a movie or listening to music, it will be because it's supposed to and not because your setup is out of balance. Most receivers have test-tone generators to balance the speakers. We don't recommend doing this by ear. If the remote control doesn't have a sound-level meter built in, you can buy one from RadioShack for about $40 .
To check speaker levels in decibels (dB), stand behind the listening position and hold the meter where the listener's head would be, with the microphone pointed toward the ceiling, while the test tones move around the room. Adjust the volume of each speaker with the remote until they're all the same. Some receivers can do this automatically.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.