Hooking It All Up
You'll be happy to know that - unlike so many other things in both life and home theater - connecting the source components and speakers to a receiver is easy. First we'll make the basic connections, and then set up the speakers and receiver.
All recent A/V receivers let you connect sources using either digital or analog audio inputs. To get surround sound, you'll want to use the digital connections. (The standard left and right analog audio connections are stereo only.) To accommodate high-def shows with Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound, HDTV tuners, cable boxes, and satellite receivers, as well as integrated HDTV sets, all have digital audio outputs. Since most DVD movies have multichannel Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks, you'll find them on DVD players as well.
You can use either the coaxial (RCA) or optical digital audio jacks. Most recent receivers include multiple digital audio inputs so you can enjoy surround sound from several home-entertainment sources.
Note which components you've connected to which digital inputs on your receiver, because you'll need to use the setup menu to tell the receiver that your program sources are sending it digital audio. DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD players, and "universal" players that play most surround sound formats, are the exceptions to the rule of "digital only" audio connections. These players have a set of six analog audio outputs that connect to corresponding input jacks on the receiver to deliver multichannel sound.
Use speaker cable to connect the left and right front, center, and surround speakers to their speaker terminals on the back of the receiver. Make sure the connections are in phase - that is, connect each speaker's red (+) terminal to the corresponding red terminal on the receiver, and do the same for the black (-) connections. Otherwise the bass will sound thin and imaging will suffer.
Some receivers, speakers, and cables use the new Consumer Electronics Association color coding for connections, which has different colors for each channel's "+" terminal - white for the left front, green for the center channel, and so on. This makes hooking things up a breeze.
With a newer receiver, connect the subwoofer output directly to the subwoofer's line-level (unamplified) Sub or LFE (low-frequency effects) input. (With older receivers, you might need to connect the sub between the receiver and the left and right front speakers using speaker cable.)
You've now made all the connections. Double-check them before moving on - you don't want to find out you got your wires crossed after you've moved that heavy equipment cabinet back into place.
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