How to Hook Up Your Home Theater Speakers: Surround Yourself with Surround Sound

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Hey Bubbas,
Good primer on getting your surround sound hooked up, especially if there’s some confusion about the differences in a 5.1 system or a 7.1 system, or if you are unfamiliar with the variety of connectors that you will face as you put your system together. The guys at Audioholics.com do a great job of outlining most basic systems and how to get started on hooking up your home theater speakers.  Part of your decision on what type of system to get, it how you envision your seating plan.

How to Hook Up Your Home Theater Speakers

from Audionholics.com

In most rooms you won’t be able to place your speakers in the perfect spots. It would be great if every room was designed with surround sound in mind, but alas, it isn’t. Still, there are some good rules to go by. The diagram below shows the ideal placement for speakers in a 7.1 system. Notice how the speakers are perfectly set up for one seating location, the elusive “sweet spot”. Because most people are not hermits watching movies in solitude, you will probably have a variety of seating locations. When placing your speakers, you will need to decide if you want to optimize your system for one location or, as we prefer, place speakers so that individuals in a variety of positions can experience good quality surround sound. Choosing to setup your system for multiple seating locations may also affect your decision to go with a 5.1 or 7.1 system…

They also go through the basics of hooking up basic components of your entire system, including some cabling. This is a pretty basic lesson, but we’re always amazed at how easy it is to get lost putting these systems together. They rely heavily on newer components that utilize HDMI connections, which carry both full digital video and audio.

If all of your equipment supports HDMI, connection should be a breeze. In some cases your equipment won’t have an HDMI output. Maybe you are hooking up a Wii which only supports composite video (a yellow RCA cable), or component video (red, green, blue). In that case, you will have to run either composite or component cable(s) for your video signal, and a separate cable for sound. With a Wii, your only option for sound is stereo audio.

That’s actually very important. While you will probably work on your major components, (TV, receiver, disc player, satellite or cable receiver….) you will still run across an older video game or home video camera that has analog type connectors (usually the RCA types, like those found on stereo components.)  To insure that you are prepared for that, you will probably want to run one set of older analog or component cables between your receiver and your TV.  Only the most expensive receivers will “upconvert” an analogue system to digital… it will instead just pump it through a set of analogue outputs. (You gets outa what you puts inta’).  When you’re ready to hook up your home theater speakers, this is good reference material.

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