Do It Yourself: A Guide To Home Theater System Wiring And Cables

Brief, easy to understand guide to basic home theatre setup.Overview of wiring, as well as tips and tricks to make wiring manageable.

So, you went and bought yourself a great new home theater system. As you unpack your box, you may notice the impossible number of jacks and plugs involved.

Don't panic. This can all be sorted out, and you'll be enjoying your new home theatre in no time.

The first thing to do is to find yourself a small roll of masking tape and a fine-tipped marker. This will save valuable time later. Armed with your roll of tape and your marker, lets work on labeling. Each of your devices is going to be joined to your receiver. Your receiver is then going to send the requested audio and video of each device out to your video screen and your audio speakers. It is helpful at this point to label each of the a/v jacks with its device's name, such as DVD, VCR, Television, CD player, etc.



If you are using what is commonly referred to as RCA jacks, you will notice that there are three different colored caps on each jack. One red, one white, and one yellow.

The yellow is for video, the red and white are for audio. There are also such options are digital sound, and S-video, and advanced instructions for the installation and support of these device can be found in your receiver's documentation. For the beginning purposes outlined here, we will refer to basic RCA jacks, as mentioned above.

After attaching the speakers to the receiver using the wire gauge recommended by the manufacturer, you will first decide on the placement of your speakers. There is a center speaker which is commonly placed directly above the video screen, or in the near proximity, and a subwoofer, which is commonly placed below the video screen, or to the direct right or left of it. Most commonly, 2 front speakers are set up approximately ten feet from either side of the front of the video screen, and two rear speakers are set up in the rear of the viewing area, pointed toward the video screen. This will create a "˜circle' of sound, as can usually be demonstrated by a test mode on your receiver. After testing the sound, and making necessary adjustments, you are now ready to install devices to your receiver.

First, decide which device you will assign to each video channel. It may be helpful to keep a list of devices handy. Video 1 is more than likely your television, and according to the manufacturer, you may need to make adjustments to allow your receiver to output the audio. Usually, simply plugging the audio cable in is sufficient. Attach one end of the yellow jack to your television'sVideo 1 "˜Output' jack, and the other end to your receiver's Video 1 "˜Input' jack. Repeat this with the red and white jacks. Don't forget to label the jacks going to the receiver with a piece of masking tape marked "˜TV'. Test it by turning on the TV and the receiver, and pressing the "˜Video 1' button. You should have sound coming from all of your speakers. According to the manufacturer, there are usually different sound settings for different devices. AFD stands for "˜Auto Frequency Detect'. This is usually your best bet with television broadcasts, as different channels broadcast in different formats.

Repeat the above steps with each of your devices, keeping track of which device goes to which video channel, and always remember to mark the ends going to the receiver with your masking tape. In the event that a cord becomes unleashed, or a move occurs, you will find your chart and marked cords invaluable.

Finally, experiment with the different sound settings. Some which may be available are "˜Stadium', "˜Concert Hall', "˜Jazz', or "˜Cinema'. Each produces a different depth of sound, and according to your watching area, each will be suitable for different programming.

Finally, relax, put your chart in a safe place, and enjoy the show!

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