home theater system wiring

Setting up a home theater system can seem a bit complex since there are several different ways to hook up the same set of components, not to mention all the different cables. There are different cables that can be used to do the same job. Let us first discuss some of the most common cables one would normally see in a home theater system.

  1. The coaxial cable is the most common audio/visual (AV) cable we have today. This is the wire everyone has that brings cable or satellite service into your home.
  2. AV cables with RCA connectors are also very common. These usually come with two or three connectors on each end. One connector is for the video feed, and the other two are for the sound. Typically, these connectors are color-coded with the video as yellow or black and the audio ends as red and white. Many components are coming out with three video input connectors that split up the red, green, and blue color information. This provides a superior image quality which until very recently was only found in professional video equipment.
  3. The video cable is supported in many components. This style cable separates the chrominance and luminance information, providing a slightly better picture. Unless this is connected to a high-resolution TV, the actual difference in picture between the S-video cable and a single RCA cable is almost undetectable.

A common home theater system today will normally contain a TV, DVD player, VCR player, a surround sound receiver, and a satellite or digital cable receiver. The first step is to connect the satellite signal or digital cable signal to its receiver with a coaxial cable. These signals are typically provided with a wall-mounted cable jack for easy access. Next, using another piece of coaxial cable, connect the signal output from the cable receiver to the input on the VCR. The third and final piece of the coaxial cable connects the VCR output to the TV’s coaxial input. To connect the DVD player, there are a couple of options. To get the DVD video signal to the TV, either an S-video cable or RCA cables can be used.

Using the triple RCA video connectors (if installed in DVD player) provides a far superior picture when compared to the S-video cable or a single RCA cable. The triple RCA cables are essential to getting the most out of a high-definition plasma screen TV. So, then connect the RCA cables from the DVD player to the TV’s AV1 input. At this point, all video connections are complete. The surround sound receiver has a set of audio RCA inputs. It is now necessary to connect the TV’s RCA audio outputs with the receiver’s audio inputs. We also must connect the DVD player’s RCA audio outputs to the TV’s audio inputs on AV1. The last thing to do is to then arrange and connect any external speakers that will be used with the system.

Remember, flexibility is the key. This example system connection should be thought of as a basic road map to connect components. There are several other components that can be connected to a home theater system such as WebTV, camcorders, etc. This example system connection used only the newest configuration of RCA cables.

Many older systems have used only single RCA video cables or the more expensive S-video cables. Any and all of these work fine, but remember that the triple RCA video cables make for the best quality pictures with today’s TVs.

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