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How To Connect Your Digital Receiver To Your Home Theater Setup
Author: Jim Johnson

In the not too distant past, stereo receivers were only used for connecting components of your home stereo system and switching between them, but times have changed drastically in the home entertainment field in just the last few years. Today a stereo receiver, or digital receiver as they are sometimes called, is expected to also handle video inputs from any number of devices and be able to route that as well to the TV set. In addition, today's receivers must have the capability to decode surround sound and support up to at least 5 speakers and a subwoofer. That's a lot to ask, and also a lot to connect up, so let's discuss how to connect your digital receiver to your home theater setup.

If you buy an all-in-one home theater system package, you probably won't have much problem setting things up because it's all usually laid out for you in the instructions and the components should all match very well. But if you are putting together your own home theater package made up of different components then you need to plan ahead and buy the right equipment to get the job done.

As far as the receiver is concerned, be sure that you buy one that has the number of connections that you will need to handle all of your system components. For video, almost all receivers give you a connection for a DVD player, a VCR, and a cable or satellite box, but do you also plan to connect up a digital camcorder, a video game system, or digital video recorder? If so, you will need enough inputs for all these pieces of equipment too. And you can expect to pay more for that many extra connections, but if that is what you need, the cost is worth it.

Now you need to be sure that the connection types are what you want too. Almost all video equipment can be connected through a standard composite connection cable, but if you want to improve the video quality you will use an S-video connection instead. Having a good mix of input connections between the two can be a good idea as most camcorder video will not have to be of the highest quality anyway.

On the audio front, many digital receivers are coming with surround sound decoders built into the unit and that is usually the simplest solution. Just make sure that the digital connection for sound from your system components matches the input connection on the receiver. Usually it is either an optical or coaxial connection. Just be sure that whichever it is, they match on both ends.

Then be sure that you have enough speaker connections to drive your speaker setup. If you like to use the newer 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound system format you will need enough speaker connections on your receiver to power all those separate speakers.

Once you have the right equipment with the right connections, actually installing the receiver is a matter of staying organized as you go. It may be a good idea to label each cable set on both ends to remind you what goes where. And be sure to keep the polarity straight when you install the speakers too. Each speaker has a "+" and "-" terminal, so make sure that you match them up correctly with the corresponding terminal on the receiver or your sound quality will suffer.

Following a few well planned guidelines and being as organized as possible can help you to not only buy the right digital receiver equipment for your home theater setup, but also install it correctly as well.

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