How Do I Hook Up... my surround sound? Newsletter Signup
January 2nd, 2008 by Joe Chianese Page 1Page 2 Page 3

Completing Your Surround Sound Setup

Now that you've got your equipment laid out and all the right cables, let's get this thing connected.

Run the Speaker Wire

You should have already figured out how much square footage of speaker wire you needed and went ahead and made sure you had that (and a little extra, especially if you don't have RCA jacks on your subwoofer). Now you can lay that cable out. Start connecting the speakers one by one and running the wire back to the receiver. Do whatever concealing of the wires you have planned at this point. You can always change it up in the future.

You're going to want to make sure you connect the right speaker to the right jack on your receiver. First recognize that you will be connecting positive (+) and negative (-) wires on your speakers and on your receiver. Most speaker wire is either colored differently or has writing on one of the cables to designate + vs -.

Figure out which one is which (in the case of identical colors and text on one cable, just pick one for positive and one for negative). As long as you match it up on both ends (the speaker and the receiver), you're going to be fine. Just don't use one of the wires as positive on your speaker and then the other wire as positive on your receiver (or other similar situation). Crossing the wires is a no-no and can result in damage (or possibly fire). Keep it simple and use the same scheme for every speaker.

Determining which speaker is which is quite simple. Stand in the center of your room and look at your TV. The speaker to your front left is just that - front left. Then you have center and front right. Behind you and parallel to your front left is your rear left. Opposite that is rear right. Now you know which is which on your receiver.

Connect the Subwoofer

If you have a Y-adapter, go ahead and plug that into your sub's red and white RCA inputs. Then plug a subwoofer cable or an RCA cable (if you have a red and white pair, just select either the red or white and let the other cable dangle) into the Y-adapter. The other end goes into your receiver's subwoofer pre-out. Now plug the power in for your sub and you're finished with connecting the subwoofer.

If you don't have RCA inputs on your subwoofer, you might not even have a power cable for it either. That means you sub is unpowered. It will not and can not sound as impressive as a powered subwoofer. Consider upgrading your subwoofer if this is the case.

Either way, if you don't have RCA jacks (or your receiver doesn't have a subwoofer pre-out), you've got to connect the sub a bit differently. You'll notice some speaker wire jacks on your subwoofer. There should be four pairs of them (two inputs, two outputs). What you have to do is run your front left and front right speaker cable into the left and right speaker ouputs on the subwoofer. Yes - that means instead of running the front speakers to the receiver, they go to your subwoofer's outputs.

Next, use more speaker wire (this is where the extra comes in handy) to connect the speaker inputs on the subwoofer to the left and right speaker jacks on your receiver. Make sure you're going left to left, right to right (check the labels) and not crossing positives and negatives (remember your wiring scheme).

Once you've done that, you're all set with your subwoofer.

Connect the DVD Player and You're Finished

Now you just need to run some audio cable from your DVD player to your receiver. If you have digital coaxial or fiber optic inputs on both the receiver and DVD player, choose one of them (whichever you have a cable for) and connect the output on your DVD player to the input on your receiver. Be careful because there is most likely one or more digital coax or fiber optic outputs on your receiver as well.

If you don't have digital connections, run a pair of red and white RCA cables from the outputs on your DVD player to an input on your receiver.

That's it! Hopefully you know how to connect your DVD player's video to your TV (using composite, component, s-video, HDMI, or DVI) and have done so.

The last thing you need to do is select the input you're using on the receiver.

If you're using a digital connection, refer to your receiver's manual. You need to select which digital input you're using (usually labeled Digital 1, Digital 2, etc.). Its simple but every receiver is different. Yours might even automatically select the DVD player if it is the only digital input connected to the receiver when you turn on the DVD player.

If you're using analog (composite, red and white) connections, just select the input you used. They might be labeled Video 1, Audio 1, TV, DVD, CD, or some such similar label. The back of your receiver should tell you what input you're using.


If you followed the directions here, you're going to enjoy your fully connected surround sound system. Hopefully you've got a digital connection between your DVD player and receiver so that you're getting real surround sound. If not, consider upgrading!

>>The End!

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