Connecting a Home Theater System

If you have ever looked at the back of a home theater receiver you may have thought you just walked into a nightmare. home theater installationThere are about 50 connectors, all of which you may or may not recognize. RCA inputs, outputs, HDMI inputs and outputs, and a whole host of other connections that just make no sense. So what do you do?

You have little choice but to figure it out unless uncle Billy is available. Then again, do you really want uncle Billy in your house working on your expensive home theater system? Likely not I imagine. My house is more likely to get burnt down by uncle Billy then for my home theater receiver to be installed correctly.

Lets look at some components to see how to figure this out.


On the back of a home theater receiver you will probably find most of your connections. That is because the receiver is the brains of your system. Everything comes into and communicates with this device. home theater receiver back detail


Signal flows similar to water in a garden hose. If you think about the signal entering and exiting a unit like water it can help you visualize where the electricity is going.

  • beginning of signal flow: starts at the source such as the blu ray player
    • usually an HDMI cable connects the blu ray player output, to an HDMI input on the receiver. Pretty simple, nothing to really mess up here. Just make note of what input you used, for example HDMI input 2.
    • Most newer receivers can take the audio signal from the blu ray player and decode said incoming signal.
      • if you have special sound sets like a 7.1 channel surround sound system you would need to be aware of this
    • older DVD players, CD players etc., might only use the RCA inputs and outputs. If this is the case connect the small white and red “audio outs” from the CD player to the CD input on the receiver. The connectors will look the same on both units. But you connect the output from the player to the input on the receiver. Pretty simple here too.
  • now you need to connect the speaker outs to the speakers:
    • this is pretty straight forward: each speaker is labeled on the back of the receiver. Just connect red to positive of the speaker and black to negative. Nothing else to it really.
    • be sure the receiver you have can handle the Ohm impedance of your speakers. Some speakers are 4 Ohm or 6 Ohm and some receivers are only able to drive an 8 Ohm speaker. Driving a 4 Ohm speaker with a receiver only rated to push an 8 Ohm speaker may result in the amp to shut the receiver down or worse overheat it. home theater receiver details
  • Video connectors:
    • if you are using HDMI then this is easy. You are already done as of step one above.
    • if using component video, you will need to connect the red, blue, green outputs from the DVD player to the red, blue, green inputs on the receiver.
    • If you had to run your audio separately (not using HDMI) then you would want to use the same number as the audio connectors. For example if using audio input 2, then you need to use video input 2 as well.
  • each component is a separate source
    • CD, DVD, blu ray player, or computer, each of these are simply a source that can connect separately to the receiver. Just plug the inputs you need from the output of the source, to the input of the receiver.
    • use logic here: connect CD to the CD player for example

That’s really about it. There are other connectors, but they use the same basic logic. A source outputs a signal from its output, then goes to the input of the next component on the chain until it ends up at your speaker and your display device. Its really that simple.


Other Articles:

Return to home from connecting a home theater system

home theater connections

home theater basics