If there is one subject that is widely read and about which many questions are asked, it is the connection of equipment. What are the best ways to connect your home cinema set or soundbar? Which cables can you use best? And, how do you connect multiple devices to each other? In this blog, we will discuss the most important cables, connections and ways to connect your home theater system or soundbar.
Connect guidelines to home theater or soundbar
There are so many different devices for sale, from televisions and blu-ray players to audio video installation and set-top boxes. For this reason, it is impossible for each device and any combination of devices to put the correct connection method and the right cables together. Yet we can give you a general direction, with tips on the best cables, the easiest connections, and the most common combinations. If you still can not figure it out, ask your question in our question and answer section.
Before you start
Before you start connecting things, you probably already have a hundred questions about the type of cables, the order, and the operation. It is therefore wise to make a clear overview of the devices you want to connect and what connection options these devices have before you start. If you have mapped these connections you can also quickly and easily match them. Also look for one central point, also called a hub. This can be a TV, a home cinema set, a sound bar or a TV. This is the point where all (or most) components come together. Take, for example, a home cinema set with three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. Connect your components (players, decoders, etc.) to those inputs and have the image sent to the TV via the HDMI output. One hub gives you an overview and also makes adjustments easier.
If you still purchase equipment, make sure you also make an overview of the connections you need. For example, if you have five devices that need to be connected via HDMI, buy a receiver, a home theater set or a TV installation with at least five inputs. This saves you a headache later about connecting your system. The same applies to other connections, such as RCA ports, optical and digital coaxial inputs and outputs.
Digital is preferred
The very first tip is actually quite simple; if something can be digitally connected, then connect it digitally. Digital is always preferred (unless you are a hi-fi enthusiast who hears the difference with analog) because it is less susceptible to interference and is also compatible with the latest audio formats. And when we talk about digital, HDMI always prefers optical (Toslink) and digital coaxial. The main reason for this is that HDMI transmits both image and sound, while optical and coaxial digital only transmit sound. In addition, HDMI offers a larger bandwidth, allowing the latest surround formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X to be transmitted.
Everything depends of course on the devices you have and what connections you have on these devices, but if there are HDMI ports available, use them. If these are not there, first look at optical and digital coaxial output inputs. If these are not there or you can not match the sender and receiver, you will look at the known and analog tulip connections.
Receiver, soundbar or home cinema set as a hub
I have briefly mentioned above but always look for a hub, the central place where the components are connected. We always prefer a receiver, a home cinema set or a soundbar, provided that they have enough inputs to store all your components. Here, too, you first look at the digital possibilities, preferably HDMI. All components are connected to this. The home theater set, soundbar or receiver is then connected to the TV using one (HDMI) cable, while the soundbar, set or receiver simultaneously provides the audio output. On the receiver, soundbar or set you can then select the desired input so that the right image is displayed on the TV and the corresponding audio sounds over the speakers.
Can not you lose everything on the receiver, soundbar or home theater set? Then use the TV as a second hub. For example, connect a media box or console to the TV (preferably via HDMI but otherwise via a digital cable). If you have a TV and a receiver, sound bar or home cinema set with HDMI arc (about which more below), the audio of the connected device is automatically returned via the HDMI cable to the first hub (soundbar, receiver or set) So you have sound through the speakers of your system and image on your TV. Offer the TV and first hub not support HDMI arc, connect an audio cable directly to the TV to devices connected to the receiver or soundbar home theater set.
Sound TV channels over speakers
What many people often run into is the sound of the TV via the speakers of the receiver, the soundbar or the home cinema set. If you have connected everything as described above, via one central hub, you automatically get that sound over your speakers when the decoder or set-top box is switched on and you select the correct input on the hub. But, if you watch analog TV or have the decoder or set-top box connected directly to the TV, you only get the sound on TV. You can put an extra audio cable between the decoder, set-top box or TV, and the hub, but HDMI arc is the best solution.
HDMI arc (Audio Return Channel) is a function that requires both the TV and the receiver, soundbar or home theater set and makes it possible to return sound from the TV itself (its own tuner and its own content) via the HDMI cable. Also image and audio come through. In short, you do not have to lay extra cables. Read more about HDMI Audio Return Channel.
Pay attention; HDMI arc is a standard that can often cause problems and does not work the same on every device. If your sound from analog channels or sound from apps within the smart TV platform of your TV is not heard through HDMI arc, use an audio cable between the TV and the central hub. Here, too, applies again; digital is preferred.
Devices without HDMI
You may still have devices that do not have an HDMI port. So you can not use the central hub to receive audio and video so that the audio is then transmitted to the TV via the speakers and the image via the HDMI cable. If you want the audio of these devices to run over your speakers and the image via your TV, then it is best to connect the TV for the image and to put an audio cable to the hub for the sound. You can also choose to transfer audio and video to the TV and then send the audio via the TV to the hub via HDMI or a separate audio cable. If you want audio and video through the TV, use for example a SCART cable between the device and the TV.
If you have too few HDMI inputs on your home cinema set, soundbar or receiver, you will have to make choices. Which source do you view the most? Or, at which source is a high quality (surround) audio quality important? This source is then connected via HDMI. The other sources can be connected directly to your TV (for the image via HDMI of course). Then you go from the device with an audio cable to the hub or via the TV and HDMI arc or an audio cable to the hub.
Connecting equipment to your home theater system requires some preparation. So make clear for yourself which devices you have and which connections are available. There is, unfortunately, no set-up for an unambiguous conclusion, except that digital is (almost) always preferred and that you have to know in advance what you want and need. For the rest, your situation can deviate from what is ‘standard’ due to the choice of certain products, but with the above information, you can start at any rate. If you still can not figure it out, ask your question below or ask your question in our phone number 323-332-6781.
For the better cables, we refer you to our partner RU Connected.