How to Hook Up a Home Theater System.

While looking at how to hook up a home entertainment system we will be discussing what components makeup a good home entertainment system. What is the source of the signal coming into your receiver? What is the best surround sound system? What is a sound bar? What’s the best speaker for home theater? What is the best speaker wire for home theater. What is optical toslink cable? What is the best length of HDMI cable? All these are questions that need to be answered when looking into a good home theater system. Also, price is always top of mind as you want the best system you can get within your budget.

Firestick, Android, Google, Cable TV or Gaming Device

The first question is what do I connect all my incoming devices too? No matter what your video and sound input are coming from, an Amazon firestick, an Android TV box, your local cable company box a gaming device or blue ray player always connect these devices directly to your receiver. Your receiver has the connections and controls for multiple inputs and switching between all these devices. Switching is one of the primary functions of a receiver. Another big reason is added delay, every time you add something to the signal chain you get delay in the audio. So by connecting directly to the receiver you allow it to automatically handle decoding the lip-sinking and avoid delay. Your video then connects to your projector from your receiver through a HDMI cable for a no lag signal. HDMI cables carry large amounts of data faster than any other method. There are wireless senders and receivers that work through the HDMI out port of your receiver, but the HDMI cable is the fastest and most reliable option for sending the video signal without lag between the video and the sound. I had a toslink optical line connecting my 3d DVD player to my receiver when I had the DLP TV.  HDMI is faster and can transfer higher resolution audio.

Soundbar or Surround Sound 5.1 or 7.1

A soundbar is a speaker array inside a bar which can include a woofer within the bar or a separate woofer or subwoofer. Soundbars can produce a fairly realistic surround sound by sending waves or beams of sound that bounce off the walls to create the surround sound effect. They work best in small rooms and a good quality soundbar from a major manufacturer can be inexpensive. They can be hooked directly to your input device and eliminate the expense of a separate receiver and speakers. They however do not compare to the sound of a real 5.1 or 7.1 receiver and speaker setup. Polk Audio, pictured here, makes a sound bar, Klipsch makes a very good sound bar and Bose also makes a highly rated sound bar. These manufacturers tell you on their own websites that a soundbar is best in a smaller room and does not match a receiver and speakers if you are looking for quality surround sound and your budget allows for such a purchase.

Here we answer the question about a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker array for the best quality surround sound. A surround sound system consists of a receiver either 5.1 or 7.1 and the speaker array a center speaker that carries voice. A left and right front speaker and a left and right rear speaker, hence a 5.1 system. Most add a powered subwoofer for that booming bass effect. Bass is omnidirectional and therefor fills in the front and rear with bass. A 7.1 system adds 2 speakers in between the front and rear speakers. Increasing the number of speakers enriches the surround sound experience and will increase the cost. As a general rule, I do not recommend mixing and matching different brands of speakers in a surround sound system.  You can buy  systems in a box from many manufacturers, some even come with receivers and are a complete matched system.

I have always used 14 gauge copper wire for my speaker connections, you can install banana plugs on this wire for easy hook ups or put stripped wire into your receiver and speakers. Lamp wire is copper wire and conducts electricity more efficiently than say aluminum wire which most inexpensive speaker wire is made from. Silver wire has more conductive properties and interacts with impedance differently, It more accurately reproduces the source signal, however it is a precious metal and is very expensive. You can find and buy many more expensive wire choices but, there is no evidence that these more expensive wire choices offer any better performance.

Receivers and Connecting Them to Your Projector

The best overall AV receivers are now 9.2 surround sound with a very high price tag. The Marantz NR1510 is an example of one of these sporting 50 watts into 8 ohms per channel with THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) of 0.08%. It supports an 4K video signal and is a killer AVR that delivers everything a true movie and music lover could want. The NAD T 778 is an audiophile winner at 140 watts per channel 2 channels driven and THD of 1%. All channels driven 9X85 watts, THD at rated power 0.08%. Now let’s get into some consumer price range bests. The best overall AV receiver is the Denon AVR-S960H.  A 7.2 surround sound receiver with 90 watts per channel. One of the best budget AV receivers is the Sony STR-DH590. A beginner model with 4K passthrough and 5.1 surround sound with 90 watts per channel into 6 ohms. I am  using a Yamaha RX-V385. It has an advanced auto speaker calibration and up to 4K video passthrough. Yamaha receivers are a very good choice for AV and are available in a range of prices. .

As noted previously HDMI cable is the fastest way to send large amounts of data and they come in lengths of 3 feet to 100 feet. It is not recommended to run lengths over 25 feet as there will be some loss of signal over that distance. Fiber Optic HDMI cables are best for longer distances as light travels faster than electricity and there is little loss of signal. Fiber optic is the preferred cable for 4K and 8K video signals.

One final important note, do not close your AV Receiver up in an audio cabinet as receivers run hot. Too much heat build-up and your receiver can shut down if placed on a shelf without a minimum of 3 inches above the receiver, an open back and sides preferably. Also if the heat is not able to escape it will shorten a receivers life. There will be cables and wires connected to the back of the receiver and you will need to allow for room to neatly place those wires and cables. If you ever have a problem you need to troubleshoot or a component you need to swap out it will be easier to do if your cables and wires are neatly routed in the back of your receiver and you have easy access to them.

Speakers, an Extremely Important Component of Your AV System.

There are high quality name brand speakers in almost every price range. They in my mind are as important as the right projector. I personally have a pair of Martin-Logan Electrostatics, a pair of Large Advent and a pair of Small Advents, A pair of Polk Audio with a Polk Audio Center speaker and a Polk subwoofer. I also have a pair of Bose 301, and a JBL subwoofer I am a bit of a speaker buying nut and have collected these over many years.

Clarity and detail are the first thing to consider when buying a speaker. Play some music you are familiar with, take along an album or a CD of your own and listen to the sound of the instruments, do they sound natural. Do the vocals and acoustic music sound as they do when you have listened to live music. If they do the speakers are providing clear sound. For depth of sound listen to the bass, it should sound clean and crisp, listen to an upright bass playing a walking bassline, like in jazz. The bassline will alternate notes and because it is acoustic it will be a true-to-life sound. If you can clearly hear each note that is a good speaker. The dynamic range of a speaker is its contrast between quiet and loud, but it provides context to movies and music. The musical or cinematic peaks and troughs should be clear a good speaker will make ebbs in sound feel delicate. Listen for the speaker to create a vast sound field around you. If the speaker made you feel like the sound is coming from all around you then it has done a good job of imaging. When in a showroom A/B different speakers side by side. Be sure to listen if the sound from each speaker is at the same volume as the louder of the two most often sounds the best.

I already named some of the best speakers made in the list of speakers I own. I have always wanted to own a pair of Klipsch speakers and I forgot to list my B&W speakers in the beginning and they are one of the best speaker brands. Kef speakers are another very good speaker brand, also expensive. Fluance is another very good brand that is very inexpensive, a pair of Fluance speakers can be had for $102. SVS known for subwoofers also makes a premium surround speaker for $499.

In Conclusion:

I want to say I hope you enjoyed this trip through AV devices that will get you well on the road and ready to purchase the components for your home entertainment system. I am not trying to overwhelm you with statistics and specs but to give you insight that my experience over the years has taught me about purchasing and setting up your AV system. If you have any questions or suggestions please contact me. Enjoy your pursuit of the best home entertainment system for your budget and needs.  Please leave any questions, comments or suggestions below.  I’m excited to have you as part of the community! I look forward to bringing you more exciting content in the future. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions or comments.  Here at Audio Video Adventures is where you can get all the latest in Projectors, Receivers, Speakers, and accessories as well as everything else you need for the ideal home theater experience. You can purchase any of the items in this blog post by clicking on the blue highlighted text.

6 thoughts on “How to Hook Up a Home Theater System.”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a helpful and comprehensive guide on how to hook up a home entertainment system. 

    As someone who is not very tech-savvy, I really appreciated the step-by-step instructions and the inclusion of visuals that made it easier to understand. Your clear explanations of the different types of audio and video connectors, as well as how to connect each of them properly, were particularly useful for me. 

    I now feel more confident in setting up my own home entertainment system and enjoying all my favorite shows and movies in high quality. Thanks again for the great and informative post!

    Lisa Marie

    • Thank you for your comments.  I know there are a lot of sites out there full of technical data, I am not one of them.  My whole purpose is to appeal to those who are looking for common sense answers to help with finding and using the equipment neede for a good home entertainment system.


  2. Oh, this is a very helpful article Gene discussing how to hook up a home entertainment system. It was a very interesting read and I’m certain it will be useful to many folks who are browsing the web looking for tips to get their home theater and other electronics hooked up correctly.

    The tip of connecting directly to the receiver in order to avoid any audio delays is a brilliant solution that never would have dawned on me on my own but am thanful to know now.

    Does the sound come through in a richer tone by using the 14 gauge lamp wire?

    • Thicker wire presents less resistance to current flow.  It is recommende for longer wire runs, high power applications and lower impedence speaker such as 4 or 6 ohms.  I use it exclusively.  Anything that causes resistance will effect clarity and tone. 


  3. Gene,

    A great sound system is essential to your home theater system. Using Bose, Klipsch, or Denon is great and fairly easy to pair with your projection system. The quality of sound along with great cinematics make for good times.

    There may be times when you are unsure which port to plug into but following the owner’s manual will give you tips on the best practice. There may also be some videos to watch to assist with the installation process.


    • Absolutely true about manuals and videos.  I was in my post talking to someone considering a new purchase who may not have a maual.  Of course after the purchase the manual is the best method for hooking up as there are differnt specs for HDMI ports and some will not carry an optical HDMI signal which is best for your projector.  Thank you for your comment.



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