How to connect an AV receiver* may seem like a Herculean task at first glance. After all, the numerous connections on the back require a certain expertise. However, the first steps with the device are not that complicated. To get the multifunctional device up and running quickly, it’s a good idea to follow a compact guide.
Connecting the AV receiver
The AV receiver is the linchpin within a home theater. Among other things, projectors, speakers or game consoles are connected to the AV receiver. Hardware such as the Apple TV can also be connected to an AV receiver.
The heart of the home theater center bundles the auditory as well as visual signals.
At first glance, the multitude of connection options seems complicated. The right knowledge of how to connect the AV receiver helps to complete the installation quickly. Thus, the initial effort gives way in favor of pleasure. Most of the work is based on the installation of speakers.
Central position in the home theater
Short cables have a positive impact on the sound. For example, the loss of quality as a result of longer cables for the expansion of the surround system must be compensated for by a higher cross-section of the speaker cables. The closer the AV receiver is to external devices, the more positive the effect on the quality of the output signals.
First, an AV receiver should be located close to the TV. Second, speaker cables of the sound system should have appropriately thick speaker cables if they are located a few meters away.
Ensure power supply
The first step for proper connection represents the connection of an AV receiver to the mains by means of the enclosed power cable. In detail, this is a so-called Schuko plug between the device and the mains. Here you have to pay attention to the integrity of the existing cables. With a new AV receiver, the connections are most likely intact.
Positioning the loudspeakers correctly
Each loudspeaker occupies its own fixed place in the functional structure of the home theater. For example, the center speaker, as the name implies, belongs in the center of the home theater. This is located not far from the AV receiver, for example, inside the TV screen. There are two of the center speakers. One of them is on the left, while the other is on the right. The final placement of the individual speakers depends largely on the quality of the surround sound. If you have a 5.1 system, you have to position 5 speakers plus a subwoofer in the home theater.
When choosing the rear speakers, i.e. the speakers positioned in the rear area, the surround back terminals only play a role for the AV receiver 7.1, but not for the surround sound 5.1. For the AV receiver 5.1, the surround terminals serve for the rear speakers. By the way, the connections for the individual speakers are clearly declared. Thus, it is not particularly difficult to connect the respective speakers to the AV receiver.
If it’s an AV receiver 9.2 or AV receiver 11.2, there are additional connections in the back. In the case of the former, these are additional height speakers, for example. If you can no longer see exactly which cable belongs to which speaker in all the cable clutter behind the sideboard, you’ll have to get creative. It helps to use a speaker cable using the positive terminal to provoke a sound. In this way, the corresponding speaker can be acoustically located in the room.
Wiring the loudspeakers correctly
Many of the higher-end models have screwable speaker connections. It is necessary to loosen the screw connections in order to fix the ends of the speaker cables in the device. Looking at the correct polarity is essential for proper installation.
In addition, the ends must not fray. In other words, this step is subject to great care. Improper work can lead to a short circuit or permanent damage to the AV receiver in the worst case scenario.
Banana plugs help to properly connect speakers to the AV receiver. The name results from the specific appearance, specifically the color and shape. This easily eliminates the need to thread the filigree copper cables. A possible plugging and unplugging works without problems because of the improved handling. However, the resistance to be bridged increases due to the built-in connectors. In addition, the inserted strands take up more surface area within the connection for speakers than the inserted banana plug. This provides a better basis for the transmission of signals. Purely theoretically, this measure changes the quality of the signal to the negative.
In practice, this assumption proves to be less valid, because the changes due to the resistance hardly seem to be audible, as long as the plugs are properly seated in the back of the AV receiver. The thin individual wires can easily break due to their filigree. Especially with years of use, wear and tear is not uncommon when speaker cables have to be unplugged more often. Above all, setting up a spacious home theater may require more frequent plugging in and unplugging of speakers due to modifications.
If the plugging in of banana plugs is not feasible at first go, then this can be due to the built-in caps. These are located in the speaker terminals of some models ex works. They can be removed manually or with the help of a screwdriver. Finally, the subwoofer is missing, which is not connected with a classic speaker cable, but with an RCA cable. The subwoofer belongs in the Pre Out – to the audio output – on the back of the case.
The be-all and end-all of an AV receiver: the HDMI connection
When looking at the back of an AV receiver, some people might not know what to do at first because there are so many connections at once. The numerous connections all have a specific meaning. In the best case, there are numerous HDMI ports. The HDMI connections have a supporting significance. In a way, the HDMI inputs represent the linchpin of an AV receiver. The High Definition Multimedia Interface provides an interface for audio and video signals. If there are interfaces between the AV receiver and the devices to be connected, an HDMI cable can connect the two. This makes it possible to connect HDMI cable between receiver and external device. For this reason, AV receivers are not called the heart of the home theater for no reason. Thus, they receive – and via the HDMI input – signals and forward them to the required location. Thus, for example, a DVD player can pass audio signals to the speakers and video signals to the TV. Sometimes a missing HDMI connection can occur, especially with older devices.
In this case, an analog cable can provide a remedy. The use of alternative cables can possibly be accompanied by losses in quality. For example, composite video can help out here. Possible outputs on the back of the receiver are the RCA or SCART connection. The HDMI outputs are used to connect the projector and display to the AV receiver. In order to return the sound from the projector or TV set to the AV receiver, an audio return channel (ARC) is required, which is installed in more and more receivers. This measure can become necessary with various applications for streaming movies.
Connecting different devices via HDMI
In principle, it makes no difference whatsoever which external device is connected first. However, it makes sense to start with the TV, because this medium outputs the video signals of the receiver. This usually requires only a single cable, which is connected between the receiver and the TV. Likewise, speakers and recorders usually have an HDMI connection, so they can be easily connected to the AV receiver. Connecting these devices behaves similarly to connecting a TV. Ultimately, the number of HDMI interfaces limits the amount of connectable devices with HDMI connection.
Connecting speakers via the HDMI interface is not recommended. Finally, there is only a limited number of HDMI ports, even though the upper-range devices have up to 8 HDMI ports. There are also separate ports for speakers on the back of the device. These are red for the plus pole and black for the minus pole. Accordingly, the red cable belongs to the plus pole and the black cable to the minus pole. It is true that surround systems can be installed by connecting individual speakers via HDMI interfaces. Nevertheless, connecting most speakers to a 4K AV receiver is possible using a copper-based speaker cable. Instead of connecting via analog or digital cables, you should always try to run bundled sound and video signals via the HDMI cable.
Activating the automatic calibration
If available, a so-called automatic calibration helps to adjust the sound optimally. The basis for this is an integrated microphone, which, thanks to software, takes into account and calculates the conditions of the room and the distances of the individual speakers in relation to the AV receiver. It is recommended to position the microphone near the primary later seating options. Thus, the alignment ensures the optimal adjustment of the sound tailored to the user’s needs.
Relevant measurements of the automatic calibration include, for example, the reverberation time of the sound.
Depending on the manufacturer, there are integrated solutions for convenient calibration. In the case of Yamaha Yamaha YPAO provides an acoustic adjustment of the signals. In the case of Denon and Marantz, Audyssey’s MultEQ software solution takes care of the setup.
Already at the beginning, some cooling measures can be taken. Free-standing products have a lower risk of heat accumulation. The credo here is that the more air that can get to the unit, the better. Long-term enjoyment is guaranteed if you know how to connect an AV receiver. The compact guide gets five of the most central points. Moreover, depending on the needs, other steps may present themselves. For example, these include modifications and settings in the AV receiver’s menu. The potential of these settings varies from device to device and depends on personal preferences.
In addition to knowing how to properly connect an AV receiver, buying advice on an AV receiver is an equally important aspect, following which precedes installation. In addition, a holistic view of the AV receiver topic is available in the comparison overview of 10 good AV receivers, which can have a positive impact on the installation of AV receivers. Review based on product ratings and general advantages and disadvantages of the category.