How to connect a set top box to a surround sound system

Written by joe fletcher
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Simply put, a set top box is a device that receives and decodes a programming signal for playing on a television. In the age of wireless Internet and video streaming, set top boxes are becoming more and more prevalent in home entertainment systems. These digital media players allow users to stream Internet content like movies and videos to watch on TV. Connecting a set top box to a home theatre is simply a matter of finding the proper connection and getting the right cable.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Digital audio cable

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  1. 1

    Find a digital output on the set top box. Every model is designed a bit differently and connections will vary. A digital connection will enable you to enjoy surround sound formats. The options are HDMI, digital coax and optical. Connections are usually located on the back of the box.

  2. 2

    Verify that your home theatre receiver has an open input connection that is the same type as the output on the set top box. For instance, if you found a digital coax output, make sure that your receiver has an available digital coax input. For HDMI, you will need both an HDMI input and an HDMI output on the home theatre receiver.

  3. 3

    Locate or buy the right cable for the type of connection that you've decided on. For HDMI, you will need two HDMI cables, one for video and one for audio.

  4. 4

    Shut off all your electronics. Connect the cable to the digital output on your set top box.

  5. 5

    Pull out your receiver so that you have access to the inputs on back. Connect the other end of the cable to the input on the receiver.

  6. 6

    For HDMI, connect your second cable to the HDMI output on the home theatre receiver. Run it to the HDMI input on your television. In this way, the audio will be routed to the home theatre receiver and the video will pass through to the television.

  7. 7

    Connect with analogue cables. Some set top boxes may not have a digital output. You won't be able to enjoy true surround sound formats without a digital connection, but you can use your home theatre receiver to recreate a surround experience. Analogue connections feature a left and a right output and require two RCA cables. Connect the colour-coded cables from the outputs on the box to the analogue inputs on the home theatre receiver.

  8. 8

    Turn on your receiver, the set top box and television. Change the receiver to the proper selection for the input that you used to connect the set top box. In other words, if the input was labelled "Aux", select "Aux" from the home theatre receiver's menu.

Tips and warnings

  • When using coax or optical connection, you'll have to connect the video separately. You can connect directly from the video output to the television.

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