How to connect surround sound speakers to my tv

Written by jackie lohrey
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Adding surround sound to your TV will change your TV viewing experience. Small bits of sound once undetectable now become the exclamation marks of rich and full-bodied sound. Connecting surround sound speakers to a TV is not a difficult project, but does require some planning and the correct materials to get the most out of your listening experience. The best way to connect surround sound speakers is by using a surround sound receiver, which corrects the decoding between the TV and the speakers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy



  1. 1

    Determine where you are going to place the speakers. While surround sound speaker systems can have numerous satellite speakers, a set of five is sufficient to produce a good quality sound. A usual combination consists of a central speaker, two front speakers, a rear speaker and a subwoofer connected to a surround sound receiver.

  2. 2

    Place the central speaker closest to your television. Place the two front speakers an equal distance from the central speaker and your normal listening position to create an equilateral triangle. For example, if your TV is sits six feet from the sofa and the central speaker sits on a shelf below the TV, place each front speaker six feet from the central speaker. Place the rear speaker directly behind your listening position. The subwoofer can go anywhere but to achieve a better bass sound place the subwoofer in a corner in the front of the room.

  3. 3

    Determine how much cable your system will require by running a string from each speaker to the receiver exactly as the cable will run. Consider doorways and turns and allow some slack in the cable line. Measure the string. Make a shopping list containing the speaker, length and gauge so you know what to purchase and do not become confused about what you are buying for which speaker.

  4. 4

    Connect the speaker cables, working with one speaker at a time. Connect one end of a cable to each speaker and to the appropriate speaker output jack on the surround sound receiver. Then connect the receiver to the appropriate output jack on your TV.

  5. 5

    Test the surround sound system. If you are not getting the sound you expected, check to make sure all cable connections are tight and that your cable is not twisted.

Tips and warnings

  • Wall placement will produce better sound. If you cannot wall mount your speakers, place them on a tall stand.
  • Most speaker cable is "paintable," so if you are running wire along the floor you can disguise it by painting it to match the wall or baseboard.
  • If speaker cables come with your system, consider upgrading because the cable included as part of your purchase may not be of the highest quality and may affect your listening experience. An important consideration is the gauge, or thickness, of the cable. Speaker cable is generally available in thicknesses from 12-gauge (highest) to 16-gauge (lowest). A good rule to follow is the longer the cable, the higher the gauge:
  • If the distance from the speaker to the receiver is less than 80 feet, use 16-gauge cable.
  • If the distance from the speaker to the receiver is between 80 and 200 feet, use 14-gauge cable.
  • If the distance from the speaker to the receiver is more than 200 feet, use 12-gauge cable.
  • Subwoofers usually connect using a standard coaxial cable instead of speaker wire.
  • Make sure power to the TV and receiver is off while you are setting up the connections.

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