How to hook up s/pdif to a surround sound system

Written by gary huff
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How to hook up s/pdif to a surround sound system
(sound system image by Pavel Losevsky from

S/PDIF is an ideal way to transfer the encoded surround sound audio information from an audio file or movie to a surround sound system, provided that the receiver has the necessary hardware to decode the audio. S/PDIF cables come in two varieties, coaxial and optical; and while you should check to make sure that the receiver has the appropriate port for what you'll be using, the connection method is identical. You can set up an S/PDIF connection from either your TV and/or DVD player or your PC.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 3.5mm coaxial adaptor (PC connections)

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    Hooking Up S/PDIF From Your TV/DVD Player

  1. 1

    Connect one end of the S/PDIF cable to the appropriate jack on the back of the TV or DVD player. Most TVs come with optical S/PDIF connections only while a typical DVD player will have both coaxial and optical connections.

  2. 2

    Connect the other end of the S/PDIF cable to the matching port on the surround sound system.

  3. 3

    Play the audio from your TV or DVD player. Make sure that the S/PDIF cable is correctly interfacing with your receiver. At this point you don't need to worry about whether or not there is surround sound encoded in the programming as S/PDIF will send audio of any type to the receiver.

  4. 4

    Select a surround audio source on your TV/DVD player. If the receiver is capable of decoding the surround sound information, you should see the display light up with the appropriate codec logo, usually either Dolby Digital or DTS. Your surround sound system is now properly receiving and decoding the surround sound information being transmitted to it over S/PDIF.

    Hooking Up S/PDIF From Your Computer

  1. 1

    Determine what kind of S/PDIF jack your PC uses. Some motherboards have typical coaxial or optical jacks built in. Others require you to use a coaxial connection with an additional 3.5mm adaptor to plug into one of the audio ports on the back.

  2. 2

    Insert the S/PDIF cable into the appropriate jack on the back of your computer, using the 3.5mm adaptor if required.

  3. 3

    Connect the opposite end of the S/PDIF cable into the correct port on the back of the surround sound system.

  4. 4

    Set your PC's audio to output in S/PDIF. Most PC audio hardware can decode surround sound information, but you'll need to send the coded surround sound information straight to your receiver.

  5. 5

    Play an audio file from your computer to verify the connection. Once you've confirmed that sound is being routed through your system, play a movie or audio file that has encoded surround sound information and watch for the appropriate logo to light up on the receiver. If it does, you have successfully set up your PC to transmit surround sound information to your system.

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