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How to Connect a Cable Box and an AV Receiver to HDTV

by Matt Skaggs

A home-theater setup can be a lot of fun, especially if you have a high-definition television. But getting your cable TV and audio system working properly can be confusing. Setting up a cable box to connect to your TV requires a few steps and gets you ready for cable TV. Setting up a connection to your AV receiver takes a few more steps and gets you ready to use your own speakers, whether you're watching cable or anything else.

Cable Box

Step 1

Identify the proper input to use on your TV and the proper output to use on your cable box. The input and output ports should appear identical on both devices. The most common option is coaxial, which on the TV is often labeled "Cable," "Coaxial" or "Aux." If you have high-definition cable service, you should use the component or HDMI ports. Component ports will be colored to match the plugs' colors.

Step 2

Plug the proper cord into the cable box with both the box and the TV turned off. If you use a coaxial cable, you will need to screw it into the port to secure it; other cable types plug in. If you use component cable, plug in each connector to the port that matches its color; there should be either three or five connectors. (Three are for video; two are for audio.) If you use HDMI, there is a single plug to use on the cable box and on your TV.

Step 3

Plug in the audio connections, if applicable. This only applies if you use component and only plugged in three connectors in Step 2; the other listed setups have the audio ready to go. On both the cable box and the TV, you should use the audio ports grouped with the video ports you have already used. The audio plugs should be colored red and white, and the colors correspond to the audio connectors.

Plug the cord into your TV. If you use a component connection, there will be five plugs. If you use a coaxial cable, plug and screw the cord into the correct circular port.

AV Receiver

Step 1

Identify the proper audio connections. You will use the audio output on your TV and the audio input on your AV receiver, and the input and outputs should look identical. Common types include RCA (also called "composite") and digital optical. There will probably be several similar or identical input options for the receiver; you can use any of them, though the simplest choice is the one labeled for use with a TV.

Step 2

Plug in the audio cord to the AV receiver input and the TV output. You can plug in either end of the cord(s) in any order. You should do this with the devices turned off.

Step 3

Turn on the AV receiver and select the correct audio input using the buttons or the receiver's remote. The correct input should match the label by the input into which you plugged the cords, probably "TV."

Turn off the TV speakers using the TV's menu system. This is optional, but many people prefer to use the AV speakers alone. Refer to your TV's User's Manual for specifics.

Tip

  • If you want to use surround sound with the AV receiver speakers, you might have to connect the receiver directly to the cable box rather than the TV, especially if you use a component video setup. If you are plugging both the cable box and the AV receiver into the TV, you might only be able to use stereo sound. Refer to your TV User's Manual for details.

Items you will need

  • A/V cable (coaxial, HDMI or component)
  • Audio cable (RCA or digital optical)

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