How to Connect an iPhone to Home Surround Sound
By James T Wood
The tiny speaker on your iPhone is no substitute for the massive sound of your home's surround sound setup. Cables, wireless connections and even dedicated devices can get the audio and video from your iPhone to your home theater system so you can enjoy the full surround sound effect for all your iPhone's content.
The simplest way to get the audio from your iPhone to your surround sound system is by running a line out from your iPhone's headphone jack and into the input on your surround sound receiver. The headphone uses a 3.5mm tip-ring-sleeve plug that allows for the transmission of stereo audio. It can be run into another 3.5mm input on a surround sound receiver or the larger 7mm jack, using an adapter. If you don't have those inputs, you can use a simple adapter to convert the 3.5mm to the RCA connection -- the kind with one red and one white plug -- which is standard for nearly all surround sound receivers. This will only provide a stereo connection, so you won't get the fullest sound out of all your surround sound speakers.
Rock the Cradle
Docks and cradles for the iPhone use the data connection on the bottom of the phone to both charge it and send the sound out. Cradles can output to 3.5mm or RCA just like the headphone jack, but you can also find cradles that output to HDMI, which allows both audio and video to be sent to your surround sound system and lets you send audio encoded for surround sound speakers.
If your surround sound system has a Bluetooth receiver you can wirelessly connect your iPhone to the speakers. Bluetooth audio is only encoded in stereo so you're dealing with the same limitations as using the headphone jack, but you won't have to plug in your iPhone while you listen to music on your home theater system. The Bluetooth connection distance is about thirty feet. Using Bluetooth can also run your iPhone's battery down more quickly since it's using another radio to transmit and receive information.
AirPlay on Apple TV
If you've got both audio and video on your iPhone and you want it all in glorious surround sound, then the Apple TV is likely the best choice. It connects to your surround sound receiver with an HDMI cable so it can pass through Dolby 5.1 surround sound in addition to any video you might be playing. It will work with any device that can use the AirPlay specification, so your iPods, iPads and Mac computers will also be able to put audio and video through your home theater. The Apple TV does require an Internet connection to work -- either Wi-Fi or Ethernet -- which the other methods of connecting your iPhone to your home surround sound system do not.
James T Wood is a teacher, blogger and author. Since 2009 he has published two books and numerous articles, both online and in print. His work experience has spanned the computer world, from sales and support to training and repair. He is also an accomplished public speaker and PowerPoint presenter.