The Best Ways to Connect an iPhone to a Home Theater System

By Jacob Andrew

Portable FM transmitters also work on the iPod touch and iPad.
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The iPhone enables two different ways to connect to home theater systems -- the headphone jack and the rectangular dock jack. Connecting to a home theater system and getting the best quality depends on which connectors you choose and how your home theater is set up. Once connected, you can play music and movies from the iPhone through the home theater system.

Audio Only

When connecting the iPhone solely to play music files, multiple options are available. The simplest requires purchasing a 3.5-mm-to-RCA cable, which connects the headphone jack on your iPhone to any available RCA stereo connection on your home theater. You could also plug a standard 3.5 mm audio cable into the iPhone's headphone jack and plug the other end into a 3.5 mm auxiliary input jack on the receiver, if it has one. The headphone connection produces only analog signals. The dock jack outputs pure digital audio. To connect this jack to a receiver, you must purchase a dock compatible with your receiver.

Video and Audio

Playing movies from your iPhone through your TV can be somewhat more challenging. You can't use the headphone jack, as it doesn't transmit video. One option is to use a third-party docking station to output the video signal from your iPhone to a three-cable RCA connection and then plug the RCA cables into the receiver. If your primary goal is to play movies purchased through your iPhone, consider a set-top box to act as a intermediary between your home theater and iPhone. The Apple TV connects to your home theater system through HDMI. The iPhone then connects through the Apple TV. The Apple TV can log directly into a video service, such as iTunes, eliminating the need for an iPhone altogether. Apple TV is the only streaming box enabling the iPhone to stream content to a home theater receiver.