Home theater wiring can be a confusing business. Understanding all the cables we need for our audio visual equipment these days can be a difficult thing.
There seem to be so many connectors on the back of a new flat screen TV that it can be hard to know where to start - and that's saying nothing about the back of that AV receiver you've just taken out of the box!
Well, you're right, it can be a bit complicated - but that doesn't mean you can't do it yourself.
Of course, if you're planning a large system that involves structural alterations then you may want to consider hiring a professional home theater installer or cabling installers - however, for many of us we just need to spend some time planning how we are going to connect our system together and we are good to go.
The best place to start is by learning to identify the different home theater cables and connections that we will come across - and then understanding what they are for and which are the best ones to use. We will then have a better idea of which audio and video cable we need.
The terminology used when we are connecting our system together can also be confusing.
Technically speaking, anything that joins two audio-visual devices is usually called an interconnect (from the DVD player to the amplifier for example), and the connection that sends the audio from the amplifier to the speaker is called a cable or wire. However, in home theater wiring discussions these terms are often used quite loosely and the term cable or wire is often used for all types of connections.
So here are details of the most common video and audio cables. Follow the links for more information on each type.
The new standard for connecting modern audio-visual devices. For more details go to the HDMI connector guide.
A component video cable is used to transfer high-quality analog images over a component connection.
A composite video signal is a basic video connection found in most playback devices and video products.
The VGA connector is an analog video connection widely used on computers and laptops - but also found on AV equipment.
Coaxial digital audio is a popular method for sending digital audio signals between devices.
It's all very well identifying all the different cables and connections that we will come across, but we still have to decide which ones to use.
Even though this sounds like an easy process, it isn't unusual to have a choice of a few different connections to send the sound and picture between our devices, and some will give better results than others. So which are the best ones to use, and why should we choose one particular connection type over another?
In the guide to home theater connections, we discuss these issues and look in more detail at the choices we have when connecting our system together.
There are a range of things to consider when we are wiring our home theater system.
Once we have decided on the best connection type and cables to use, then we still have to tackle the potentially tricky task of actually plugging everything in.
We can find ourselves in a right tangle (literally!) if we start frantically connecting our system together without giving it proper thought and consideration.
Therefore, if you want some general information on installing your system and connecting your devices, then you can go here for some home theater wiring installation advice and tips.
Home theater wiring is a part of the installation process that is easy to take for granted.
However, it is not as simple as it may seem as there is such a wide variety of cables and connections that we need to consider.
It is important that we don't just take the first cable that we find and use this to connect our devices, as by doing this we may stop our equipment from performing at its best.
The best thing is to just take a little time to plan how we are going to connect our system, and by doing this we will make sure we won't hold back on the performance of our home theater setup.
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.