Home How To Set Up A Home Theater System For Beginners: Part III

How To Set Up A Home Theater System For Beginners: Part III

by Stuart Charles Black
How To Set Up A Home Theater System For Beginners

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Table Of Contents

Part I: Introduction & The Receiver Conundrum

Part II: Your Source, Speakers, and Vinyl 101

Part III: Questions To Ask Yourself, the A/V Receiver, & Parts List (You Are Here)

Part IV: Putting It All Together

Step 3

Determine Every Type of Connection You Could Possibly Want.

This is probably THE single most important step and will save you a ton of headaches later when you inevitably get bombarded by the thousands of receivers that are out there.

I wanted flexibility out of my setup, and I’m sure you probably feel the same way.

Before you do anything, I would suggest that you NOT go researching receivers right away. It will only confuse the h** out of you.

Instead, ask yourself some basic questions:

What will I be connecting this receiver to?

Determine how you want to listen to music, and whatever else you’d like to do.

For me, it came down to 5 things:

  1. Game/Netflix. I wanted to game and watch Netflix through speakers, therefore I needed the PS4 to connect to the Receiver in a couple of different ways.
  2. Records. I wanted to listen to vinyl, therefore I needed my turntable to connect to the Receiver in some way.
  3. Wireless. I wanted to listen to music through my phone, therefore I needed the Receiver to support Bluetooth.
  4. Stereo. I wanted to listen to CDs, therefore I needed my old Panasonic stereo to connect to the receiver in some way.
  5. Versatility. I wanted the flexibility of being able to mix and match speakers down the road, therefore I needed the Receiver to support at least 7.1 (7 speakers + a sub) and/or 5.1 (5 speakers + a sub).

Fortunately for me, my friend Luke Wagoner had a receiver that checked all of these boxes, and he was trying to sell it.

LOL. What are the odds?!

So just determine what sorts of inputs and outputs you need, and then find a receiver that fits that criteria.

Let’s take a deeper look at my receiver and how it connects to various different pieces of gear in my humble home entertainment apartment living room set up that I try not to bother the neighbors with because it supports 5.1 and can get sort of loud if you turn up the volume too high and stuff. *Deep Breath* XD

The Audio Visual Receiver

Remember how we talked about A/V earlier?

This is the type of receiver that you will need if you plan to actually watch anything on the T.V. LOL.

Stereo Receivers are only meant for listening.

So because I have a PS4 and plan to watch Netflix and chill dog, I needed one that supports both HDMI In, and HDMI Out.

Most of these have multiple inputs and maybe one or 2 outputs.

This is because unless you have 8 sets of eyes, you’re only connecting (outputting) the receiver to one source visually. (i.e. your T.V.)

The Receiver that Luke sold me was the Onkyo TX-NR 626. This puppy has 6 HDMI Inputs and 2 Outputs.

On the back, they are clearly labeled. I used the GAME input because I’m using a PS4. It’s simple to remember when I’m using the remote, but you can also customize this to say anything you want.

How To Set Up A Home Theater System For Beginners

So before we get too far off the beaten path and I start to ramble like an idiot, let’s take the receiver I have and walk you through the setup process.

Step 4

Gathering Materials

So let’s say you’ve found a receiver similar to mine. There are a few basic components we’ll need to get everything going.

Parts List

The Source

How To Set Up A Home Theater System For Beginners

PS4, Xbox One, Dish Hopper, Roku, etc. We discussed this before.

The cool thing about the PS4 is that you can connect a Headphone Amp/DAC like the Creative G6 right into a USB slot on the front if you want to listen through headphones some nights instead, like me.

You can also listen that way via a 1/4″ jack on the receiver, but I prefer the Amp/DAC as the output impedance is more predictable across various headphone impedance loads.

The Receiver

with Bluetooth capability. We just discussed this.

Your T.V.

I assume you have one of these, and that it supports HDMI. I still have my 42″ Vizio from 2008, and it still works like a charm!

Passive Speakers

The great thing about the 5.1/7.1 setup is that you can start small. Right now I have a pair of Andrew Jones Pioneer Bookshelf homies for the left and right channels, but you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

My friend Luke also sold me these alongside the receiver.

He’s got the back surrounds as well as the center speaker too!

I can either purchase those from him or research other options. Keep in mind the subwoofer too!

Make no mistake: these things may look cheap but they really pack a wallop!

An Optical Cable

This will connect from your PS4 to the Receiver as mentioned earlier, taking care of sound.

2 HDMI Cables

One of these runs from your PS4 into an input on your receiver.

The other runs from an output on the receiver into your T.V., taking care of the picture.

Speaker Wire, Wire strippers, scissors

If your wire is already stripped, you’re fine. I will be doing a little tutorial on stripping as well down below, so stay tuned! 😉

A Turntable


CD Player


Your phone + Spotify or Tidal


A Headphone Amplifier/DAC

like the Creative G6 when you want to listen through headphones – Optional.

Now that we’ve got all of our components, let’s get to work!


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