How to Hook Up an RCA Home Theater System

By Robert Vaux

RCA home theater systems are designed to provide centralized controls for all of your home theater components. This includes the TV, the DVD player, the speakers, the cable or satellite box. That means a lot of cables to hook up, but connecting them all is a lot easier than it may appear. You just need to recognize what the various cables are and where they go in each respective component. Once you know that, you can hook up your RCA home theater system quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • RCA home theater system
  • RCA cables
  • Speaker cables
  • Video component cables (optional)
  • S-video cables (optional)
  • HDMI cables (optional)
  • Component equipment: DVD player, cable box

Step 1

Check the back of the RCA home theater system for speaker cable connections. These are usually color-coded black (for the positive connection) and red (for the negative connection). Each speaker outlet should be clearly labeled, denoting which speaker (left front, right rear) each connection links up to.

Step 2

Count the number of additional components in your system and note the kind of cables they require to hook up. Most of them utilize RCA cables, which are arranged in threes and are color coded yellow (for the video signal) red and white (for the left and right audio signals). Higher-end machines may have video component cables which are similar to RCA cables, only coded red, blue and green. S-video cables have a single round socket and HDMI cables, a thin rectangular socket. All of these outlets should be labeled as such on the back of each machine.

Step 3

Find the jacks on the back of the RCA home theater system corresponding to the cables used for each component. Most RCA systems label each collection of RCA jacks by component: one will be labeled "CD" for the CD player, one will be labeled "DVD" for the DVD player, and so on.

Step 4

Connect each component of your home theater system into the appropriate jack of the home theater system. If you are using RCA cables, connect one end of the cables to the "In" jacks on the RCA designated for the respective component and the other end to the "Out" jacks on the components themselves. Other types of cables should be self-explanatory: there should only be one set of jacks fitting them on each component.

Step 5

Connect the wiring from the speakers into their respective jacks on the back of the RCA system, making sure that the bare wire on the end is in contact with the housing on the jack. Arrange the speakers in their appropriate locations. Front speakers by the TV and rear speakers behind the sitting area.

Step 6

Link the "Out" jacks on the RCA system to the "In" jacks on the TV, using the appropriate cables.

Step 7

Connect the cable or antenna coaxial cable to the coaxial "In" jack on the RCA home theater system. Coaxial jacks are round and have a little pinhole inside of a milky white plastic center; RCA models typically label them "In" or "In From Antenna."

Step 8

Plug in all of the respective components and turn them on. Access each component by pressing the appropriate button on the front of the RCA receiver. For instance, to play a DVD, press the "DVD" button on the front. Some RCA stereo systems don't have buttons specific to each component, but instead have a button labeled "Source" or "Component." By pushing it repeatedly, you can cycle through the different components hooked up to your system.

Tips & Warnings

  • RCA home theater systems vary by individual model. Consult your instruction manual for the specifics of yours.
  • It's very important to match the correct component up with the labeled jack on the RCA system. Otherwise, the RCA will give you the incorrect information on its display. Hooking the DVD player up to the CD jacks for example, still allows you to play the DVD player but you'll have to push the CD button or activate the CD setting to do so.