How to Hook Up Digital Cable to Surround Sound

By Joe Fletcher

Hooking your cable box up to surround sound is easy to do and merely requires purchasing the correct cable to connect with. There are three options that you'll need to decide between based upon the connections that you have available: HDMI, optical and digital coaxial.

Things You'll Need

  • Home theater receiver
  • Surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Digital audio cable
  • Speaker cable

Step 1

Check your cable box for the type of output(s) available. You're looking specifically for a digital connection. If you don't have a digital connection, you won't be getting true surround sound. HDMI is the best option and the only one that supports 7.1 surround sound. Optical and coaxial are comparable and will support 5.1 formats.

Step 2

Compare the output that you found with the input on your home theater receiver. Hopefully, you'll have a matching input to use. If not, certain adapters are available, such as coaxial to optical, that will enable you to connect.

Step 3

Purchase the necessary cable and/or adapter. An HDMI cable will require two cables: one for video and one for audio.

Step 4

Shut the components off. Plug one end of the cable into the output on the cable box and one end into the input on your receiver. When using HDMI, run the second HDMI cable from the receiver's output to the television's input to direct the video to the TV.

Step 5

Switch the receiver to the designated input, turn on your television and test out your system.

Tips & Warnings

  • Not every channel or program is available in surround sound. Check with your provider to determine the schedule. You can connect using an analog connection if that's all that's available. However, you won't get the individual channels and will experience a two-channel signal that's been split up to five surrounds.