How to Hook Up Surround Sound From Your TV

By Joe Fletcher

With all the money television manufacturers put into providing that crisp, vivid picture, one would think that they'd put a little more thought and money into a decent set of speakers. Alas, that's not generally the case, and today's television speakers are just begging to be replaced with a surround sound system. There are two primary ways you can connect surround sound to a TV, and they both involve purchasing new equipment: wireless systems and home theater receiver-based systems.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital audio cable
  • Speaker cable
  • Wire stripper

Step 1

Decide on the system you'd like. As nice as it would be to connect your surround speakers directly to the TV and save some money, this simply isn't going to happen. A TV doesn't have a sufficient amplifier to drive your speakers or the necessary connections. A home theater receiver is the best option and will give you the most accurate sound. On the other hand, a home theater receiver and surround speakers can be expensive and difficult to set up as well as imposing on the room they're in. A wireless system is much easier to hook up, can be quite inexpensive and isn't quite as much of an eyesore as speaker cable running in every direction.

Step 2

Connect your TV to your audio processor. If you are using a home theater receiver, connect the TV to it using digital cable such as coaxial or optical. Be sure that you connect the TV's audio output to the receiver's audio input, marked "TV" or "Cable." If you are going wireless, connect the wireless transmitter in the same manner, using a compatible cable, preferably digital.

Step 3

Connect the speakers. The audio originates in the TV, travels to the receiver or transmitter where it is processed, and then travels to the speakers. In a wireless system, the audio signal travels through the air and is picked up by wireless receivers built into the speakers. All you need to do is set the speakers up in an appropriate place and plug them into the electrical outlet. In a wired system, the audio travels via speaker cables, which must be individually connected to each speaker. Speaker cable has two strands, a positive and a negative. The receiver has a positive and negative output for each speaker, and each speaker has a positive and negative input terminal. Connect terminals of the same polarity from the appropriate receiver output to the appropriate speaker terminal. Repeat for both terminals of each speaker.

Step 4

If you're using a subwoofer, connect it to the receiver using an RCA connection from your "LFE" or "Sub" out jack.

Step 5

Plug all components in and turn them on. If you have a wireless system, turn on both the wireless transmitter and receiver. If you're using a wired home theater receiver, switch it to the TV input and adjust the settings and you're ready for surround sound. Check for programming that is broadcast in surround sound and switch your receiver to the appropriate format, such as Dolby 5.1.

Tips & Warnings

  • All devices should be off when connecting cables.