How to Set Up Surround Sound for a DIRECTV HD DVR

By Jack Gorman

So you want to add surround sound to your DirecTV HD DVR box? Depending on what types of speakers you wind up getting, this can be an expensive process, costing $1,000 or more to get what would be considered a good system. This article will teach you how to set up your home theater system so that you can plug in not only your DirecTV HD DVR, but also a DVD player, Blu-Ray player, Playstation, Xbox, VCR or whatever else you might have...and never have to change the settings on your TV to access any of them.

Things You'll Need

  • Good quality home theater receiver with at least two HDMI in ports and one HDMI out port
  • Five to seven speakers
  • One subwoofer, plus connector cables
  • Two HDMI cables (or, if your TV does not have an HDMI port on the back of it, one set of component video cables)
  • Speaker wire
  • A surge protector to plug everything into behind the TV
  • Black Sharpie

Hooking Up the Speakers

Step 1

Position the speakers where you want them around the room. For each speaker, take your bolt of speaker wire and measure out how much you'll need to get the wire from the speaker to where you've placed your receiver, then add an extra 6 feet or so. About 6 inches from the end of each wire that you've placed near the receiver, make a mark that will help you figure out which wire goes to which speaker, so you won't have to trace them back later.

Step 2

To connect the wire, strip off about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch off the end, then pull the ends apart, separating a bit of the remaining wire (maybe 6 inches down). Twist the threads of each side of the wire together. If you've purchased Monster wire, one side of the wire will have writing on it. Connect this side into the red speaker connector. Insert the other side into the black speaker connector. Complete this process for each speaker.

Step 3

Back at the receiver, complete the stripping process for each of the wires, then insert the ends into the appropriate speaker port--these should be well marked on your receiver.

Step 4

Connect your subwoofer into the back of the receiver using your subwoofer cables. Also, if your receiver has a power port on the back, plug your subwoofer into the receiver. This will allow you to shut off power to your subwoofer by simply shutting off the receiver.

Connect Your Electronics to the Receiver

Step 1

Connect one of the HDMI cables to the back of your DirecTV HDMI port. Then connect it to the back of the appropriate HDMI port on the receiver. Some receivers will require you to "assign" an HDMI port to a certain setting on the receiver, for instance, assign an HDMI port to the mode that will control your television. Check your receiver's manual for more information

Step 2

Plug in any other devices you might want to use into the back of the receiver such as a DVD player.

Step 3

If your TV has an HDMI port, connect the second HDMI wire to "Monitor Out" or "Out to TV' or something along those lines on the back of your receiver. Then connect the other end to the HDMI in port on the back of the television. If you do not have an HDMI port on your television, do the same with your component video cables, connecting them according to color code (your receiver will have a Video Out, or Monitor Out for these as well). Set the television to the appropriate mode--you will know which one as your TV should have it marked on the back. If not, check the documentation that came with your TV.

Step 4

Turn the volume on your TV all the way down; if you have sound coming from your TV speakers AND surround sound, it's apt to sound off-balance. You'll just need your home theater system now.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may not want to spend hundreds of dollars in wires, think about it this way. You've just spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on some pretty good equipment. The wires are the connectors between the equipment, essentially roads that connect one to another. Do you want a dirt path connecting your $500 receiver to your $2000 TV, or do you want a 10-lane super highway?
  • You should throughly read the documentation that comes with your receiver before hooking anything up to it. While you need not fear breaking it if you've hooked up something, you'll want to understand all the settings and ports in case something goes wrong. Often, you'll have to go back and fix something after the initial setup--be patient.