Setting up external home-ent speakers - help?

I’m looking into getting some dedicated home theater speakers for my gaming set-up, but am wondering what I actually need to do to make it work.

I notice that my TV has “Video/Audio OUT” and “Variable Audio OUT” plugs - is it as simple as plugging some speakers into those jacks so that all the different audio feeds going into the TV (Xbox, cable box, Wii whatever) are output via those jacks? Or am I missing something?

Also, does anyone think this might be a good speaker solution?

Logitech Z-5450

Your TV shouldnt really be involved afaik(unless it has an HD tuner that you use) You get a receiver which everything plugs into, and some speakers.

For the 360/ps3 both use optical, so you’ll want a reciever w/ at least 2 optical ins. My cable box uses coaxial for digital sound, so I needed one of those as well. You want as many inputs as possible, really. Onkyo is a good middle of the road brand if you are shopping the under $500 range. Also, craigslist is great for this stuff, I got my nice onkyo dealie for $120 from there, and it’s only a year old, and retails for $500+. You might even want one that handles hdmi 1.3, and get the ps3’s sound out that way, but those are VERY pricey. Also I vagualy recall something about ps3’s hdmi hating it if you try to run the optical digtial sound at the same time, so that might be a problem if you want to use hdmi for video and optical out for sound.

Looking at that link, I’d say get something else, those look nice but I’ve never heard of anything good about wireless rear speakers, thre best I’ve heard of just sound ‘ok’

These things are also fucking terrible to research, as online descriptions rarely properly list inputs. Ebay / were my best resources when shopping for mine, as far info. Crutchfield has a ton of info on the stuff they sell, and ebay, usually has a rear reciever shot.

oh and dont buy expensive cables.

edit: ‘gragslist’? whatever… its friday…

Entertainment centers can be a nightmare to research and setup. Couple of addendums to Moore’s post:

  1. I wouldn’t worry about 1.3 HDMI receivers. 1.1 HDMI can handle the uncompressed audio and pass perfect audio to your speakers. 1.3 can pass the compressed audio but given that the PS3 already can decode DolbyHD the only missing link is DTS HD and it be better to wait for a firmware upgrade (or a cheaper BD player further down the line) then spend a lot on a receiver that’s not even available yet…

more to follow

You should’ve asked last week, I saw some good Black Friday deals. :-)

Like Moore said, you need a receiver and a set of speakers; or go with a home theater in a box (HTIB) package. With HTIBs, you give up the ability to customize your home theater in order to save some money and setup hassle. There are no “high-end” HTIBs AFAIK, but the best ones provide pretty good bang for the buck and it looks like you’re trying to do this on the cheap-ish side. I would look for one with a real receiver and without a prog-scan DVD player, as I’m sure you don’t need one.

The big trouble with wireless rear speakers is they’re as prone to interference as any wireless device, meaning there’s a good chance of an audible hum or the like when you use them. If do decide to go with them, get them from somewhere with a generous return policy.

When it comes to setup, you’ll want all of your audio outputs plugged directly into your receiver, rather than routing them through your TV. Look for a receiver with enough audio inputs to accommodate all your devices. Also decide if you want to use your receiver to switch video inputs as well or if you’ll hook your video sources (DVD, consoles, etc.) directly to your TV.

I have the Panasonic SA-XR57S which has a nice selection of inputs: 1 HDMI, 2 optical ditigal, 2 coaxial, 4 stereo analogs, and one 6ch alanog (and all of that is just audio). I haven’t hooked this one up yet but I have experienced the older model and I like it a lot.

For speakers I use the Athena Micra 6 Speaker System which is compact but packs a nice wallop. Check the reviews they don’t dissapoint.

Jesus, I was hoping it would be a whole lot simpler than that. Maybe next year…

I’ll give another positive shout for the Athena line of speakers… I don’t have the small cube system above, but I’ve heard a LOT of good things about them. I have an Athena full sized speaker, 6 speaker setup.

If you’re going to go with a quasi HTiB - something like that Micra series is damn nice.

Can I really not just have the TV itself act as a kind of half-ass receiver and just have it output the sound it’s receiving from whatever source output to external speakers via those Audio Out jacks?

Not really, those audio out jacks are probably traditional analog, and you’d need a digital optical or coax to get stuff like Dolby Digital, which I presume is the reason you want a home theater setup in the first place. I can’t think of any TV that has digital out for sound…

Gary if you just dont want it to be complex, theres nothing wrong with getting a decent HTIB so long as it has enough inputs. It’s a bonus if its a a real reciever (not a dvd player combo, and no proprietary speaker hookups) because then you can just buy nicer speakers later.

I have a small living room, so my onkyo thing works fine for me and its got cheap speakers. That logitech thing you linked, if you found whatever the similar version is with WIRED speakers, would probably suit you just fine for starters. Then you’ll find all the little things that bug you about it and get a ‘real’ setup in a few years.

I never had surround sound until a couple weeks ago, and it is TOTALLY worth the small amount of hassle. I’m not any type of audiophile and I’m totally shocked at what I’d been missing in ALL my games and movies.

It’s HUUUGE, easily as big of a ‘holy shit!’ upgrade as going from SDTV to HDTV, even without having super fancy equipment. Just make sure you’ve got like 2 optical and 1 coaxial input and you’ll be fine. That helps filter out total shit too, as the really really crappy stuff almost never has lots of input options.

You should REALLY REALLY get surround. Imagine someone asking you this question about buying an HDTV, and you know they have a ps3 and 360. Shopping for a couple days and running wire for a half hour is DEFINATELY worth it.

Does a HTIB receiver handle all video and audio inputs, or just audio? I already have a component video switchbox that I’m perfectly happy with.

Gary, those speakers are very fine for gaming and unless you’re really unlucky with weird inteference you won’t hear any hiss - turn them of when you’re not playing. They’ll do you fine for gaming and movies and the built in reciever is fine with all the inputs you’ll need to hook up your Xbox 360, Wii, pc… and dare I say it, PS3.
(it has 3 digital in - one coax and two optical and a bunch of analog choices))

The wired Z-5500 has noticeable better sound, but if you’re going from stereo from your television speakers to the z-5450, you’ll be impressed enough.

I’ve had the predecessor set as my main 5.1 setup for a few years yet, and while a “proper” set with a seperate reciever is on my wishlist it’s not in any way bad and there’s plenty of other stuff I’ll buy before replacing it.

Receivers and HTIB have video as well as audio inputs/outputs but you can just use the audio if you prefer.

Getting a home theater system can be overwhelming but in the end it’s worth it.

Okay so I’m trying to figure out exactly how many inputs I’ll need before I go shopping. Let’s see here…

Xbox 360 - optical audio out (the optical plug looks like it come out of the back of the HD AV cable connector, which is neat)

Comcast DVR - optical audio out

PS3 - I’m guessing optical audio out, is that right? I’ll be using an HDMI cable, but I presume I just forget about the sound carried on that cable and run a separate optical cable to the HTIB receiver? Or would I run an HDMI cable to the receiver and then HDMI out from the receiver to the TV?

Wii - looks like just regular old analog stereo plugs

I also have a region-free DVD player that I use for a lot of stuff. It has component video out plus regular analog stereo plugs, but it also has a single connector marked “COAXIAL DIGITAL OUT - PCM/STREAM” - anyone know what that is? Is that for digital audio?

So if I’m right, it looks like I need two or three optical audio inputs, maybe one HDMI, at least one set of analog stereo jacks and maybe a coaxial digital thingie. Does that sound right?

I’m not so concerned about video connections so long as it has at least one component in, as I can just run my existing component video switcher into that.

Yeah there isnt any compelling reason to run video through them (at all) if you have enough inputs on the TV or a switcher you are happy with already.

the coaxial out is digital, if it’s a short run you can use any RCA cable afaik, but you can get the real’ pcm cable for like 8$ at radio shack, less online, or $20 at CCity/bestbuy.

Needing 3 optical ins ON your reciever might be a pain and price raiser though, unless there is some type of splitter, I’ll let Jazar take over with reccomendations now, as I’m out of advice (I only use mine for the cable box/HDdvr and 360, all my other systems are dust collectors now)

Yeah, dammit I’ve got three units here that can all output optical audio. I guess I could drop the cable box, but a lot of shows and HD cable movies broadcast in 5.1 now.


I’ll go to Best Buy later and snoop around…

Use an HDMI cable from the PS3 to the receiver, then another from the receiver to the TV.

Wii - looks like just regular old analog stereo plugs

Yes. Receivers also have coax digital inputs for audio. They carry the same digital audio signal as fiber, but in copper rather than fiber. Most receivers have several coax inputs, too. Note that you don’t need special “coax digital audio cables” – any single RCA cable should do, but you do want a shielded cable.

Yup, though many receivers now have 2-3 component inputs and one output.

I have a VSX-1016TXV, which is one of the most cost-effective receivers I’ve seen. Two HDMI’s in, one out, three component inputs, lots of digital inputs, more than enough power, THX Select, etc., etc. I picked one up for $499 to replace an aging Onkyo receiver.

That actually solves a big problem for me, because so long as it has HDMI for the PS3 I only need two optical ins for the other things. Sweet!

Your setup is similar to mine. I think the Panasonic I mentioned above would be a nice fit.

PS3 - HDMI input to receiver output HDMI to TV.
Xbox 360 - optical out to receiver
Comcast DVR - optical out to receiver
Wii - stereo analog out with DPLII decoding in the receiver
DVD - coax digital out to recevier

The Panny also has component inputs and outputs so that you can route your video there if you want, but you’re still going to have to use another set of component cables to your TV, as the Panny does not upconvert all video to HDMI. There are recievers that do this but they cost more I think.

With this setup you will undoubebly get the absoulte best audio that your compoents are capable of.

The VSX-1016TXV looks good Case but that sucker is huge!

Yeah that Panasonic looks great. I’d go get it right now but it looks like Best Buys don’t carry them in stores, only online.