Connecting a TV to a receiver is essential for a home theater to operate correctly. There are five main ways to connect the TV to the receiver.
Here’s how to connect a TV receiver:
- Use an HDMI cable.
- Use an optical audio cable.
- Use RCA cables.
- Use digital coaxial audio cables.
- Use an HDMI converter.
The easiest of these methods is with the HDMI cable; however, some receivers and TVs may not have an HDMI jack, or it could have stopped working. This article will provide step-by-step instructions for each of these methods.
Also read: How to Program an Xfinity Remote to a Soundbar
How To Connect a TV to a Receiver With HDMI
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. The invention of this product has made connecting TVs to other pieces of technology even more effortless. If both your TV and receiver have an HDMI jack, then this will be the easiest way to connect them.
Before you Start
Double-check that the HDMI jack on your receiver isn’t labeled for a specific purpose. Sometimes, receivers will have multiple HDMI jacks used for different media players, i.e., Blue-ray player, DVR, TV Satellite, etc.
Early versions of the HDMI only carried video and required a second cord to carry audio. However, in 2022, HDMI technology has advanced to carry audio and video in one single cable. This is known as the HDMI ARC (Audio Return Circuit). This all-in-one cable can carry 5.1 surround sound and can even be upgraded to an eARC to carry 7.1 surround sound.
Thankfully, most modern TVs and receivers have the HDMI ARC port since the technology was developed in 2009. The most significant benefit to HDMIs is that they keep your home theater from looking cluttered by wires and are a simple way to connect TV to receivers, laptops, and other devices, like Amazon Firesticks or Apple TVs.
How to Connect
Here’s a step-by-step guide for connecting your TV to a receiver via HDMI:
- Find the HDMI Jack for your TV and your receiver.
- Ensure the cable is long enough to reach between the TV and receiver easily. If not, move the receiver closer to the TV.
- Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI jack on your TV.
- Plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI jack on your receiver. Be sure that the jack you connect your cable to matches what you need if they’re labeled for specific things. Pick the most convenient one if they’re not labeled for a particular device.
- If not already done, plug in your TV and receiver into an electrical outlet. Use a surge protector if you’re using multiple devices to prevent damage from blackouts and brownouts.
- Enjoy your new home theater!
How To Connect Your TV to a Receiver Without HDMI
If an HDMI cable connection isn’t an option, you can still connect your TV using these four methods.
1. Use an Optical Audio Cable
While HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio from the receiver to support audio formats like Dolby TrueHD (primarily used in BlueRay) and DTS HD Master Audio (also used mainly in BlueRay), the difference in audio passing capabilities of an optical audio cable isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, especially in today’s streaming world. An optical audio cable will work just fine if an HDMI jack isn’t available.
Optical audio cables are also known as TOSLINK and carry the audio to your TV. These cables have a square end on each end of the cable. Here’s how to connect your TV to your receiver with an optical audio cable:
- Locate the optical jack on the back of your TV and your receiver. Both should be labeled with the word ‘optical’ near the plug-in.
- Plug the cable into the TV jack and the receiver input jack.
- Select the optical audio on your receiver.
- Use the TV input menu to set the TV as audio out and the receiver as audio in.
- Test that you can hear the audio through either your TV speakers or whatever outside speakers you’re using.
2. Use RCA Cables
RCA cables come with two connectors used to transmit audio from one device to the other. They’re easy to use but require you to have another cable to transmit video. The three kinds of RCA cables that can be used to connect your TV and receiver:
- RCA audio cables
- Component video cables
- Composite video cables
The most important thing to remember when using RCA cables is to match the colors of the cables up with the colors of the jacks on your TV and receiver. Plugging the wrong color cable into the wrong color jack can ruin your system and be a costly mistake.
RCA Audio Cables
Here is a step-by-step guide for using RCA cables:
- Locate the RCA jacks on your TV and receiver. One jack is white, and the other is red.
- Plug the white RCA cable into the white jack on the TV and the red RCA cable into the red jack.
- Plug the red RCA cable into the red jack on the receiver and the red RCA cable into the red jack on the receiver.
Component Video Cable
This cable is fitted with three cables that transmit video from one device to another. Typically, these cables are blue, green, and red.
Here’s how to connect your TV to your receiver with a component video cable:
- Locate the RCA jacks on your TV and receiver. This time, look for the red, blue, and green ones.
- Plug the red RCA cable into the red jack, the blue into the blue jack, and the green into the green jack on your TV.
- Plug the red RCA cable into the red jack, the blue into the blue jack, and the green into the green jack on your receiver.
- Connect any external speakers to your TV if needed.
Composite Video Cable
This RCA cable is fitted with three cables, two for audio (the red and white ones) and a yellow one for video. This is the cable people used before the HDMI was invented. Here are the step-by-step instructions for using a composite video cable.
- Locate the RCA jacks on the back of your TV and your receiver.
- Plug the red RCA cable into the red jack, the white into the white jack, and the yellow into the yellow jack on the back of your TV.
- Plug the red RCA cable into the red jack, the white into the white jack, and the yellow into the yellow jack on your receiver.
- Go to the settings on your TV input and be sure it’s on the correct setting.
3. Use Digital Coaxial Audio Cables
A digital coaxial audio cable is a single cable that you connect from the back of your TV to your receiver. This cable is used to digital signals from your TV to your receiver.
Often, the jack used for the coaxial audio cable is often colored either orange or black, yet it sometimes has no color. Either way, it’s best to double-check the label to be sure. They’re usually labeled ‘coaxial,’ ‘digital in,’ or ‘digital out.’
Here’s how to connecting your TV to your receiver with a coaxial audio cable:
- Locate the coaxial jack on the back of your TV and your receiver.
- Plug the coaxial RCA cord into the jack on your TV.
- Run the cord to the receiver and plug the other end into the coaxial jack.
- Go to the TV settings and set the audio setting from the coaxial audio on the receiver. Be sure also to set your TV as audio out.
4. Use an HDMI Converter
The final solution for connecting your TV to your receiver is to use an HDMI converter. There are two reasons why an HDMI converter may be necessary and provide an easy solution if:
- One device has an HDMI jack and one doesn’t.
- You need to convert signals from one form to another.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the first reason since it’s the most common for your typical home theater junky. Using an HDMI converter will require both an HDMI cable and RCA cables to get both video and sound.
Again, the primary purpose of the HDMI converter is to connect an HDMI-compatible device (typically the TV) to one that doesn’t have HDMI (typically the receiver). The converter is usually a small cable with an HDMI jack on one side and RCA jacks.
Here’s how to use the HDMI converter:
- Locate the HDMI jack on your TV and the RCA jacks on your receiver.
- Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI jack on your TV and the other end into the HDMI jack on the converter.
- Plug one side of the RCA cords into the correct jacks on the receiver (remember to match up the colors) and the other side of the RCA cords into the converter (the color rule still applies).
- Be sure your TV input setting is set to HDMI.
One benefit of the HDMI converter is its ability to convert your digital signals into analog ones. This can lead to a higher-quality video and audio experience for your home theater.
The best option for connecting your TV to your receiver is a single HDMI cable. This prevents your entertainment area from being cluttered with a mess of wires and provides higher quality video and audio than the RCA cables.
However, if HDMI isn’t an option, you can use an optical audio cable, any RCA cables, a digital coaxial audio cable, or an HDMI converter to connect your devices. In any case, you’ll be able to send your receiver’s signal to your TV to get the best possible home theater.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.