Wiring Guide: Page 1

Wiring Boot Camp

It’s time to buckle down and concentrate.  This can get complicated so take your time and work through this guide slowly.  We need to cover some basics before we can really dig in.

Audio and video:  It is CRUCIAL that you understand the basic principle that audio and video are two completely separate entities.  They don’t have anything to do with one another, and they require different cables to carry them (most of the time).  They don’t work together even though it may seem like they do.  They live separate lives, and we merely manipulate them into merging together for our enjoyment.

Analog and digital audio:  We are only going to focus on the difference between digital and analog audio since knowing what digital video is won’t affect the wiring scheme.  Analog audio is what we have been listening to our whole lives.  It’s simply a left and right audio signal.  If you have 200 speakers hooked up with analog cables, you will get 100 speakers playing the left audio signal and 100 speakers playing the right audio signal.  Surround sound is more than just adding a bunch of speakers.  It’s making each speaker play a completely unique sound which differs from all the other speakers in the group.  That is how we can create the effect that someone is shooting behind you to the left.

If you want true surround sound, you must use digital cables.  If you’re not using digital cables now, but think you’re getting true surround sound, I’m sorry but you’re not.  Your receiver has technology in it to synthesize surround sound from an analog source.  Not only will it be weak, but it’s not accurate to what the director wanted you to get.  To sum this up, analog sends two signals (left and right) and digital sends surround sound.

Inputs and outputs:  This is a simple concept, but can be confusing for first-timers.  The signal leaves the device through the output and comes into the device through the input.  For example, the video signal leaves the DVD player through the video output and enters the receiver through the video input.  To get to the TV from there,  it goes through the receiver’s video output and into the TV through the video input.  From now on, outputs will be called “outs” and inputs will be called “ins.”

Type of cable vs. quality of cable:  It’s important to know that the TYPE of cable used, will have more to do with the end product than the QUALITY of cable used.  Each device can be hooked up several different ways, and all of them will allow the system to work.  You must choose the right cables so your system doesn’t just “work” but produces the best picture and sound possible.  That part is heavily dependent on using the right cables.  The quality of cable is also very important.  Once you know which cables to use, you have to make sure the sensitive ones are high-quality.  We will go over which ones are sensitive to quality on the next page.

RCA:  RCA is a type of connector, not a cable.  It’s the type of connector that you can find on the end of the old red, white, and yellow cords laying all over the back of your TV.  We like to call any cable with an RCA connector an “RCA cable” but it is in fact, just the connector.  We will still call them RCA cables here.  Want to know a secret?  ALL RCA CABLES ARE INTERCHANGEABLE!  What?  Did I just say that?  Call the cable police, I think I’ve just committed a felony- at least to your neighborhood big box store employees.  Yes, it’s true and not a joke.  Mix and match all you want.  Some RCA cables need to be high-quality or the outcome is garbage, but you can interchange any RCA cable and it will work.

Page 1: Wiring Bootcamp      Page 2: Audio Cables      Page 3: Video Cables      Page 4: Making the Connection